If you’re looking for things to do on the water, then Coronado is a must-see location.
The beach offers many things to do that are truly unique and special. You can enjoy surfing or taking an early morning walk along the boardwalk.
If you’d rather relax with friends, there’s plenty of space to do so on the sand. This beach also has fewer people than the more popular Mission Beach. Here, you’ll also find the most beautiful sunset view and the historic Hotel del Coronado.
Pacific Beach is a popular spot for people who love the sun and the waves.
The beach offers plenty of activities such as surfing, swimming, and bodyboarding. You can also find many restaurants and shops in the area if you need a break from the sun.
Pacific Beach is also home to Crystal Pier which has been recently renovated into an exciting destination for travelers around California.
At Crystal Pier, you can enjoy things to do like fishing, surfing, or simply relaxing on the beach.
This beach shares a shoreline with Mission Beach but is often the more crowded of the two. It also has a livelier crowd and energy around it and has a thriving nightlife. It may not be the best beach to choose for families.
La Jolla Cove is a beautiful natural attraction that offers things to do for both people who love the outdoors and those looking for things to do indoors.
You can enjoy cliff diving or snorkeling in La Jolla Cove. The cove is a great place to head to if you want to learn snorkeling as long as you’ve got a guide with you. You can also do a kayak tour.
The cove is a part of an ecological reserve so there is a lot of amazing wildlife to see. Check out some sea life at The Birch Aquarium or wait for the many sea lions and seals that hang out near the cove.
If you’re going with your family, you may want to check out things to do in La Jolla Cove.
There are many things for children and adults of all ages, so you can have a great time while learning more about the world around us.
There are a lot of things to do in this seaside village. Plus! It’s just 20 minutes from downtown.
Mission Beach is a great place to spend a day with friends. There are plenty of things to do, including swimming in the ocean, sunbathing on the sand, and riding bikes along the boardwalk.
It’s also a great spot for surfing with space for surfers of any skill level. It’s another popular beach here in San Diego, so expect the crowds.
If you’re looking for things to eat, Mission Beach has many options available. You can find everything from pizza places to seafood restaurants.
Most people really crowd the boardwalk since there are just so many things to do there so be warned.
Between Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, this one’s more mellowed down and can be an option for families. If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego, Mission Beach should definitely be at the top of your list!
3000 Mission Blvd San Diego, CA 92109, (800) 350-6205
Among the many shorelines in San Diego, there aren’t a lot of places that are fit for little ones.
Their solution to this was to build a seawall on this area of La Jolla. It is a great place to take your children, but it also attracted a whole other kind of wildlife to the area.
From December to May, seals would use this protected cove to birth their young ones so access to the area is restricted during this season. In other months, you’ll still see a lot of seals and sea lions chilling and hanging out on the shores.
It’s a great place for kids to learn more about the ocean and its inhabitants.
The USS Midway Museum is a must-see for anyone visiting San Diego. The museum is home to the longest-serving aircraft carrier in United States history. You can explore the ship and learn about its history, or take a walk through the 60 onboard exhibits. They also have a number of restored aircraft that were used in various wars.
There’s a self-guided audio tour which many say is very informative and entertaining enough. But if you have the time, listen to the anecdotes of the volunteer docents you’ll meet on the ship. Many of them are veterans and some were even a part of the ship’s crew!
If you’re interested in naval history, this is definitely one of the things to do in San Diego that you won’t want to miss.
Maritime Museum of San Diego
The Maritime Museum of San Diego is a great place to learn more about the history and culture around boats. You can explore things like model ships, watch boat-building demonstrations, or just enjoy some time on the water with friends. You’ll also find the oldest active ship in the world, Star of India.
Wear comfy clothes and shoes because there may be a lot of walking if you’re really going to explore the exhibits. The museum also details San Diego’s history as a seaport.
If you have children, they may especially love learning about things that float! Previous visitors say the tours are engaging even for the little ones.
If you’re interested in finding things to do in San Diego that are a little off the beaten path, the Maritime Museum is a great option.
