30 Best Things to do in Downtown San Diego

Looking for a local’s insider perspective on the best things to do in Downtown San Diego? Explore our complete guide to the top things to do & see in the city!
Todd Sarouhan
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Unique, Interesting, & Fun Things to Do in Downtown San Diego California

Young Lady Posing at the Fountain at the Prado in Balboa ParkSunset on San Diego Bay

For many of the millions of visitors to San Diego each year, a trip to Downtown San Diego is at the top of their list of things to do!

Downtown San Diego and the surrounding neighborhoods are full of a variety of attractions that will appeal to all types of travelers, whether you’re interested in exploring historic locales, immersing yourself in the local culture, or dining on delicious and authentic cuisine. Families can enjoy fun-filled adventures to top attractions like the world-famous San Diego Zoo or a trip to a San Diego area museum or one of the many museums on offer in nearby Balboa Park.

To truly make your trip a success, consider purchasing a Go City San Diego pass for everyone in your party in advance for savings all over the city. The pass includes activities and attractions in Downtown like discounted admission to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego, Downtown and a number of exciting tours by sea departing from the nearby San Diego Bay.

It also includes perks in nearby beach towns like La Jolla, where you can rent surfboards and paddleboards at a discount to enjoy the beautiful waters of La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores. Use our discount code, GVSD5OFF, for even more savings!

However you’re looking to spend your time in San Diego, the Downtown area is a fantastic place to start your vacation planning, as the incredible attractions on our list are sure to appeal to just about any type of traveler!

Take a tour of The Prado, a popular restaurant in Balboa Park serving all flavors of San Diego dishes. The Prado has maintained its reputation of excellence for years, making it an iconic locale.

Go on a Food Tour

Fill Out Your Itinerary With the 30 Best Downtown San Diego Attractions

If you’re in search of the best things to do in San Diego in the area’s most popular neighborhoods, the Downtown area has some of the highest concentration of activities and attractions, as well as easy access to nearby areas like Old Town San Diego and Mission Bay.

Fill your trip with visits to nearby natural wonders like Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Torrey Pines, or the Sunset Cliffs, then head to the heart of the city, to complete your itinerary with these 30 incredible things to do in Downtown San Diego!

Gorilla Statue at the San Diego Zoo
Gorilla Statue at the San Diego Zoo

1) Visit the World-famous San Diego Zoo

San Diego Attractions: San Diego Zoo

As one of the most popular attractions in all of San Diego, a visit to the San Diego Zoo is a solid choice for any vacationers’ itinerary.

Located just to the east of Downtown in nearby Balboa Park, the zoo is a haven for animal lovers with exhibits featuring lions, pandas, and the elusive Southern California Condor. Visitors can enjoy wildlife shows, interactive exhibits, hands-on experiences and much more.

The Denny Sanford Wildlife Explorers Basecamp is a new exhibit opened in early 2022 you won’t want to miss! The area is divided into four distinct zones or ecosystems: Rainforest, Marsh Meadows, Wild Woods, and Desert Dunes. The area is designed to be interactive with a massive treehouse, water elements, fun games and opportunities to expose kids of all ages to the importance of protecting the world we all call home!

Like many of San Diego’s premier attractions, purchasing an all-inclusive Go City San Diego pass in advance will net you discounted admission to the San Diego Zoo, plus dozens of other attractions all across the city.

Use the discount code GVSD5OFF for even more savings!

Buy Zoo Tickets
San Diego Natural History Museum theNat Dinosaurs
San Diego Natural History Museum theNat Dinosaurs

2) Explore the Many Museums in Balboa Park

Balboa Park Museums: San Diego Natural History Museum - theNAT

Downtown’s Balboa Park contains more than 15 museums, with a little something for everyone!

Many of these museums are especially family-friendly, such as the San Diego Natural History Museum (the Nat), The Fleet Science Center With IMAX, and the San Diego Air and Space Museum, featuring many hands-on activities for kids. Others have large collections showcasing a specific area of interest, like the San Diego Automotive Museum, the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, and the Museum of Photographic Arts.

Additional popular picks include the San Diego Museum of Us and the San Diego History Center. Art lovers will appreciate the San Diego Museum of Art and San Diego Art Institute. Travelers that enjoy parks and nature will likely enjoy a stroll through the gorgeous Japanese Friendship Garden.

