If you want to experience the vibe of Southern California, you must visit San Diego – America’s Finest City known for its natural beauty, a buzzing nightlife, plenty of food, and more adventure sports than you can tackle in one trip. Whether you simply want to soak yourself at San Diego’s beaches or eat your way out the best Mexican and sea food, travelers of all types can find fun things to do in San Diego. Check out my list of doing fun things in San Diego based on my last trip.
1) Go to Sea World
If you have never visited Sea World before, then you must visit San Diego’s ocean-themed park to explore oceanarium, outside aquarium, and marine mammals. Everyone knows who the main attraction is here: Shamu, the killer whale (orca) — or over the years, a succession of Shamus. Other main attractions in Sea World are dolphins, sea-lions, penguins and rides. You will also have opportunities to see marine creatures close up and in a few cases, you can touch and feed them. So a one day is well worth to explore what Sea World has to offer!
2) Explore the downtown on a Segway ride
This was one of my favorite part in exploring San Diego. Take a Segway tour and explore the dynamic downtown of America’s finest city! It is very easy to learn and you will come across the beautiful bay front route which is Segway Paradise as well as other iconic attractions of San Diego downtown.
3) Visit the San Diego Zoo
San Diego zoo is celebrating its 100 years as it was opened in 1916. This is the top rated zoo in various top zoo lists and active in animal conservation. The zoo’s most popular inhabitants are the Giant Pandas. Other attractions of San Diego’s zoo are California Condors, koalas and albino boa constrictor. More than 4,000 rare and endangered animals live on the zoo’s 100 acres – and although few visitors may notice, there’s also a prominent botanical collection, with more than 700,000 exotic plants.
4) Visit the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
If you want to experience Jungle Safari, you must visit the San Diego Zoo’s sister park — Zoo Safari Park that offers a different kind of animal experience. Its name (Safari Park) is the clue and it indeed offers a more safari-like experience. Lots of large animals live in the same big, open areas here – predators kept away from prey, but otherwise much as they would in their natural habitat. Besides regular admission activities, the Safari Park offers overnight sleepovers, photography tours and other experiences – for an extra fee.
5) Take a Harbor Cruise
Cruising is a MUST for any San Diego traveler. No trip to San Diego is complete without taking a Harbor Cruise. As water plays a prominent role facing San Diego’s downtown, you can’t ignore the breathtaking view of San Diego’s skylines as well as get a peek at the Pacific Fleet – and a harbor cruise is the best way to get a feel for just how tall the Coronado Bridge really is! The cruises make two trips, one toward Point Loma and the other past the Coronado Bridge, the Navy Seals Training Base and military ships. The boat stops at the dock in between, making it easy for you to take just one leg or both. Opt for a brunch or dinner cruise and you can see it all while having a nice meal.
6) Check out Balboa Park
Balboa Park boasts buildings beautiful enough to be considered attractions in themselves, especially if you’re a photographer. They’re surrounded by trees, lawns and fountains, but that’s only the beginning. America’s largest urban cultural park has more than 25 museums and attractions, from the astronomical to the zoological. You can take a walk, ride a bike or Segway, see a Tony Award-winning play or ride a carousel. With 8 gardens and 15 museums to choose from, you could be busy here for days.
7) Chill out in La Jolla
In Spanish, La Jolla means ‘jewel’ and no doubt La Jolla is San Diego’s Jewel by the Sea with its dramatic coastline boasting spectacular views. It is one of the most popular beach destinations in California. Surrounded on three sides by the sea and backed by the steep slopes of Mt. Soledad, La Jolla’s coastal profile and quaint village lifestyle evokes a Mediterranean feel. La Jolla has some awesome shops and nice restaurants, with splendid ocean views. If you are fond of adventure sports, La Jolla also offers ocean kayaking, tide pool-hopping, surfing at Windansea Beach, biking or running along the waterfront.
8) Hit the beach
Head west from any part of San Diego and you’ll probably end up at a beach. You can select any beach based on your choice. If you love walking and playing volley ball, Mission beach has everything you’d expect from a stereotypical Southern California beach. If you are looking for romantic beach for every age, Coronado is a great beach for all visitors. This beach has lots of fine, clean sand and gentle waves. If you are fond of surfing, you must visit Windansea beach famous for its “surf break,” the waves crashing right at the shoreline. It’s also a great place to go whale-watching during their migrations to and from Mexico. If you love rocky tide pool, then you must visit La Jolla Cove. The sandy part of this beach is quite small, and ringed by high, rocky cliffs.
9) Experience amazing food
You will find some of the finest restaurants with amazing food in San Diego. Based on my trip, I explored few restaurants with mouth-watering food and hand-crafted drinks and boutique wines to die for. And I bet that after experiencing their food, you couldn’t ask for anything more! You can also experience the historic heart of San Diego on culinary walking tour of the Gaslamp Quarter. Meander through popular dining, shopping, and nightlife neighborhoods, traveling back in time as you explore architecture important to the area. The Gaslamp Quarter is renowned for its modern character, formed in the post-Gold Rush era, when people arrived in droves to the port town of San Diego. You can stroll the infamous streets of the red light district, learning about Victorian-era history, such as scandalous tales of the most popular brothels and Prohibition-era gangsters and delve into the fascinating culinary world of San Diego to try local delicacies and international cuisine.
Legoland California is a theme park for kids located in Carlsbad, an hour drive from San Diego’s downtown. It has more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. Spending a day at Legoland would be a real delight for your kids!
If you have been to San Diego, do share about your experiences in the comments below. If you haven’t been to San Diego, which would be your favorite things to do in San Diego from my list?