65 Best Things to Do in San Diego, California: A Local’s Tips

65 Best Things to Do in San Diego, California: A Local’s Tips

The solely problem you’ll run into when deciding on enjoyable issues to do in San Diego might be narrowing down your choices. I stay in La Jolla and assist folks plan holidays to San Diego. So, I can wholeheartedly verify that locals benefit from the theme parks, breweries, seashores, water sports activities, hikes, museums, and extra on this record that guests come from far and large to discover. 

You’re in luck since you’re about to search out out which actions are really thought of the most effective. These are actions that individuals truly do and never random concepts in far corners of the county. They are cool, enjoyable and straightforward to entry. Some are even free.

This record is split by pursuits, however you’ll discover hyperlinks to much more detailed guides, resort suggestions, and concepts for saving cash that can assist you drill down on precisely what to do in San Diego.

See additionally: 15 San Diego Discounts: Experience the City for Less

You can save on tickets, excursions, and inns by means of my affiliations. If you make purchases by means of the hyperlinks on this put up, I could also be compensated.

Top San Diego Beaches

People laying out on the beach and swimming in the ocean on a sunny day.

Visiting the seashore is actually one of many high 10 issues to do in San Diego. The water is ideal for wading, browsing, and swimming throughout many of the yr.

Wetsuits may be simply rented through the winter when Southern California’s ocean water temperature runs on the chillier aspect. San Diego seashores characteristic prominently on most vacationers’ itineraries particularly as a result of they are often loved year-round and are one in every of our greatest free sights.

What you do on the seashore relies on the climate and private desire, however these are the seashores I like to recommend that you just add to your San Diego itinerary.


With often calmer shore breaks and a large, flat stretch of sand, this can be a nice Coronado seashore for households and is rated as probably the greatest within the nation. Plus, it’s an excuse to go over the well-known Coronado bridge or ferry.


La Jolla Cove is without doubt one of the most photographed locations within the San Diego area for an excellent cause. Yes, there’s a small seashore right here that’s often waveless, so a simple entry to the underwater park (extra on this beneath).

However, folks come right here to benefit from the ocean views and stroll alongside the boardwalk. There are barking sea lions, attractive sea birds, the sounds of waves, an enormous grassy space known as Ellen Browning Scripps Park, belvederes (small inexperienced huts) to take a seat in, and you’ve got numerous issues to do in La Jolla close by.


The (often) softer means the waves break right here makes La Jolla Shores Beach a super place to be taught to surf, and there are lifeguards on responsibility till nightfall.

The seashore is split into browsing and swimming and is a launch level for kayaking, snorkeling, and diving excursions. It’s extremely popular for sunbathing and basic beachgoing.


A enjoyable boardwalk runs alongside this stretch of sandy seashore that’s in style with younger professionals and faculty college students. There are plenty of seashore bars close by although the Law Street part of Pacific Beach is extra family-friendly.


There are loos, showers, and lifeguards at this extremely popular seashore for sunbathing and swimming. The north finish is Dog Beach (leash-free enjoyable for Fido) and likewise has seashore volleyball courts.


Visit this gorgeous seashore after exploring the mountaineering trails at adjoining Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve.


You’ll discover all the things you want at this Encinitas seashore, from picnic tables, hearth rings, lifeguards, and restrooms to volleyball courts, a snack bar, and tools leases.

If you’re staying in a North County San Diego resort, most of the resort concierges will suggest Moonlight Beach as a result of it has essentially the most facilities of any seashore within the space.


Sunset Cliffs Natural Park above Ocean Beach is one in every of our greatest locations to look at the sundown over the Pacific Ocean (maybe after fish tacos at close by South Beach).

Best Beach Activities: From Seals to Seasonal Fun

We all know that you could sunbathe and swim on the seashores listed above, however right here’s what else you are able to do.


One of the quintessential Southern California experiences vacationers shouldn’t overlook is a browsing lesson. They’re given right here year-round (because of heat wetsuits) on virtually the entire seashores talked about above.

Take one by yourself or as a bunch. You’ll probably use a foam board and truly have the ability to rise up inside a lesson. Budding surfers may be as younger as 5 years previous. We have an inventory of browsing faculties and places.


While you’re within the La Jolla Cove space you won’t be able to overlook our chatty sea lions who hang around on the rocks right here.

If you stroll south alongside the seashore boardwalk a couple of minutes to the Children’s Pool Beach, that is the place our well-known La Jolla seals rookery awaits.