San Diego Museum of Art
The San Diego Museum of Art is a must-see for art lovers visiting San Diego. The museum features an impressive collection of Spanish Renaissance and Baroque paintings from throughout history. You can also find special exhibits here that rotate throughout the year.
This art museum is a part of the attractions in Balboa Park. It’s been delighting locals and tourists since 1926. They have lots of events like cocktail evenings, film screenings, and fun activities for children.
If you’re looking to experience some of the best things to do in San Diego, the San Diego Museum of Art is a great place to start.
San Diego Natural History Museum
Another place to stop by in Balboa Park is the San Diego Natural History Museum. It’s a great place to learn more about the history of California and North America. It began in 1874 and is the oldest scientific institution in Southern California.
The museum features things like dinosaur bones, fossils, artifacts from Native American tribes in the area, as well as many other things that will keep you interested for hours on end. The exhibits are really interesting and in-depth. There is also something for everyone!
If you’re looking to find things to do in San Diego with your family, the San Diego Natural History Museum is a great option.
San Diego Air and Space Museum
The San Diego Air and Space Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in aviation or spaceflight. The museum features things like airplanes, helicopters, space crafts, and many other exhibits that will fascinate visitors of all ages. Some things you can see here include reproductions of the Wright Brothers’ gliders, flight simulators, and artifacts from Amelia Earhart.
You can visit this out-of-this-world museum at Balboa Park’s Streamline Moderne Ford building.
Fleet Science Center
The Fleet Science Center is a great place to spend an afternoon learning with your family. The science center features things like interactive exhibits, movies and shows in the Heikoff Giant Dome Theater, live presentations from scientists, and more. There’s also a section dedicated to toddlers with the Little Learners’ Lab. For the older kids, you can take the self-guided tour to explore exhibits on outer space or visit the planetarium.
If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego that are sure to spark the interest of your children, the Fleet Science Center is a great place to start.
Whaley House Museum
The Whaley House Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in history or the paranormal. The museum is home to things like furniture from the 1800s, ghost sightings, and even a courtroom where you can hear firsthand accounts of some of the trials that took place there.
The two-story building is actually built on the former gallows and courthouse of San Diego. So it might not be so far-fetched that some spirits still linger here but you be the judge of that!
If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego that are a little out of the ordinary, the Whaley House Museum is a great option. You never know what you might find inside! You can find the museum in Old Town San Diego.
New Children’s Museum
The New Children’s Museum is a great place to take your children if you’re looking for something interactive and educational. The museum is home to things like a giant kaleidoscope, a mirrored room where kids can experiment with light and color, and even an art studio where they can create their own masterpieces.
If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego with your kids that will keep them entertained and educated, head to the New Children’s Museum.
Great for kids
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is one of the most famous zoos in the world and is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. The zoo has more than 3,000 animals on display and offers things to do for people of all ages. The site spans more than a hundred acres and with one of the largest collections of animals in the country.
Theirs is one of the largest collections of rare and endangered animals in the US. They also have the largest collection of koalas outside of Australia. The place is divided into themed exhibits with connecting trials like the Monkey Trail, etc. You can also explore things like the Australian Outback, a giant indoor jungle gym, and even an outdoor ice rink in winter.
There are just so many things to do inside the zoo! If you ever get tired on your feet, they do offer a guided bus tour that lasts about 35 minutes.
If you’re with your kids, they’ll surely love all these animals! You’ll never run out of things to see!
San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park
If you haven’t gotten enough of animals, head to the Safari Park by the zoo. It’s only 32 miles north of the zoo, just outside of Escondido.
The park is home to things like lions, tigers, monkeys, giraffes, and many other animals from all over Africa. Their exhibits are separated into different safaris – zip line safari, caravan safari, and many more. You can even take a tour for an up-close view of the animals.
If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego with your family that are sure to be a hit, head straight to the Safari Park!
Seaworld San Diego
Seaworld San Diego is a great place to spend an afternoon with your family. The park features things like roller coasters, animal exhibits, and even live shows that are sure to keep visitors entertained for hours on end.
This is the best place to see wildlife with a diverse range of animals like dolphins, sea lions, turtles, and more! They also have amazing performances with the animals so it’ll surely keep the little ones entertained.