With a Go City San Diego pass, you can save big with discounted admission when you bundle together Balboa Park’s incredible museums.

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The Front of the USS Midway Museum As Seen from a Boat
The Front of the USS Midway Museum As Seen from a Boat

3) Visit the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum

San Diego Area Museums: USS Midway Museum San Diego

Head just west toward the coast from Downtown to reach the San Diego Bay area’s neighborhood of Embarcadero. Here, you’ll find the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, which is located inside the renovated hull of a decommissioned aircraft carrier that was used in World War II. Whether you’re interested in the USS Midway vessel itself or San Diego’s storied military history, you’re sure to learn something new with a visit to the museum.

San Diego has an extensive history as a base for US naval operations. This history is showcased in engaging exhibits and interesting memorabilia housed right in the aircraft carrier. Exhibits include an aircraft gallery, a flight simulator, and the Battle of Midway Theater.

A truly unique San Diego experience, spending an afternoon at the museum not only makes our list as one of the best things to do in Downtown San Diego but also joins our list as one of the overall best things to do in San Diego’s best neighborhoods!

Buy Tickets to the USS Midway
San Diego Harbor Cruise on the Spirit of San Diego
San Diego Harbor Cruise on the Spirit of San Diego

4) Enjoy a Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

San Diego Tours: 13 Best San Diego Harbor Cruises & Boat Tours

Enjoy a relaxing afternoon or evening cruising around San Diego Bay on a Harbor Sightseeing Cruise. Experience the feeling of the ocean breeze in your hair as you look out at some of the most interesting bayside landmarks, including Coronado Beach Bridge, the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet’s ships, and Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma.

Tours feature live narration by your captain, with fun facts and stories about local landmarks that can be spotted from the boat. You’ll also have an opportunity to spot seals, sea lions, sea birds, and other marine animals that can frequently be seen in and around the bay.

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A Nice Sunny Day at the Embarcadero
A Nice Sunny Day at the Embarcadero

5) Walk, Eat & Drink on the Boardwalk at the Embarcadero

Neighborhood: Embarcadero San Diego

The Embarcadero boardwalk stretches along the shoreline of the San Diego Bay, providing a beautiful Pacific Ocean view backdrop for a walking tour of the boardwalk’s best stores and restaurants. This is a very popular area in San Diego with a high concentration of local businesses, especially if you head down to Seaport Village, which is filled with shops ranging from boutique stores to high-end retail chains.

Alternatively, ride a bike down Harbor Drive, visit the Maritime Museum, or fish off the pier. Be sure to grab lunch from one of the many restaurants, bars, and breweries that line the boardwalk, or enjoy the nice weather with a picnic on one of the shaded benches in the area!

Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise Spots a Gray Whale
Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise Spots a Gray Whale

6) Take a Whale & Dolphin Watching Cruise

San Diego Tours: 13 Best San Diego Harbor Cruises & Boat Tours

The San Diego Bay is full of wildlife, especially as you travel out to the deeper waters of the Pacific Ocean. See dolphins, whales, seals, sea birds, and more on a Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise. This is a fun activity for any animal lover, especially if you’re interested in learning more about Southern California’s marine conservation efforts.

Tours are offered seasonally in accordance with whale migration patterns. Blue whales travel past the coast during the summer, while gray whales can be commonly seen during the winter months. Other species include common Risso's, bottlenose, and Pacific white-sided dolphins; humpback and fin whales; sunfish; and sea birds like pelicans, terns, gulls, and herons.

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Having a Drink on the Brothels Bites and Booze Tour
Having a Drink on the Brothels Bites and Booze Tour

7) Go on the Brothels, Bites & Booze: San Diego Gaslamp Walking Tour

San Diego Tours: 10 Best San Diego Food & Beer Tours

See a whole new side of San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter district on the Brothels, Bites and Booze Walking Tour! While many tours focus on the Gaslamp Quarter’s most notable landmarks, this tour is unique in that it reveals the more tawdry history of its time as the Stingaree red light district, with plenty of shocking and humorous tales you won’t hear anywhere else.

As one of the best San Diego food & beer tours in the city, trips are offered in the evening to help set the stage, and the mood. Your excursion also includes stops at local businesses for food and drink samples. The tour is a great opportunity to taste your way through San Diego, and is widely considered to be one of the best things to do in the premiere neighborhoods in San Diego!

