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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
USS Midway Museum

USS Midway Museum

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Formerly the US Navy’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century (1945 to 1991), the USS Midway is now a floating museum docked off the coast of California. Aboard the hulking vessel, visitors can now explore more than 60 exhibits as well as peek inside the museum’s impressive aircraft collection.More
#2
Coronado

Coronado

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Across the bay from downtown San Diego, the small resort town of Coronado is an idyllic escape from the city with a wide, sandy coastline and a tree-lined main drag that’s home to shops and restaurants. Visitors go to hang out on the beach, tour historical sites, and watch the sunset.More
#3
Balboa Park

Balboa Park

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Home to world-class museums, manicured gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park tops the list of San Diego city sights. Its 1,200 lush acres (486 hectares) comprise the largest urban park in the United States. Apart from its many attractions, Balboa Park also features lengthy walking and hiking trails, distinctive landscaping, Golden Age Spanish buildings, and one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs.More
#4
Shelter Island

Shelter Island

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Just west of downtown San Diego across the northernmost waters of San Diego Bay, Shelter Island is in the middle of the city but feels worlds away. The neighborhood is known for its nautical vibe with marinas, bayside parks, hotels, and restaurants.More
#5
Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter

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The epicenter of San Diego’s party scene, the lively Gaslamp Quarter offers much more than just pulsating nightlife. The charming downtown neighborhood is also rich with cultural museums, art galleries, concert venues, and symphony halls, plus loads of lovely alfresco eateries. But back to the nightlife: Clubs, dive bars, and cocktail lounges draw the university crowd, while diverse audiences fill the Spreckels and Balboa theaters for performing arts, comedy shows, and live music.More
#6
San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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Dedicated to the preservation and education of air and space technology and history, the San Diego Air & Space Museum (SDASM features a variety of aircraft and aerial vessels, as well as artifacts and photos that depict the past, present, and future of aviation. Dating back to 1961, the SDASM is one of the country’s top aerospace museums.More
#7
San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, part of the larger San Diego Zoo, is an 1,800-acre (728-hectare) open-range park housing some 3,500 animals from about 430 species. The park’s open layout allows herds of giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and other animals indigenous to Africa to roam the re-created valley floor.More
#8
Little Italy San Diego

Little Italy San Diego

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Once home to generations of Italian families who who made their living in San Diego’s flourishing fishing industry, Little Italy is now a lively neighborhood packed with restaurants, patio cafés, craft brewpubs, urban wineries, and little plazas with fountains and views of the bay. The trendy, walkable neighborhood—in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter—also has upscale boutiques, art galleries, chic shops, boutique hotels, and live music venues, so there is far more to experience here than just the delicious food.More
#9
Maritime Museum of San Diego

Maritime Museum of San Diego

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From steamships to submarines, the Maritime Museum of San Diego welcomes you aboard an array of historic ships, letting you delve into the rich maritime history of San Diego. Each vessel offers its own exhibits and experiences. The museum’s fleet ranges from the world’s oldest active sailing ship—Star of India—to modern submarines.More
#10
Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego

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Dating to 1769, Old Town San Diego is the site of California’s first European settlement. To see the district's prime attraction, stop at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park with its preserved adobe buildings and living history demonstrations such as blacksmithing. The area is also home to restaurants, shops, and live entertainment.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in San Diego

How to Spend 1 Day in San Diego

How to Spend 2 Days in San Diego

How to Spend 2 Days in San Diego

Mexico Tours from San Diego

Mexico Tours from San Diego

Top activities in San Diego

San Diego Harbor Cruise

San Diego Harbor Cruise

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From
US$32,00
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise
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San Diego Whale Watching Cruise

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US$85,00
Skip the Line: USS Midway Museum Admission Ticket in San Diego
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Haunted San Diego Ghost Tour

Haunted San Diego Ghost Tour

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US$55,00
San Diego Bay Jet Boat Ride
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San Diego Bay Jet Boat Ride

