16 best things to do in San Diego

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16 best things to do in San Diego
San Diego

Are you visiting San Diego? You’re in luck because this city has plenty of things to do! Whether you’re into attractions or activities. There are so many great things to do in San Diego, it’s hard to know where to start. Coronado Beach is a great option, with its powdery sand and gentle waves. Or check out La Jolla Shores, where you can go kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, or snorkeling. You will find plenty of options in our 16 best things to do in San Diego list below.

List of 16 best things to do in San Diego

1. Balboa Park

Balboa Park
Balboa Park

Balboa Park is one of the best places in San Diego, California. The park offers many tourist attractions including the botanical garden, carousel, and zoo. The art deco buildings such as the House of Pacific Relations, Lily Pond, and California Tower are all important parts of this beautiful park. Balboa Park is a must-see on any trip to the sunny state of California!

2. La Jolla Cove

One of the most popular tourist attractions in San Diego is La Jolla Cove. This California coastal village is filled with natural beauty. Activities around this village include whale watching, exploring tide pools, and checking out the 400 types of sea life that live within the caves here. Visitors can also go snorkeling or even scuba diving if they are more experienced swimmers. Check out all these activities with our helpful guide. For a nice day, hike checks out Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve located on the scenic coast.

While you’re there enjoy an amazing view of the Pacific Ocean, explore some trails that lead up to gorgeous beaches, and be sure to stop by the Chumash Indian Museum. For a little taste of history check out Old Town State Historic Park which features hundreds of buildings from 19th century San Diego including adobes and courthouses.

In this park, visitors can enjoy craftsman-style houses, restaurants serving international food, and live entertainment all year long! If you’re looking for something a little less touristy then head over to Point Loma Seafoods where you’ll find fresh fish for purchase as well as dockside dining overlooking rolling waves in the Pacific Ocean.

3. Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter
Gaslamp Quarter

Enjoy the best places in San Diego and tourist attractions in San Diego by visiting Gaslamp Quarter. This is one of the oldest neighborhoods with Victorian-era buildings and cobblestone streets, near Downtown. The nightlife here is vibrant, with plenty of restaurants and bars that range from casual to upscale. There are also many art galleries, shops, hotels, and more for an unforgettable stay. Plan a memorable visit today! Gaslamp Quarter has many great things to offer like: waterfront dining, world-class shopping, and much more. Find out why this historic neighborhood is such a popular tourist destination and it’s easy to see why it was named America’s Favorite Neighborhood by Sunset Magazine.

4. Old Town

Old Town is a historic district that is the oldest part of the city, dating back to 1769. The area has been carefully preserved, with cobblestone streets and Spanish-style buildings. It’s a great place for tourists and locals alike, offering a glimpse into the region’s history while also providing plenty of entertainment options.

Old Town offers an array of restaurants, bars, museums, and shopping opportunities. It’s home to San Diego’s original theater (San Diego Theater), as well as one of the oldest continuously operating hotels (The Lafayette Hotel). Visitors can take guided walking tours through Old Town or just explore on their own. There are many other things to do in Old Town; if you want to learn about the Mexican culture that still exists in America today, head over to Balboa Park!

5. Coronado Island

Coronado Island
Coronado Island

Coronado Island is one of the best tourist attractions in San Diego. It’s known for its history, the 30-foot high Coronado Bay Bridge, and the famous Hotel Del Coronado. The island offers visitors great views of downtown, Mission Bay and Point Loma. Visitors can enjoy a walk on the beach or visit shops that are unique to this area. Other tourist destinations in San Diego include:

Cabrillo National Monument, Gaslamp Quarter Historic District, USS Midway Museum, Balboa Park, and Balboa Theater District.

6. Seaport Village

Seaport Village is a fantastic tourist attraction in San Diego. The village itself is full of shops and restaurants, but there are also plenty of other things to do. There’s a zip line, an IMAX theater, and lots of boat rides available. You can even take a ferry over to Coronado or visit the USS Midway Museum while you’re there. Be sure not to miss the USS Kidd submarine either! It’s been around since 1944 and has never seen combat so it’s perfect for people who want to see what life was like back then. Once you’ve had your fill of fun at the seaport, head on down the street for more fun.