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Kids Playing on a Play Structure at Balboa Park
Kids Playing on a Play Structure at Balboa Park

8) Take Your Kids to Play at One of the Five Playgrounds in Balboa Park

Neighborhood: Balboa Park

In addition to housing a variety of museums, walking trails, and parks, Balboa Park also contains five different playgrounds located throughout the large property. If you’re looking for something fun and totally free to do with the kids during your vacation, consider enjoying San Diego’s beautiful weather at one of these playgrounds, which are equipped with exciting and safe slides, jungle gyms, and more.

Choose from five different family-friendly playgrounds, including Bird Park at Cedar, Bird Park at Upas, Morley Field Playground, Pepper Grove Playground, and Sixth Avenue Playground. Each park has plenty of playground equipment to keep kids entertained for the whole afternoon, and some have designated areas for children under 5 to play safely.

Petco Park Home of the San Diego Padres
Petco Park Home of the San Diego Padres

9) Go on the Petco Park Stadium Tour - Home of the San Diego Padres

San Diego Tours: 11 Best San Diego City & Bus Tours

For Major League Baseball fans visiting San Diego, a stop at Petco Park stadium, home of the San Diego Padres MLB baseball team, is a must-see addition to any trip itinerary. Come during baseball season to catch a Padres game, or for a truly unique look at this awe-inspiring park, sign up for a behind the scenes stadium tour.

Walk on the very fields where the pros play, and experience the stadium the way the players experience it. The stadium tour even includes elements that appeal to non-sports fans, as you can climb up to the top of the bleachers and get a great panoramic view of the city skyline, or head down onto the grass for a picnic lunch.

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Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride in San Diego Bay
Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride in San Diego Bay

10) Get Your Adrenaline Pumping on a Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride

San Diego Tours: 13 Best San Diego Harbor Cruises & Boat Tours

There are many amazing harbor cruises that set sail every day in the San Diego Bay, but if you’re looking for something that speaks to your inner daredevil, try the Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride!

This activity is a high-octane tour of the bay on a speedy jet boat, complete with pumping rock music and a suitably energetic and playful narration providing information about each sight you’ll speed by.

The attraction and adventure is one of the best things to do in San Diego regardless of neighborhood, offering participants a turbo-charged fun time. There are few better ways to experience the harbor area than zipping through the bay at 50 miles an hour!

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Dolphin at Seaworld San Diego
Dolphin at Seaworld San Diego

11) Learn About Marine Life with a Trip to SeaWorld San Diego

San Diego Attractions: SeaWorld San Diego

Marine lovers won’t want to miss the opportunity to visit SeaWorld San Diego, home of an incredible assortment of sea creatures large and small. Watch a fun dolphin show, have up-close encounters with whales and seals, and traverse through huge aquariums showcasing various underwater habitats.

With a Go City San Diego pass, you can visit SeaWorld San Diego and other famous San Diego attractions for a discounted price, so make sure to take advantage of this incredible offer using our discount code GVSD5OFF.

View penguins, turtles, tropical fish, sharks, and more, then enjoy the rides and games located throughout the park for an exciting, family-friendly time.

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12) Take Your Pet to One of the Three Different Dog Parks in Balboa Park

Neighborhood: Balboa Park

Balboa Park is the perfect location for spending the day with the whole family, including those members of your family who are covered in fur. While nearly the whole park is pet-friendly if you’re simply looking to walk or hike the trails, there are also three different dog parks located on the property where your pooch can socialize and play.

Dogs can run free at any of the three parks, these being Nate’s Point Dog Park, Morley Field Dog Park, and Grape Street Dog Park. They are equipped with water fountains, large fields for running and playing with other dogs, and convenient picnic tables for their owners to relax.

Sunset on a Harbor Cruise in San Diego Bay
Sunset on a Harbor Cruise in San Diego Bay

13) Dine on a Gourmet Dinner Cruise on San Diego Bay

San Diego Tours: 13 Best San Diego Harbor Cruises & Boat Tours

Tour the San Diego Bay in class and style when you take a Gourmet Dinner Cruise. Enjoy drinks and a delicious array of food from the comfort of a luxury yacht, on which you’ll be able to look out over the bay and see notable landmarks like the Cabrillo National Monument and Coronado Island Bridge.