A free and enjoyable San Diego expertise outdoor is tide pooling throughout winter months when low and minus tides happen within the late afternoons.

I’ve an inventory of greatest San Diego tide swimming pools, however the spots we like are La Jolla and Cabrillo National Monument.


We have the largest annual aggregation of leopard sharks on the planet within the shallow ocean water close to The Marine Room restaurant on La Jolla Shores Beach.

They come to incubate their infants within the heat water right here whereas feeding within the close by submarine canyon at night time. They’re innocent, and you may swim and snorkel across the sharks.


Are you an evening owl? Grab a headlamp or flashlight and head out to the sandier seashores to see a grunion run. The schedule is right here however be sure you be conscious of when you’ll be able to go fishing for them and when it’s statement solely.


If you’re keen on the seashore, it’s value trying into the beachfront San Diego inns. These are a few of the greatest:

Learn extra and e-book: 17 Best San Diego Beach Hotels

San Diego Theme Parks and Amusement Parks

Our high Southern California theme parks and amusement parks make San Diego, CA, a extremely popular household trip vacation spot.


A koala sits in a tree at San Diego Zoo, a must do in San Diego.

The world-famous San Diego Zoo is a deal with for all ages. And it’s not your typical zoo, which is why it has a repute for being probably the greatest on the planet.

There are greater than 3,500 animals representing 650 completely different species and 700,000 plant species on the Zoo’s 100-acre property. Many of those animals and vegetation are uncommon or endangered. The Zoo could be very energetic in conservation analysis and species preservation and has been a pioneer within the idea of open-air, cageless reveals that re-create pure animal habitats.

Many guests come to see the Australian Outback habitat, Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, and the Children’s Zoo (presently closed for renovation). Its small hills and valleys, along with the shade offered by foliage, make it a preferred place to easily stroll, although the Skyfari tram and bus excursions minimize down on strolling in case you’re not up for it.

Even in case you solely have half a day to spend right here, it’s properly definitely worth the value of admission, although a full day is advisable (or keep till the youngsters run out of steam).

Buy San Diego Zoo low cost tickets with my particular low cost beneath.


Check for unpublished deeper financial savings on tickets by means of my partnership with aRes Travel, a certified San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket vendor.

*By texting the phrase SAFARI to 1-833-490-0799 you conform to obtain automated promotional messages with easy methods to safe my deeper ticket low cost and this settlement isn’t a situation of any buy. Msg and information charges might apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privateness coverage.


People walking into the entrance of LEGOLAND California on a sunny day.

LEGOLAND California is a must-visit attraction for households with children ages 2–12. Older siblings and fogeys can get in on the enjoyable, too. There are greater than 60 rides, 4-D films, and constructing actions. Kids significantly love buying and selling mini figures with workers across the park, studying to drive in kid-sized LEGO vehicles, the Dragon Coaster and Miniland USA with its LEGO skyscraper.

In the hotter months, LEGOLAND Water Park is a good place to chill off, and SEA LIFE Aquarium is a whole lot of enjoyable year-round. In summer time, particularly when the water parks are open day by day, LEGO-loving households can and do spend a number of days right here.

Tip: Before planning a visit to LEGOLAND, it’s VERY necessary to test their calendar as a result of the park is closed on choose Tuesdays and Wednesdays between September and February. The water parks are additionally open on weekends or seasonally through the college yr.

Buy LEGOLAND low cost tickets:


Check for unpublished deeper financial savings on tickets by means of my partnership with aRes Travel, a certified LEGOLAND ticket vendor.

*By texting the phrase LEGOLAND to 1-833-490-0799 you conform to obtain automated promotional messages with easy methods to safe my deeper ticket low cost and this settlement isn’t a situation of any buy. Msg and information charges might apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privateness coverage.


Manta roller coaster hurls down the track at SeaWorld, one of the popular things to do San Diego teens and tweens enjoy.

Families from around the globe come to San Diego particularly to go to SeaWorld San Diego.

In addition to its marine reveals, SeaWorld San Diego additionally has just a few thrilling rides just like the Manta curler coaster and Shipwreck Rapids. Plus, there may be the favored Sesame Street Bay of Play for younger children, making it one of many greatest issues to do in San Diego for households as a result of it caters to all ages of youngsters.

Other highlights at SeaWorld San Diego embrace Turtle Reef, Penguin Encounter, sea lion feedings (visitors can purchase a tray of fish and toss it to them), Otter Outlook, and numerous contact swimming pools. The once-famous stay orca reveals have been changed by lovely documentary movies of orcas within the wild on a three-story display screen, and there are nonetheless stay sea lion and dolphin reveals.

