Top 10 Things To Do in San Diego, California

Pleasant weather, beaches, natural beauty, history, architecture, great food, shopping and different kinds of activities. San Diego has it all! And that means there’s so much to see & do in this city in Southern California. Since we cannot fit it all in one trip let alone one blog post, here are the top 10 things to do in San Diego, California. 

1. Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park – Captain Tucker
https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=10639254

Balboa Park is quite like ‘a bit of everything about San Diego’ picked out and put into 1200 acres of land. It’s the place to see California’s biggest Moreton Bay Fig Tree and catch a glimpse of animals from far off lands at the San Diego Zoo. You can attend an art workshop at the Spanish Village Art Center or play audience for a performance at Spreckels Pavilion, which is where the largest outdoor pipe organ stands. (The pavilion hosts free concerts every Sunday afternoon.) 

Whether you love carousels or miniature trains, whether are a gem enthusiast, a botany nerd or even a space geek, there’s something for you at Balboa Park. It really is much more than just an urban park. It’s San Diego in a nutshell.

2. Check in at Cabrillo Monument

Cabrillo Monument – Kmf164
CC BY-SA 2.5, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=301134

This monument is named after Juan Rodrigues Cabrillo who was the first European to set foot on what today is the West Coast of the United States. This monument that lies at the tip of Point Loma peninsula also houses the Point Loma Lighthouses: the original and the newer one. Other attractions here at this monument maintained by the National Park Service are tide pools and a panoramic view of San Diego. 

3. Photograph San Diego Skyline from Coronado Island

Skyline – NSerrano
By Nserrano – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=28420932

Another great place to catch a view of San’s Diego Skyline is Coronado Island, just across the bay from the city. The drive over the Coronado Bridge over San Diego Bay is a delight in itself. And it is quite a sight at night too with all of its lights turned on! While you are on Coronado Island, you can do some shopping & dine at one of the restaurants that promise you a view of the city lights of Downtown San Diego. 

4. Get onto USS Midway

Midway – Dan MS
By DanMS at English Wikipedia, 2005-09-05 (original upload date) – Original photograph by DanMS., Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5899741

Look carefully at the lights and you might spot the USS Midway anchored at Navy Pier. USS Midway is a navy aircraft carrier which has been open to the public for over a decade now is a museum. It has a large number of aircraft exhibited on its flight deck & its hangar. Other activities you could do here include an experience in a flight simulator or letting your kid(s) do the Junior Pilot Program where they learn about aircraft and perform some fun tasks.

5. Eat and drink to your heart’s content at Liberty Public Market

Liberty Public Market
By Nehrams2020 – Image taken by uploader, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=59200114

Not far from the USS Midway Museum is San Diego’s Liberty Public Market. A place put together for locals and visitors alike! Liberty Public Market features cuisines from American to Mexican and Korean to Thai food. You will also find beer, coffee, smoothies, desserts and baked goods at this market. Some local artisans also showcase their wares here. 

6. Enjoy the waters of the Pacific in La Jolla

La Jolla – By Rhododendrites – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=53729271

Another way to take in this seaside city would be to visit the La Jolla coast. Here you could rent a kayak to explore the sea caves & rock formations that these parts are known for. Or you could swim in the waters of the Pacific or go snorkeling or scuba diving in La Jolla Cove to see how biologically rich the area is. And if going into the water is not your thing, you can bike around, shop or sunbathe at the beaches here! 

7. Revisit San Diego History in Old Town

Old town – By Dietmar Rabich, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=35120495

Old Town San Diego dates back to the late 1670s when present day California got its first European settlers. When Gaspar de Portolá and Junípero Serra got here and set up the first Mission and a fort, these parts were still not a part of the present day United States. 

Some of the original buildings of the area are now being protected by the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park that has been set up there. While at this park in Old Town San Diego, you can also visit the Presidio of San Diego. This place that was once a stronghold still holds on to the past with a few exhibits from two centuries ago. 

8. Learn about marine life at Sea World

SeaWorld – By pelican from Tokyo, Japan – Sea World San Diego, California, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83436451

Sea World is an exciting place for people who like seeing animal life up close. Families with young children always seem to have this place on the list of places to visit when in San Diego! Sea World is a coming together of a marine mammal park and an amusement park. Those who have a fascination for marine life will find a lot of learning can be done here. It also has a history of rescue, rehabilitation & return programs. 

As for the ‘amusement’ part, they have all kinds of rides here! Whatever your level of adrenaline rush might be, you will find something that’s right for you.

9. Shop till you drop at Seaport Village

Seaport – By pelican from Tokyo, Japan – Sea World San Diego, California, USA, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=83436451

Seaport Village is a waterfront shopping attraction sprawled over 90,000 sq. ft. Seaport Village boasts of speciality shops, upscale outlets, live entertainment & restaurants. Overlooking the San Diego Bay, this shopping and dining village’s spread of products include kites, magnets, hot sauces, decorative lights, Native American jewelry and everything you could think of! This might be the place to find San Diego souvenirs to take home.

10. Experience San Diego’s nightlife at Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp-quarter
By Jarekt – Own work, CC BY 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=57080588

After you are done with your strolls in the parks, or your hikes, or a beach day, or shopping, or meeting animals or anything else San Diego has to offer and still have energy to party, head to Gaslamp Quarter. 

This part of town, also known as Gaslamp District is a spread of nightclubs, bars, live music shows & late-night restaurants, all within an area of 16 blocks and in the downtown area. Eat, drink and be merry here, for this part of town is up until 2 am at least. 

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