As the evening winds down, relax with dessert and coffee to the soft sounds of ambient music. Watch the sunset over the bay, then see the glittering lights of the city under the stars. This is a popular attraction for couples seeking a romantic night out, but it’s suitable for friends and families as well!

Book Dinner Cruise
Gaslamp Sign at the Entrance of the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego
Gaslamp Sign at the Entrance of the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego

14) Cruise Through Town on the GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Balboa Park

San Diego Tours: 11 Best San Diego City & Bus Tours

Featuring unique GPS-equipped Storytelling Cars, the Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Balboa Park Tour is a great way to see the most important sights in the city as you ride the streets in a GoCar. There’s no need for a live guide on these tours as the cars provide the narration. Equipped with GPS navigation, the cars know how to get to each attraction, so there’s no worry of getting lost!

Check out various sights Downtown, throughout the historic park, and along the Embarcadero. Landmarks include popular museums like the Maritime Museum, gardens, Spanish Renaissance era architecture, historic sights, and the shopping district of Hillcrest, where you can pick up a few souvenirs and stop at a locally-owned restaurant for lunch.

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The Unconditional Surrender Statue at USS Midway
The Unconditional Surrender Statue at USS Midway

15) Take a Picture with Unconditional Surrender in the Embarcadero

Neighborhood: Embarcadero San Diego

Right outside the USS Midway Museum in the Embarcadero is a historic statue known as Unconditional Surrender, though it also goes by the names Embracing Peace and the Kissing Sailor statue.

Originally constructed by J. Seward Johnson in the late 2000s, the statue is based on the famous photo from the celebrations in New York City’s Times Square at the end of World War II. It features a Navy sailor kissing a nurse.

This huge statue is over 6,000 pounds and 25 feet tall, making it very easy to find once you’re in the area. See the outstanding work of art in person, and snap a photograph in front of the statue to commemorate your trip!

Fountains at Waterfront Park in Harborview
Fountains at Waterfront Park in Harborview

16) Play in the Fountains at the Downtown San Diego Waterfront Park

Neighborhood: Harborview

You don’t have to head to Pacific Beach or one of San Diego’s more than 70 picturesque beaches to enjoy the shore. However, we do think that would be an excellent activity to add during your vacation planning for your next trip to San Diego!

The gorgeous Waterfront Park in Harborview in the Downtown San Diego area is, as the name suggests, located right along the coast. It features beautiful greenery surrounding large lawns perfect for spreading out a blanket and having a picnic, walking your dog, or just enjoying a colorful San Diego sunset.

Kids are sure to enjoy running through the splash fountain to cool off on hot days. The dedicated children’s play zone is complete with fun slides and other activities that young kids will surely enjoy.

The park commonly hosts community-wide events like farmers markets and festivals throughout the year. The park is also one of the more popular spots in San Diego, and along the West Coast, for scenic outdoor weddings!

San Diego SEAL Tour on Land
San Diego SEAL Tour on Land

17) Explore Downtown San Diego by Land & Sea with the San Diego SEAL Tour

San Diego Tours: 13 Best San Diego Harbor Cruises & Boat Tours

Much of San Diego is coastal, so the SEAL Tour, also known as the “sea and land” tour, is a perfect mix for any trip to the area! SEAL Tours feature hybrid boat and tour bus vehicles known as Hydra-Terras, so the tour can include great sights from inland spots as well as various landmarks in the San Diego Bay.

SEAL Tours put a special focus on history, specifically San Diego’s military history, of which there is a lot to learn. Listen to interesting narrations about the city’s Naval history while you enjoy the view. These tours are family-friendly and typically last about 90 minutes.

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Seaport Village Sign in Front of the Harbor House Restaurant
Seaport Village Sign in Front of the Harbor House Restaurant

18) Enjoy Great Shopping in Downtown San Diego at Seaport Village

Shopping in San Diego: Seaport Village

As one of the best-known shopping districts in the Downtown area, Seaport Village feels like stepping into a cozy small town along the water while still providing plenty of opportunities to shop like you’re in the big city. There are a wide abundance of stores, most of which are locally-owned and sell homemade goods you can’t purchase anywhere else.

In addition to doing some shopping, there are plenty of restaurants, and even a few food vendors on the weekends. Stop in for lunch or have a few drinks at the winery, and enjoy some live entertainment in the form of musicians, arts and craft shows, and other performers.

