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Things to do in San Diego

Things to do in  San Diego

Welcome to San Diego

A quintessentially coastal California town, San Diego welcomes visitors with picture-perfect weather and a surprising variety of things to do. Within its vast city limits, you can scale mountains, embark on desert hikes, and surf at one of many palm tree–lined beaches. You can also learn about military and Spanish colonial history, and eat fresh seafood and Mexican cuisine to your heart’s content. From its laid-back beach neighborhoods—like Ocean, Mission and Pacific beaches—to the bustling nightlife and downtown dining destinations of Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego offers something fun for every traveler.

Top 15 attractions in San Diego

USS Midway Museum

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Formerly the US Navy’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century (1945 to 1991), the USS Midway is now a floating museum docked off the coast of California. Aboard the hulking vessel, visitors can now explore more than 60 exhibits as well as peek inside the museum’s impressive aircraft collection.More

Coronado

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Across the bay from downtown San Diego, the small resort town of Coronado is an idyllic escape from the city with a wide, sandy coastline and a tree-lined main drag that’s home to shops and restaurants. Visitors go to hang out on the beach, tour historical sites, and watch the sunset.More

Balboa Park

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Home to world-class museums, manicured gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park tops the list of San Diego city sights. Its 1,200 lush acres (486 hectares) comprise the largest urban park in the United States. Apart from its many attractions, Balboa Park also features lengthy walking and hiking trails, distinctive landscaping, Golden Age Spanish buildings, and one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs.More

Shelter Island

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Just west of downtown San Diego across the northernmost waters of San Diego Bay, Shelter Island is in the middle of the city but feels worlds away. The neighborhood is known for its nautical vibe with marinas, bayside parks, hotels, and restaurants.More

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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Dedicated to the preservation and education of air and space technology and history, the San Diego Air & Space Museum (SDASM features a variety of aircraft and aerial vessels, as well as artifacts and photos that depict the past, present, and future of aviation. Dating back to 1961, the SDASM is one of the country’s top aerospace museums.More

Gaslamp Quarter

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The epicenter of San Diego’s party scene, the lively Gaslamp Quarter offers much more than just pulsating nightlife. The charming downtown neighborhood is also rich with cultural museums, art galleries, concert venues, and symphony halls, plus loads of lovely alfresco eateries. But back to the nightlife: Clubs, dive bars, and cocktail lounges draw the university crowd, while diverse audiences fill the Spreckels and Balboa theaters for performing arts, comedy shows, and live music.More

Little Italy San Diego

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Once home to generations of Italian families who who made their living in San Diego’s flourishing fishing industry, Little Italy is now a lively neighborhood packed with restaurants, patio cafés, craft brewpubs, urban wineries, and little plazas with fountains and views of the bay. The trendy, walkable neighborhood—in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter—also has upscale boutiques, art galleries, chic shops, boutique hotels, and live music venues, so there is far more to experience here than just the delicious food.More

Maritime Museum of San Diego

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From steamships to submarines, the Maritime Museum of San Diego welcomes you aboard an array of historic ships, letting you delve into the rich maritime history of San Diego. Each vessel offers its own exhibits and experiences. The museum’s fleet ranges from the world’s oldest active sailing ship—Star of India—to modern submarines.More

Old Town San Diego

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Dating to 1769, Old Town San Diego is the site of California’s first European settlement. To see the district's prime attraction, stop at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park with its preserved adobe buildings and living history demonstrations such as blacksmithing. The area is also home to restaurants, shops, and live entertainment.More

Point Loma

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Point Loma sits on a hilly peninsula west of Downtown San Diego, overlooking the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay. This seaside community is best known for its tide pools, historical landmarks, and sweeping views of the bay and the San Diego skyline. With plenty to do and see, it’s no wonder it’s one of the city’s most photographed spots.More

Seaport Village

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A harborside hub buzzing with shopping, dining, and entertainment, Seaport Village attracts tourists and locals alike. The historic-style waterfront has everything from upscale eateries to vendors selling fresh fish. Stroll the boardwalk, ride the carousel, or indulge in seafood while listening to live music.More

Petco Park

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Home to the San Diego Padres major league baseball team, Petco Park opened in 2004, replacing the old Qualcomm Stadium with a new venue whose design reflects San Diego’s coastal setting. Visitors can enjoy modern amenities, views of the city skyline, and even behind-the-scenes tours.More

San Diego Zoo

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The world-famous San Diego Zoo presents a stunning variety of nature’s largest, smallest, exotic, and most endangered creatures. The epic zoo has more than 3,700 animals representing over 800 species in a beautifully landscaped 100 acres (40.5 hectares), typically in lush enclosures that replicate their natural habitat. San Diego Zoo is considered to be one of the best and well-known zoos in the world, and is a must-see attraction in sunny Southern California.More

Cabrillo National Monument

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On the southern tip of the Point Loma peninsula, which separates the Pacific Ocean from San Diego Bay, Cabrillo National Monument stands in honor of Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who journeyed up the California coast in the mid-1500s. Stop at the statue for views of the open sea, bay, and San Diego skyline.More

