The 38 Best Things to Do in San Diego

From the most famous San Diego destinations to unique spots and well-kept secrets, explore our guide to San Diego’s best things to do and see all around town!
Todd Sarouhan
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The Ultimate List of Things to Do in San Diego

Busy Boardwalk next to Woodies in Pacific BeachKids Reading Zoo Map at the San Diego Zoo

As one of the most vibrant cities on the West Coast, America’s finest city, San Diego California is filled to the brim with fun and exciting things to do!

Museums, historic houses, and restaurants are around every bend. If you want to know what’s worth visiting, you’ll want the insider perspective of a local, whether you plan on hitting the big tourist attractions or looking for something a little more out of the way and unique to San Diego.

There are hundreds of ways to spend the day in San Diego, and top attractions include everything from educational kid-friendly museums like the Fleet Science Center and National History Museum to more adult-oriented bustling nightlife hotspots.

See wildlife at the San Diego Zoo and La Jolla Cove, learn about San Diego naval history at the USS Midway Museum and Mt. Soledad Veterans Memorial, or take your time exploring larger areas of the city like Balboa Park and Downtown San Diego.

If you want to see and do it all, be sure to get a Go City San Diego pass using our discount code ‘GVSD5OFF’ for additional savings. With the pass, you can bundle together admission to many of the city’s biggest attractions, and you’ll also get to save on gear rentals like surfboards, kayaks, and more when you hit one of the more than 76 beautiful beaches in the area.

The 38 Best Things to Do in San Diego

Check out our picks for the best things to do while you visit this beautiful city.

Fun Things to Do in San Diego

There’s no shortage of fun things to do in San Diego whether you’re traveling alone, in a big friend group, with your partner, or with the whole family. Enjoy your time exploring the city, and hit up one or many of the fun and exciting attractions.

There’s a little something fun for everyone in America’s finest city! Check out our list of top activities to find the best fits for your own personal itinerary.

Margarita and Tacos on the Tequila Tacos Tombstones Walking Tour in Old Town
Margarita and Tacos on the Tequila Tacos Tombstones Walking Tour in Old Town

1) Go on a Tales, Tacos & Tequila Tour in Old Town San Diego

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

Seeing the sights in the historic district of Old Town San Diego is already a fun way to spend an afternoon, but you can have an even better time when you add great food and drinks into the mix. The Old Town Tales, Tacos, and Tequila Walking Tour lets you do exactly that!

Start the day off with a live tour of the neighborhood’s local landmarks, complete with interesting facts and stories. You’ll have the chance to visit Mexican churches, famous buildings, and an original European settlement on Presidio Hill. Visit a tequileria, then enjoy authentic street tacos with homemade tortillas on this one of a kind experience!

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The Giant Dipper, Belmont Parks Wooden Roller Coaster
The Giant Dipper, Belmont Parks Wooden Roller Coaster

2) Take the Kids on a Classic Belmont Park Ride & Play Pass

San Diego Attractions: Belmont Park

Right along the shoreline at Mission Beach, you’ll find the fun-filled Belmont Park, a classic boardwalk attraction with high-adrenaline rides and carnival games. If you’re planning on vacationing in San Diego with the whole family, you can’t go wrong with the Belmont Park Ride & Play Pass.

Like the Go City San Diego pass, this pass lets you experience everything the park has to offer for one all-inclusive price. This family-friendly attraction has a little something for everyone, with plenty of thrill rides for older kids and adults as well as fun rides and games for younger kids.

Book a Ride
The Boardwalk in Pacific Beach
The Boardwalk in Pacific Beach

3) Ride a Bike on the Pacific Beach Boardwalk to La Jolla

Neighborhood: Pacific Beach

A long boardwalk stretches between Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, and it’s a favorite among local cyclists, who like to ride down the boardwalk while looking out over the beautiful ocean view.

Make the trip on the La Jolla: Summit to Sea Bike Tour, where you’ll also get to bike through other landmarks like the Children’s Pool, Windansea Beach, Mt. Soledad, and the La Jolla Ecological Preserve.

Alternatively, if you want a less guided experience, you can rent a bike for the day at a discounted rate with the Go City San Diego pass using discount code ‘GVSD5OFF’!

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Unique Things to Do in San Diego

There’s no shame in visiting big-name attractions like the San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld San Diego, but if you’re looking for something further off the beaten path, you can certainly find it here as well.