If you’d like to take a break from the animals, the site also has the Sesame Street Bay of Play. This playground has many features, plus an arcade and a few rides.
Some traveler tips say to bring extra clothes. There’s a huge chance you’ll get wet while watching the many live performances.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
The Birch Aquarium is a great place to visit if you want to learn about marine life. The aquarium has many exhibits with over 60 habitats on display.
Some of the displays include Little Blue Penguins, Seadragons & Seahorses, and even a Tide Pool Plaza.
This is a great place to visit if you’re looking for things to do in San Diego with your family. You can learn about marine life and even touch things like starfish, anemones, sea urchins, etc!
If you want to learn about marine life, the Birch Aquarium is the place to be!
The Lindbergh Field is a San Diego Airport that’s located close to downtown. It’s a great place for things to do in San Diego because it also has an observation deck with amazing views of the city and its surroundings!
You’ll be able to see things like planes taking off, people walking outside on the tarmac, and many other things from up here. Watch the planes land at Lindbergh Field from your hotel room on the 14th floor or higher! (bonus points if you can get onto the runway!)
Old Town is a great place to spend an afternoon exploring the history of San Diego. The neighborhood is home to things like museums, restaurants, and shops that date back to the 1800s. The area is widely considered as “the birthplace of California” and you’ll see a lot of restored shops and houses here.
Old Town will take you back to life in the early days of San Diego. You’ll be able to explore things like the Whaley House, Casa de Estudillo, or Junipero Serra Museum. The neighborhood also preserves a lot of the Mexican culture of the city, so you’ll find a lot of shops and restaurants that celebrate that culture. Enjoy dinner and a show in Old Town, including La Puerta or Quartyard.
The Gaslamp Quarter is a great place to spend an evening out in the town. The neighborhood is home to things like restaurants, bars, and clubs that are sure to have something for everyone. Gaslamp Quarter covers 16 blocks with Victorian-style buildings and a thriving nightlife.
For the center of the action, head to Fifth Avenue where bars and clubs are aplenty. If you’re not one for partying, you can still hang out in the many patios and rooftop decks of the restaurants around. This is perfect for the gorgeous view of the bay.
They’re also a center point of many events like Comic-Con and some parts of the Mardi Gras Parade happen here.
Seaport Village is a great place to spend an afternoon shopping and dining in San Diego. The village has things like boutiques, restaurants, and even live entertainment for visitors to enjoy while they wander the streets.
If you’d like to go on a food or shopping adventure, Seaport Village is a great option. You’ll be able to explore things like the USS Midway Museum, a retired aircraft carrier that’s now home to things like museums and restaurants.
A great place for families!
Little Italy is a great place to spend an afternoon exploring the culinary culture of San Diego. The neighborhood is home to things like restaurants, bakeries, and gelato shops that are sure to have something for everyone.
It’s the place to go for authentic Italian food and to explore the city’s Italian community. There is also a thriving nightlife in this neighborhood for the older crowd, mostly thirties and forties.
Cedros Avenue Design District
Cedros Avenue is a great place to spend an afternoon exploring the art and design scene in San Diego. The district has things like galleries, studios, and shops that are sure to have something for everyone. This two-and-a-half blocks area has so much local flavor to offer, some being eclectic and interesting.
If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego focused on art or design, Cedros Avenue is the neighborhood to explore.
Barrio Logan is a great place to spend an afternoon exploring the Mexican and Chicano culture of San Diego. It’s one of the 14 cultural districts and is a very artsy and hip community. The neighborhood is home to things like restaurants, markets, and art galleries that are sure to have something for everyone.
You’ll find some of the best Mexican restaurants here and the coolest collection of outdoor murals. Go to Chicano Park to witness 80+ murals painted on the Coronado bridge.
If you want to explore more of the Mexican and Chicano culture in the city, Barrio Logan is perfect for that!
Get a different nightlife experience by heading to this hidden bar downtown.
The Prohibition is the original San Diego Speakeasy and you’ll get strong vintage vibes with their 1920s decor. It’s a classy place with delicious drinks, great decor, cool music, and that speakeasy mystique about it!