Like the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego can simply be visited in half a day, although a full day is really helpful to benefit from the actions right here.

Buy SeaWorld San Diego low cost tickets utilizing one of many following strategies:

  • Go San Diego (Use promo code LJM10SDO for 10% off )
  • aRes Travel (good discounted SeaWorld San Diego tickets and ticket/resort packages)
  • Promotions on SeaWorld San Diego (they, not like different native theme parks, typically run ticket specials)


Rhinos that you can see with discount San Diego Zoo Safari Park Discount tickets.
I took this picture of the rhinos whereas on a Wildlife Safari

Consider additionally visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, which is unquestionably one in every of San Diego’s greatest vacationer sights. It’s a part of San Diego Zoo Global and gives a really completely different expertise than the Zoo as a result of most of the animals roam in giant environments that mimic the African and Asian savannas.

Here, undoubtedly decide to take a experience in one of many open-air tram safaris that circle across the numerous enclosures. These are actually fascinating guided excursions that get you up shut and private with giraffes, rhinos, zebras, and different animals.

You may also do a zipline safari that will provide you with a one-of-a-kind chicken’s eye view of the park or e-book a behind-the-scenes tour. Refer to my detailed San Diego Zoo Safari Park information earlier than you go.

Buy San Diego Zoo Safari Park low cost tickets utilizing my unique promo code:


Check for unpublished deeper financial savings on tickets by means of my partnership with aRes Travel, a certified San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket vendor.

*By texting the phrase SAFARI to 1-833-490-0799 you conform to obtain automated promotional messages with easy methods to safe my deeper ticket low cost and this settlement isn’t a situation of any buy. Msg and information charges might apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privateness coverage.


Aerial view of Sesame Place San Diego including water park attractions.
The water park space

The new Sesame Place San Diego theme park gives a pleasant mixture of water park and conventional theme park actions – most with a Sesame Street theme. There are large water slides and little ones, a lazy river, and water play areas. But you’ll be able to keep dry if you’d like, too, on young-kid-friendly carousels and mini coasters.

You undoubtedly must test the park calendar earlier than arriving as a result of they don’t seem to be open day by day through the fall and winter months.

Buy low cost Sesame Place San Diego tickets:


Belmont Park San Diego Tilt a Whirl Ride
Carnival rides galore.

Belmont Park San Diego is our seaside amusement park positioned in Mission Beach. You can experience the historic Big Dipper curler coaster, that was in-built 1925, along with different carnival rides. Kids like taking part in laser tag, driving bumper vehicles, and taking part in arcade video games.

You can seize a Dole Whip or a beer at Cannonball. It’s free to enter Belmont Park, however you’ll need to purchase a wristband or sights go in any other case, a la carte pricing provides up.


Kids look into the giant tank at Birch Aquarium
The Giant Kelp Forest exhibit

It’s technically a museum, however in case you’re searching for leisure mixed with training, Birch Aquarium at Scripps is one in every of my favourite choices.

You’ll see sea life representing not solely what’s in our a part of the Pacific Ocean however different elements of the California Current from the Pacific Northwest all the way down to California, to the nice and cozy Mexico waters, and eventually, the Indo-Pacific coral reefs.

There are hands-on reveals that train the significance of caring for the surroundings. Oh, and so they simply opened an exhibit devoted to Little Blue Penguins! They are cute. And, don’t overlook your digicam as a result of the views from the again patio are spectacular.

Balboa Park Museums & Things to Do

Balboa Park Botanical Building - on a list of San Diego virtual tours.
The Botanical Building at Balboa Park

Balboa Park is the nation’s largest city cultural park with a number of parks, trails, play areas, and 17 museums. It is a real metropolis treasure, and there are such a lot of issues to do in Balboa Park for almost everybody.

Tip: It is free to stroll by means of Balboa Park to take pleasure in its mountaineering trails, gardens, playgrounds for teenagers, and public areas. To go to the museums, you need to have a go that permits you to go to multiple as they don’t seem to be giant.

You can check out the Balboa Park Explorer go as a bundled museum possibility. Balboa Park museums can be included on the Go San Diego go with many different San Diego sights.

Below we’ve highlighted high Balboa Park museums and different issues to do.


Go to find out about our space’s natural world by means of their huge assortment, and also you’ll see why native children love the San Diego Natural History Museum.


