A Local’s Guide to The Best Things to Do in San Diego

A Local’s Guide to The Best Things to Do in San Diego

As an area who has raised a household in coastal San Diego for the previous 25 years, I nonetheless marvel each day on the metropolis’s technicolor sunsets, impressed outside way of life, and glowing shoreline. In the event you’d prefer to get in on the motion, do that listing of the very best issues to do in San Diego that I like to recommend to associates after they go to! So, are you prepared for some California dreamin’?

Prepare for an unforgettable journey to the guts of Southern California with our information to the very best issues to do in San Diego. Recognized for its idyllic local weather, sandy seashores, and vibrant cultural scene, San Diego gives numerous sights that cater to each sort of traveler. From the historic attraction of the Gaslamp Quarter to the pure great thing about Balboa Park and the cutting-edge displays on the USS Halfway Museum, this coastal metropolis on the Pacific Ocean guarantees to make your go to really memorable.

Greatest Issues to Do in San Diego

San Diego has every part, whether or not you need to create a household trip or get pleasure from its many outside actions. Catch a wave at La Jolla Cove, discover the San Diego Zoo, or just absorb the solar on Coronado Seashore.

Are you able to dive into the very best issues to do in San Diego, sharing insider suggestions that will help you profit from your go to to “America’s Best Metropolis.” Christina Roman initially wrote this text about the very best issues to do in San Diego. We’ve got up to date it for 2024 with extra sights and excursions to provide the most in-depth journey information to San Diego.

Previous City San Diego

A Local’s Guide to The Best Things to Do in San Diego

Thought of the birthplace of California, Previous City San Diego traces the historical past of the primary European settlement relationship again to 1820. It was designated a State Historic Park and homes many historic buildings, together with the Whaley Home. The previous website of the gallows has been formally designated a haunted home. Stroll by means of its historic websites, such because the Whaley Home Museum, the old-fashioned home, and the grave yard.

A enjoyable approach to discover the historic village is to take this Tales, Tacos, and Tequila Tour. Meet at Adobe Chapel to study of the historical past and marvel at its Victorian structure whereas having fun with a fish taco and genuine Mexican meals. The tour ends at an area distillery for a tequila tasting.

Gaslamp Quarter

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Positioned in downtown San Diago on San Diego Bay, Gaslamp Quarter has a wild western historical past of shootouts and barroom brawls. It was as soon as the red-light district and, within the 1860s, San Diego’s Chinatown. Gaslamp Quarter has 100 historic buildings, together with museums and artwork galleries. It additionally has quite a lot of bars and eating places.

The Gaslamp Quarter is a superb place to get pleasure from dinner and to take a look at the nightlife scene. This strolling tour is a enjoyable Brothels, Bites, and Booze Tour that takes you thru the historic and cultural coronary heart of San Diego from the notorious Stingaree District whereas having fun with genuine Mexican meals at 4 totally different eating places with some alcohol included. Ensure that to pattern the craft beer scene.

If you’d like extra nightlife once you go to San Diego, go to Solana Seashore to get pleasure from reside music at The Stomach Up Tavern. It’s one in all San Diego’s premier reside music venues. Earlier than catching a present, you’ll be able to seize dinner on the Tavern subsequent door.

The Strand on Coronado Island

Places to visit in San Diego Coronado island

Coronado Island is situated throughout San Diego Bay and accessible by way of the long-lasting Coronado Bridge or a brief ferry experience throughout San Diego Bay from downtown.

On the coronary heart of Coronado lies the legendary Lodge del Coronado, a Victorian beachfront masterpiece that has captivated guests for the reason that nineteenth century. The American film basic “Some Like It Sizzling,” starring Marilyn Monroe, was filmed right here. As you method the lodge’s entrance, you should definitely be aware the Hollywood stars commemorating the movie imprinted within the cement. When Lodge Del Coronado opened in 1888, it was the most important resort lodge on the planet.

Even if you happen to’re not staying at this stunning luxurious resort, you’ll get pleasure from a stroll on the Silver Strand. It’s seven miles of glowing sandy seaside alongside the Pacific Ocean simply behind the lodge. Swing by Del’s beachside café for fish tacos or head as much as the swanky outside bar for sundown cocktails with a view. Outside lovers can take a motorbike experience alongside its bike paths, and water lovers will get pleasure from its many water sports activities.

