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Things to do in San Diego

Things to do in  San Diego

Welcome to San Diego

A quintessentially coastal California town, San Diego welcomes visitors with picture-perfect weather and a surprising variety of things to do. Within its vast city limits, you can scale mountains, embark on desert hikes, and surf at one of many palm tree–lined beaches. You can also learn about military and Spanish colonial history, and eat fresh seafood and Mexican cuisine to your heart’s content. From its laid-back beach neighborhoods—like Ocean, Mission and Pacific beaches—to the bustling nightlife and downtown dining destinations of Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego offers something fun for every traveler.

Top 10 attractions in San Diego

#1

San Diego Zoo

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Packed into 40 hectares, the San Diego Zoo presents a stunning variety of nature's largest, smallest, noblest, oddest, and most endangered creatures. This famous zoo has more than 3,000 animals representing over 800 species.Stop first at the San Diego Zoo visitor center to pick up a map. Highlights of the zoo include the Tiger River bioclimatic exhibit, which realistically recreates an Asian rainforest environment, and Gorilla Tropics, which does the same with an African rainforest. The koalas and the rare giant pandas are also popular.The gardens at the San Diego Zoo are renowned and some of the plants are used for the specialized food requirements of particular animals. Especially for kids, the Children’s Zoo allows young ones to pet small critters; they will also enjoy the animal nursery, which shows off the zoo’s newest arrivals. For an aerial perspective on the park, take a ride on the Skyfari.More
#2

Coronado

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Across the bay from downtown San Diego, Coronado is a pleasant escape from the jumble of the city and the buzz of the beaches. Follow the tree-lined, manicured median strip of Orange Avenue toward the commercial center, Coronado Village, around the landmark Hotel del Coronado. Then park your car; you won’t need it again until you leave. Locals call Coronado an island, but it's connected to the mainland by the spectacular, 2.1 mile (3.4 kilometer) Coronado Bay Bridge, as well as by a long, narrow spit of sand known as the Silver Strand. The visitor center doubles as the Coronado Museum of History and Art. And then there’s the fabulous, easily recognizable Hotel del Coronado, the interior of which is filled with warm, polished wood, giving the hotel an old-fashioned feel of Panama hats and linen suits. Guests have included 10 presidents and world royalty. For a taste of the Del without the stay, have breakfast or lunch at the beach-view Sheerwater restaurant.More
#3

USS Midway Museum

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Essentially a floating city, the U.S.S. Midway Museum is housed inside the namesake ship, formerly one of the U.S. Navy’s flagships from 1945 to 1991. Aboard the hulking vessel, visitors can explore more than 60 exhibits as well as peak inside the museum’s aircraft collection. Exhibits in the U.S.S. Midway Museum include the engine room, the ship’s brig, machine shops, and the crew’s sleeping quarters. You’ll walk along the narrow confines of the upper decks to the bridge, admiral’s war room, and the control tower. On the ship’s flight deck, you can walk right up to aircrafts, including an F-14 Tomcat, F-4 Phantom jet fighter, and an A-7 Corsair. Three flight simulators, music videos, films, interactive exhibits, and the Ejection Seat Theater round out this family-friendly experience.More
#4

Balboa Park

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With its world-class museums, manicured gardens, and world-famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park tops the list of sights in downtown San Diego. Its 1,200 acres (485 hectares) makes it the largest urban park in the United States. Apart from its many attractions, Balboa Park also features lengthy hiking trails, distinctive landscaping, Golden Age Spanish buildings, and the world’s largest organ. Balboa Park is divided up into three sections. The central part of the park has the most attractions. The main attraction here is San Diego Zoo, which has more than 3,000 animals, typically in enclosures that replicate their natural habitat. At the Museum of Man, part of the California Quadrangle and its distinctive arch, you can see Native American artifacts. Nearby, the San Diego Museum houses a number of works from European masters from the Renaissance to the modernists.More
#5