Balboa Statue at the Main Square of Balboa Park, San Diego
Balboa Statue at the Main Square of Balboa Park, San Diego

19) Get the Early Bird Special on a GoCar Tour

San Diego Tours: 11 Best San Diego City & Bus Tours

Traversing the streets of Downtown San Diego in a GoCar is a unique and easy way to cover a lot of ground while also learning about the places you visit through the car’s helpful narration.

If you’re a morning person, or you just want to take a unique look around while the city is still waking up, save on this hidden gym activity when you reserve the GoCar Early Bird Special Tour.

This tour is an excellent option for travelers that want to avoid crowds and would prefer to explore the city at their own pace. With the tour, you will have access to a GoCar from 9:00 am to 12:00 noon, all for a fraction of the cost of what you would pay for an afternoon tour.

All GoCars are equipped with GPS location services so you won’t get lost and you’re free to stop and leave the car to explore on foot at your leisure!

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Pizza Oven at Little Italy Food Hall
Pizza Oven at Little Italy Food Hall

20) Eat the Best Local Pizza in Little Italy

Neighborhood: Little Italy San Diego

There’s delicious food to be found at local restaurants all across San Diego, but Little Italy is especially well-regarded as one of the city’s culinary hubs, especially if you’re looking for authentic Italian food or tasty fusion meals. There are plenty of places to get real Italian-style pizza in the neighborhood, with top choices on every corner.

One local favorite is Filippi’s Pizza Grotto, which serves a full menu of Italian favorites alongside traditional pizza options. Other popular options include Mimmo’s Italian Village, a family-owned restaurant with recipes passed down through generations, and Davanti Enoteca, which serves their iconic burgers alongside Mediterranean fare.

One of the many Grassy area great for a Picnic at Balboa Park
One of the many Grassy area great for a Picnic at Balboa Park

21) Grab a Coffee & Read a Book in Balboa Park

Neighborhood: Balboa Park

Many San Diego vacations are filled with high-energy activities, such as surfing in La Jolla and Pacific Beach, but sometimes it’s nice to take a breather in the middle of a jam-packed vacation.

For those moments when you need to rest and relax, settle in the shade of a tree in Balboa Park with a good book and some fresh-brewed coffee, or pick up lunch from a nearby restaurant and head to any of the large grassy areas with more than enough space for the whole family to enjoy a sunny San Diego afternoon.

Balboa Park is the ideal spot for enjoying San Diego’s amazing weather when you’re downtown, and it’s also great for birdwatching and people watching as well.

Grabbing a Beer on the Brothels Bites and Booze Tour
Grabbing a Beer on the Brothels Bites and Booze Tour

22) Take a Brewery and Tap Room Sidecar Tour

San Diego Tours: 10 Best San Diego Food & Beer Tours

There are incredible breweries scattered throughout the San Diego area, and the Gaslamp Quarter is one of the best if you want to taste some of San Diego’s premiere local offerings. On the Brewery and Tap Room Sidecar Tour, you’ll get to travel through the city and sample craft beers from multiple different locations. Beers are paired with light bites so you can sample all aspects of local cuisine.

The tour, one of the best food and beer tours in San Diego, also includes an informative look at how beer is made, plus some information on how to appreciate the different notes and flavors in each brew. Learn something new, or simply appreciate a few great beers with friends and family!

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The Beautiful Casa Del Prado Theater at Balboa Park
The Beautiful Casa Del Prado Theater at Balboa Park

23) Enjoy a San Diego Cultural Attraction with a Performing Arts Production in the Park

Neighborhood: Balboa Park

Culture is everywhere in Downtown San Diego!

Many of the best and most popular cultural attractions in San Diego are found in Balboa Park. The park frequently hosts a number of performing arts troupes of all types at its numerous permanent venues.

Enjoy theatrical plays and musicals at The Old Globe Theater, or watch concerts and other performances at Starlight Bowl. Some venues are specifically dedicated to preserving cultural heritage, like Centro Cultural de la Raza, which focuses on Latino, Mexican, and Indigenous art, or WorldBeat Center, which showcases African and Indigenous performances.

You can also watch talented young performers at the San Diego Youth Symphony, San Diego Junior Theatre, and San Diego Civic Youth Ballet. Catch a dance troupe performance from Civic Dance Arts, see a puppet show at Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater, and participate in a longstanding tradition of weekly organ shows at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion!