Come early on Fridays and Saturdays because the place packs quickly on these days. Plus, there is a dress code on weekends so dress up!
Tivoli Bar and Grill
The Tivoli Bar and Grill offers not only an amazing collection of beer but also delicious food! Aside from that, it has things like pool tables, darts, and even a jukebox!
If you just want a casual night out with friends and a couple of drinks, this bar will be good for you. It’s perfect for things like watching the game with friends or having a casual night out.
The bar and grill is just downtown and is a local spot. It’s one of the oldest bars in the city.
American Comedy Co
Looking for a good comedy club? Look no further than American Comedy Co. It’s a San Diego favorite, taking things like entertainment and nightlife to the next level!
American Comedy Co. is both a comedy bar and a full restaurant. The restaurant has both a great menu and their special cocktails!
There is a full bar and the whole place is a cozy 200-seating venue with a speakeasy vibe to it. They host many big-name comedians, but they also welcome up-and-coming comedians.
You can find them in Gaslamp Quarter near all the major things to do in San Diego.
PB Shore Club
PB Shore Club is a beach and sports bar with absolutely fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean. Get on their second floor for panoramic views of the ocean and even spend your time watching the boardwalk. You’ll find this laid-back bar and grill meet at the Grand Avenue and Strand intersection.
They offer amazing food fresh from the sea with a twist of Mexican flavors. On the weekends, come here for live music and events from 3 to 10 PM.
Live Music Venues
House of Blues
One of the iconic entertainment venues in San Diego is the House of Blues. They’re known for things like live music and great nightlife.
The House of Blues is a large concert venue that has hosted famous acts like the Rolling Stones, Madonna, Dave Chappelle, and more! You can expect huge talent as well as unique decor at this place. They have state-of-the-art equipment and vibes that say “old Southern Delta Juke Joint.” There’s also a restaurant and bar here for you to enjoy!
The House of Blues is located in the heart of downtown and just walking distance from things like Petco Park.
Belly Up Tavern
Belly Up has been the go-to venue in Solana Beach Cedros Design District since 1974. They’ve consistently been voted as “San Diego’s Best Live Music Venue” over the years.” Not only that, but they were on Rolling Stone magazine as “one of the hottest live music clubs in the West Coast.” The club features things like the main stage, bar, and dance floor.
They also have an outdoor patio that overlooks the ocean if you want to take a break from all the music. This is an area on the Wild Note Cafe, a part of the live music venue.
Belly Up is perfect for things like concerts, private events, and even weddings! They host local, up-and-coming artists and big-name superstars in their intimate live music setting. Even with all their awards, they still have a casual and cozy venue for you to just enjoy the music!
Music Box is a well-known venue that features things like live music, DJs, and dance parties. It’s one of the most popular places for things to do in San Diego involving nightlife!
It’s one of the larger music venues in San Diego and draws inspiration from San Francisco’s Fillmore and LA’s Palladium, among others. They can pack in more than 700 people in the venue with food and drinks available inside.
Come here for a chance to see huge performers and rock your heart out!
Humphreys Concerts by the Bay
Humphreys Concerts by the Bay is an outdoor concert venue that’s a hit among concertgoers. It’s one of the most popular venues in all of San Diego and is located right on Shelter Island!
You’re surrounded by the San Diego Bay with Point Loma just close by. The venue isn’t the biggest one so it’s still intimate and cozy. The small venue has hosted famous artists like Stevie Wonder, Ringgo Star, Steely Dan, and more!
There are available hotel and dinner packages here, so you don’t need to worry about that.
History and Culture
Cabrillo National Monument
What you’ll find on the Cabrillo National Monument is Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo. He was the first European to explore the California coast in 1542.
Many tourists come here for the fantastic views of the Pacific Ocean and the San Diego Bay.
The monument also talks about things like maritime history, native American culture, and more! It’s a great place to learn things from both cultures while seeing some of our most beautiful landmarks in California.
Cabrillo National Monument is located on Point Loma where you can find things like Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and the Birch Aquarium.
Balboa Park is one of the best things to do in San Diego and many of the attractions are free!