Spice up your trip and ensure it stands out as a truly unforgettable time when you check out our list of unique things to do in San Diego. Explore the adventurous, bold, or often overlooked attractions and activities you won’t want to miss!

La Jolla Kayaking Tour of the 7 Caves
La Jolla Kayaking Tour of the 7 Caves

4) Kayak the Sea Caves in La Jolla

San Diego Tours: 4 Best San Diego Kayaking & Snorkeling Tours

If you’re looking for a truly unique San Diego experience you will only find in the area, you won’t want to miss taking a guided sea cave kayaking tour just offshore in La Jolla!

This one of a kind, 90-minute adventure takes you by kayak past Seven Sea Caves, exploring La Jolla’s protected Ecological Reserve along the journey. Two person kayaks are provided as well as instructions and safety information so you can maximize the fun as you explore this special area with one of the highest densities of ocean life in all of California!

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Eppig Brewing on the North Park Beer-ucation Tour
Eppig Brewing on the North Park Beer-ucation Tour

5) Go on a North Park Beer Tour

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

Home to many of San Diego’s most well-known pubs and breweries, North Park is a popular stop for craft beer enthusiasts. If you want to go beyond just drinking beers, take the North Park Beer-ucation Tour, where you can get a behind-the-scenes look at how beer is brewed and flavored.

Learn trade secrets from the beer industry, visit multiple local breweries each with their own distinct menus, and sample various craft beers paired with small bites. During the tour, you’ll also have the opportunity to learn about the neighborhood’s unique culture and history alongside experiencing it firsthand.

If you love food and drink tours, check out our complete article on the Best Food & Beer Tours in San Diego for a list of other unique options to discover the cuisine and spirits found in America’s finest city!

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Skyline of Tijuana Mexico
Skyline of Tijuana Mexico

6) Take a Day Trip to Tijuana, Mexico

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

San Diego is only a few miles north of the border with Mexico, so it’s easy to head down to Tijuana for a day trip filled with exploration and adventure.

The Tijuana City Guided Tour and Food Tasting includes transportation to Tijuana via bus and a tour of some of its landmarks, including the Avienda Revolucion, Plaza Rio Tijuana, Tijuana Cultural Center, and a botanical garden.

You’ll also have the chance to do some shopping and try delicious, authentic food from the Baja Peninsula, making this a truly unique opportunity to experience the culture of another country without straying far from Southern California.

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Best Things to Do in San Diego at Night

San Diego has an incredible nightlife scene in Downtown San Diego and in the Gaslamp Quarter. While the list of the best things to do in San Diego at night includes the standard clubs, bars, and breweries, you don’t have to be a big partier to have fun after dark!

There are plenty of family-friendly things to do in the evening that can be found all around the city, including taking part in one of the many interesting tours, attending a San Diego Padres games at PETCO Park, dining at a local restaurant, and enjoying one of the area's lively music venues.

In Front of the Historic Horton Grand Hotel on the Brothels, Bites and Booze Tour
In Front of the Historic Horton Grand Hotel on the Brothels, Bites and Booze Tour

7) Go on a Food & Brothels Tour of the Best Nightlife Hotspots in San Diego

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

While many daytime tours in the Gaslamp Quarter focus on historic facts you’d find in any museum or brochure, the neighborhood’s nighttime tours are a little different.

Instead, tours like the Brothels, Bites and Booze: San Diego Gaslamp Walking Tour talk about tales you won’t find in the history books.

Learn about the early days of the Gaslamp Quarter, then known as the Stingaree District, back when it was a red light district. Listen to tawdry tales of the city’s underbelly, hear funny and sometimes unbelievable stories, and sample bites and beverages from popular local restaurants.

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Tropical Tiki Cocktails at The Grass Skirt in Pacific Beach
Tropical Tiki Cocktails at The Grass Skirt in Pacific Beach

8) Grab Dinner & Drinks at a Classic Tiki Bar - The Grass Skirt

Neighborhood: Pacific Beach

The Grass Skirt is a speakeasy that doubles as a Rum and a Tiki bar. Don't let this dissuade you from getting dinner here. The food is amazing as well as the atmosphere.

We love starting our night out at the Grass Skirt with a round of tropical tiki drinks followed by their delicious Polynesian cuisine. Located in Pacific Beach it is the perfect way to start your night out or even end your night with a nightcap around a warm fire.