7. San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo
San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is one of the best places in San Diego. Located in Balboa Park, it features over 3,700 animals and over 1,000 species. The zoo also has many gardens and a variety of programs for visitors of all ages. It’s open every day except Christmas Day.

8. Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument is one of the best places in San Diego for viewing the ocean, tide pools, and harbor seals. It’s a great place for families to enjoy, as well as a popular tourist attraction in San Diego. The monument also features exhibits on the life of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who was the first European explorer to chart the West Coast of North America.

9. Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium
Birch Aquarium

San Diego is a tourist destination not just for its beaches and sun, but also for its world-class aquarium. Birch Aquarium offers an immersive experience that can’t be found anywhere else. From the moment you walk into the building, it’s clear that you’re about to experience something extraordinary. You’ll get up close and personal with over 150 species of animals, including piranhas and sea otters. The exhibits are beautifully designed and there are plenty of opportunities for hands-on learning experiences.

10. Legoland California

LEGOLAND California is the perfect place for any family with kids between the ages of 2 and 12, especially if they’re fans of LEGOs. With more than 50 rides, shows, and attractions that are made from over 4 million LEGO bricks, LEGOLAND California is a hands-on experience. If you’re hungry after all that active play, head over to one of the park’s many restaurants or snack carts.

11. Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs is a beach that sits on the border of Pacific Beach and La Jolla, and it’s one of the best places in San Diego for a sunset. It’s a little more off the beaten path than other popular tourist attractions, but it’s worth checking out if you’re looking for an authentic experience. The cliffs are accessible by either driving down North Torrey Pines Road or walking down Del Mar Heights Road.

12. Belmont Park

Belmont Park is a popular tourist attraction in the San Diego region. The park offers a variety of rides and attractions, including roller coasters, water rides, and food. People often visit the park to spend their day or evening there while experiencing all that it has to offer. It also features a midway with games like the ring toss, horse races, and other carnival games.

13. Mission Beach

Mission Beach
Mission Beach

Mission Beach is a great place for tourists and locals alike. The beach is one of the best places in San Diego to go surfing, sunbathing, or just enjoy the views. If you want a more relaxed day, there are plenty of amenities at the beach for you: children’s play areas, food vendors, and even an ice cream truck. You’ll also be able to find some of the best places in San Diego like Sea Port Village Shopping Center and Sea World.

15. Julian

San Diego is a wonderful city and here are the best things you can do while there. The first thing you should do is go to Sea World, which is the number one tourist attraction in San Diego. Next, go visit Balboa Park and be sure to stop by the Japanese Friendship Garden. You should also spend some time at the famous Del Mar Racetrack, as well as Mission Beach and La Jolla Cove. One of the most popular places for tourists to visit is Old Town San Diego State Historic Park where you’ll find plenty of shops, restaurants, bars, and more. Be sure not to miss out on taking a boat ride on one of San Vallejo’s waterways or exploring the mangrove forest.

14. Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach
Ocean Beach

Ocean Beach is one of the best tourist places in San Diego. It’s a sleepy beach town with a laid-back vibe, perfect for those looking to get away from tourist attractions and crowds. You can find great shopping here at The Westfield Shopping Centre, which has over 250 stores and restaurants. For even more shopping, visit Fashion Valley Mall or make your way to Old Town San Diego State Historic Park for souvenirs.

Right next door you’ll find Mission Hills Country Club where golfers come from all over the world to play on their 18-hole course. If that doesn’t sound like your thing, there are plenty of other outdoor activities nearby like kayaking or hiking in Mission Trails Regional Park or catching some waves at Pacific Beach.

16. Lake Cuyamaca

Lake Cuyamaca is one of the best places to visit in San Diego. Located less than two hours from the city, this is a great way for tourists and locals alike to escape the city and head out into nature. It’s also a popular spot with campers and those who enjoy outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, and mountain biking. The lake offers scenic views of Mount Laguna as well as a variety of other exciting things for visitors to experience.

You can Also Visit the Top 10 Best tourist places in 2023.

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