Discover Balboa Park

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Balboa Park – San Diego CA

As San Diego’s cultural coronary heart, historic Balboa Park is a spot of pure magnificence. It’s most beloved for the San Diego Zoo, the town’s most well-known attraction, which is without doubt one of the higher zoos for conservation. However there’s a lot extra to see and do on this 1,200-acre city park studded with colonial structure, outside actions and hidden gems.

You may spend a whole day right here. Constructed for the Panama-California Exposition in 1915 to have fun the opening of the Panama Canal, Balboa Park homes world-class museums, a theatre, and a science middle.

You should definitely go to the glassblowers on the Spanish Village Artwork Heart, and with children in tow, don’t miss a experience on the gorgeous carousel. In the event you’re looking for a meal with an ambiance to spare, make a reservation at The Prado, an award-winning indoor-outdoor restaurant within the park with equipment impressed by park collections.

You may see pandas and flamingos on the San Diego Zoo, however don’t cease there. You may also discover the Japanese Friendship Backyard and a Present on the Globe Theater. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket consists of the Africa Tram and all usually scheduled experiences. Extra Particulars right here.

Whale Watching

Nevertheless as an alternative of visiting Seaworld San Diego or within the San Diego Zoo, why not see animals of their pure habitat? From December to April, 20,000 grey whales migrate alongside the coast, and you’ll view them from a two-story yacht with 360-degree views. E-book this extremely rated tour now. (straightforward cancelation inside 24 hours of tour for a full refund)


things to do in san diego

Embarcadero is without doubt one of the metropolis’s high waterfront locations, with loads of waterfront bars and eating places. Positioned on San Diego Bay, Embardacero pays homage to the maritime historical past of San Diego with historic ships and museums.

Additionally, you will board many scenic cruises and whale watching excursions right here. You’ll additionally see cruise ships in port right here, and there are many eating places and outlets. This can be a excellent spot to go for a stroll to absorb the views, and do some buying, plus it’s nonetheless a working fishing harbor.

It’s right here that you could go to the Maritime Museum of San Diego and the San Diego Museum of Artwork and Design, however what attracts most individuals to the realm (moreover the accommodations and nightlife) is the USS Halfway Museum.

USS Halfway Museum

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One of many high sights in San Diego is the USS Halfway, situated in downtown San Diego. It’s an plane service that was energetic from 1945 to 1992, making it the world’s longest-serving service from World Struggle II to Desert Storm.

The USS Halfway Museum is the world’s largest museum devoted to plane Carriers. It’s moored at Embarcadero in downtown San Diego, and guests can tour its 60 displays and 29 plane on board. Onboard, you’ll relive the Halfway’s exploits and listen to about occasions that modified the world. One other good museum for nautical lovers is the Maritime Museum.

Get your skip-the-line tickets to beat the crowds on a self-guided audio tour of the longest-serving plane service within the American fleet. Spend 2-3 hours exploring its 60 displays, together with the galley, jail, and engine room. You may also take part within the simulators and watch the movies.

Seaport Village

Seaport Village is situated subsequent to Embarcadero and is a serious 14-acre open-air buying advanced in shut proximity to the cruise ship terminal. There are many eating places, and it’s linked to the Marriott lodge 0 The place we stayed in San Diego en path to Rancho La Puerta in Mexico).

There are galleries, espresso outlets, and boutiques, making for a beautiful stroll by means of this touristy space. When visiting a brand new metropolis, it’s enjoyable to go to a vacationer attraction. There’s a motive they’re in style. Seize some ice cream at Ben & Jerry’s and take a stroll by means of the 50+ outlets. There’s a historic carousel, and you’ll catch the Previous City Trolley right here. Location: West Harbor Drive, San Diego CA, 92101

San Diego Harbor Cruise

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San Diego Harbour

There’s no higher approach to admire San Diego’s spectacular shoreline and skyline than from the water! So do your self a favor and e book a harbor cruise whilst you’re on the town. E-book this extremely rated cruise of the San Diego Harbor to view the San Diego skyline and well-known landmarks similar to Coronado Bridge, Downtown San Diego, and extra.

Cruise the north harbor for views of landmarks like Harbor Island and Shelter Island and frequent colonies of sea lions clustered on the base of the Level Loma peninsula. Or go south to loop below the Coronado Bay Bridge and previous the plane service. Hornblower Cruises gives whale watching, dolphin-watching excursions and sundown cocktail and dinner cruises.