Fleet Science Center is one other enjoyable household San Diego museum with a great deal of hands-on reveals showcasing science by means of play. They additionally present brief films in an IMAX dome theater.


Climb the California Tower for essentially the most spectacular views in San Diego. Wander by means of the anthropology reveals inside that showcase the human relationship with animals, race, our ancestors, and even beer.

25. MOPA

Museum of Photographic Arts is without doubt one of the few museums totally devoted to pictures. Don’t overlook to browse the museum reward store for neat prints, items, and devices.


Our fantastic artwork museum boasts an emphasis on Spanish artwork with a set that features Goya and Rubens.


Here, you’ll see actual and reproduction and unique plane and spacecraft along with MaxFlight simulators and different hands-on reveals all ages love.


The Japanese Friendship Garden is a beautiful place for a stroll throughout any season however significantly fairly when the leaves change within the fall or cherry blossoms bloom in spring. Keep a watch out for particular occasions.


Pick one of many Balboa Park trails in case you’re searching for outside issues to do in San Diego. You can take a brief hike or one so long as just a few hours. Grab the path data.


Be positive to take discover of the varied gardens scattered all through the Park. There’s the Zoro butterfly backyard, the Trees for Health Garden (medicinal vegetation), the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden, and a number of other others.


Plan to eat when you’re right here as a result of there are some fantastic eating places in Balboa Park.

Alfresco eating at both the Japanese Friendship Garden for Japanese meals favorites or Panama 66 with its craft cocktails are our favourite selections. But, after all, I’ve a information for consuming in Balboa Park.

Our National Park and State Reserves: Hikes, Views, and More

Our high sights in San Diego are must-see state parks and Cabrillo National Monument, which is our solely National Park. They are outside actions that supply far more than fairly surroundings.


The view of the statue and bay at Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument on the finish of Point Loma pays tribute to the invention of California by Spanish Eyou’llr Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. Here, you’ll discover a statue that pays tribute to Cabrillo with a backdrop of panoramic ocean and metropolis views all the way down to the Coronado bridge.

A community of mountaineering trails wraps across the Pacific Ocean aspect of Point Loma within the park, the place ocean views abound. Along the best way, you’ll go some historic buildings like WWII bunkers and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

During winter low tides, you’ll additionally have the ability to discover a few of San Diego’s greatest tide swimming pools right here. The solely admission charge that you just pay is to park your automotive, and you may seize a map on the Visitor Center.

Tip: From right here, its’ not that far to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. Or you’ll be able to cease for lunch on the best way in or out of Point Loma at LIt’sty Station Public Market on Rosecrans Avenue.


Trails at Torrey Pines Natural Reserve that over look the ocean.
It’s well-known for its Strails and views.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one other in style spot with guests and locals for its family-friendly gentle to reasonable mountaineering trails and ocean views. It’s one in every of two locations the endangered Torrey Pine tree grows. You can pair a go to right here with Torrey Pines State State Beach.

There’s a steep path all the way down to Black’s Beach although it’s simpler in case you’re a surfer carrying a surfboard to entry it from Torrey Pines State Beach or La Jolla Shores (albeit a protracted stroll from both).

Tip: The close by Torrey Pines Gliderport is the place you’ll fly tandem on a first-come, first-served foundation with an teacher. Grab a sandwich or salad on the informal cafe right here to eat on the picnic tables when you watch the colourful gliders fly throughout the sky in Southern California’s sunshine.

Downtown San Diego: From the Embarcadero to Gaslamp Quarter

USS Midway and Unconditional Surrender Statue in January
Unconditional Surrender statue with USS Midway within the background

Spend a day or half-day in downtown San Diego’s waterfront Embarcadero leisure space.

Some of our hottest vacationer sights are right here, the views over San Diego Bay are unbelievable, and also you’ll have easy accessibility to a few of our greatest eating places on the Embarcadero (there are a number of within the new Portside Pier to strive). Plus, you’ll be able to stroll in between all the things, which makes sightseeing a breeze.


If you’re desirous about army historical past, it’s essential to go to the USS Midway Museum. The plane provider is completely docked within the bay and is without doubt one of the most unusual museums on the planet.

Take the self-guided audio tour and look out for docents. Many of them truly served on the USS Midway. You’ll additionally take pleasure in wandering across the army plane on the flight deck. During regular occasions you’ll be able to climb into a few of the cockpits.


The Maritime Museum of Diego is dwelling to what’s thought of one of many world’s greatest collections of historic ships. This can also be an excellent cease for historical past followers.