Sunset Harbor Cruise in San Diego Bay
Sunset Harbor Cruise in San Diego Bay

24) Go on a Sights & Sips Sunset Cruise on the San Diego Bay

San Diego Tours: 13 Best San Diego Harbor Cruises & Boat Tours

When you’re vacation planning and looking at tours in Downtown San Diego that would be great for friends, couples or even families, look no further than the Sights & Sips 2-Hour Sunset Cruise.

Sail the San Diego Bay and take in its best sights with a drink in hand. As one of the best harbor cruise and boat tours in San Diego, the tour features a happy hour, no-host bar serving wine, beer, and mixed drinks and complimentary finger foods, as well as music and entertainment.

Look out over the bay, where you’ll see ships from the Maritime Museum, the cityscape, Cabrillo National Monument, and Coronado Bridge at the distant Coronado Island. One of the biggest benefits to taking this tour is getting to witness the sunset over the water, so be sure to bring your camera to snap some pics of this stunning sight!

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More Beer on the North Park Beer Ucation Tour
More Beer on the North Park Beer Ucation Tour

25) Grab a Beer at a Local Brewery & Experience Nightlife in Downtown San Diego

Neighborhood: East Village

Breweries are a big part of local nightlife in Downtown San Diego, which is especially vibrant in East Village with its hip and youthful vibe. There are many spots to choose from, so here are some picks to get you started on your bar-hopping adventure!

Bay City Brewing Co Tasting Room is a standout brewery with food and amazing tap beers, including IPAs, lagers, and other ales. Just outside Petco Park, you can find Half Door Brewing Co., a lively pub that feels right out of the Emerald Isle. Another great brewery is The Lost Abbey, which has a unique church theme and a motto that promises to wage a crusade in the war of “Good vs. Evil beer.”

Any of these options offer great beers and similarly wonderful atmospheres. If you want to sample multiple breweries, you can also check out our list of the city’s best food and beer tours.

San Diego Segway Tour
San Diego Segway Tour

26) Take the Downtown & Gaslamp Loop Scooter Tour

San Diego Tours: 11 Best San Diego City & Bus Tours

If you’re looking for a way to explore Downtown’s best sights at your own pace, try the Downtown and Gaslamp Loop Scooter Tour. Instead of following a guide, you’ll get to ride through the city streets on a motorized scooter, which is equipped with GPS functionality to help you locate and identify various landmarks throughout the city.

Tours include stops in Little Italy, the Gaslamp Quarter, Banker’s Hill, Balboa Park, and the Embarcadero, providing a varied and well-rounded view of the whole city. Scoot past popular attractions like the USS Midway Museum and Maritime Museum and plan out future stops for the rest of your trip, or simply sit back and enjoy the ride.

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Hiking the trails of the Desert Garden Path at Balboa Park
Hiking the trails of the Desert Garden Path at Balboa Park

27) Hike the Many Trails at Balboa Park

Neighborhood: Balboa Park

One of the most popular spots for hiking in San Diego county is Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, but you don’t have to leave the Downtown area for a great hiking experience as well. In fact, you can get some exercise right at Balboa Park, which has plenty of trails of varying difficulty levels to choose from.

If you’re in search of a short and breezy hike, check out the paths at Marston Point Trails Gateway and Morley Field Trails Gateway. The Sixth and Upas Trails Gateway and the Golden Hill Trails Gateway have hiking paths that range in lengths, while Park Blvd. Trails Gateway has some challenging hilly routes for especially active hikers.

The Main Street of the Gaslamp Quarter
The Main Street of the Gaslamp Quarter

28) Go to Dinner in the Gaslamp Quarter

Neighborhood: Gaslamp Quarter

While the Gaslamp Quarter is largely a historic district by day, many local businesses have helped to modernize the area and expand upon its nightlife scene. If you’re looking for a good place to get dinner while enjoying local flavors, you can’t go wrong with the restaurants in this cozy neighborhood, no matter what you’re in the mood for.

Popular spots like Mezé serve up Greek fusion cuisine right in the heart of Downtown San Diego. At Puesto, you can enjoy authentic Mexican food like their especially delicious tacos. STK Steakhouse is a traditional steakhouse attached to the Andez hotel that boasts an upbeat vibe, complete with a live DJ on the weekends.

