Choosing between Los Angeles and San Diego can be a difficult decision. Both cities are only 120 miles from each other, but they each have their own distinct history and culture. While both cities make great destinations in their own right, if you only have time to visit one, you’ll have to make a choice. Use this blog post to help you determine where to go in Southern California.
Los Angeles vs. San Diego
We examined both cities against four attributes: attractions, accessibility, affordability, and food. Regardless of what you choose, both spots will have a lot to offer single travelers and families.
Attractions: Los Angeles
Out of all the Los Angeles attractions, the second-largest city in the US is known for Beverly Hills, incredible beaches, and the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Theme park lovers will enjoy Universal Studios, hikers will prefer the hills, and partiers will love the nightlife.
San Diego mainly caters to families with its more local vibe. Pacific Beach is packed with restaurants and contains the amusement park, Belmont Park. There are museums, parks, and interesting shops. Be sure to visit Valle de Guadalupe wine country and San Diego Zoo.
Affordability: San Diego
From getting into the city via the LAX to accommodations, Los Angeles is a pricey city. While you don’t have to pay top-dollar to have a good time, many spots and tours will charge a pretty penny. For a more affordable trip, stick to food trucks, prioritize free or cheap attractions and stay in the suburbs. Highland Park is a great low-cost option in comparison to Santa Monica.
San Diego is the more affordable option, but it can still be expensive for tourists. You can still save money at the many low-cost attractions in San Diego. With reasonable accommodations, accessible public transit, and taco trucks available on every street corner, San Diego is cheaper.
Accessibility: San Diego
Numerous airports fly into LAX, so it’s easier to reach Los Angeles from anywhere in the US. You may want to fly in from Burbank or Long Beach if you’re staying in the suburbs, and they’re still relatively close to downtown. On the other hand, getting around the city can be a nightmare with its high amount of traffic, poor public transit, and overpriced ride-share companies.
Although San Diego International Airport doesn’t serve as many international routes as LAX, it’s still easy to fly into within the US. The San Diego Trolley system and extensive bus system make San Diego easy to maneuver in, and most attractions are accessible on foot.
Available Food: Los Angeles
The best part about LA is the food, hands down. Even if you’re sticking to food trucks, you’ll still experience a diverse food scene. From delicious Koren food to authentic Mexican cuisine, your taste buds will never be bored. LAs diverse population translates to the amount of food available, but if you prefer to cook something yourself, there are plenty of ingredients available.
San Diego’s proximity to Mexico makes the Mexican food a million times better than LAs, but the diversity of flavor doesn’t run as deep as it does in Los Angeles. However, if you’re interested in trying craft beers, Karls Strauss and Stone Brewing will offer a lot of variety.
Los Angeles: Best for Food and Attractions
Since Los Angeles excels in the nightlife department, people who want a more mature trip exploring iconic sights and digging into the culinary scene may prefer LA over San Diego.
San Diego: Best for Affordability and Accessibility
On the other hand, San Diego is a diverse and vibrant border city close to Mexico that offers a more laid-back experience than LA. Still, there are endless things to do within the city.