You can see genuine and reproduction ships at this floating maritime museum and have the ability to stroll on board the Star of India,  the world’s oldest energetic ship. It’s docked proper on the Embarcadero, so an excellent spot for photographs.


On the south aspect of the USS Midway Museum, you’ll be able to’t miss the Unconditional Surrender kissing statue. But as you stroll towards it, check out a few of the battle memorials which can be a part of the “Greatest Generation Collection.”


When it’s time for a drink or a meal, and also you’re strolling the Embarcadero, cease on the new Portside Pier, which has eating at Ketch, Brigantine, Miguel’s, and Topside eating places with a view. Or, simply cease for a photograph opp on the viewing deck.


Get prepared to buy and eat on the waterfront Seaport Village which has about 50 outlets and 17 eateries, to not point out occasional busking and a classic carousel.


The hub of San Diego nightlife awaits within the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the place you’ll discover dance golf equipment, speakeasies, and festive bars to It’srtain all tastes.

Nightlife apart, guests love the varied outlets and different notable eating places on this 16-block space.


Our Major League Baseball workforce, the San Diego Padres, performs dwelling video games at PETCO Park which has a few of the greatest sight strains in baseball. Not to say a few of our favourite San Diego eating places, so eating is a deal with.

When the Padres aren’t on the town or through the low season, you’ll be able to take a guided tour of the park.


If you go to San Diego with younger youngsters, they’ll love the hands-on artwork and inventive enjoyable at New Children’s Museum. Every exhibit is designed to show by means of play. Advanced reservations or tickets are required.

More Historic Neighborhoods and Places


Things to do in San Diego with kids: Old Town

Old Town San Diego is a high vacationer attraction that encompasses OId Town State Historic Park and is taken into account the birthplace of California.

It’s free to enter, and there are a number of small museums in Nineteenth-century wood-frame and adobe buildings that showcase what life was like in early California. Even locals like to return and benefit from the Mexican meals eating places and stay performances right here.


Walking distance to Little Italy from the Embarcadero is only a few blocks. So, if you end up on the top close to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, stroll just a few blocks to fulfill your cravings (test my record of Little Italy eating places). Look out for the Saturday farmers market, which could be very in style with locals.


The most often booked resort in our portfolio is the historic Hotel del Coronado, in-built 1888. U.S. Presidents, Hollywood elite, and VIPs have all laid their heads on this San Diego resort.

It’s our greatest and hottest San Diego resort on the seashore. The Windsor Cottage, the place Beach Village at The Del visitors dine, is called for its previous because the Coronado dwelling of Wallace Simpson, the lady Prince Edward abdicated the English throne for.

If you propose to remain there, you undoubtedly must learn my Hotel del Coronado overview and e-book in with my Virtuoso advantages at no additional price to you.

But even in case you’re not staying there, you’ll be able to add a go to to your San Diego itinerary as a result of the general public can entry its eating places and outlets in addition to stroll round.

Water Sports: Mission Bay, La Jolla & Beyond


Small sail boats in the sand bordering Mission Bay in September
Mission Bay on a September afternoon

Visitors to San Diego who’re desirous about water sports activities might need to keep close to or not less than plan on visiting Mission Bay. The artifical bay supplies calm water and waveless seashores for teenagers.

Things to do at Mission Bay embrace stand-up paddleboarding, crusing, and kayaking. Boat leases for fishing, water snowboarding, and leisure can be found, however in case you’re hungry for extra thrilling actions, you possibly can additionally step it up a notch by attempting a water-powered jet pack.

Trails for strolling, working, and biking circle the bay, passing by a number of playgrounds and grassy areas which can be excellent for picnics and play — all are free to make use of. There can also be RV parking and even an city campground.

If you’re coming to San Diego particularly to surf, sail, kayak, or paddleboard, you need to know that a few of the Mission Bay inns and resorts have water sports activities exercise facilities onsite in any other case, you’ll be able to strive Mission Bay Aquatic Center. It takes about 10-Quarter-hour to succeed in the bay from downtown San Diego, relying on which bay location is your last vacation spot.

You may also stroll just a few blocks on the west aspect of the bay to Mission Beach and its informal vibe, the place Belmont Park, our beachfront amusement park, can also be positioned.


Kayaks near coastal caves at La Jolla Cove in Southern California in summer on a sunny day
Kayak excursions to the seven sea caves in La Jolla

Believe it or not, many locals are unaware that beneath the ocean’s floor, roughly between La Jolla Cove and Scripps Pier, lies the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park.