Grave Markers at the El Campo Santo Cemetery
Grave Markers at the El Campo Santo Cemetery

9) Go on a Ghost Tour in Old Town San Diego

San Diego Tours: 5 Best Haunted Tours in San Diego

As the site of some of California’s earliest European settlements and colonies, Old Town has plenty of history, and it’s been the location of many ghost sightings throughout the years. Listen to tales of supernatural occurrences and unexplained events as you travel through the city on the Ghosts & Gravestones Trolley Tour.

This nighttime tour provides the perfect atmosphere for hearing spooky stories. It includes stops at notoriously haunted locations like the Whaley House and two different cemeteries. Keep your eyes peeled for ghosts as you learn about the colorful characters from San Diego’s history that just might still haunt the town.

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Best Farmers Markets in San Diego

A farmers market is the perfect place to pick up some fresh, locally-grown produce, as well as prepared and artisanal foods made with organic ingredients. San Diego has many markets all around the city just waiting for you to explore!

Vendors’ wares aren’t just limited to food though, as the best farmers markets in San Diego also frequently include handmade crafts, unique finds, and live entertainment. Shop for the perfect gift or souvenir, all while supporting and empowering local businesses in the community.

Farmers Market in Hillcrest
Farmers Market in Hillcrest

10) Buy Local at the Hillcrest Farmers Market

Neighborhood: Hillcrest

As the largest farmers market in all of San Diego, Hillcrest Farmers Market hosts an incredibly wide variety of foods, crafts, and other goods. There are over 175 vendors in operation at the market each Sunday morning, so there’s always something new to check out, whether you’re in search of staples like fresh, locally-grown produce or unique artisan foods and gifts.

The Hillcrest Farmers Market has been operating since 1997. Today, it takes up the full street, lighting up the neighborhood with live music from local bands and other performances to enjoy while you shop.

Citrus at Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market
Citrus at Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market

11) Explore the Little Italy Mercato Farmers' Market

Neighborhood: Little Italy San Diego

Little Italy is most well-known for its food, and this is no different when it comes to the local farmers market!

At the Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market, you can purchase produce from local farmers right alongside prepared meals, artisanal goods, and handmade arts and crafts. Pick up some fresh ingredients to help with dinner, or just stop by for lunch.

The Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market is the only San Diego market that runs twice a week, on Saturdays and Wednesdays. The weekday market tends to draw smaller crowds, but there are still dozens of vendors selling high-quality goods to choose from.

Local Fruits and Veggies at the North Park Farmers Market
Local Fruits and Veggies at the North Park Farmers Market

12) Weekday Shopping at the North Park Thursday Market

Neighborhood: North Park

Get your shopping done on a weekday in North Park at the North Park Thursday Market, which features over 50 different vendors.

This is a great spot for buying fresh, locally grown, and certified organic produce, and you can feel good about supporting the community while picking up other farmers market favorites like fresh baked bread, cheese, honey, dips and sauces, and floral arrangements.

In addition to what’s on sale, the North Park Thursday Market also frequently has entertainment in the form of live music and fun activities for kids. Handmade crafts are also available for purchase.

Best Places to Watch the Sunset in San Diego

The party doesn’t stop when the sun goes down in San Diego and taking in a sunset is surely one the best things to do during your next visit!

Visit some of the best places to watch the sunset in San Diego, where you can relax and take in the sky as it lights up in warm hues. Sunsets over the Pacific Ocean make for great photo opportunities, and as an added benefit, most locations are less crowded in the evening, so you can get a perfect shot or just enjoy a more tranquil atmosphere.

Sunset at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
Sunset at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

13) See the Evening Colors at Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

San Diego Parks & Nature: Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Given its name, it’s no surprise that Sunset Cliffs Natural Park in Point Loma is a great place to watch the sunset, but make sure to also enjoy the hike to the top of the cliffs in the afternoon. This is a gorgeous 68-acre park that overlooks the Pacific Ocean, and the scenic hiking trails that wind through it are flanked by breathtaking natural caves.

Arrive early and visit one of the San Diego attractions you won’t want to miss, that of Cabrillo National Monument! Located at the southern tip of the peninsula, the monument celebrates a piece of San Diego’s history, the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay in the mid 1500s!

Watching the sun go down over the ocean from the cliffs’ summit is a sight to behold. Bring a camera to get a photo of this incredible phenomenon, as it’s a view you won’t want to forget anytime soon.

