13 Best San Diego Walking Tours

San Diego walking tours are meant to educate and entertain often including local history, the best places to eat and drink and sometimes even ghost stories.
Todd Sarouhan
Some of the links in this article are affiliate links. This means if you make purchases through them, I may be compensated at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.
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Join Todd as he learns about the unique and sometimes sordid history of San Diego on the Brothels, Bites and Booze Tour. This tour also includes a sampling of the Gaslamp Quarter's finest food and drinks.

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The Best Way to See San Diego - Walking Tours!

Bartender Mixing a Drink at Tahona Bar in Old TownOne of the many Grassy area great for a Picnic at Balboa Park

Going on vacation is about more than having an excuse to lounge on the beach and let your cares drift away. It’s also an opportunity to experience the culture and atmosphere of a new area!

Discover the Diversity of San Diego's Neighborhoods

Whether you’ve traveled across the country, internationally, or just a few miles away, there are countless new experiences awaiting in San Diego. This beachy city on the Pacific Coast is known for embodying the laid-back vibes that characterize Southern California, but that’s not all it has to offer.

In fact, its many neighborhoods each offer something special, from the historic architecture of the Colonial and Victorian periods in Old Town San Diego and the Gaslamp Quarter to the more contemporary Mexican-American blending of cultures that can be found in spots like the East Village and Barrio Logan.

Brothels, Bites and Booze Walking Tour in the Gaslamp Quarter
Brothels, Bites and Booze Walking Tour in the Gaslamp Quarter

The Benefits of Walking Tours in San Diego

If you’re the type of traveler who likes to learn about the area you’re visiting, you’re in luck! Taking part in a San Diego tour, and especially a walking tour, is one of the best ways to traverse the city. You’ll be able to choose a self-guided tour or a tour that is led by an experienced guide. Either way, you’re sure to have an unbeatable experience, and you’ll learn plenty of interesting facts that will only enhance your appreciation for the city.

Greek Quesdilla at the Meze Greek Fusion in the Gaslamp Quarter
Greek Quesdilla at the Meze Greek Fusion in the Gaslamp Quarter

Culinary Adventures on Foot

Are you more of a foodie who’s interested in seeing what San Diego’s culinary scene has to offer? Walking tours are perfect for that too!

Many tours offer opportunities to dine and drink at an array of restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries, pubs, and more.

Keep reading to find the perfect walking tour for your next vacation!

Local Tips
Discover San Diego on Foot
Walking offers an unparalleled city experience. By strolling through neighborhoods, you can truly sense their unique vibes. Engaging with locals, absorbing the atmosphere, and uncovering hidden gems become effortless. It's an intimate way to immerse in the essence of any city.

The 13 San Diego Walking Tours for Every Kind of Traveler

Put on a pair of sturdy shoes and get ready to walk the streets of San Diego. Each of these 13 tours offers an engaging way to explore the city, from sampling the very best restaurants and breweries to visiting its historic and sometimes haunted locales!

One of the Many Sidewalk Cafes in Little Italy
One of the Many Sidewalk Cafes in Little Italy

1) Little Italy Food Walking Tour with Tastings

Neighborhood: Little Italy San Diego
Book the Little Italy Walking Tour

There are few places more famous for their restaurant scene than San Diego’s Little Italy, and with good reason. Visiting Little Italy is an excellent addition to the vacation itinerary, but why stop at just one restaurant when you could try a variety of Italian dishes in this famous neighborhood? On the Little Italy Food Walking Tour with Tastings, you’ll have the opportunity to visit three local restaurants, plus an authentic gelateria for dessert.

Start with homemade favorites that let you sample Italy’s best dishes without leaving San Diego. Try real homemade pasta, grass-fed beef, and true Italian-style pizza. Finally, step inside a traditional bistro for a scoop of gelato.

Food isn’t the only thing this 2.5-hour tour has to offer. You’ll also see Little Italy’s most notable sights as you walk between the restaurants. Soak up the charming atmosphere of the neighborhood as your guide teaches you about the history and cultural relevance of the buildings you pass.

