This post includes information on San Diego, travel tips, and all about the fun-filled and exciting things to do in San Diego upon a visit.
San Diego is one of the sunniest places in California, the finest city in America, and is a mind-blowing tourist destination. There is a lot to know about this city, and certainly a lot to love about this city. From exploring beautiful beaches to unique neighborhoods, there is a long list of exciting and best things to do in San Diego.
No matter how many times one has visited San Diego, there will always be something new to try, and that is the best part of this city. Here, you can experience both the world-famous San Diego attractions and the unique local feels.
The perfect weather, mouth-watering fish tacos, year-round activities, breweries, and spectacular shorelines, all together make San Diego what it is and why people love it in the first place.
So, such an amazing place deserves some attention. This is why we have put together a list of some of the best things to do in San Diego.
Just keep in mind that this list doesn’t contain each and everything San Diego has to offer because there is actually a hell of many things to do in San Diego that cannot be possibly put into one list.
So, we have picked out those things to do in San Diego, which are the most popular and favorite among people.
However, before moving on to the list of things to do in San Diego, how about you learn a few fun facts about San Diego? After all, some might be visiting San Diego for the first time, and it never hurts to know a few things about exciting destinations.
Fun Facts About San Diego
San Diego is known for its pristine beaches, delicious foods, locals, and vibrant atmosphere, but there’s more to the city than is known. So, let’s know some facts, shall we?
1. Home to the rare “Torrey Pine.”
Torrey Pines is a rare and endangered tree variety that grows in San Diego. And San Diego is actually one of the only two places where this tree grows and can be found.
2. Home to the famous California Burrito
The famous and delicious Golden State food California Burrito is originally from San Diego.
3. Comic-con international is held here.
The famous comic book convention, comic-con international, is held in San Diego every year. It first took place in 1970, where only a few 100s of people visited, however, now over 130,000 visitors can be marked.
4. San Diego: The birthplace of California
San Diego is called the birthplace of California because it was the very site of California’s first permanent Spanish settlement.
5. Tuna Capital of the world
San Diego was tagged as the “Tuna Capital of the world” from the 1930s to the late 1970s. This was because every major cannery of that time was based in San Diego.
6. La Jolla had houses specifically for small people
It is said that some of the people who played Munchkins in the Wizard of the Oz movie moved to the La Jolla region in San Diego and built houses that were specifically for small people known as “Munchkin houses.”
So, these are just a few interesting and fun facts about San Diego. If you want to know more, click here.
And now it’s finally time to check out the amazing things to do in San Diego.
13 Amazing Things To Do In San Diego
1. A visit to the San Diego Zoo
2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego
Located within Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is rated among the best zoos in the world. The zoo houses over 650 species, from big cats to Komodo Dragons. For animal lovers, this zoo can be as exciting as anything best in the world. So, it has topped the list of things to do in San Diego.
San Diego Zoo houses the largest collection of endangered and rare animals in the world. The journey inside the zoo starts with numerous trails where you will come face to face with exciting creatures. The best way is to explore the whole area on foot, from one trail to another. However, if you get tired, there is also a 35-minute guided bus tour.
And if you are into something adventurous, you might want to go for the “bird’s eye view” of the park provided by the sky far aerial tramp. This aerial adventure will take you from one end of the park to another.
What else to do?
Well, in addition to getting a closer look at all the rare creatures, the zoo organizes animal encounter programs, animal shows, and 4-D movie theatres about wildlife.
So, all in all, you will never run out of options in the zoo. You can always enjoy one thing or the other.
While speaking of San Diego Zoo, there is also the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, where you can have an experience of a lifetime.
The Safari Park alone is ten times more exciting than the famous San Diego zoo. The ride to the park through the African Plains and Asian Savana to view the giraffes, rhinos, lions, wildebeest is worth remembering.
2. Petco Park
100 Park Blvd, San Diego
The state-of-the-art Petco Park is a ballpark in downtown San Diego. It is one of Major League Baseball’s best stadiums. The park is amazing in every way possible, it has the best sight lines in baseball, and it offers breathtaking views of San Diego.
It is home to the San Diego Padres MLB team and a great destination. This is why it has been made to the list of things to do in San Diego.
From the stands, you will get awesome views of the San Diego Bay and San Diego skyline. This is the point that celebrates all of San Diego, the game, the city’s beauty, the spirit of the people, the sky, and the sea.
What else is there?
The park also has an entertainment zone for the kids, and there’s, of course, amazing food. From hot dogs, BBQ, fish tacos to Roman-style Pizza, you will get everything here.
3. Go Back in Time: Old Town San Diego Park
While presently being in San Diego, you can take a trip back in time and experience the old town, San Diego. It is for sure one of the best things to do in San Diego.