Discover San Diego’s Tide Swimming pools

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San Diegans love tide pooling, and if you wish to discover the shores of California’s West Coast, this can be a nice exercise to attempt. When the tide rolls out alongside San Diego’s 70 miles of shoreline alongside the Pacific Ocean, tide swimming pools are stuffed with plentiful hidden treasures if you understand the place to look.

Spot sea stars, hermit crabs, limpets, mussels, anemones…perhaps even a shy octopus tucked right into a crevice. Simply bear in mind to tread fastidiously in these protected marine sanctuaries and depart no hint of your go to.

High suggestions for a profitable tide pooling journey:  Verify an ocean’s tide chart earlier than you head to any of the San Diego seashores. Time your go to for a destructive tide if attainable. In truth, low tides in November to February make winter tide pooling particularly rewarding.

Belmont Park

Certainly one of San Diego’s most enduring vacationer sights is Belmont Park, an outdated amusement park relationship again to 1925. Amusement parks are all the time enjoyable for the entire household, and this one has bumper automobiles, mini golf, and arcade video games. However don’t miss the Large Dipper Curler Coaster, a picket curler coaster that was designated a Nationwide Historic Landmark in 1987.

Hike Torrey Pines State Pure Reserve

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Torrey Pines State Reserve

Torrey Pines State Pure Reserve, in coastal La Jolla, is without doubt one of the wildest stretches of the Southern California coast. Whether or not you’re a seasoned hiker in search of a problem or a household with younger youngsters or mobility-impaired adults, you’ll discover loads of mountain climbing trails huge on sweeping coastal views and sage-covered chaparral on Torrey Pines State Seashore.

Breathe within the aromatic Torrey Pines on a brief loop mountain climbing path or take a country footpath that descends from the bluffs by means of the higher reserve 300 toes to the seaside. Mountain climbing trails within the close by Reserve Extension alongside the creek mattress could be particularly scenic throughout spring wildflower season. Learn extra about mountain climbing in California: 15 Greatest Hikes in California – Inspiration to Get Outside

Paraglide at Torrey Pines Gliderport

In case you are in search of some extra pleasure, the Torrey Pines Gliderport has top-of-the-line views of San Diego and is a launchpad for paragliders. In the event you ever wished a little bit of adrenaline, paragliding is a superb introduction to skydiving. It offers a birds eye view of the coast with out having to leap out of a airplane.

If you wish to spend the day at Coronado Island, , e book this strolling tour t to see the highlights. It features a stroll to Star Park, the place the “Wizard of Oz” home is situated, a go to to Coronado Seashore, and a stroll by multi-million greenback properties that line Ocean Boulevard. You may also take a tour of Lodge del Coronado and luxuriate in a deal with at an area eatery.

In your approach to Coronado Island, cease at Chicano Park below the Coronado Bridge, the place you’ll discover the most important assortment of outside murals in America. It’s situated in Logan Heights. Deal with: 2043-2085 Logan Ave. San Diego, CA 92113

La Jolla Cove

la jolla beach

In the event you love the seaside, you’ll love La Jolla. La Jolla Cove boasts a large seaside that’s good for spending sunny days lounging on the sand whereas sea lions bask on the Seashore.

There’s recent Mexican delicacies and plenty of boutique outlets within the space to buy groceries. If you wish to go snorkeling, that is the place to do it, with calm waters and loads of marine life. It additionally hosts Mount Soledad, the Birch Aquarium, a handful of museums, and sufficient journey tour corporations to maintain you energetic for days.

Head to La Jolla to take a dip at swank La Jolla Shores, or try Windansea for nice surf breaks and surroundings. Del Mar is a family-friendly, dog-friendly seaside in style for picnics and weddings. Or head north to domestically beloved Moonlight Seashore or Beacon’s Seashore in Encinitas to skip the vacationer crowds.

You may rent an teacher at one in all San Diego’s in style seashores – Mission Seashore, Ocean Seashore or Pacific Seashore or La Jolla Shores.

Mission Seashore

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Mission Seashore is a 2 mile lengthy boardwalk full of eating places, nightlife and seaside actions. alongside a protracted sandy seaside Take a stroll alongside the boardwalk for beautiful views of the coast. It begins at Belmont Park the place all of the motion occurs, however you may make your manner south to this quieter part of the seaside.

There are many water sports activities from browsing and boogie boarding to kiteboarding and fishing. If you wish to go for a experience, that is positively the place to hire a bicycle.

