Well Intentioned: A Chilled-Out Guide to San Diego, California

Enjoy an exceptional dining experience at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in San Diego
Enjoy an exceptional dining experience at the Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa in San Diego | Courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort & Spa / Expedia.com
Photo of Emma Sparks
7 September 2021

Hit up beaches for sunset treks, head to mindful cafes with healthy menus and dial down the pace with spa treatments in this laid-back California city.

With yoga studios on practically every corner, thousands of bike routes and an abundance of beaches, San Diego is one of the most liveable cities in the United States. All you need to experience the benefits that living here can bring is a can-do attitude, a pair of yoga pants and, perhaps, a floaty kaftan. Ready to soak up some of that SoCal sunshine and unwind? Here are the best ways to go slow in San Diego.

Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa

Spa Hotel, Luxury
Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa
Courtesy of Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa / Expedia.com | Courtesy of Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa / Expedia.com
Unavailable for the next 3 months
This Spanish-style hotel near Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – stitched with 3,000 rare trees – is spread over 10 acres (4ha) of succulent-studded gardens and home to one of the best spas in Southern California. Book a whole day to enjoy a tension-busting CBD-oil massage, relax in the eucalyptus-scented steam room and swim in the saltwater pool (reserve a cabana in advance for the ultimate shady lounging spot). There’s also a meditation garden and private yoga classes on request.
More info

Cafe Gratitude

Cafe, Restaurant, Vegan, Vegetarian, $$$
Map View
Cafe Gratitude
© Cafe Gratitude
This plant-based micro chain has spread its good vibes across California, including this branch in Little Italy. Mindful eating is a given here – the plates are etched with the question “What are you grateful for?” – and each organic dish has an inspiring name such as Humble, Brave or Blessed. You might even get ecstatic about the maple miso-glazed brussel sprouts. The drinks menu has everything you’d expect from a wellness-focused restaurant, including superfood smoothies, golden turmeric lattes and sustainable vegan wines.

Place 360

Health Spa
Map View
Calm young woman enjoying massage with herbal bags at the spa
© Goran Bogicevic / Alamy Stock Photo
Drawing on Eastern and Western techniques and traditions, practitioners at Place 360 in Del Mar take a holistic approach to treating clients. Everything from anti-aging facials and massages to reiki, cupping and acupuncture will be tailored to your wellness needs. If alternative therapies are your thing, don’t miss the guided chakra-balancing meditation on a Biomat: an infrared-heated mat, lined with healing amethyst crystals.

Hotel del Coronado

Hotel, Luxury
Hotel del Coronado
Courtesy of Hotel del Coronado / Expedia.com
Unavailable for the next 3 months
Fans of Marilyn Monroe may recognize this grand beachfront resort as the Seminole Ritz – the ‘Miami’ hotel from the classic romantic comedy Some Like it Hot (1959). In reality, it’s a true California dream, with Pacific Ocean views, mermaid-themed water-aerobics classes and ocean-inspired spa treatments (try the algae-infused facial). Swing by the watersports center to hire an SUP board or book a surf lesson.
More info

Why Book With Culture Trip?

  • Free cancellation

    In these uncertain times, cancel or change for free on select properties.

  • Price-match guarantee

    Find a better price on your booking and we’ll match it. Simple.

  • Unbiased & trustworthy

    Book from recommendations handpicked by travel experts.

  • Balboa Park

    Park
    Map View
    Cactus gardens at Balboa Park San Diego California
    © Dennis Frates / Alamy Stock Photo
    You could spend a week in Balboa Park and still not see it all. Its sprawling 1,200 acres include art galleries, cultural centers, the Natural History Museum and San Diego Zoo. But those seeking a chance to immerse themselves in nature will have ample opportunity. Take your pick of the many gardens – Palm Canyon hosts 50 different species, while the Desert Garden is packed with drought-resistant plants – or follow one of the challenging, tree-lined hiking trails.

    Rancho Valencia

    Boutique Hotel
    Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa
    Courtesy of Rancho Valencia Resort and Spa / Expedia
    Unavailable for the next 3 months
    California isn’t just about the beach. This 43-acre (17.4ha) estate in Rancho Santa Fe, just north of the city, features sprawling gardens and a collection of luxurious casitas with vaulted ceilings and private patios. Fresh orange juice, direct from the onsite citrus grove, is delivered to your room each morning. From then on, it’s a case of choosing your own adventure. Get tennis coaching from a former pro, practice warrior posture in the floating yoga pavilion, get pampered at the spa, or lounge by the outdoor pool.
    More info

    Salt Pilates

    Fitness Studio, Gym
    Map View
    Woman stretching her arms at class
    © Jacob Lund / Alamy Stock Photo
    Head to the quirky, LGBT-friendly neighborhood of Hillcrest for a sweaty workout at Salt Pilates. Classes engage both body and mind and focus on firing up your core. Some sessions are heated to between 85F (29C) and 95F (35C), which is said to help your body flush out toxins, improve muscle recovery and promote relaxation. Choose between HIIT-style sets, sequences backtracked by upbeat tunes, and slow-paced, stretchy flows.

    Ocean Beach

    Natural Feature
    Map View
    SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 11, 2018: View of beautiful San Diego in southern California seen from Sunset Cliffs in Point Loma.
    © Littleny / Alamy Stock Photo
    Want a lazy beach day with a casual, hippy vibe? Head to the boho neighborhood of Ocean Beach, where you can browse artists’ stalls and second-hand record shops and sip organic smoothies on the sand before heading into the waves for a surf lesson. For a life-affirming finale, head south along the Sunset Cliffs Coastal Trail to soak in the epic sunset views.
    These recommendations were updated on September 7, 2021 to keep your travel plans fresh.

    From this Article

    Cookies Policy

    We and our partners use cookies to better understand your needs, improve performance and provide you with personalised content and advertisements. To allow us to provide a better and more tailored experience please click "OK"