Your Complete Guide on the Best Things to Do in San Diego
San Diego is filled with so many fun places and exciting activities. With beautiful weather year-round and many unique things to see and do, you’re sure to have a blast no matter where your interests lie. Here are some don’t miss activities you’ll definitely want to add to your agenda while in San Diego.
Do Some Animal Exploration
1. San Diego Zoo
This is not your average zoo. The
San Diego Zoo is home to over 650 species and 3,500 animals! You can find exotic creatures from the Arctic tundra, the African rainforest, and even the Australian outback. You’ll be able to catch a glimpse of tigers, leopards, polar bears, elephants, penguins, and so much more.
In addition to the animals, you can take in other special activities and performances throughout the day, such as the bird shows and 4D theater.
Your kids will love the fantastic play areas. And if those little legs get tired from all the walking, they have buses to transport you around the zoo.
2. Whale Watching
No matter how many times you’ve seen one of these giants in person, their size and beauty will take your breath away. One of the most popular San Diego activities is whale watching.
Take a charter cruise or find a vista with a view and bring the binoculars. Either way, whale watching is a great way to take in some of the stunning San Diego scenery while you kick back and relax. Be sure to make your reservation early and get ready for hours of cruising fun.
3. Sea World
If you’re looking for one spot with many exciting things to do in San Diego,
Sea World is a must. With animals galore, great shows, and exhibits, you’re sure to learn something new and observe some amazing creatures such as sturgeons, bat rays, or guitarfish.
Once you’ve seen all the animals, you can check out:
- The roller coasters or rides
- The 500,000-gallon wave pool
- Kids’ play areas
- Food festivals
- Live music concerts
- Other events the whole family will enjoy
Get Your Adrenaline Going
1. Flight Experience With Sky Combat Ace
If you’re looking for an unrivaled view of the coast, one of the best things to do in San Diego is flying with Sky Combat Ace. Created by a veteran pilot in the Air Force, Sky Combat Ace gives you the chance to play stunt pilot for the day!
Choose from one of many
flight experiences or custom-build your Top Gun flight training. Whether you want to go full throttle or simply take in the view from above, Sky Combat Ace has something for everyone. Every flight takes off under the supervision of an FAA-certified instructor.
2. San Diego Surf School
Get in on some wave action with one of the top surfing schools in San Diego County at the
San Diego Surf School. With two locations at Pacific Beach and Ocean Beach and fantastic year-round opportunities to improve your surfing, what’s not to love? They offer surf camps, retreats, and lessons for those looking to improve their wave catching skills.
3. Belmont Park
Belmont Park is beachfront fun at its best. It offers various rides and attractions, from heart-stopping roller coasters and high ropes courses to low-key merry-go-rounds and ice cream shops. When you’re ready to wind down, take a stroll down the boardwalk and munch on some tasty treats.
1. USS Midway Museum
San Diego is known for being a military city. The
USS Midway Museum gives you a look inside things typically seen only by the military. There are over 29 restored aircraft and 60 different exhibits.
With so many things to see and various activities and celebrations throughout the year, it’s a great place to learn more about flying. Whether you’re young or old, you’ll be sure to find something to keep everyone interested and wanting to come back next time you’re in town.
2. Fleet Science Center
Fleet Science Center has a fantastic variety of exhibits, IMAX films, and other attractions that are well worth checking out. With a nice mix of information for science, nature, and current event enthusiasts, get a well-rounded outing and learn something new. Tickets options are available for purchase to make sure you only pay for what you have time to see.
Slow It Down
1. Seaport Village
Seaport Village is a great place to shop or enjoy a meal. Made up of 14 acres of open-air walkways located on the coast, you can spend your time walking, watching the ships go in and out, or soaking in the San Diego sun. With 50 places to shop and 13 places to eat, you’re bound to find exactly what you’re looking for.
Seaport Village is open every day, has extended hours from September through May, and is within walking distance to many hotels for easy access.
2. Balboa Park
With perfect weather nearly every day, enjoying some outdoor activities is a must. If you are looking for some free things to do in San Diego for couples, then a trip to
Balboa Park should be at the top of your list.
Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre park with fantastic places to ride a bike, walk, or enjoy a picnic. For the nature lover, you’ll be happy to know that this park is home to over 2,100 plants, so you’ll have no shortage of things to discover here.
3. Cabrillo National Monument
Less than 30 minutes from downtown San Diego on the Southern California coast is the
Cabrillo National Monument. This spot is where the first European, named Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, stepped out of his boat in 1542 and onto what is now called the West Coast. This park is full of cultural and natural resources that help you relive 16th-century exploration.
4. Fashion Valley
Looking to shop till you drop? Then
Fashion Valley is your spot. This shopping destination has been around since 1969 and has over 18 million visitors every year.
It is one of the most popular places to shop in San Diego, with 30 restaurants and 200 stores. You could easily spend all day here.
5. Liberty Station
Liberty Station is a one-stop, has-it-all kind of space and a great way to enjoy the beautiful San Diego weather. You can:
- Take a stroll through this outdoor area
- Get some great food and delicious drinks
- See a museum or art gallery
- Go shopping
- Take a walk or bike ride along the water
Hang Out at the Beach
1. La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is a tiny beach with beautiful sandstone cliffs and one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California. With small surf in the summer, this spot is ideal for swimmers, snorkelers, and scuba divers, with water visibility up to 30 feet. Not far away is
La Jolla Shores, also known for gentle waves and a great place to swim with many beginner scuba classes available.
2. Children’s Pools
If you will be taking the kids with you to San Diego, the
Children’s Pool is an awesome place to play in the ocean but remain somewhat protected by a sea wall. Ellen Browning Scripps created this protected space in 1931 because she wanted to ensure that children had a safe place to play on the beach.
3. Del Mar Dog-Friendly Beaches
Del Mar has several
dog-friendly beach options up the coast if you happen to bring your furry friend and are looking for a beach where they can run. Be sure to check out the rules and times when dogs are allowed to run free to make sure everyone feels comfortable and safe.
1. Gaslamp Quarter
Just minutes away from Petco Park is
Gaslamp Quarter, with tons of restaurants, bars, shopping, art galleries, theaters, and more! Come down for dinner and drinks after a day out in the sun, stay at a convenient hotel, or see one of many shows—a fun place to be anytime.
2. Petco Park
If you’re a baseball buff, you better put
Petco Park on your must-see list. Located in downtown San Diego with stunning views of San Diego Bay, Petco Park is home to the San Diego Padres baseball team. But this park offers more than a chance to see a home run. You can check out other sporting events here, including basketball, football, ice hockey, and rugby.
If music is more your thing, look up the concert schedule and catch your favorite performers. You can even get a guided tour to see all the behind-the-scenes action.
3. La Jolla Playhouse
Ready to be entertained? Why not support the arts next time you’re in town. The
La Jolla Playhouse offers timeless classics to modern dramas. Get tickets to one of their current plays, with many new shows constantly being added. Support local artists and enjoy a night out at this local favorite.
Make Your San Diego Vacation a Trip to Remember!
Whether you’re in town for discovery and looking to learn something new or needing something out of the ordinary, San Diego offers activities for everyone! Be sure to check out the thrilling aerobatic flights at
Sky Combat Ace and spend a little time soaking up the sun on the beautiful San Diego beaches.