Best Things to Do near the Cruise Port

As a popular tourist destination, the cruise port and the surrounding area is a great place to explore right before you depart or when you come ashore!
Best Things to Do near the Cruise Port
Start on the Right Foot
7 Best Activities
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Start Your Trip Off On the Right Foot at the Cruise Port San Diego

The Cruise Port San Diego is the first stop for many people visiting San Diego, and it makes for a lasting first impression. While the port is best known for the docking and launching of ships, going for a cruise is far from the only activity you can enjoy here.

Whether you’re entering San Diego by boat, plane, or automobile, the Port of San Diego is a must-see during your visit. This area is packed full of fun things to see and do, from incredible museums to an amazing sample of local food and everything in between.

Located in Harborview just a few steps away from the Embarcadero, the Port of San Diego boasts an excellent central location that isn’t far from other popular spots Downtown and in the Gaslamp District. You can walk along the bay, spend the day in Waterfront Park, or head inland a few blocks to explore the different stores and restaurants that border Little Italy.

Unlike in colder regions, the year-round gorgeous San Diego weather means it’s always the perfect time to visit the San Diego Cruise Ship Terminal and the nearby area. Don’t forget to take full advantage of the sun and cool breeze by hitting up some of the beaches in Point Loma. Check out the Point Loma Tide Pools at Cabrillo National Monument, or grab a board and surf the waves at New Break (Nubes).

If you want to save on beach gear rentals as well as enjoy discounted admission rates to various popular San Diego attractions in the Port of San Diego area, make sure to pick up a Go San Diego Pass. You can even get an additional discount with our referral link. This means you can pack your day with even more fun-filled activities without having to stress about the price, which ensures you can fully relax and enjoy your trip.

The 7 Best Activities and Attractions Near the Cruise Port

There’s lots to do around the cruise ship terminal, to the extent that you might have some trouble deciding how you should spend your time. Here are 7 great ideas that are sure to make any vacation or staycation unforgettable.

Visit the USS Midway

Embarcadero

910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101

The USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum is a popular stop for anyone interested in San Diego history, the Navy, aircrafts, or ships, but just about anyone will find the displays truly impressive. Here, you can board a real aircraft carrier that was involved in one of the biggest battles of World War II, which now sits in San Diego’s own Embarcadero.

As both an educational and entertaining museum, this is a great spot for families. Kids will enjoy getting a hands-on and up-close look at different aircrafts, the majority of which were built right in Southern California. Older visitors will find there is a lot to learn about San Diego’s naval history.

In addition to the aircrafts on display, the museum also features its own theater and flight simulators. Admission to the USS Midway Museum is part of the All-inclusive Go San Diego Pass, so make sure to pick one up in advance of your travels.

Head to the Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is best known for its extensive history and vibrant nightlife, but there are fun activities available all throughout the day.

For starters, you can always get a great meal in the Gaslamp Quarter. Try out one of the local restaurants, or go on a neighborhood-wide taste test with the Brothels, Bites and Booze: San Diego Gaslamp Walking Tour.

Once you’re all fueled up, stop by Petco Park, home of the Padres. Catch a game, tour the park, and enjoy a breathtaking view of the city from the stadium.

Don’t forget about the excellent museums in the Gaslamp Quarter. These include The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House, where local history is brought to life, and The New Children’s Museum, which is an interactive art exhibit for kids. Each of these activities are applicable for admission discounts through the Go San Diego Pass.

Local Tips
Visit the Museums!
Don’t forget about the excellent museums in the Gaslamp Quarter. These include The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House, where local history is brought to life, and The New Children’s Museum and more.

Shop at Seaport Village

Embarcadero

849 W Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101

Looking for the perfect spot to fulfill all your shopping and dining needs? Look no further than Seaport Village, which is a waterfront shopping complex with dozens of different stores. Here, you’ll find everything from surfing gear and memorabilia, to sweet shops, to souvenirs, and much more.

Many of the stores inside Seaport Village are locally-owned businesses, so you can feel good about supporting the over 70 different storefronts located around the complex. You’re sure to find something truly unique to take home!

