If you are looking for relaxation, nature, leisure and recreation, San Diego is probably the best option. If you're looking for nightlife, excitement, glamour, culture and a wide variety of events to choose from, Los Angeles is the best option. Are you planning your next vacation in a lively American city with exotic beaches and thriving nightlife? What about San Diego or Los Angeles? In this comparison between San Diego and Los Angeles, I have listed everything you need to decide the best option. For a more peaceful experience, head to Ocean Beach, a vast expanse of sand south of the San Diego River.
The beach offers stunning views and fun activities such as surfing and swimming. The heart of San Diego's nightlife is in the Gaslamp Quarter, which is filled with trendy restaurants, rooftop bars and lively nightclubs. The best time to be here is from dusk to dawn, when the party is in full swing. Los Angeles nightlife is vibrant, with quirky decor and hot topics.
Exciting venues paired with international DJs make Los Angeles the go-to spot for party lovers. San Diego is WAY more picturesque, cleaner, greener (literally), with less traffic, nicer beaches, nicer views, and overall a resort-style vibe. And whatever food you can find in Los Angeles, you'll probably find it in San Diego, the eighth largest city in the United States. Both San Diego and Los Angeles have a Mediterranean climate with warm summers and mild winters.
San Diego runs slightly colder than Los Angeles despite being located 120 miles south of Los Angeles. This is because most of the city is closer to the Pacific Ocean; the city comprises a lower percentage of inland compared to Los Angeles. So, the chart above may be a little misleading depending on where you live in Los Angeles. SD feels more like a place for families who want to settle down and get a house or something, Los Angeles is a lot cooler if you're like a modern young person.
In addition, downtown Los Angeles has a lot of cool new things, a lot of train lines are being built and great plans to fix the river. Despite having a population of over a million inhabitants, San Diego still retains its small-town feel and accessibility. Overall, I would suggest San Diego if you are looking for a family vacation if there are a lot of different things to do. The table above refers to some of the aggregated differences in cost of living between San Diego and Los Angeles.
There's a lot of amazing food up here, and authentic Mexican food, but there's really nothing like San Diego's ubiquitous Mexican food that messes up the landscape down there. While the white beaches of Los Angeles are a huge attraction for many, the endless activities in San Diego make it ideal for families. North San Diego County, as locals call it, also offers more travelers with family-style beach experience to get an Airbnb and take it easy. From birdwatching to whale watching and everything in between, San Diego has adventures perfect for families.
I lived in Los Angeles from birth to age 4, went to elementary school (K-1) in San Diego, but spent every summer in Los Angeles, then moved to Los Angeles forever 14 years ago. Whether you want a luxury resort or an affordable hostel to rest in, San Diego has the ideal accommodation. If you've decided that Los Angeles is the city for you in the big debate between Los Angeles and San Diego, then you'll need a place to stay while you're visiting. We admit that there is an opportunity in Los Angeles, but the same can be said about San Diego.
While I said the City of Los Angeles wasn't the most “tourist-friendly” city to visit in Southern California, that's certainly not the case with San Diego. For example, the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla San Diego promotes art from both sides of the border. San Diego is a fun and familiar place where you have a lot of things to do with your partner or your children. With its sun-kissed atmosphere, bustling city life and great food, San Diego is an exciting place to spend your vacation.