Beach Boardwalk during Sunset in Front of Hotel del Coronado
Beach Boardwalk during Sunset in Front of Hotel del Coronado

14) Enjoy the Sunset at Coronado Beach and Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel: Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

There are plenty of opportunities for watching the sunset along the shore at Coronado Island. Take the short journey across the picturesque Coronado bridge for one of the best spots in all of San Diego to see the setting sun, Coronado Beach!

Lounge on a recliner and watch as the hot afternoon sun cools and falls below the distant horizon line, sinking below the ocean. This coastal sunset is a picturesque sight, and it’s a favorite among Coronado residents and vacationers alike.

For an even better view, watch the sunset from the Hotel Del Coronado, a beautiful beachfront hotel. The Del offers guests beachside waitservice with its own private section of the shore, so you can have a drink as night falls.

Book a Night at the Del
Aerial Shot of La Jolla Cove and Ellen Browning Scripps Park
Aerial Shot of La Jolla Cove and Ellen Browning Scripps Park

15) Take a Few Sunset Pictures at La Jolla Cove

Beach: La Jolla Cove

The calm waters of La Jolla Cove make it an ideal spot for swimming and an incredible location for sunbathing. While the beach experiences the heaviest traffic while the sun is still up, you can still go for an evening stroll along the water or go stargazing, right after catching a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

This is an especially great location for taking a photo in front of the sunset to commemorate your vacation, as you’ll get a scenic background. If you’re lucky, you might even snap a shot of the seals and sea lions that can be found on the beach or in the water!

Book a Kayak & Snorkel Tour

Top Things to Do in San Diego

Turn your trip into a truly unforgettable experience when you hit the top things to do in San Diego, with unique and adventurous outings sure to appeal to just about anyone.

Planning out your trip is a surefire way to make the most of your time on the West Coast, and you won’t want to miss out on any of these unbeatable fun activities and attractions.

Friendly Leopard Shark off of La Jolla Cove
Friendly Leopard Shark off of La Jolla Cove

16) Swim With the Sharks at La Jolla Shores

San Diego Tours: 4 Best San Diego Kayaking & Snorkeling Tours

On top of being a popular San Diego area spot for surfing, La Jolla’s beaches are also teeming with wildlife just off the coast, so snorkeling and scuba diving are common activities at beaches like La Jolla Shores. While snorkeling, you’ll be able to see colorful garibaldi and other reef fish, and you might just encounter a shark or two!

Don’t worry about shark attacks - leopard sharks, which are native to San Diego’s shores, are fairly small and pose no danger to humans. Swimming with sharks is a popular activity offered seasonally from mid-summer to fall, with August and September being peak months.

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General Store at the Whaley House in Old Town
General Store at the Whaley House in Old Town

17) Take a Trip Through History in Old Town San Diego

San Diego Tours: 5 Best Haunted Tours in San Diego

Whether it’s your first time visiting San Diego or you just want to learn a little more about the history of the place you live, visiting the Old Town San Diego neighborhood is the perfect way to do so.

Step back into the past as you admire architecture from over 200 years ago, take a Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Tour of the most significant landmarks, and check out informative exhibits at local museums.

The Whaley House is one of the best ways to learn about Old Town’s history.

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¡SALUD TACOS! Restaurant in Barrio Logan
¡SALUD TACOS! Restaurant in Barrio Logan

18) Eat a Taco in Barrio Logan at Las Cuatro Milpas

Neighborhood: Barrio Logan

One of the best ways to get in tune with an area’s culture is to taste local dishes, and there are few better spots for doing so in San Diego than Barrio Logan. This is a great neighborhood for trying authentic Mexican and Southern California fusion meals.

Stop at Las Cuatro Milpas for lunch, where you can enjoy delicious tacos with homemade tortillas and other Mexican favorites. Often cited as the best taco joint in town, the restaurant has been a staple of Barrio Logan since 1933, and their tasty food is well worth a visit.

Best Free Things to Do in San Diego

You don’t have to spend a small fortune to have fun in San Diego - in fact, you don’t have to spend any money at all!

While there are many ways to save money, including staying at a budget-friendly hotel and grabbing a Go City San Diego pass, you don’t have to spend a dollar when you visit some of the best beaches, parks, and neighborhoods in the area.