Its 6,000 acres symbolize 4 habitats that embrace rocky reefs, kelp beds, sand flats, and a submarine canyon. The mixture of habitats truly makes it in order that the waves listed below are mild and ideal for launching kayaks and studying easy methods to surf.

There are guided diving, snorkeling, and kayak excursions of the park. You may also hire a kayak or carry your personal snorkel gear and discover it your self. Plus, you’ll be able to even swim out to it from La Jolla Cove.

Bordering the underwater park are seven sea caves, solely one in every of which — Sunny Jim Cave — is accessible by land. You can see them by kayak or rise up paddleboard, and you may typically kayak by means of one in every of them on a guided tour, relying on the currents.

Marine life generally seen right here contains our resident sea lions, Garibaldi (California’s state fish), shovelnose guitarfish, leopard sharks, and extra. The underwater visibility is kind of good for California. There are even a handful of sea turtle sightings in summer time.

Popular water sports activities right here embrace:

  • Surfing and browsing classes on the La Jolla Shores aspect (surfers beware that you could’t use surfboards or boogie boards on the La Jolla Cove aspect)
  • Stand-up paddleboarding
  • Kayak excursions to the ocean caves (and even for seasonal whale watching)
  • Snorkeling excursions

Need gear or classes? There are quite a lot of wonderful native companies within the La Jolla Shores space that hire out gear, present classes, and provide organized excursions.

Try Surf Diva for browsing and SUP classes, particularly for teenagers (studying to surf is the quintessential SoCal expertise). I additionally suggest Everyday California.


Use code lajollamom for a 20% low cost on kayak and snorkeling excursions, classes, and leases. Book now.


There isn’t a seashore alongside San Diego Bay, actually, however that’s okay. You can reap the benefits of water sports activities right here, too. Several retailers on Harbor Island close to the airport provide jet ski, paddleboard, kayak, photo voltaic boat, and velocity boat leases.

Fun Sightseeing Tours

There are quite a lot of enjoyable methods to go sightseeing alongside the San Diego Bay, which is a pure harbor and deepwater port that spans alongside Point Loma and across the downtown San Diego space to Coronado Island.

You can stroll from Little Italy, Seaport Village, and the Gaslamp Quarter to the place most of those excursions depart. Bay excursions are probably the greatest issues to do in San Diego. It’s a calming solution to get a broad view of the town earlier than you begin visiting sights and historic landmarks.

But these should not the one sightseeing excursions you’ll need to partake in when visiting San Diego. You can discover San Diego by way of hop-on, hop-off trolley, and even kayak by means of sea caves.


old town trolley car drives through Balboa Park.
Old Town Trolley drives by means of Balboa Park

If you’re looking for a solution to sightsee and get round city, a day go on the Old Town Trolley is one answer. You can hop on and off at your leisure or simply experience its loop to take pleasure in some sightseeing.

It makes stops between Coronado and Old Town, together with the Embarcadero and Balboa Park. Buy your tickets.


SEAL Tours are one of the best things to do in Downtown San Diego
You’ll see these amphibious autos driving round downtown.

Kids specifically love taking a Seal Tour. The bus-boat begins off on land at both the Embarcadero or Seaport Village after which plunges into the San Diego harbor for a distinct take a look at the downtown skyline.

A cheeky information narrates the tour, and also you’ll probably see birds and possibly a sea lion or related within the water as properly.


Patriot Jet Boat speeds through San Diego Bay.
High velocity thrills on the water

This is a high-speed, 30-minute thrill experience with spins, methods, and turns at speeds of as much as 50 mph. It’s operated by Flagship Cruises and Events and could be very in style with teenagers.


Along our slice of California coast, you’ll be able to see gray whales migrating between December and April. Summer brings blue whales to our waters (undoubtedly take a tour as a result of they swim additional out than grey whales do).

Plus, you’ll be able to see pilot and different whales in between. It’s greatest to take a whale watching tour from a good firm like Flagship Cruises or City Experiences.


Head out into the bay on a one or two-hour San Diego harbor cruise that can take you alongside the Point Loma peninsula and round to the Coronado Bridge.

However, you may as well e-book a themed eating cruise — like Hops on the Harbor or Champagne Sunday Brunch — that takes an identical route.

Tip: It’s additionally straightforward to expertise the San Diego Bay with out taking a tour. The bayside walkway alongside the Embarcadero stretches from roughly the airport to the Convention Center.