San Diego Harbor

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The city’s waterfront Embarcadero district is one of the San Diego Bay's most vibrant areas. From museums to maritime attractions, and from Seaport Village's shops and restaurants to the area’s parks, the San Diego Harbor is known for its entertainment offerings and family-friendly attractions.More
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Recent reviews from experiences in San Diego

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Absolutely stunning.
Georgia_T, Jan 2023
Sunset Sail Aboard A Classic Yacht
Get to see the city of San Diego in a different light.
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Pet owners experience
Kurtis_C, Jan 2023
Behind-the-Scenes at Petco Park Tour
Even got the opportunity to see the different searing options.
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Awesome Experience
Michelli_R, Jan 2023
The Famous San Diego Private Tour with Pickup
We were only in San Diego for a weekend and this was a great condensed way to see the best of San Diego.
star-5
Don’t skip this tour
Kathleen_M, Dec 2022
San Diego Seal Tour
It was so fun to see the seals up close.
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A Must-Do in San Diego!
Cynda_W, Dec 2022
San Diego Scenic Tour
She shared so many interesting facts, and we got to see so much in a short period of time.
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Fun in San Diego
Sandra_T, Nov 2022
San Diego Seal Tour
This was a great way to see San Diego and to learn about the history.
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Awesome experience
Francis_S, Nov 2022
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise
Crew was very knowledgeable, we got to see some whales, the boat is awesome, and you get some great views of San Diego
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Glimpses of Scenic San Diego- A wonderful experience!
AmodMadhukar_S, Nov 2022
San Diego Scenic Tour
We could get a glimpse of the wonderful neighbourhood of San Diego, wish we had more time to see the various museums.
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All about San Diego

Currency
US Dollar ($)
Time Zone
PST (UTC -8)
Country Code
+1
Language(s)
English

A local’s pocket guide to San Diego

Sasha Lozovoy

A Viator account manager, California native, and La Jolla resident, Sasha can be found enjoying the sunshine, petting dogs, and seeking out the tastiest acai bowl San Diego has to offer.

The first thing you should do in San Diego is...

rent a car. You’ll need a set of wheels to explore the multitude of diverse neighborhoods in San Diego and try the fish tacos each has to offer.

A perfect Saturday in San Diego...

starts with a hike around Torrey Pines State Reserve, where you can enjoy views of the Pacific, the golf course, and the gliderport. Cap off your day with carbonara at Barbusa in Little Italy.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Coronado Island. Grab brunch at Parakeet Cafe and wander through the whimsical and historical Hotel del Coronado. Don’t be surprised if you witness a beachfront wedding or proposal!

To discover the "real" San Diego...

walk along the Pacific Beach Boardwalk. Jump in a game of volleyball, take a dip, grab a bite, or simply people-watch. You’ll find a harmonious collection of locals, tourists, college students, roller skaters, and more.

For the best view of the city...

most people would say a rooftop in the Gaslamp District, but try Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument instead. Explore the tide pools below if you visit during low tide.

One thing people get wrong...

is assuming everyone surfs. On any given day, you’ll get your fair share of sandy folks out riding tubes, but it’s by no means a prerequisite for visiting or living in the area.

People Also Ask

What can you do in San Diego?

Soak up San Diego’s famous sunshine with a day swimming or surfing at one of the city’s many beaches. Get a dose of culture at a Balboa Park museums, take the kids to the San Diego Zoo, explore Spanish history in Old Town, or enjoy the diverse nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter.

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What is a good day trip from San Diego?

Popular day trips from San Diego include a ferry ride across San Diego Bay to charming Coronado Island or a drive to the posh seaside village of La Jolla. The historic missions of San Juan Capistrano and theme parks like LEGOLAND® and Disneyland® are also within easy driving distance.

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What's San Diego known for?

San Diego is best known for its world-class beaches and warm, sunny weather. The city is also home to a wealth of cultural attractions including Balboa Park, Old Town, the USS Midway Museum, and the famous San Diego Zoo.

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What should I not miss in San Diego?

San Diego’s can’t-miss sights include beautiful Balboa Park, Ocean Beach, and harborside attractions like the USS Midway Museum and Maritime Museum. It’s also worth taking a ferry across the bay to historic Coronado Island, or planning a night of grown-up fun in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter.

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Is San Diego worth visiting?

Yes. San Diego is one of the most popular tourist destinations in the US for good reason. Miles of sandy beaches and nearly perfect weather year-round make it ideal for outdoor fun. There’s plenty of culture, too, from Old Town’s historic Spanish missions to the museums of Balboa Park.

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What locals do in San Diego?

Most San Diego locals love to be outdoors, so favorite activities include surfing at Mission Beach, tide pooling at Silver Strand, hiking at Torrey Pines in La Jolla, or soaking up the sun in Balboa Park. Find locally loved restaurants in Little Italy, North Park, or Liberty Station at Point Loma.

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How can I spend 3 days in San Diego?

If you have 3 days in San Diego, spend your first day learning about California history in Old Town and getting cultured at Balboa Park’s museums. You'll also want to dedicate a day to riding the ferry to Coronado Island or driving down the coast to La Jolla, followed by a night out in the Gaslamp Quarter. Finish with a day at the beach.

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San Diego information

Number of Attractions

60

Number of Tours

365

Number of Reviews

18,387

Currency

USD
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