No list of the best things to do in San Diego would be complete without including some of the best free things to do on your next visit.

Looking at the Pier from the North Side of the Beach
Looking at the Pier from the North Side of the Beach

19) Enjoy a Free Day at One of the Best Beaches in San Diego

Neighborhood: Pacific Beach

Going to one of San Diego’s beaches is a great way to spend the day and they are completely free and open to the public!

To name just a handful of our favorites, La Jolla Cove, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, Solana Beach, and Blacks Beach are all beautiful places to spend the day. Many of the beaches in San Diego also have free lot or street parking so you won’t have to spend on that. You can find even more free coastlines at Coronado Central Beach and Ocean Beach Pier.

Amp up the fun with a discounted surfboard or kayak rental with a Go City San Diego pass, or simply enjoy free beach day activities like sunbathing, building sandcastles, and swimming.

Learn to Surf in Pacific Beach
Roast Marshmallows on an Open Fire at Vacation Isle Park on Mission Bay
Roast Marshmallows on an Open Fire at Vacation Isle Park on Mission Bay

20) Roast Marshmallows at a Campfire Along Mission Bay

Beach: Vacation Isle Park

Mission Bay’s beaches are especially beautiful as the sun goes down, and there’s no better way to enjoy them than by gathering around a roaring fire and toasting some marshmallows. This is a great family-friendly activity, though it also makes for a unique activity for couples who want to stargaze in the sand.

Alongside being an excellent nighttime activity in San Diego, roasting marshmallows on the beach has the added benefit of being entirely free. Head down to Vacation Isle, a popular beach with many fire pits available for use, and don’t forget the chocolate and graham crackers for s’mores!

Casa De Balboa at Balboa Park
Casa De Balboa at Balboa Park

21) Visit Balboa Park, Home of the Best Educational Activities in San Diego

Neighborhood: Balboa Park

Balboa Park hosts some of San Diego’s biggest attractions like the San Diego Zoo and Japanese Friendship Garden, as well as dozens of great educational museums like the Natural History Museum, Fleet Science Center, and the Air and Space Museum.

If you already have an All-inclusive Go City San Diego pass, you can visit all these attractions for one flat rate, but there are also plenty of things to enjoy about Balboa Park that don’t require you to spend a cent.

The park features miles of pet-friendly walking trails surrounded by neatly groomed gardens. Admire the flowers and hedges as you stroll, and have a picnic lunch on the grass, all without spending a dollar!

Buy the Go City San Diego Pass

Best Romantic Things to Do in San Diego

Whether you’re planning your honeymoon or just a special date night staycation, our selections of the best romantic things to do in San Diego is sure to help you craft the ideal day out for your partner.

Impress the one you love with a tour of the city’s best gourmet restaurants, picturesque locales, and fun and unique activities that help set the mood, and top it off by booking a stay at one of the city’s best hotels for couples!

Harbor Cruise Boat in San Diego Bay
Harbor Cruise Boat in San Diego Bay

22) Take a Harbor Cruise on San Diego Bay

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

The scenic surroundings of the San Diego Bay create the perfect romantic atmosphere for a couples’ night out. On a San Diego Bay harbor cruise, sit back and watch the sunset as you cruise in the big bay of San Diego.

Tours are offered in luxury sailboats and yachts, adding an element of class to the dinner date. During the tour, you’ll get to look out over the ocean, and you’ll cruise past seaside landmarks like Seaport Village and the ships at the Maritime Museum, making for a fun-filled evening.

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Main Entrance at the Hotel Del Coronado
Main Entrance at the Hotel Del Coronado

23) Visit the Iconic Hotel del Coronado

Hotel: Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton

The famous Hotel del Coronado offers guests a luxurious way to relax in comfort, making it a favorite among couples.

With daily resort activities and a full-service spa, you can’t go wrong at the historic resort. The hotel has been in operation since 1888, and it’s hosted a number of celebrities, politicians, and other famous figures.

Even if you’re not looking to book a room here, you can still visit and explore the historic landmark. Stop by in the afternoon to enjoy high-class Victorian tea, finger sandwiches, and sweet snacks in the Coronet Room, or have a gourmet dinner at one of The Del’s many restaurants and bars.