Book the Little Italy Walking Tour
Swimmers at La Jolla Cove
Swimmers at La Jolla Cove

2) Self-Guided Walking Audio Tour in La Jolla

Neighborhood: La Jolla
Book the La Jolla Walking Tour

The surfing mecca of La Jolla is most famous for its beaches, but it’s also got plenty of history and local flair. Learn about its architecture, surfing history, nature, and more on the Self-Guided La Jolla Walking Audio Tour, which spans from the Coast Walk to La Jolla Cove and the area’s tide pools.

If you like to go with the flow on vacation, this tour is the perfect fit, as you won’t have to worry about meeting a tour guide at a set time or rushing past each point of interest. Instead, this self-guided tour lets you traverse the trail at your own pace. Simply download the app and you’ll have access to a map and detailed narrations about each stop.

Hear what local experts have to say about over a dozen spots around La Jolla, including both popular tourist sites and hidden gems you might not otherwise visit. Each audio log is narrated by a professional voice artist, allowing tour goers to feel totally immersed in the stories that make up La Jolla’s history.

After your tour, consider visiting one of our favorite family-friendly attractions in all of San Diego that happens to be in La Jolla! The Birch Aquarium at Scripps is a world-class facility that will get you up close and personal with sea life in the oceans that touch San Diego as well as from waters around the world!

Book the La Jolla Walking Tour
Oaxacan Lady Cocktail at Tahona Bar and Mezcaleria in Old Town
Oaxacan Lady Cocktail at Tahona Bar and Mezcaleria in Old Town

3) Old Town Tales, Tacos, and Tequila Walking Tour

Neighborhood: Old Town San Diego
Book the Old Town Tacos & Tequila Walking Tour

As the oldest neighborhood in San Diego, Old Town is teeming with shocking history and untold tales. Learn all about the hidden secrets of this neighborhood on the Old Town Tales, Tacos, and Tequila Walking Tour while also enjoying food and drinks from local restaurants.

This tour is 2.5 hours long and begins at the famous Adobe Chapel. Your guide will share stories from the extensive history of notable locations like early European settlements, Victorian-era buildings with a reputation for being haunted, and one of the first Catholic churches on the West coast. You’ll also learn about California’s Indigenous population, the Kumeyaay tribe.

All that walking is sure to make anyone hungry and thirsty, so the tour also includes stops at local restaurants and bars. Sample authentic Mexican cuisine at street taco vendors and visit a real tequileria, where you can get a drink while walking through the tequila museum. Tacos, handmade tortillas, tequila, and chips and salsa are all included in the ticket price.

Book the Old Town Tacos & Tequila Walking Tour
Erika Enjoying Sangria at the Meze Greek Fusion restaurant
Erika Enjoying Sangria at the Meze Greek Fusion restaurant

4) San Diego: Brothels, Bites and Booze Gaslamp Quarter Tour

Neighborhood: Gaslamp Quarter
Book the Booze & Bites Tour

San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is best known as a historic district today, but it was once the city’s red light district when it was known as the Stingaree. Uncover tawdry tales from the past that are sure to shock and amuse on the Brothels, Bites and Booze Gaslamp Quarter Tour.

While many of Old Town’s best tours are suitable for the whole family, this tour is specifically designed for adults. Enjoy an after-dark look at Old Town’s past and present.

Meet your tour guide just outside the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego near the Gaslamp Quarter signpost and prepare for 2.5 hours of unbelievable stories about the Stingaree District. As you pass by clubs, restaurants, and nightlife hotspots, you’ll learn about what these buildings used to house: namely, everything from gambling dens to brothels.

Booking a ticket for this tour also comes with food and drink samples from multiple local restaurants along the tour path. This tour typically runs in the evenings around dinner time, so be sure to bring your appetite!

This is one of my favorite tours in downtown San Diego!

If you’re interested in learning more about the San Diego beer scene or would be interested in taking part in a San Diego food tour, don’t miss our complete article on the 10 Best San Diego Food & Beer Tours!