Don’t forget about Seaport Village’s dining options either. You can eat right along the bay, or enjoy more casual options including burgers, pizza, and seafood.

Walk Along the Embarcadero

The Embarcadero is a sprawling, bustling area of bay coastline that encomapsses much more than just Seaport Village and the USS Midway Museum. In addition to these attractions, you can also spend the day in Waterfront Park or either of the two Marina parks, as well as immerse yourself in local culture and maritime history.

Water sports are especially popular just offshore, and even more so if you make use of the Go Pass to save on gear rentals. Try your hand at sportfishing, jet skiing, and paddleboarding, or go on a harbor cruise. Whatever you decide to do, you’re sure to have a fun-filled day, whether you’re alone or with the family.

Eat in Little Italy for Great Italian Food

If you’re looking for Italian food, you can’t do much better than Little Italy without hopping in a plane and actually going to Italy. Here, you’ll enjoy authentic meals that have been imbued with local flavor. Find a restaurant that has perfected the classics, or try something completely unique; it’s all up to you.

Little Italy offers dining options that range from relaxed and casual to more fine dining, so there’s something to suit everyone’s tastes. In addition to sit-down restaurants, you’ll also find cafes, quick bites, bars, and breweries throughout the neighborhood.

Food isn’t the only thing Little Italy has to offer. Round out the evening with a visit to the Music Box which routinely hosts events with live entertainment or the Waterfront Bar & Grill that boasts to be one of the oldest bars in San Diego.

Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a huge, 1,200-acre park that houses some of San Diego’s premier attractions. It’s an excellent place to enjoy a sunny day walking the paths and enjoying the gardens, and with so much to do, you can easily spend more than a few hours seeing the best of what San Diego has to offer.

Balboa Park is perhaps most notable for its dozens of museums. These include standouts such as the Museum of Us, Fleet Science Center, San Diego Natural History Museum, and many more. These museums are great for the family, and they can entertain and engage kids and adults alike.

Other excellent Balboa Park attractions include the Japanese Friendship Garden and the ever-popular San Diego Zoo. If you want an affordable way to visit multiple museums and attractions during your stay, don’t forget to bundle admission together with the Go San Diego Pass!

Check Out Point Loma and Get Great Seafood

Point Loma has some rocky beaches that are perfect for surfing and other water activities, but another of its big draws is its extensive list of seafood restaurants. Enjoy fresh, locally-caught fish and shellfish all while enjoying a picturesque view of the bay as you dine.

There are dozens of different spots to get a bite to eat in Point Loma, so let your stomach be your guide. Are you craving fresh-caught bay shrimp, crab cakes, or something more adventurous like pickled squid? No matter what you’re looking for, you’re certain to find it here.

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USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Explore the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum with your All-Inclusive Go Pass! Check out the hangar deck and flight deck, plus over 60 exhibits, displays and interactive experiences. Enjoy an authentic tour narrated by Midway sailors!
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Local Tips
What attractions are included with a Go Pass?

Attractions that you can visit with a Go 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!

Things to Know Before Your Visit to the Cruise Ship Terminal

Whether you’re a local or a first-time visitor to San Diego, there are plenty of hidden gems and important things to know to improve your experience around the cruise port. Here are some tips to ensure your trip goes as smoothly as possible.

Places to Stay Nearby

Cut down on travel time by staying close to the action. Some of the best hotels near the cruise port offer luxury, boutique, or family-friendly experiences that can’t be beat, such as the Residence Inn by Marriott San Diego Downtown on the bay, or the Hampton Inn San Diego Downtown that’s perfect for families.

Get Around in Style

The cruise port area is highly walkable, so you don’t need to worry about sitting in traffic. If you need a lift back to your hotel, make use of the city’s excellent public transport, which includes public buses, taxis, and trolleys.

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The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego
Exterior view, The US Grant, a Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego
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History and luxury mix beautifully at US Grant, A Luxury Collection Hotel, San Diego. Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, this distinctive hotel pampers every guest.
Prices Starting at $265
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San Diego Harbor Cruise
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The World Famous San Diego Zoo
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