Book a Night at the Del
Taking a Gondola Ride with the Gondola Compay Coronado
Taking a Gondola Ride with the Gondola Compay Coronado

24) Ride in a Gondola on San Diego Bay

Neighborhood: San Diego Bay

You don’t have to travel all the way to Venice, Italy to take a romantic gondola ride with your significant other. Instead, you can take one right on the San Diego Bay!

Relax and enjoy the view as you float gently out of the harbor and through the Coronado Cays canals.

San Diego’s beautiful year-round weather makes this the perfect way to spend the afternoon if you want to try something a little more unique than lounging on the beach. Alternatively, rides are also offered in the evening if you want to do some stargazing from the bay.

Best Time to Visit San Diego

There’s never a bad time to head to the West Coast and specifically San Diego, but when you’re planning your vacation, you want to make sure the climate and conditions match up with the activities you want to do.

Check out our guide to the way the city changes in each season so you can make an educated decision about the best time to visit San Diego for you and your family and the best things to do once you arrive!

Swimmers at the La Jolla Cove
Swimmers at the La Jolla Cove

25) Visit During the Fall

Neighborhood: La Jolla

Fall is often cited as the best season in San Diego, as the weather is consistently warm without being overbearingly hot. Take advantage of the clear, sunny climate and sunbathe on the beach, go hiking, or walk around Balboa Park. Many annual events, like Restaurant Week and Beer Week, are routinely held in the fall as well.

Surfing conditions are especially ideal as the weather gets cooler and waves get larger, so make sure to use your Go City San Diego pass for a discount on renting a surfboard or other beach equipment like snorkels and kayaks if you visit toward the end of fall.

Busy Boardwalk next to Woodies in Pacific Beach
Busy Boardwalk next to Woodies in Pacific Beach

26) Take a Trip in the Summer

Neighborhood: Pacific Beach

Summer is vacation season, so it’s no surprise that it’s a popular time to visit San Diego!

The city can get a little crowded, and temperatures are higher, but this just makes swimming in the ocean at a secluded cove all the more refreshing. Summer events include the County Fair, Del Mar horse races, and the very popular Comic-Con.

As long as you plan your trip in advance and take advantage of Go City San Diego pass discounts to balance out higher seasonal hotel and flight rates, a summer trip to San Diego is a blast!

Best Attractions in San Diego

The best attractions in San Diego include many of the city’s greatest hits and most famous landmarks. Fill your itinerary with all the best family-friendly museums, beaches, and other must-visit locales you can only experience in Southern California.

As an added benefit, many of these top attractions are part of the All-inclusive Go City San Diego pass, so be sure to pick up a pass with a discount using code ‘GVSD5OFF’, before your visit.

Kids Reading Zoo Map at the San Diego Zoo
Kids Reading Zoo Map at the San Diego Zoo

27) Tour the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Attractions: San Diego Zoo

Perhaps one of the best known attractions in the entire city, the San Diego Zoo is popular with all ages, especially for animal lovers.

Get up close and personal with species from around the world in a variety of different habitats, and make lasting memories as you explore the park and learn about both local and exotic animals.

No day at the zoo is complete without a Go City San Diego pass, so be sure to pick one up and bundle zoo admission with other attractions in Balboa Park like the Japanese Friendship Garden and the Museum of Us.

Buy Zoo Tickets
The Perfect Place to Paddle Board, Sail Bay
The Perfect Place to Paddle Board, Sail Bay

28) Paddleboard and Kayak in Mission Bay

Beach: Sail Bay

There are beaches all along the coast in San Diego, but the shores of Mission Bay are especially popular with tourists. These beaches are characteristically wide and sandy, and they offer plenty of opportunities to swim, kayak, sunbathe, paddleboard, and more, especially when you rent a surfboard, kayak, or stand-up paddleboard at a discount with the Go City San Diego pass.

Hotspots in Mission Bay Park include El Carmel Point and Sail Bay for sailing, Crown Point Beach and Mission Point Park for picnicking, and Ventura Cove Park and Bonita Cove for swimming. Check out our Mission Bay beaches guide for a rundown on what each beach has to offer.

Rent a Paddle Board
Magellanic Penguins at Seaworld San Diego
Magellanic Penguins at Seaworld San Diego

29) SeaWorld San Diego: One of the Best Things to Do with the Whole Family in San Diego

San Diego Attractions: SeaWorld San Diego

The famous SeaWorld San Diego more than earns its reputation as a top tier family-friendly destination on the West Coast, especially for those interested in animals and marine life. While there are plenty of aquariums around the country, the big draw of SeaWorld San Diego is getting to see whales, dolphins, seals, sharks, and more up close, whether you catch a show or a hands-on educational talk.