Two people drive the mini speedboat on a tour.
Drive your personal speedboat! How enjoyable!

You can drive your personal mini velocity boat as a part of a narrated group bay tour. The boats seat two adults an one youngster and this is without doubt one of the hottest excursions on the bay.


See the San Diego skyline in your solution to and from Coronado Island through the 15-minute ferry experience departing from the downtown Embarcadero.


We touched on these briefly above when discussing the La Jolla Underwater Park. But I point out them once more right here as a result of folks typically inform me that these excursions have been an sudden spotlight. Any of the tour operators in La Jolla Shores are good however we like Surf Diva and Everyday California.


Some meals corporations provide themed meals excursions of particular San Diego neighborhoods that you’d need to go to anyway in your journey. For instance, So Diego gives a culinary historical past tour of Old Town and a wine stroll by means of Little Italy.

Learn extra and e-book: 11 Popular San Diego Bay Tours

Eat & Drink: From Tacos to Craft Beer

Speaking of meals, right here’s some to hunt out.

Find the best San Diego breweries to visit.
Definitely pattern a neighborhood beer


When it involves issues to do in San Diego for the age 21+ customer, brewery excursions are extremely popular. At the time of this writing, there are over 200 breweries in San Diego. It’s essentially the most breweries of any county within the United States, which makes our metropolis an ideal vacation spot for craft beer lovers.

How you discover the brewery tradition right here relies on your tastes and site, however choices canIt’slude a non-public information, on a Social Cycle pedaling by means of the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego, by practice up the shoreline (stopping alongside the best way), and easily searching for out city breWarwick’sar your resort. You won’t run out of recent beer to try to can knock out some sightseeing alongside the best way.


San Diego is known for fish tacos. You ought to eat a number of when you’re right here. Popular locations embrace Oscar’s Mexican Seafood in Pacific Beach, George’s California Modern in La Jolla, and South Beach in Pacific Beach, amongst others. They’re in every single place — you’ll be able to even discover them at Albert’s at San Diego Zoo.


It’s straightforward to search out eating places alongside the San Diego shoreline for sundown or Pacific Ocean views in all value ranges. For fantastic eating, strive The Marine Room, which has particular excessive tide dinners and breakfasts the place the water crashes onto the restaurant’s home windows.

Poseidon in Del Mar can also be in style for seafood and California fare. You may even dine beachfront at Belmont Park at Cannonball.


You’ll have three to select from now. Liberty Public Market in Point Loma is arguably the biggest and strives to showcase native artisan ready meals, beer, specialty cocktails, produce, and extra.

Little Italy Food Hall is of a a lot smaller scale although it options a few the identical retailers like The Mini Donut and Wicked Maine Lobster. In whole, there are 9 stations (others embrace Ambrogio 15 and Bobboi, which have retailers close to my home that we frequent typically), the place you’ll be able to order meals to take to the patio eating or take pleasure in at one of many handful of tables inside.

Old Town Food Hall is model new, and I can’t wait to test it out in individual. As you may think, with a location in California’s birthplace the place one can bask in scrumptious Mexican meals, you’ll discover a taqueria, Bthey’repired seafood, elote, items, and extra.

Best Shopping Areas and Malls

Of course, issues to do in San Diego for some contain procuring. Here’s the place San Diego residents go.


This multi-block mixture of inside design outlets, cafes, and companies in Solana Beach is one in every of my favorites on the town. You’ll discover largely housewares, items, and clothes boutiques throughout 2.5 blocks – no large model names, actually. Don’t miss SoLo and Bixby & Ball.


Prospect Street is called the Rodeo Drive of San Diego. It’s lined with eating places, boutiques, and artwork galleries. Several streets like Girard and Herschel intersect Prospect and are additionally lined with outlets.

We like Hi Sweetheart (Herschel) and Warwick’s America’sfts, too – Girard), amongst others. See my La Jolla procuring information.


This is our greatest shopping center with a great deal of must-eat institutions starting from Din Tai Fung to Happy Lemon boba. Designer retailers are popping up like Louis Vuitton, however the primary division retailer anchor is Nordstrom.

The mall was lately renovated to incorporate a bunch of out of doors residing areas full with attractive planters and is simply actually nice to stroll round.


Honestly, I desire Westfield UTC lately in case you simply need to browse a shopping center. However, that is the place you’ll discover designer shops like Gucci and Prada. And it’s dwelling to San Diego’s solely Bloomingdales and Neiman Marcus.