Book the Booze & Bites Tour
Statue at El Prado at Balboa Park
Statue at El Prado at Balboa Park

5) San Diego's Balboa Park: 3-Hour Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Neighborhood: Balboa Park
Book the Scavenger Hunt Adventure

Balboa Park is one of the most popular spots to walk around on sunny days in San Diego. Teeming with gardens, pleasant biking and hiking trails, and over a dozen museums, there’s lots to discover. Turn exploration of the park into a fun game for the whole family on San Diego’s Balboa Park: 3-Hour Scavenger Hunt Adventure.

Take a sightseeing tour around the 1,200 acres of Balboa Park. Equipped with only your wits and a convenient smartphone app, this tour can be taken any time of day, so it’s the perfect compliment for a busy schedule filled with fun activities.

Most people take about 2-3 hours to complete the scavenger hunt, but you’re free to play at your own pace.

If you want to elevate the tour to the next level, get the Go City San Diego pass, which includes discounted admission rates to many of Balboa Park’s biggest attractions. Using our discount code, GVSD5OFF, you can purchase an all-inclusive pass with free admission to top spots like the Museum of Us and world-famous San Diego Zoo to make the scavenger hunt even more memorable.

Book the Scavenger Hunt Adventure
Casa De Balboa at Balboa Park
Casa De Balboa at Balboa Park

6) Balboa Park Walking Tour with a Local Guide

Neighborhood: Balboa Park
Book the Balboa Park Walking Tour

Whether you’re looking for a more structured way to explore Balboa Park or you’re interested in learning all about the park’s various landmarks from a well-informed tour guide, the Balboa Park Walking Tour with a Local Guide is another excellent way to take your visit to the next level.

See everything that makes this urban cultural park renowned. Be sure to bring a camera on this 2-hour tour, as you’ll want to take pictures of the floral gardens and Spanish Colonial revival architecture along the paths. Learn about the ways the park has changed since its inception in 1868, starting with the Founder’s Statue and continuing through the Plaza de Panama and Visitor’s Center.

Other stops on the tour include the Alcazar and Zoro Gardens, Botanical Building, Bea Evenson fountain, Spanish Village Art Center, Old Globe Theater, and California Tower. See these landmarks up close and learn about the history that makes this corner of San Diego truly special.

Book the Balboa Park Walking Tour
The Salt and Whiskey Bar Under the Horton Grand Hotel
The Salt and Whiskey Bar Under the Horton Grand Hotel

7) San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter Historic True Crime Walking Tour

Neighborhood: Gaslamp Quarter
Book the Balboa Park Walking Tour

If you’re a fan of true crime podcasts and shows, you can’t miss the San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter Historic True Crime Walking Tour. Take a peek behind the curtain and see how the charming Gaslamp Quarter transforms from a picturesque historical town by day to a playground for all sorts of shady characters by night - in the past, at least!

The Gaslamp Quarter, once known as the Stingaree District, was a red-light district during the 19th century. A far cry from the bustling streets of today, it was the setting for criminal activity of all kinds, including drug dealing, prostitution, and even murder.

Learn about some of the area’s most infamous crimes as your tour guide shares real accounts from history, including tales of a serial killer who once walked these very streets. Note that this 1.5-hour guided walking tour isn’t suitable for children, and it may include content that some tour goers find objectionable, so discretion is advised.

Book the Balboa Park Walking Tour
Walking into Pizza Port Brewery in Carlsbad
Walking into Pizza Port Brewery in Carlsbad

8) Carlsbad Village: 3-Hour Local Food Walking Tour

Neighborhood: Carlsbad
Book the Carlsbad Food Walking Tour

Carlsbad Village is a popular shopping and dining destination tucked away in Carlsbad. Sample dishes and drinks from eateries all around the village on the Carlsbad Village: 3-Hour Local Food Walking Tour. This is a small group tour that’s designed for groups of no more than 10 people, so it’s a great fit for ladies’ weekends or other getaways with a few friends.