You can easily spend the whole day at the park, but if you’re interested in marine life, we also recommend visiting the Birch Aquarium at Scripps in La Jolla at a discount with the All-inclusive Go City San Diego pass.

Buy SeaWorld Tickets

Best Hikes in San Diego

San Diego’s attractions aren’t limited to lazy days spent lounging on the beach. For those who prefer a more active vacation, there are plenty of hiking trails. The best hikes in San Diego feature scenic cliffside and forest views, great photo opportunities, and plenty of nature.

These select hikes include both accessible and challenging lengths and terrain options to suit every hikers’ preferences.

Nice Trails at Mission Trails Regional Park
Nice Trails at Mission Trails Regional Park

30) Bring Your Dog to the Mission Trails Regional Park

San Diego Parks & Nature: Mission Trails Regional Park

The dog-friendly Mission Trails Regional Park has multiple trails of varying difficulties, making it suitable for both beginners and more experienced hikers seeking a challenge. With over 8,000 acres and 60 miles of scenic trails snaking through the park, it’s easy to stay active and spend the whole day taking in the local flora and fauna.

Hikers looking for a unique multiple-day climb can try out the 5-Peak Challenge, which spans 12 miles and includes all five peaks in the park, these being Cowles Mountain, North Fortuna, South Fortuna, Pyles Peak, and Kwaay Paay Peak.

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Beautiful Sunset over the Cliffs at Torrey Pines State Reserve
Beautiful Sunset over the Cliffs at Torrey Pines State Reserve

31) Enjoy the Views at Torrey Pines State Reserve Loop

San Diego Parks & Nature: Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

The fairly accessible 2.5-mile hike along the Torrey Pines State Reserve Loop in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a good choice for those more interested in taking in the view than pushing themselves to their limits.

On the Beach Trail, you can gaze at the coastline as you walk along the shore. Take a few moments to admire the rare torrey pine tree, the namesake of the park, which is found only in two places on earth, coastal San Diego County and growing on Santa Rosa Island.

The Torrey Pines Loop is a popular hike with families, and it’s a good trail for birdwatching as well. There’s even beach access, so you can catch your breath and take a dip in the ocean to cool off.

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Sitting on Potato Chip Rock
Sitting on Potato Chip Rock

32) Hike to the Top of Potato Chip Rock

Head northeast from San Diego County and you’ll find Lake Poway Park, home of the Potato Chip Rock hike. This is a fairly difficult trail that spans just over 7 miles, so it’s best suited to more experienced and athletic individuals, but the view is well-worth the effort.

Views of Lake Poway set a gorgeous backdrop for your walk as you make your way up to the summit. Once there, you’ll get to look out at the titular Potato Chip Rock itself, set against a backdrop that’s practically picturesque. Be sure to bring a camera for some commemorative photos!

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Best Malls in San Diego

Looking to shop till you drop, or just trying to revitalize your wardrobe with a few essentials? Going shopping in San Diego is surely one of the best things to do as a local on a staycation or as a visitor on a trip to the area.

You will find all manner of stores in San Diego that are sure to suit your needs, whether you’re looking for clothes, electronics, books, toys, pet supplies, or luxury goods.

In addition to their stores, many of the city’s outlets also have entertainment and dining options, helping them achieve the status of the best malls in San Diego.

Fire and Water Fountain in front of Nordstrom at UTC Mall
Fire and Water Fountain in front of Nordstrom at UTC Mall

33) Shop at one of the most Popular Area Mall, the Westfield UTC Mall - San Diego

Shopping in San Diego: Westfield UTC Mall San Diego

As one of the largest and most popular malls in San Diego, the Westfield UTC Mall is full of opportunities for shopping, dining, and entertainment.

The mall is open-air with multiple fire pits, water fountains, and art pieces, but the decor pales in comparison to the dozens of stores selling everything from toy stores and tech retailers to upscale beauty brands and designer clothing lines.

Other notable features include a movie theater, playground, dog park, and gourmet restaurants and bars. In the winter, the mall goes all out for Christmas with Santa, decorations and even its own ice skating rink.