There are extra informal shops like H&M and Gap additionally scattered in between. And it’s handy to Mission Valley inns.

Annual San Diego Events to Attend

Let’s name this #65 on the record for now, despite the fact that there are a number of occasions to say.

Aerial view of San Diego County Fair
Amusement park rides and halfway video games at Del Mar Fair

Annual occasions giant and small additionally carry guests to San Diego on day journeys and lengthy journeys. You’ve most likely heard of a few of them, and it’s value seeing what’s occurring in San Diego throughout your go to so you’ll be able to plan forward.

Be conscious that if you’re attending a particular annual occasion in San Diego, it helps to plan properly upfront for the reason that metropolis can get crowded and tickets to native sights can promote out.

These are simply a few of the occasions that draw folks right here from throughout:

  • The Farmer’s Insurance Open (January)
  • San Diego County Fair (June – July)
  • Del Mar Racing Season (July – September)
  • San Diego Comic-Con (July)
  • Padres Major League Baseball Season at PETCO Park (March – October)

Note: If you’re NOT attending one in every of these San Diego occasions, keep away from looking for San Diego inns close to the place they’re occurring as a result of charges could also be a lot greater than typical.

The Top 10 Things to Do in San Diego

Sometimes, folks need a brief record of issues to do. With that in thoughts, listed below are the highest 10 issues to do in San Diego.

  1. Go to the seashore
  2. See the San Diego Zoo or one other theme park
  3. Visit Balboa Park and its museums
  4. Enjoy water sports activities — learn to surf, go snorkeling, kayak sea caves, and extra
  5. Eat a fish taco (pair it with a craft beer)
  6. Visit La Jolla Cove and see the seals/sea lions
  7. See Old Town San Diego
  8. Take a stroll or a hike someplace scenic
  9. See sights on the downtown Embarcadero, like USS Midway
  10. Dine on the water – anyplace!

FAQs About Things to Do in San Diego, California

Learn much more about why San Diego is known as America’s Finest City.


Some of the most effective issues to do in San Diego, CA are literally free. The primary free factor to do is go to the seashore. Visiting Old Town San Diego doesn’t price a penny until you buy souvenirs or dine in a restaurant.

The similar goes for the Gaslamp Quarter and Balboa Park (most museums are at an extra price). Attractions in San Diego embrace a myriad of no-cost mountaineering trails, parks, self-guided artwork walks, and far more to do. For extra info, see my record of 100 free issues to do in San Diego.


The world-famous San Diego Zoo is San Diego’s hottest attraction due to its beautiful structure with reveals mimicking the animal’s pure habitat, proximity to downtown and the airport, and botanical backyard.

Outdoor actions are additionally extremely in style whether or not you hit the seashores, take pleasure in water sports activities, learn to surf, and even go scuba diving.


Aside from theme parks, grownup vacationers are inclined to take pleasure in the identical issues that youngsters do in San Diego, just like the seashores, hikes, and waterfront leisure areas — with one exception.

We don’t have the identical nightlife as, say, Los Angeles, however we’re the craft beer capital of the United States, with over 220 breweries.

In truth, many adults go to San Diego simply to pattern beer, and our culinary choices have additionally risen to the event with unbelievable eating places sprinkled all through the county. Of course, there are just a few in style speakeasies, nightclubs, and bars to discover within the Gaslamp Quarter.


San Diego household holidays may be taken year-round, because of our temperate climate and relatively-consistent sunshine. Whether your children are infants or teenagers, there may be a lot for them to do right here, from theme parks to free and enjoyable outside actions.

Read my final information to issues to do in San Diego with children and my record of in style teen actions.


San Diego is dwelling to well-known landmarks but in addition reaps the advantages of getting a superb location and a Major League Baseball workforce. San Diego is known for:

  • 70 miles of shoreline, together with attractive seashores
  • Year-round sunshine
  • Hotel del Coronado (It’s one of many final remaining Victorian seashore resorts that boasts a protracted record of notable visitors, has been in a number of well-known films, and can also be rumored to be haunted.)
  • San Diego-Coronado Bridge
  • San Diego Zoo (it’s well-known for being one of many largest zoos within the United States but in addition for its conservation efforts, assortment of uncommon animals, and unbelievable structure.
  • Craft Beer
  • San Diego Padres

What are your favourite issues to do in San Diego?

Find More Things to Do in Famous San Diego County Cities & Neighborhoods

If you end up in a sure a part of city, dive a bit deeper into my different lists of issues to do in San Diego by curiosity, neighborhood, or journey type.


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