Our Top 10 San Diego Attractions
Whether you plan to be in San Diego for a short-term vacation or long-term stay, this beautiful “city by the bay” packs plenty of history and fun activities for everyone. Check out our top 10 San Diego attractions here.
1. San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is not only one of the top tourist attractions in San Diego but the entire state of California. Esteemed worldwide for its conservation efforts, this famous zoo spreads across 1,200 beautifully landscaped acres teeming in 800 species of animals. See exotic animals up close, watch a cheetah run at high speeds, mingle among lemurs, and walk through an aviary. You can experience the zoo by taking a tram tour or a hot air balloon ride.
Miles of alluring beaches present another of San Diego’s top attractions. Beachgoers of all ages can enjoy water activities such as swimming, surfing, kayaking, boating, scuba diving, and whale watching. Some of the best beaches include La Jolla Shores, Del Mar, Coronado Beach, Silver Strand and Mission Beach where you’ll find a lively boardwalk and waterfront cafes. Find rentals nearby the beaches or downtown to relax during your visit to San Diego.
3. Balboa Park
Even if Balboa Park were the only place you visited in San Diego, you’d still be able to see several of the city’s popular attractions because this expansive area contains highlights like the San Diego Zoo, Museum of Man, Museum of Natural History, and the Old Globe Theatre. You can also wander around botanical gardens or explore hiking and biking trails. A variety of shopping and dining opportunities are available here as well.
4. Old Town Historic Park
Visit the Old Town State Historic Park for a time-travel experience into San Diego during the 1800s. You’ll see recreated and historic buildings, including Native American adobes. Watch people at work in a blacksmith shop and browse museums and art studios. Shop for handmade crafts and enjoy a bite to each at vibrant restaurants while listening to live Mexican music.
5. Cabrillo National Monument
A visit to San Diego’s Point Loma and the Cabrillo National Monument provides you with amazing views, outdoor recreation and local and national history. Displays around the monument explain how the Spanish explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, arrived in San Diego Bay in 1542 and became the first European to explore what is now known as the West Coast of the United States. Nearby, you can visit a historic lighthouse, hike along scenic trails, or watch for dolphins and whales.
6. Gaslamp Quarter National District
If you’re looking for nightlife attractions in San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter National District is the place. Located downtown next to the Convention Center and Petco Park, this historic district of restored Victorian buildings is buzzing with a wide variety of shops, art galleries, restaurants, clubs, dive bars, and entertainment venues. Just taking a walk along this sixteen-block zone and checking out all the lights, sights and music is reward enough.
7. Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
Along San Diego’s lively Embarcadero, you’ll find one of the most visited aircraft carrier museums on the globe, the USS Midway Museum. Retired in 1992, the Midway served for nearly 50 years as one of the military’s largest aircraft carrier ships. A self-guided audio tour takes you from stern to stern through 60 exhibits that include the office, galley, engine room, sleeping quarters and impressive aircraft vehicles. If you’re feeling adventurous, you can even try out a flight simulator.
8. Sea World
When in San Diego, you cannot miss a visit to SeaWorld, one of the city’s most popular tourist attractions. This marine-life park introduces children and adults alike to creatures of the ocean through dazzling shows and live demonstrations that include killer whales, dolphins, walruses, sea lions, and penguins. There are also plenty of thrilling rides for everyone such as the Journey to Atlantis flume ride, the Electric Eel, and the Shipwreck Rapids river ride.
9. Petco Park
Home of the MLB San Diego Padres, this amazing baseball park is a great way to spend an afternoon. Not only can you catch an exciting major league baseball game here, but you can also take a guided tour to learn about the history of the park and visit the press box, private luxury suite, the Padres Hall of Fame and more. Even if you’re not into baseball, this ballpark also hosts soccer, rugby, and golf matches as well as motor crosses, monster truck shows and concerts.
10. Little Italy
Little Italy is a San Diego experience you don’t want to miss. This lively neighborhood is your opportunity to see and taste Italy without leaving the country. Wander along streets oozing with delightful architecture and the aromas of authentic Italian foods. Shop art galleries, boutiques and farmer’s markets. Relax in coffee shops, patio cafes, wineries, or have your choice of fine dining, quaint pizzerias or romantic restaurants.
Also read: 15 things to do in San Diego during COVID