/
Close
Newsletters  | Mobile

Things to do in San Diego

When you ask a local what to do in San Diego, their first answer will always be, “go to the beach.” The most iconic seaside destination is Mission Beach, which has got a classic California boardwalk and rickety wooden rollercoaster. Pacific Beach has some of the best surfing, and therefore surf-watching for those of you not looking to dive into the sport. Coronado Beach is across the bay from downtown San Diego and features the historical Hotel del Coronado, a perfect setting for pretending like you’re Marilyn Monroe or Tony Curtis in Some Like It Hot.

If you’ve exhausted yourself surfing, there are plenty of other things to do in San Diego. Balboa Park is San Diego’s answer to New York’s Central Park; a picturesque greenbelt studded with 15 museums, eight botanical gardens, and numerous performing art centers. You can go from the Japanese Friendship Garden to the Air & Space Museum to the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theater. If you are looking for more places to snap photos, the Cabrillo National Monument along San Diego Bay is where to go for sweeping views. Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European ever to set foot in California, an honor he claimed at this spot in 1542.

There’s no shortage of animal attractions in San Diego. Don’t be shy if you want to hit SeaWorld, the Birch Aquarium or the San Diego Zoo, even without the kids. While SeaWorld is very much a theme park situation, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is practically the Serengeti. The park is set on 1,800 acres and designed to give animals the closest experience to their natural habitats. Visitors can partake in a number of jeep tours to spot giraffes, lions, cheetahs, elephants, rhinos, and more. There are also hot air balloon rides, a petting zoo, and a two-mile Kilimanjaro walk. You might not think visiting U.C.S.D. tops the list of what to do in San Diego, but if you’re already in La Jolla, you should make a stop at the Scripps Oceanographic Institute for a tour of the world’s foremost ocean, earth and atmospheric science research centers and pet some foreign fish at the Birch Aquarium.

  • Overview
  • Hotels
  • Restaurants
  • Things to do
  • Trips
  • Articles
  • Air Conditioned

    Known locally as “The AC,” the Air Conditioned Lounge is located in a non-descript white stucco building with red tile roof. The interior, however,... More
  • Altitude Skybar

    Altitude Sky Lounge is an open-air bar on the rooftop of the 22-story San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter. Views of the city's skyline are the main ... More
  • Balboa Park

    Besides trails, dog parks, and play areas, the historic Balboa Park is home to such attractions as the world-famous San Diego Zoo and the San Diego... More
  • Ballast Point

    One of San Diego’s breakout breweries sprouted from a home brew supply shop called Home Brew Mart, and now occupies a Scripps Ranch warehouse due e... More
  • Catharina Apodac

    Years as agent: 23. Specialties: Australia, New Zealand. Consulting fee: $150. More
  • Crush, San Diego

    Clubby blue-lit bar scene. A honeycombed wall made of PVC piping serves as a striking backdrop (and clever bottle storage) for this restaurant's bl... More
  • Jordan

    Housed inside the Tower23 Hotel, JRDN Lounge and Raw Bar is a colorful restaurant and bar with indoor and outdoor space that serves cocktails, wine... More
  • New Children's Museum

    San Diego's art-minded museum has studio space where kids can decorate a 1973 VW Bug. More
  • Otay Ranch Town Center

    The shopping area has a year-round farmers’ market and a dog park, complete with a drinking fountain for your pooch. More
  • Port Brewing Co.

    If San Diego County had a craft beer church, it would be this San Marcos brewery where Tomme Arthur produces beer for both Port and The Lost Abbey.... More
  • San Diego Zoo

    The expansive “habitats” include a tropical rainforest filled with gorillas, a recreated Arctic tundra with polar bears and reindeer, and a Giant P... More
  • Sè Spa

    For the aromatherapy massage (from $135) therapists blend a range of essential oils to relieve your emotional tensions and give you a three-ounce b... More
  • SeaWorld San Diego

    This marine-inspired theme park has activities for kids of all ages, including several water rides like Shipwreck Rapids, a tube-style rafting adve... More

Explore things to do in San Diego for more options.

Advertisement

Sign Up


Connect With Travel + Leisure
  • Travel+Leisure
  • Tablet
  • Available devices

Already a subscriber?
Get FREE ACCESS to the digital edition


Advertisement


Advertisement

Advertisement

Marketplace