Gaslamp Quarter

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Built in the late 19th century, the Gaslamp Quarter is a 16½ block historical neighborhood, filled with streets lined with wrought-iron street lamps, trees, and brick sidewalks. Along with its many historic buildings, the Gaslamp has the city’s highest concentration of bars, nightclubs, and restaurants. Many of the bars double as restaurants as well, making the whole district the prime nightspot in San Diego. The Gaslamp Quarter is also home to many events and festivals, including Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, Street Scene Music Festival, the San Diego Comic-Con, Taste of Gaslamp, and ShamROCK, a St. Patrick's Day event. PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres is located one block away in downtown San Diego's East Village. Croce's Restaurant & Jazz Bar, named after famous singer Jim Croce, is also located in the Quarter. For a break from the bustling streets of the Gaslamp Quarter, head over to Third Avenue. This is the historic heart of San Diego’s Chinese community.More
#6

Maritime Museum of San Diego

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For over 60 years, the Maritime Museum of San Diego has enjoyed a well-deserved reputation for being one of the most engaging and imagination-inspiring attractions in San Diego. A history lesson and an adventure in one, the Maritime Museum of San Diego has been repeatedly voted one of the best attractions in San Diego, and visitors from the world over come here to see the excellent collections of historic tall ships, including the world’s oldest active merchant ship, the Star of India, an 1863 iron hulled, triple-mast behemoth. Known the world over for excellence in restoring, maintaining, and operating these historic vessels, a trip to the Maritime Museum will have you exploring (and, on some occasions, even sailing) four different tall ships (the ones with the big masts and sails), two submarines, and several yachts and harbor boats. As you explore these amazing vessels, you’ll discover a sense of what it was like to work and live on these amazing ships.More
#7

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Take a walk on the wild side at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, an 1,800 acre (728 hectare) open-range zoo where herds of giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and other animals roam the open valley floor. The best part is riding the African Express, an open-air, soft-wheeled tram that ferries you around the world’s second-largest continent in what feels like a 30 minute safari. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park houses some 3,500 animals from about 430 species. Animals are in enclosures so naturalistic it’s as if the humans are the guests. Habitats include Elephant Overlook, Lion Camp, and the African Aviary. In Nairobi Village, young kids will enjoy the nursery, where young animals are seen frolicking about; there’s even a petting station. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park offers many extra animal encounter experiences, including Photo Caravans that drive right up alongside the animals and the chance to stand ringside as a cheetah whizzes by you chasing a mechanical rabbit.More
#8

Cabrillo National Monument

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On the southern tip of Point Loma, at the top of hill, you'll find Cabrillo National Monument. The spot is San Diego’s finest locale for history and fine views across the bay to San Diego's downtown. It's also the best place in San Diego to see the gray whale migration (January to March) from land. After a few minutes here, you may forget you’re in a major metropolitan area. The visitors center at Cabrillo National Monument has an excellent presentation on Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo’s 1542 voyage up the California coast, plus good exhibits on the native inhabitants and the area’s natural history. Also here is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which is appointed with late-19th century pieces, including lamps and picture frames hand-covered with hundreds of shells. On the ocean side, you can drive or walk down to the tide pools (at low tide) to look for anemones, starfish, crabs, and limpets.More
#9

Seaport Village

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Seaport Village is San Diego’s preeminent shopping and dining complex. A slice of independence in busy San Diego, the Seaport Village is beautiful and relaxing escape in an otherwise busy world. Come here to window shop the boutiques, sit on a park bench and stare into the ocean, grab a bite to eat, or to simply have a glass of wine and catch some outdoor entertainment. Just a short walk from the Gaslamp Quarter and plenty of boutique and big name shopping, Seaport Village is a popular hang-out for tourists and locals alike.More
#10

San Diego Harbor

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Maritime enthusiasts should spend some time visiting San Diego Harbor. The many attractions here include the Maritime Museum, U.S.S. Midway Museum, the Seaport Village, and Embarcadero Marina Park. The well-manicured waterfront promenades stretch along Harbor Drive and are perfect for strolling or jogging. On the north end of San Diego Harbor is the Maritime Museum, where a number of antique trading and passenger vessels are moored in the water. South of the museum, The U.S.S. Midway Museum, a museum housed in a Navy battleship, has loads of exhibits and a stellar collection of fighter planes. South of the U.S.S. Midway Museum is Seaport Village, which has a collection of novelty shops and restaurants. Embarcadero Marina Park, with its public fishing pier and open-air amphitheater, lies south.More