Pacific Seashore

One other nice seaside group in San Diego is Pacific Seashore. This 3-mile-long seaside and boardwalk has a celebration ambiance and has loads of stylish eating places and bars to point out you time all day and evening. North Pacific Seashore has calm waters with lifeguards on obligation, making it in style with households, and Tourmaline Browsing Park is in style for browsing. You may hire bicycles to discover Pacific Seashore Drive and ensure to take a stroll out to Crystal Pier.

Ocean Seashore

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Ocean Seashore is an off-the-cuff neighborhood the place various life usually are not simply welcomed however embraced. Stroll alongside the primary road previous all sorts of eating places, boutiques promoting tie-dye every part, therapeutic crystal outlets, and taco stands.

Avenue artwork covers previously naked partitions, and the solar is often shining afternoon—as soon as the marine layer of fog burns off. Ensure that to stroll alongside Ocean Seashore Pier and take a look at the Ocean Seashore Farmers Market. It is stuffed with natural meals stalls, they usually even placed on reside music!

Youngsters’s Pool Seashore

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Opposite to its title, Youngsters’s Pool Seashore just isn’t a seaside for youngsters to swim because of the sea lion inhabitants that has overtaken its enticing, calm waters. The seaside was designated in 1931 as a seaside for teenagers to securely swim after constructing a sea wall to create calm waters and pool-like circumstances. However the native marine life discovered this enticing as effectively and now moms come to the seaside from December to Could to have their pups. If you wish to stand up shut and private with sea life, this can be a excellent spot to view them.

Sundown Cliffs Pure Park

best beaches in San Diego Sunset Cliffs Point Loma

As its title suggests, Sundown Cliffs is without doubt one of the finest locations for sundown in San Diego. The 68-acre pure park has tidal swimming pools, sea caves, and sea arches.

Sundown Cliffs Pure Park stands out as a pure surprise in Diego, providing a number of the most awe-inspiring views and tranquil moments that nature can present. Perched alongside the western fringe of Level Loma, Sundown Cliffs Pure Park spans 68 acres of rugged cliffs, expansive ocean vistas, and complicated cave formations, making it a photographer’s paradise and a nature lover’s haven.

The journey to Sundown Cliffs Pure Park is well accessible by automobile or public transport, with parking accessible alongside the road. Because the golden hour approaches, folks collect to witness the solar dipping beneath the horizon, portray the sky with vibrant hues—an expertise that encapsulates the essence of San Diego’s pure magnificence.

Past the sundown, the park’s strolling trails and hidden seashores provide a peaceable escape from the town’s hustle and bustle. Whether or not you’re in downtown San Diego or exploring the broader space, a go to to Sundown Cliffs Pure Park is an unforgettable addition to any itinerary, embodying the serene and picturesque aspect of California’s coastal wonders.

Level Loma

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One other San Diego Museum to go to is the Previous Level Loma Lighthouse. Positioned on the southern tip of Sundown Cliffs, Level Loma is an effective cease earlier than nightfall to study in regards to the historical past of this historic lighthouse that dates again to 1855. Deal with: 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106

Cabrillo Nationwide Monument

This monument is devoted to the primary European explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who explored the coast of California in 1542. It’s situated on the south finish of Level Loma and whereas it’s an fascinating level in historical past, it’s place to go to for the views of the Coronado, metropolis skyline and on a transparent day, you’ll be able to see Tijuana. It has typically been touted as the very best view in San Diego. You may also take a stroll alongside the  2.5-mile Bayside Path and you may make your manner all the way down to discover the tide swimming pools right here as effectively. A visit right here is usually mixed with the lighthouse.

Little Italy

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San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood has been channeling the mom nation since 1920 on this pedestrian-friendly enclave of lovely Italian boutiques, quaint patios, and drool-worthy fare.

You should definitely swing by the outstanding farmer’s market on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Greater than 200 tents of native entrepreneurs, household farms, and artisan grocers provide every part from native artwork and olive oil to handmade crafts and one-of-a-kind keepsakes and items.

No matter you do, don’t miss the chance for a meal right here. (The expertise takes me instantly again to a few of my fondest days in Italy) It’s exhausting to go improper with a meal right here so think about shopping the menus on chalkboards on the primary drag to see what strikes your fancy.

Then cease for gelato across the nook at Pappalecco. Searching for grab-and-go sandwiches for the seaside? Swing by Mona Lisa, a world-class Italian grocer and deli.