Dine at any of these incredible restaurants, or seek out whatever you might be craving in the lively Gaslamp Quarter.

Salt and Whiskey Bar in the Gaslamp Quarter
Salt and Whiskey Bar in the Gaslamp Quarter

29) Have a Drink at the Salt & Whiskey Bar in the Historic Horton Grand Hotel

Hotel: Horton Grand Hotel

The Horton Grand Hotel has been in operation since the 1880s, making it an important historic San Diego landmark that you can visit and even book a night to stay if you dare!

The hotel is said to be among the most haunted places in San Diego, further adding to its intrigue. Of course, you don’t have to be interested in history or ghost hunting to enjoy what is arguably the crown jewel of the hotel’s property, this being the Salt & Whiskey Bar.

With Victorian era decor influences and an upscale atmosphere, the Salt & Whiskey is a truly unique place to dine and drink, but the menu is more than appealing enough to stand on its own. From 4pm – 10pm daily, enjoy vintage wines, liquors, ales, and specialty cocktails, or treat yourself to one of the bar’s rare specialty scotches and whiskeys you likely won’t find anywhere else in town!

Stay at the Horton Grand Hotel
Airplane Flying over the Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park
Airplane Flying over the Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park

30) Play at the Morley Field Disc Golf Course in Balboa Park

Neighborhood: Balboa Park

Disc golf is a sport that combines all the best aspects of golf and frisbee to make something truly unique. It’s a great way to stay active even while on vacation without having to hit the gym.

The Morley Field Disc Golf Course is part of Balboa Park, and it consists of a large field with a whole course of disc golf holes. Tournaments and other competitions are frequently held throughout spring and summer, but beginners are also welcome to join a game outside of championship matches. This is an all-ages sport that the whole family can enjoy, and it’s also an exciting activity for friend groups that can be enjoyed year-round in the warm, San Diego sun.

Visit PETCO with Go City Pass!
PETCO Park Tour
Experience PETCO Park Tour
Whether you are a die hard, or a casual baseball fan, the PETCO Park tour has something for you. With your Go City Pass, you can visit all the restricted areas of the ballpark. The interactive tour takes you through press row, the dugout and much more.
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Where can you purchase a Go City San Diego pass?

It's best to purchase your Go City San Diego pass in advance to maximize your savings!

Combine Go Visit San Diego's exclusive 5% discount with the Go San Diego pass' already great deals and save big! To get our exclusive discount click on the "Buy Now" link and use the code GVSD5OFF to start staving.

What You’ll Want to Know Before Visiting Downtown San Diego’s Top Attractions

Ensure you’re exploring all the enticing sights of Downtown, from the historic park to bayside views, without the potential stresses that can arise during vacation. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you create your San Diego itinerary.

Utilize Public Transport

If you’re flying into the city via the San Diego International Airport (SAN), consider that you may not need to rent a car.

Downtown is only a few minutes away by rideshare or taxi service, and there are various methods of public transportation that make getting around on foot exceptionally easy. These include Uber and Lyft, the San Diego Coaster for trips up and down the coast, public buses, and the San Diego Trolley.

Don’t Undervalue Free Activities

The Go City San Diego pass is a great way to save on admission and activity costs, but there are also plenty of free things to do in the Downtown San Diego area that are completely free.

From walking through the Embarcadero to relaxing in Balboa Park, check out our list of the best free things to do in San Diego to see where you can cut costs on your next trip to the area.

Don’t Forget to Explore the Surrounding Neighborhoods

The Downtown San Diego area is compact and tourist-friendly. It encompasses many neighborhoods including Little Italy, Core-Columbia, Barrio Logan and the Gaslamp Quarter. Within a short drive or walk, visitors can also be in Balboa Park, Liberty Station and even Old Town San Diego!

When you’re done exploring the best things to do in Downtown San Diego, be sure to check out our lists of the best things to do in Old Town San Diego and the best things to do in Little Italy for an even deeper dive into those very special San Diego neighborhoods!

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68°F / 83°F
Sunny in August
Sep
66°F / 82°F
Sunny in September
Tours & Adventures
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
The World Famous San Diego Zoo
Discounts Available
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Downtown/Gaslamp Scooter Tour
Downtown/Gaslamp Scooter Tour
$60 per person
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