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US$35,00
San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise

San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise

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US$110,90
San Diego Seal Tour

San Diego Seal Tour

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US$46,00
San Diego Whale Watching Tour

San Diego Whale Watching Tour

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US$65,00
Small-Group San Diego Sunset Sailing Excursion
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Champagne Brunch Buffet
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Champagne Brunch Buffet

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US$104,96
San Diego Zoo 1-Day Pass Ticket

San Diego Zoo 1-Day Pass Ticket

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US$65,00
Sunset Sailing Experience on San Diego Bay - Small Group
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San Diego Shore Excursion: San Diego Seal Tour
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San Diego Scenic Tour
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San Diego Scenic Tour

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US$85,00
Operators have paid Viator more to have their experiences featured here

Recent reviews from experiences in San Diego

star-5
Highly Recommend!
Echelle_O, Jul 2022
San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley
Great way to get an overview of major attractions in San Diego and nice landscape photos.
star-5
Very relaxing and...
Deborah_C, Jun 2022
San Diego Harbor Cruise
I learned a lot about San Diego it’s a beautiful place to visit.
star-5
Great, reasonable voyage around the San Diego Bay
Richard_K, Jun 2022
Sailing Yacht Experience on San Diego Bay - Small Group - Afternoon
Captain Aaron was awesome, it was a much more intimate way to see San Diego bay.
star-5
Summertime Family Fun Time
Angela_L, Jun 2022
San Diego Harbor Cruise
The best way to see the beautiful San Diego coastal skyline from the water, sipping a tequila sunrise and listening to the guide’s interesting and educational monologue.
star-5
Super!
Lynn_F, Jun 2022
San Diego Early Bird Segway Tour
I would definitely recommend to anyone wanting to see San Diego!
star-5
5 STAR TOUR GUIDES
Kelly_F, Jun 2022
San Diego Seal Tour
We saw plenty of sea life and felt like it was a great way to see San Diego.
star-5
Great way to see San...
Maria1514, Jun 2022
San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley
Great way to see San Diego in 2 days.
star-5
Great tour
Phil_R, Jun 2022
San Diego Scenic Tour
If you want to see the city of San Diego all in one half day, then this is the tour that you should take.
star-5
We did the 2 hour GoCar...
MJ_L, Jun 2022
GPS Talking GoCar 2HR Tour: Downtown & Balboa
This was a fun and great way to see points of interest.
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Midway Fun!
Anne_D, Jun 2022
Skip the Line: USS Midway Museum Admission Ticket in San Diego
Excellent place to see in San Diego for residents and visitors.
star-5
Our guide Linda was great...
Michael_M, May 2022
San Diego Scenic Tour
Would definitely recommend this trip to anyone that wants to see and learn about San Diego in just a few hrs.
star-4
We took this tour the...
Kathleen_S, Jun 2022
San Diego Harbor Cruise
Fascinating to see the military ships and learn a little about the function of each.
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San Diego’s America on Sea
David_C, May 2022
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise
My most memorable of this experience was exploring out in the open ocean and got to see all of the view of the pacific, whole of San Diego, Coronado and Imperial Beach.
star-5
Fun in the sun
Rachael_D, May 2022
2 Hour GPS Guided Scooter Tour: Downtown & Balboa Park
Being able to see so much of San Diego in a 2 hour ride.
star-5
Great honeymoon stop for...
Lauren_H, May 2022
San Diego Zoo Safari Park 1-Day Pass Ticket
lots to see volunteers were so helpful highly recommended.
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Great Day up in the Mountains
Edward_K, Apr 2022
San Diego 4x4: Border Wilderness
Fantastic hosts and would do it again when we come back to visit.
star-5
Awesome family day trip
Kelly_D, Apr 2022
San Diego Seal Tour
Really awesome way to see San Diego harbor.
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Coronado experience
Heather_R, Apr 2022
San Diego Bike Tours on Coronado Island
Great way to see the island in a few hours.
star-5
Great excursion
Kenny_s, Apr 2022
San Diego Whale Watching Tour
Loved getting to see the whales and a ton of dolphins.
star-5
Great way to see a bit of San Diego!
Diana_N, Apr 2022
Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego's Questionable Past
Enjoyed learning the history and learning about new places to visit in San Diego.
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All about San Diego

Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
PDT (UTC -8)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English

A local’s pocket guide to San Diego

Sasha Lozovoy

A Viator account manager, California native, and La Jolla resident, Sasha can be found enjoying the sunshine, petting dogs, and seeking out the tastiest acai bowl San Diego has to offer.

The first thing you should do in San Diego is...

rent a car. You’ll need a set of wheels to explore the multitude of diverse neighborhoods in San Diego and try the fish tacos each has to offer.

A perfect Saturday in San Diego...

starts with a hike around Torrey Pines State Reserve, where you can enjoy views of the Pacific, the golf course, and the gliderport. Cap off your day with carbonara at Barbusa in Little Italy.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Coronado Island. Grab brunch at Parakeet Cafe and wander through the whimsical and historical Hotel del Coronado. Don’t be surprised if you witness a beachfront wedding or proposal!

To discover the "real" San Diego...

walk along the Pacific Beach Boardwalk. Jump in a game of volleyball, take a dip, grab a bite, or simply people-watch. You’ll find a harmonious collection of locals, tourists, college students, roller skaters, and more.

For the best view of the city...

most people would say a rooftop in the Gaslamp District, but try Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument instead. Explore the tide pools below if you visit during low tide.

One thing people get wrong...

is assuming everyone surfs. On any given day, you’ll get your fair share of sandy folks out riding tubes, but it’s by no means a prerequisite for visiting or living in the area.

People Also Ask

What can you do in San Diego?

Soak up San Diego’s famous sunshine with a day swimming or surfing at one of the city’s many beaches. Get a dose of culture at a Balboa Park museums, take the kids to the San Diego Zoo, explore Spanish history in Old Town, or enjoy the diverse nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter.

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What is a good day trip from San Diego?

Popular day trips from San Diego include a ferry ride across San Diego Bay to charming Coronado Island or a drive to the posh seaside village of La Jolla. The historic missions of San Juan Capistrano and theme parks like LEGOLAND® and Disneyland® are also within easy driving distance.

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What's San Diego known for?

San Diego is best known for its world-class beaches and warm, sunny weather. The city is also home to a wealth of cultural attractions including Balboa Park, Old Town, the USS Midway Museum, and the famous San Diego Zoo.

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What should I not miss in San Diego?

San Diego’s can’t-miss sights include beautiful Balboa Park, Ocean Beach, and harborside attractions like the USS Midway Museum and Maritime Museum. It’s also worth taking a ferry across the bay to historic Coronado Island, or planning a night of grown-up fun in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter.

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Is San Diego worth visiting?

Yes. San Diego is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US for good reason. Miles of sandy beaches and nearly perfect weather year-round make it ideal for outdoor fun. There’s plenty of culture, too, from Old Town’s historic Spanish missions to the museums of Balboa Park.

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What locals do in San Diego?

Most San Diego locals love to be outdoors, so favorite activities include surfing at Mission Beach, tide pooling at Silver Strand, hiking at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, or soaking up the sun in Balboa Park. Find locally loved restaurants in Little Italy, North Park, or Liberty Station at Point Loma.

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How can I spend 3 days in San Diego?

If you have 3 days in San Diego, spend your first day learning about California history in Old Town and getting cultured at Balboa Park’s museums. You'll also want to dedicate a day to riding the ferry to Coronado Island or driving down the coast to La Jolla, followed by a night out in the Gaslamp Quarter. Finish with a day at the beach.

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Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
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What are the top things to do in San Diego?
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