The park is filled with gardens, art, museums, and more. You can take a peaceful walk among the gardens or inside The Botanical Building. Some other noteworthy attractions are the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Model Railroad Museum, and many more.
There’s also a theater district in Balboa Park where you can see things like plays, musicals, and operas. Head to the award-winning Old Globe Theatre, Spreckels Organ Pavilion, or the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater.
The park is huge so make sure to wear comfortable shoes!
Balboa Park is located in downtown San Diego and spans 1,200 acres.
Point Loma Lighthouse
The Point Loma Lighthouse is a historical landmark in the city.
It was first built in 1855 and is one of the oldest lighthouses on the west coast. It was restored after the construction of the Cabrillo Monument in the 1930s.
The lighthouse is open to the public and offers things like tours, exhibits, and more! You can also find beautiful gardens and stunning views of the ocean. This is definitely one of those “hidden gems” in San Diego that you’ll love discovering.
Point Loma Lighthouse is located on Point Loma where you can find things like Cabrillo National Monument and the Birch Aquarium just nearby.
Hotel Del Coronado
Hotel Del Coronado is 130 years old and is a National Historic Landmark. This beachside hotel was the biggest hotel resort when it first opened in 1888. This hotel offers things for people of all ages, including pools, shops, and restaurants. You can also take tours of the building and the gardens even without booking a room.
You can also find many attractions nearby if you need a break from sightseeing. The Hotel Del Coronado is located right on the beach, so you can enjoy the sand and surf during your stay.
Take a break from the sun at Hotel Del Coronado’s pool or head to the nearby Coronado beach.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
The Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the most unique things to do in San Diego. It’s located on a cliff overlooking the ocean and is known for its Torrey Pine trees.
The reserve has hiking trails, a visitor center, and more! This is definitely a great place to spend a day with your family while enjoying the things that nature has to offer. It’s an extremely cool place for outdoor recreation with 1,750 acres, 3,000 Torrey Pine trees, and amazing flora. The reserve also has the last salt marshes and waterfowl refuges in Southern California.
There are so many trails too if you’re into hiking. Some standout trails include Guy Fleming Trail and Razor Point Trail. You can also head to Torrey Pines beach for some fun time in the water.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located in La Jolla, which is just north of San Diego and south of Del Mar. It’s close by where you can also find things like the Birch Aquarium at Scripps and the University of California, San Diego.
Mission Trails Regional Park
If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego that involve nature, Mission Trails Regional Park is a great option.
The park has 5,800 acres with 60 miles of hiking, cycling, and horse riding trails. There is a standout trail here that will take you up Cowles Mountain. The hike up is totally worth it for the panoramic views of San Diego as you’re at the highest point in the city.
The park is the sixth-largest municipal park in the country and is a great place to spend the day outdoors. You can also find things like picnic areas, campsites, and more.
If you’re heading to Point Loma, don’t miss Sunset Cliffs. The area is right next to the Cabrillo Monument and has some of the best ocean views in San Diego.
Following its name, the site is best for watching the sunset fall to the ocean. Nearby, you’ll find beaches that are popular spots for locals and surfers. You can also head to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park for walking trails and more.
The sunset cliffs offer not only an amazing collection of beaches but also a beautiful view of the pacific ocean!
Petco Park is one of the things to do in San Diego if you’re into sports. The stadium is home to the Padres and is considered one of the top stadiums in the US.
The park offers tours that will take you through its history as well as behind-the-scenes views of the field itself! What’s even more exciting is you can get a pregame tour during a game day that lets you peek at game prep.
Another highlight of the stadium is its delicious food options. Aside from typical stadium food, you can also get San Diego classics like fish tacos, sashimi, or kale quinoa. Many locals come back for the food as much as the exciting baseball game.
If you’re visiting San Diego when the Padres are playing, definitely try to catch a game at Petco Park! You’ll find the stadium beside Gaslamp Quarter with views of San Diego’s East Village.
Torrey Pines Golf Course
Every year, the Torrey Pines Golf Course hosts one of the most prestigious tournaments in all of professional golf. If you’re into this game, it’s definitely worth checking out!