Trip ideas

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Recent reviews from experiences in San Diego

star-5
Trolley
Amy_V, Oct. 2020
San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley
The trolley is a great way to see the highlights of San Diego.
star-5
Seal Boat is a blast!
Gary_L, Oct. 2020
San Diego Seal Tour
What a wonderful way to SEE a portion of San Diego from the ground level - and then from sea level!
star-5
The amazing views
Beats, Sep. 2020
San Diego City Lights Night Tour
You get to see the night life of San Diego, all the beautiful lights.
star-5
Going over the overpass and onto a fast moving street so i was able to do the max speed
Cee, Sep. 2020
GoCar Talking GoCar 2Hr Tour: Downtown & Old Town
Im into motorcycles, go carts, 4 wheeler, and so many other adventurous things to do so this was definitely a great experience.
star-5
San Diego Waterfront
Stephanie_V, Sep. 2020
San Diego Scavenger Hunt Adventure
Doing a scavenger hunt was a great way to see San Diego.
star-5
Must Do!
MEL-C, Sep. 2020
Classic Sunset Sail in San Diego
What a great way to see San Diego!
star-5
San Diego cruise
Christine_W, Sep. 2020
San Diego Harbor Cruise
The views and being able to see San Diego from a different perspective was very enjoyable.
star-5
A great experience! I highly recommend.
SaylesFam, Feb. 2021
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise
Just as interesting were the navy vessels we got to see as we came in and out of the bay.
star-5
A lot of San Diego
Whitney_M, Aug. 2020
San Diego Scenic Tour
A great way to see multiple things in San Diego.
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Cruise
Hamid_M, Aug. 2020
San Diego Harbor Cruise
Good trip in sea by ship It was a great time to see ocean and bay in san Diego for first time Thanks
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Thank you Captain Shon!
Danielle_H, Aug. 2020
Small-Group San Diego Sunset Sailing Excursion
He made our boat excursion such an enjoyable time and we enjoyed getting to see the beautiful views of San Diego!
star-5
San Diego
viviennelyons, Feb. 2020
San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley
I really enjoyed this tour Mark the guide was very knowledgeable and friendly You get to see all the important places and you can chose which one you want to get off at so it gives you a good idea of San Diego
star-5
Get to know Balboa Park
Julieit, Sep. 2019
San Diego Small Group Tour: Best of Balboa Park Tour with Coffee
I have always wanted to visit Balboa Park but didn't know where to begin--it's a big place!.
star-5
Wonderful Experience
Timberwolf123, Jul. 2019
Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego's Questionable Past
This tour was a wonderful way to see & experience the Gaslamp District of San Diego.
star-5
Fun Tour
827lydiar, May 2019
San Diego Seal Tour
A wonderful way to see San Diego's beautiful waterfront, and to hear about the amazing naval history of this city.
star-5
Excellent tour. Very personable, knowledgeable and helpful guide.
hhorwitzintune, Aug. 2018
San Diego Scenic Tour
Got to see a good selection get a good taste of San Diego attractions.
star-4
It was something different to do from...
Charlie M, May 2015
San Diego Bay Jet Boat Ride
It was something different to do from the normal San Diego Attractions.
star-5
Trip was worth it. Captain was very...
tar, Aug. 2017
Small-Group San Diego Afternoon Sailing Excursion
Great way to see San Diego and surrounding areas with a different perspective.
star-5
Beautiful drive in San Diego and the...
MD, Mar. 2018
San Diego Shore Excursion: San Diego Hop-On Hop-Off Trolley
Very nice way to see the most important sites with options to get off/on at your leisure.
star-5
We loved this experience. We...
Nancy D, Sep. 2017
Skip the Line: USS Midway Museum Admission Ticket in San Diego
We thought that 3-4 hours would allow us time to see everything.

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