Start with an exploration of downtown as your tour guide introduces you to the architecture on display. Learn about Carlsbad’s history and explore its local culture as you walk along the streets and pass by museums, shops, and art galleries.

One of the best ways to experience local culture is by sampling the region’s food. On this tour of Carlsbad, you’ll get to try food from eight of the neighborhood’s restaurants, dessert parlors, and wineries. Each eatery offers a unique slice of locally-owned flavors.

Book the Carlsbad Food Walking Tour
Graze Eatery, Bar, and Bottle Shop in Little Italy Food Hall
Graze Eatery, Bar, and Bottle Shop in Little Italy Food Hall

9) San Diego’s Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour

Neighborhood: Little Italy San Diego
Book the Little Italy Wine Tasting Tour

While many tours through Little Italy focus on the food with authentic pasta and pizza dishes, the San Diego’s Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour focuses on another Italian staple: wine!

Italy is the largest producer of wine in the world with vineyards spanning hundreds of thousands of acres. Not to be outdone, Little Italy is similarly enamored with wine, with plenty of local wineries.

On the 3-hour tour, you’ll get to sample wine from 3 different wineries, with tastings from Italy, California, and other locations around the world. These wineries are owned by enthusiasts who will share secrets of the craft, from grape cultivation to processing and storage. Learn what to look for when tasting wine so you can flaunt your sommelier skills at your next party or fancy dinner.

In addition to wine, enjoy pairings with small bites including charcuterie staples like regional cheeses and crackers, as well as small-plate pasta dishes.

Note that this tour is only suitable for people 21 and older.

Book the Little Italy Wine Tasting Tour
Beach Boardwalk in Front of the Hotel Del Coronado
Beach Boardwalk in Front of the Hotel Del Coronado

10) San Diego: Coronado Highlights Small Group Walking Tour

Neighborhood: Coronado Island
Book the Coronado Island Walking Tour

While Coronado Island may not technically be an island, visiting this neighborhood certainly feels like traveling to a secluded island town, especially when you have the chance to explore its best sights on the San Diego: Coronado Highlights Small Group Walking Tour.

Meet your tour guide in Rotary Park, which is just a short rideshare or ferry ride from Downtown San Diego. From there, embark on a 2.5-hour trip around Coronado Island, with notable stops including the Wizard of Oz house in Star Park, Spreckels Mansion, and the Hotel del Coronado. You’ll also get to learn about Coronado’s military flight school, as well as the many celebrities and famous figures who have visited its shores.

Your tour ticket price also includes entry to a local historic museum, as well as a snack at a local eatery. Feel free to grab lunch or do some souvenir shopping before you head back to the mainland!

Book the Coronado Island Walking Tour
Stone Brewing Tap Room in East Village
Stone Brewing Tap Room in East Village

11) San Diego’s East Village Food and Drink Walking Tour

Neighborhood: East Village
Book the East Village Food & Drink Walking Tour

San Diego’s many walking tours feature a fusion of cultural and historical information alongside opportunities to eat at some of the best restaurants around the city. Nowhere is this more true than on the San Diego’s East Village Food and Drink Walking Tour, located in the foremost neighborhood for Southern California foodies, East Village.

On this 3-hour tour, you’ll be treated to up to four different eateries, ranging from restaurants to breweries and cocktail bars. Spend a fun night out with friends and family as you sample the flavors of this up and coming neighborhood.

As you eat, your tour guide will share interesting information about the development and history of East Village. Learn about how this section of San Diego went from a warehouse district to one of the trendiest spots in the city.

This tour is for people 21 and older. It’s especially popular with young couples and friend groups.

Book the East Village Food & Drink Walking Tour
Barrio Logan Has Many Latino Restaurants
Barrio Logan Has Many Latino Restaurants

12) Barrio Logan Food and Art Guided Walking Tour

Neighborhood: Barrio Logan
Book the Barrio Logan Food & Art Walking Tour

Unlike San Diego’s more popular beachside destinations, the average tourist may not be as familiar with the quaint neighborhood of Barrio Logan. However, being less well-known than areas like Gaslamp Quarter doesn’t mean it shouldn’t factor into your travel plans. Barrio Logan along the San Diego Bay is beloved by those who have had the chance to walk its streets and immerse themselves in its charming local culture.