The course has hosted the Farmers Insurance Open since 1968 and still hosts it today. The tournament is part of the PGA Tour, so if golfing isn’t really your thing but sports are, check out a local event like this one!
The course has a range of terrains and an overlooking view of the Pacific Ocean. It’s got beautiful scenery and a challenging course.
Located in La Jolla, you can also find things like the Birch Aquarium at Scripps and the University of California, San Diego when visiting Torrey Pines.
Torrey Pines Gliderport
Torrey Pines Gliderport is a unique experience you can have in San Diego. The view of La Jolla and the coastline from up high is definitely worth it! You’ll be able to see things like seals, dolphins, and whales swimming below you. If you’re feeling adventurous and have some extra money to spare, this is definitely a must-do in San Diego.
You can paraglide, hand glide, and even remote control models and sailplanes. The staff here is super friendly and will help you get started on your experience.
The gliderport is located in the Torrey Pines State Reserve, making it a perfect stop if you’re already visiting that area. Many tourists say that this is worth the extra expense and the staff make the whole ride super fun!
Arts and Culture
The Old Globe
The award-winning Old Globe Theater is one of the things to do in San Diego if you’re into theater.
You can catch a play, musical, or other theatrical performance at this location that was founded back in 1937! The Globe has won more than 75 major awards since opening and is nationally recognized for its productions.
You’ll find it in the center of Balboa Park with three stages. Choose among the Old Globe theater, the outdoor Lowell Davies Festival, and a smaller Sheryl and Harvey White Theater. The whole vibe takes inspiration from London’s own Shakespeare-era Old Globe theater.
If you’re into theater or just want to check out an award-winning performance space in San Diego, definitely check this place out!
Belmont Park is a fun place to go for a day of family fun. The amusement park is located in the Mission Beach neighborhood and has been around since 1925! It’s definitely one of the things to do in San Diego if you’re looking for some classic amusement park fun.
There are over 10 rides at this park including roller coasters, spinners, and more. The highlight of the rides is the Giant Dipper. It’s a wooden roller coaster that towers over the park and is a huge hit for thrill-seekers!
There are also games for kids where you can win things like stuffed animals and even a mini-golf course. Don’t forget about the arcade area if you’re into video games too! It’s definitely one of those fun things to do in San Diego that everyone can enjoy.
Liberty Public Market
The Liberty Public Market is a new attraction in San Diego that’s definitely one of the things to do. It’s a food hall that has many local vendors with fresh offerings and artisan food.
The market is open every day from 11 AM – 8 PM and includes restaurants, bars, and more. There are also sit-down areas where you can enjoy your food and the comfortable environment. Make your way to the Liberty Public Market, sample the city’s food, buy produce, and even get a drink.
Have a good time at the Liberty public market!
Festivals and Events
San Diego Parade of Lights
This parade is one of the most popular events in all of San Diego and is an honored holiday tradition in the city. The parade has about 80 boats out in the San Diego Bay decorated with lavish lights and decor.
The parade brings tourists and locals so it’s gonna get crowded, make sure to get there early to get a good spot.
San Diego Beer Week
The San Diego Beer Week is a celebration of all things beer. It takes place every year and includes a variety of local breweries, restaurants, bars, pubs, and more! The event lasts for 10 days and features many local and independent craft brewers in the city.
If you’re into craft beer or just want to try something new in San Diego while checking out popular spots for locals and tourists alike this event is definitely the one for you during your visit!
San Diego International Film Festival
The acclaimed San Diego International Film Festival is definitely one of the things to do in San Diego when you want a new experience.
The festival is held every year in different cultural venues in the city. During this time, you can watch many independent films from around the world and enjoy special events with filmmakers! There are also workshops on filmmaking techniques during these two weeks.
It’s definitely a unique experience that you can’t find in just any city and is great for film lovers or those who appreciate the arts.
If you’re into movies or are looking for things to do in San Diego, make sure to check out this event! Check out the website to see what venues will be hosting this year’s festival!
There are so many things to do in San Diego and we’re just cracking the surface with these top 50 things. Be sure to add a few of these to your list and enjoy all that the city has to offer!