The Old Town San Diego Park is a living history museum established in 1968 that preserves and commemorates historic buildings, restored shops, and houses from the 19th century.
This San Diego museum is one of the most visited in California as it features various aspects of San Diego’s history and culture. The time from 1820 to 1870 can be very well learned here.
What to see?
Apart from the preserved historic architecture, you can see reconstructed buildings. Other than that in the area you can find various shops which offer authentic handicrafts and restaurants with authentic food.
4. Whale Watching
Watching whales anywhere, anytime, is always a fun activity to do. And San Diego offers an amazing chance at whale watching too. It is one of the most exciting things to do in San Diego.
The California Gray Whales can be seen migrating from Northern Alaska to Baja California while passing by San Diego between December and April.
So, during this time, you can head up to the Embarcadero, San Diego’s harbourfront, for a whale-watching cruise. This cruise journey is assisted by a naturalist who will provide insights into the whales.
The cruise, with its indoor and outdoor seating arrangement, is thoroughly enjoyed by visitors. Apart from catching sight of whales and dolphins, you are certain to spot many harbor seals and sea lions.
Also, you get to enjoy and experience San Diego county’s Pacific Ocean coastline. So, one way or the other, you will definitely enjoy your time.
5. Enjoy at the Mission Beach & Pacific Beach
858 San Diego
Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are the hot spots for San Diego’s youth and tourists alike. These two beaches are separated beaches. However, they are connected through one giant shoreline. Although these two beaches aren’t as exceptional as the Coronado Island Beach, it is just as popular.
Both the beaches share the same boardwalk, ocean, and sand, yet they have a few noteworthy differences. Mission Beach has a premier amusement park known as the Belmont Park, which is everyone’s absolute favorite. And it is a bit calmer than Pacific Beach.
This vintage amusement park is known for its historic landmark, called the Giant Dipper. It is a roller coaster built in 1925 and is still running.
Pacific Beach, on the other, has a more lively environment, and it offers the best nightlife in San Diego. Even if you walk along the boardwalk, you will feel the vibe. It is one of San Diego’s prime spots.
Both the beaches are excellent for surfers, so if you are into surfing, here’s another bonus. If you are looking for a more relaxed, family-friendly beach experience, best go for mission beach.
Located south of the pacific beach in Mission Bay, a human-made saltwater bay also equally enjoyed by visitors. So after you hit the beach, you can drive up here.
There’s another option for you if you are a fan of small compact beaches. The La Jolla Cove, surrounded by the cliffs in the La Jolla neighborhood, is a small cove and beach with scenic scenery.
La Jolla Cove is perfect for adventures like diving, kayaking.
6. Torrey Pines Gliderport
2800 Torrey Pines Scenic Drive, La Jolla
Torrey Pines Gliderport is a prime location of Southern California for hand gliding and paragliding. Even if you have no experience in these activities, you can just come here to feel the cool ocean breeze and enjoy the breathtaking scenery.
The Gliderport offers world-class flying lessons, tandem flights, and flying sites. If you want to try paragliding for the first time, this is the place to start. Go for a tandem flight and truly experience what a free flight is all about.
You can also be there, sit on one of the benches, and linger over the beautiful views. And if you are there on a Saturday afternoon, you can also enjoy live music.
Speaking of Torrey Pines, visitors might also have a good time at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, a National Natural Landmark featuring about 2,000 acres of Pacific coastline.
This is an exciting experience and one of the most favorite things to do in San Diego.
7. Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 N Harbour Drive, San Diego
The Maritime Museum of San Diego, located a few steps from the USS Midway on the waterfront park of Embarcedero, is a popular tourist attraction home to the nation’s largest collections of historic sea vessels.
The museum features some of the world’s largest and finest collections of historic ships, including the oldest ship, Star of India. It is the oldest ship in the world that is still active regularly.
What to see?
Currently, the museum has 11 heritage boats and submarines. The best part about the museum is that visitors can explore the boats visually but can actually sail on one of them. There are different boat tours, and prices depend on the ship you pick.
The exhibits are quite fascinating for youngsters and adults, and this has directly come from past visitors. And the tours provide a beautiful insight into the golden age of sailors.
One similar touch museum in San Diego is the USS Midway Museum. It is a historic naval aircraft carrier museum home to an extensive collection of aircraft, including the longest-serving aircraft.
Another museum (which is entirely different than these two) is the legendary Whaley House museum.
8. Gaslamp Quarter
Gaslamp Quarter is a 16 block heritage area with Victorian-style buildings in the downtown San Diego area. The area is home to many art galleries, various shops, restaurants, theatres, and trendy clubs and bars.
What to do here?
If you are looking for bustling nightlife in San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter is the place. The food scene is here is worth trying too. This neighborhood has over 100 sidewalk restaurants, so you can keep strolling and run into some amazing food places.