Inside the Very Pretty Fashion Valley Mall
Inside the Very Pretty Fashion Valley Mall

34) Luxury Awaits with a Visit to the Fashion Valley Mall

Shopping in San Diego: Fashion Valley Mall

Fashion Valley Mall is just one of multiple shopping centers in Mission Valley, but it’s undeniably the most luxurious, with a wide array of designer brands and plenty of upscale restaurants.

Treat yourself to some quality clothes and shoes, or shop at some of the mall’s more affordable boutiques and tech stores. There’s also a food court on the upper level, as well as a movie theater.

Other amenities at this outdoor mall include valet service, electric vehicle charging stations, and a kids’ play area, plus a central fountain with plenty of nearby benches.

Great Shopping at Banana Republic at Carslbad Premium Outlets
Great Shopping at Banana Republic at Carslbad Premium Outlets

35) Have an Upscale Experience at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Shopping in San Diego: Carlsbad Premium Outlets

Just a bit north of Downtown San Diego in the neighborhood of Carlsbad, you can find an upscale shopping experience at the Carlsbad Premium Outlets.

This is a large, open-air outlet mall that borders the famous Carlsbad flower fields, which are a big draw in the spring, but there are plenty of high-end stores to visit no matter what time of year you find yourself in San Diego.

In addition to housing outlets from top designed brands, all at affordable prices you won’t find elsewhere, there are multiple family-friendly restaurants and other eateries scattered throughout the mall.

Most Haunted Places in San Diego

San Diego’s history spans hundreds of years, dating all the way back to the earliest European settlements on the West Coast and beyond. Many of the city’s buildings are just as old, especially those in Old Town San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter.

Such old buildings are no strangers to tales of hauntings and other spooky stories. If you’re looking for the best things to do in San Diego, consider immersing yourself in the thrilling chills at the most haunted places in San Diego.

Front of the Whaley House Early in the Morning
Front of the Whaley House Early in the Morning

36) Tour the Whaley House

San Diego Area Museums: Whaley House Museum

Dubbed not just one of San Diego’s most haunted houses, but also one of the most haunted places in all of America, The Whaley House dates all the way back to the earliest European settlements on the West Coast.

By day, this unassuming San Diego museum is full of history, but by night, it has featured in many tales of ghost sightings, with many claiming to have seen the spirits of the old Whaley family still haunting its halls.

Visit this famous landmark at night for a chilling ghost tour, complete with spooky stories and the chance to witness the paranormal for yourself.

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Moonrise at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego
Moonrise at the Cosmopolitan Hotel in Old Town San Diego

37) Visit or Stay a Night at the Cosmopolitan Hotel

Hotel: Cosmopolitan Hotel

It’s said that the walls themselves speak at the Cosmopolitan Hotel, and given just how many people have claimed to see ghosts at this haunted location, that may not be an exaggeration!

Notoriously, rooms 4, 5, and 11 are each said to hold the restless spirits of long-gone figures from San Diego’s history, and many guests have reported unexplainable moving furniture and spectral voices calling from down the hall.

Visit or stay at the hotel to learn about the different ghosts that have been spotted throughout its storied history, and keep your eyes peeled for any hints of paranormal activity you might encounter during your stay.

Book a Night at the Cosmopolitan
The Historic & Possible Haunted Horton Grand Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter
The Historic & Possible Haunted Horton Grand Hotel in the Gaslamp Quarter

38) Experience a Night at the Horton Grand Hotel

Hotel: Horton Grand Hotel

To most guests who choose to stay at the Horton Grand Hotel, the charming, boutique hotel offers a unique mix of historic surroundings and modern comforts. However, for a select few, the hotel is memorable not for its amenities, but for the ghost sightings they experienced within!

As one of the oldest hotels in the city, the Horton Grand Hotel is said to be home to multiple poltergeists, each with their own chilling or tragic backstory. Visiting the hotel offers paranormal enthusiasts the chance to see ghosts from the 18th and 19th centuries while also enjoying a comfortable stay.

Book at Night at the Horton
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Orangutan at San Diego Zoo
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Attractions that you can visit with a Go City San Diego pass include:

The San Diego Zoo, Birch Aquarium, SeaWorld, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, Harbor Cruise, USS Midway Museum, the NAT Museum, Whaley House, PETCO Park Tour, iFLY San Diego and many, many more!

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Belmont Park Ride and Play Pass
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Guided La Jolla Sea Cave Kayak Tour
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