Botanical Gardens

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After I’m touring, I like to immerse myself in an area backyard to see what’s rising and luxuriate in a candy reprieve from all of the city exercise. I like to recommend the beautiful San Diego Botanic Backyard in coastal Encinitas, North County San Diego. (This can be a surfer city so keep for fish tacos, window buying and the laid again nightlife vibe on the 101.)

The Botanic Backyard is a treasure. In simply an hour or two, you’ll meander by means of a desert backyard, a tropical rain forest, a swath of spectacular succulents, and marvel on the lovingly tended California native vegetation. Take a breather below the uncommon bamboos or subsequent to the 60-foot waterfall. A go to here’s a memorable addition to any San Diego itinerary.

Catch a Sam Diego Padres Sport a Petco Park

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Baseball is America’s favourite pastime and when visiting San Diego, you’ll be able to watch the San Diego Padres play at what’s the finest baseball stadium within the main league, Petco Park.

It’s situated proper downtown San Diego with nice views of the skyline from this state-of-the-art attraction. In the event you can’t make a sport, you’ll be able to all the time e book a stadium tour the place you’ll go behind the scenes to go to the Padres Corridor of Fame, go to the Clubhouse, the Main League dugout, press field and extra!

Getting Round San Diego

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San Diego is California’s second-largest metropolis. In the event you plan on seeing a variety of the town and surrounding space, its finest to hire a automobile to your journey. Downtown San Diego is well walkable and has trolley system with over 50 stops. Tickets for the Pink Trolley are between $0.50 – $3.00. The Previous City San Diego Trolley stops at 11 locations and even comes with a narrated tour. For extra data on occasions try their web site. The seaside and inland neighborhoods of San Diego are much less accessible with public transport, so that you’ll need to rent a automobile.

San Diego is only a quick distance from the San Diego Worldwide Airport. You may simply get downtown by bus line 30 or tram line 140. You may also seize a taxi however we prefer to e book a non-public switch from the San Diego airport. We use this airport switch service every time we journey. It’s hassle-free and your driver meets you at arrivals together with your title. Straightforward cancellation and last-minute bookings.

Planning a Journey to San Diego

In case you are planning to go to San Diego, learn our full information to the place to remain in San Diego. It breaks down the very best neighborhoods for every sort of traveler. From seaside lovers to households, the very best nightlife and first timers, we’ve obtained you coated. Examine it right here: The place To Keep In San Diego – The Greatest Neighborhoods & Areas

Recommended accommodations

 Kimpton Solamar Lodge – Positioned within the coronary heart of the Gaslamp Quarter and that includes Free WIFI, Rooftop Pool & free wine tasting! That is the same old Kimpton Luxurious expertise. Staypineapple at Lodge Z – A romantic lodge with quirky decor. It’s pet pleasant and gives free Wifi and is strolling distance to virtually every part. USA Hostels San Diego Downtown – Constructed again in 1880 this hostel gives combined dorms, free WIFI, Free Breakfast, and a vibrant new age decor. The Coronary heart of the Metropolis – Positioned within the coronary heart of the Gaslamp Quarter. This can be a 2nd Ground Expansive unit with numerous area. with 2 bedrooms and 1 tub, it’s good for households or {couples}. It additionally comes with entry to a parking area and is near every part.

San Diego CityPass

Seize your self a San Diego Metropolis Go to essentially make the most of every part the town has to supply. A few of San Diego’s high sights are included within the go with admission to:• San Diego Zoo Safari Park• Belmont Park all entry combo go• One hour San Diego Harbor cruise• Museums together with San Diego Pure Historical past Museum• Knott’s Berry Farm and extra!

When to go to San Diego

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There may be actually no dangerous time to go to San Diego. It has nice climate year-round. However the very best offers could be present in shoulder season from March to Could and September to November. San Diego sees essentially the most rain throughout the winter months. January and February are the coldest months hovering round 65 levels farenheit. However Could and June could be overcast and grey.

So there you’ve got it, all the should see sights in America’s Best Metropolis. There isn’t a scarcity of issues to see and do at this 12 months spherical vacation spot. From catching some rays on the seashores of La Jolla, taking in Balboa Park’s 17 museums, or strolling the boardwalk at Mission Seashore, you will see that one thing that pursuits every member of the household. So what are you ready for? Begin planning your journey to Southern California at present.

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