And if you want to experience the lively atmosphere of Gaslamp Quarter, you can pick any rooftop bar or an open-air patio seating restaurant.
This neighborhood is the heart of San Diego. Anything you want to do, you can do here, shopping, bar hopping for some craft beer, or trying different delicacies like Mexican Food or Italian.
9. Mission San Diego De Alcala
10818 San Diego Mission Road
The Mission San Diego De Alcala, set up in 1769, is the first Franciscan mission in California, and it still is running today as a Catholic Church.
Even if you are not religious, you must visit the mission because it is a beautiful historic building. There are regular guided tours of the whole compound, and you can take even a tour in advance.
A museum also houses archaeological findings such as pottery, weapons, and Kumeyaay handicrafts.
10. Cabrillo National Monument
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive
Nestled in the cliffs of Point Loma, the Cabrillo National Monument is the point where a European person named Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first set foot on the West Coast.
The site commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo at the San Diego Bay on 1542, September 28, by a historic statue standing tall since 1988. From this point, visitors will get spectacular views of the whole of San Diego, including the downtown and the surrounding areas.
And as you are done with the views, there is an exhibit hall right next to the monument where you can learn all about Cabrillo’s life.
Since you would be already in Point Loma Peninsula while visiting the monument, there are other fun things to do in San Diego as of here.
You will find amazing hiking trails, tide pools, and much more.
11. Children’s Pool Beach
Children’s Pool Beach, also known as the Casa Beach in the La Jolla area, is a small beach with a scallop-shaped coved which works as a protective wall against the La Jolla Shores. It is a safe swimming beach for the kids who want to enjoy San Diego’s water without the surf coming in.
It is an undesirable swimming spot with calm waters, and this has been one of the top things to do in San Diego. It is one of the most known and visited beaches in La Jolla.
The beach is quite pretty and calming, so visitors can bring their children here for some fun with the waters. And adults can have a good time here too. The beach has a very relaxing vibe.
It was built back in 1930 and was built as a gift to the community of La Jolla by philanthropist Ellen Browning Scripps.
12. Little Italy
Area 48 ha
Little Italy is another interesting neighborhood in San Diego, and visiting this place has always been one of the most favorite things to do in San Diego.
Here you can get a feel of the real San Diego; all you need to do is “do as the locals do.” Visit the Saturday Mercato Farmers Market and amuse yourself with the variety of locally produced items. And even if you can’t go for this one, there are other farmer’s markets every week.
This neighborhood is filled with pizza spots, one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants, breweries, and cafes. And almost are the places are packed with people and have a lively atmosphere. You will surely have fun visiting Little Italy.
13. Hotel Del Coronado
1500 Orange Avenue
Coming to San Diego will feel incomplete if you didn’t spend some time in Hotel Del Coronado, the pride of Coronado.
Hotel Del Coronado is a historic landmark and a Victorian Beachfront hotel that opened in 1888, and it was the largest hotel in the world during that time.
Today the hotel is famous for its scenic oceans views, red roof, and architecture. If you are in San Deigo, it is a must for you to spend a day here, enjoy a Sunday special brunch and soak up on the resort’s fascinating history.
This hotel was once the playground of superstars of Hollywood. So, spending a day here is certainly one of the amazing things to do in San Diego.
Travel Tips on San Diego Bay:
Well, these are all on our list of amazing things to do in San Diego. Once you are in the city, you will see for yourself what the city is hiding from the world.
But one important thing to know apart from all these amazing things is the major highlight of San Diego, which is the San Diego Bay. A trip to San Diego will definitely be more exciting and fun-filled when you experience the best of this coastal city bay.
From a cruise to various other activities on the bay, you will find plenty of amazing things to do in San Diego Bay.
By now, you are aware of most of the amazing things to do in San Diego, so what’s stopping you? Pack your bags, and get going.
Start your journey from one of the suburbs like Del Mar or Leucadia. They have beautiful scenery. After that, you can go for the different activities that we have made a list of. There are many things to do in San Diego, so planning things will help you enjoy almost everything.
If you enjoy games and sports, you can plan a visit to the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, or for some fun games, you can visit some of the theme parks in San Diego. And another must-visit site in San Diego is Balboa Park, home to the famous “Old Globe” theatre.
And if you want to enjoy the open air and sea breeze, and get stunning picturesque views of the city skyline, drive up to the famous Coronado Bridge. It has a magical feeling to offer.
All I hope is this post on amazing things to do in San Diego makes things easy for you, and you have a good time on a trip to San Diego.
To know more about things to do in San Diego, you may click here.
Verified Content by Experts
USA Tales has content written by niche experts, travelers, students, and those with real-life experience. Our content is also periodically reviewed by subject matter experts to ensure content accuracy and relevancy. Have a question? Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org