With 70 miles of sparkling coastline, countless outdoor offerings and more than 100 unique city neighborhoods, it’s easy for visitors to enjoy San Diego while still following safe social distancing habits. Whether looking to escape a crowded city or just a monotonous day, visitors can find private activities and open-air spaces to unwind while enjoying San Diego’s sunny summer (and fall) days.
From exploring behind-the-scenes at the San Diego Zoo to sailing along San Diego Bay on a private charter and lounging poolside in a secluded cabana, the following are ways to practice “coastal distancing” in San Diego.
On the Water
Visitors can view San Diego’s stunning coastline from a different perspective while navigating its bay and ocean waters. For those in search of an exclusive experience, Halcyon Seas offers one-day, overnight or three-day getaways on board their 70-foot luxury motor yacht. Available for up to 12 guests, the all-inclusive excursions feature whale watching, harbor to harbor sailing and a visit to Santa Catalina Island. For a relaxed or romantic sail around the bay, San Diego Sailing Tours takes two to six guests cruising aboard a private charter. For two hours, guests can enjoy San Diego’s calm waters during the daytime or watch as the skyline begins to light up in the evening. Adventure seekers can be captain for a day aboard one of Luxury Jet Ski Rental’s six-passenger Bayliner boats. The vessels can be rented by the hour and no boating experience is required.
Visitors can get some vitamin D while sunbathing under the sparkling San Diego sun in a private cabana. Surrounded by a lush garden and a heated saltwater whirlpool, Estancia La Jolla’s pool area is a perfect daytime retreat. Hotel and spa guests, as well as day-pass holders, can reserve a private cabana or daybed, which come with a stocked fridge and a discount on food and beverages from the Haven Bar & Grill. The Pool House at Pendry in downtown San Diego is a rooftop oasis offering city views of the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Private, plush cabanas can be reserved for daytime lounging with access to the bar’s full drink and food menu. In the heart of the trendy North Park neighborhood, The Lafayette Hotel features a cool 40’s vibe with its Olympic-sized pool, designed by former Tarzan and five-time gold medal winner Johnny Weissmuller. The pool area includes a semi-private cabana that sits six guests and offers the convenience of catered pre-ordered food and drinks or poolside service from Hope 46, their onsite classic American restaurant.
For visitors who enjoy exploring a city through their taste buds, San Diego’s culinary scene offers diverse flavors to savor in private settings. The iconic George’s at the Cove in La Jolla features the open-air Ocean Terrace, a popular place for brunch that can now be enjoyed with a little more privacy during evenings. Available with reservations only for up to four guests, the Sunset Spectacle-Ocean Terrace Dinner includes a complimentary glass of bubbly with a front-row seat overlooking the Pacific. In downtown San Diego, the InterContinental San Diego hotel hides a speakeasy-style al fresco bar and restaurant accessible by locating a miniature garibaldi painting in the lobby area. Launched in March 2020, Garibaldi serves Italian fare and amaro-style cocktails with an ocean view on its bayfront patio. Kettner Exchange, in the epicurean Little Italy neighborhood, offers a progressive American menu that can be enjoyed in one of their rooftop dining cabanas. The cabanas can be reserved Wednesday through Sunday with no minimum food and beverage consumption, but restrictions can vary by day.
San Diego has no shortage of beautiful sights and landmarks to discover; luckily, many of San Diego’s top-rated tour companies offer private guided experiences. Another Side of San Diego Tours has different excursion packages covering all of San Diego’s “must see” spots, like Coronado, Balboa Park, Little Italy and La Jolla. The tours include round-trip transportation and an experienced sightseeing guide.
Nothing says “social distancing” like getting off the ground via helicopter. Corporate Helicopter Tours offers fully private helicopter charter flights to explore San Diego from the sky. Aerial tours range from a 30-minute scenic trip to a two-hour excursion to Temecula with a lunch stop.
More than 3,500 animals reside among the San Diego Zoo’s canyons and open-air winding paths. Currently open at limited capacity, the wildlife conservation organization offers guided tours for those who prefer a private experience. Available for up to six household members, the Inside Look: Surprise tour can be booked before the park opens and takes visitors to two unique animal exhibits for a special educational experience. Roughly 30 miles north from the zoo, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park also offers private tours, like the Behind-the-Scenes-Safari
Tourism and hospitality businesses are following recommended safety practices laid out by health officials, including the CDC, the state of California and San Diego County. Social distancing and face masks must be used when required.