On the Barrio Logan Food and Art Guided Walking Tour, you’ll have the chance to do exactly that. Start off by touring local art galleries and admiring murals filled with colorful street art. Once you’ve worked up an appetite, dine at a local restaurant.

Barrio Logan is heavily influenced by a mix of Mexican and American culture, which can be seen in both its art and cuisine. See the world’s largest collection of Chicano murals and experience this unique blend of cultures for yourself on this 21-and-up tour.

Book the Barrio Logan Food & Art Walking Tour
Side of the Horton Grand Hotel
Side of the Horton Grand Hotel

13) San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter Ghost Walking Tour

Neighborhood: Gaslamp Quarter
Book the Gaslamp Quarter Ghost Walking Tour

Do you love all things spooky and macabre? If so, the San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter Ghost Walking Tour is the perfect thing to do after dark on your vacation.

As San Diego’s oldest neighborhood, the Gaslamp Quarter is no stranger to ghost stories. Explore the neighborhood, from the Horton Plaza Park starting point to famously haunted venues like the Davis-Horton House and the Horton Grand Hotel.

With hundreds of years of history hidden in the walls of its oldest buildings, there’s no shortage of spooky tales and paranormal happenings that have been sighted over the years. Learn about some of the most exciting and credible stories on this 1.5-hour walking tour. You’ll even get a chance to experiment with real ghost hunting equipment like EMF meters, so keep your eyes peeled, because you just might spot a ghost yourself!

This tour is family friendly. However, some stops on the tour include recountings of events that may not be suitable for children under 13, so parental discretion is suggested.

Book the Gaslamp Quarter Ghost Walking Tour
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The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
Visit Davis-Horton House
The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House is the oldest standing house in all of San Diego. Using your Go Pass, take in the history of the city that goes all the way back to the 1800s. Each room represents a different era of the house.
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What are the best Go City San Diego pass deals?

Some of the best deals with the Go City San Diego pass include access to San Diego’s most popular attractions.

Discount admission is offered to the San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND California, USS Midway Museum, Belmont Park rides and more!

Want to save more? Use our exclusive discount code GVSD5OFF to save an extra 5%!

Tips for Getting the Most out of San Diego Walking Tours

What Should You Bring to the Tour?

Come prepared for your tour of choice by bringing the right gear. For all walking tours, be sure to wear comfortable shoes and a weather-appropriate outfit. It’s also a good idea to bring sunscreen and bottled water for daytime tours.

How Long are the Tours?

Tours vary in length, but most range from 1.5 to 3 hours. See the booking link pages for more detailed information about each tour, including its length and starting location.

The USS Midway Museum next to The Kiss Statue near the Gaslamp
The USS Midway Museum next to The Kiss Statue near the Gaslamp

What Else Is Nearby Your Tour?

Neighborhoods like the Gaslamp Quarter, Downtown San Diego, and Balboa Park are filled with activities and attractions that turn a tour into a full day out. Plan a trip to a local museum, go shopping at Seaport Village or step aboard a real aircraft carrier with a visit to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Musuem!

Another stellar option for families, couples or anyone that’s interested in wildlife would be to visit the San Diego Zoo. And of course for those looking to enjoy San Diego’s excellent weather, you can’t go wrong with a trip to one of San Diego’s picturesque beaches before your tour starts!

Also, be sure to grab a Go City San Diego pass with our discount code, GVSD5OFF, to make the most of your visit. The pass includes admission to many of the top attractions in the most popular neighborhoods in San Diego!

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Tours & Adventures
Carlsbad Local Food Tour
Carlsbad Local Food Tour
$70 per person
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Gaslamp Brothels, Bites & Booze Tour
Gaslamp Brothels, Bites & Booze Tour
$75 per person
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