Why San Diego Is the Perfect Vacation Destination for Retirees (Video)

One of the greatest perks of being retired is the flexibility of your time. Retirees quickly become aware of that benefit when they enjoy empty movie theaters on weekday afternoons, airfare savings on off-peak travel days, and vacations that don’t have to be taken in week-long increments.

For retirees seeking the ideal place to take advantage of their flexible schedule, San Diego offers the option to be active, relaxed, entertained, educated, and more. San Diego’s climate just about guarantees year-round splendid weather for being outdoors. There’s a vibrant downtown, excellent dining, ocean waves, calm bays, as well as cultural and entertainment opportunities. With a range of neighborhoods, lodging, prices, and plenty of free activities, San Diego has it all, and with time to enjoy it at their own pace, retirees can create their perfect vacation.

Nearly everyone who travels to San Diego visits Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, Mission Beach, downtown, and the many other popular tourist destinations. Their time is usually limited, and although enjoyable, it’s only an introduction to the city and its surroundings. With more flexibility and time, retirees can truly take advantage of all that San Diego has to offer. Here are just a few examples of how a visit to San Diego can fill weeks of adventure and pleasure.

Balboa Park

Left: Balboa park trails Right: A museum in Balboa park

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The Spreckels Organ Pavilion, one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs, is wonderful to see, but those who can be there on a Sunday afternoon at 2 p.m. will be able to hear its glorious sound for an hour with the weekly free concert. During summer, organ concerts are also held on Monday evenings from 7:30 to 9:30, and on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Twilight in the Park Summer Concerts at 6:30 p.m. include music from military bands to Dixieland Jazz and salsa.

Performing arts venues in Balboa Park include the Old Globe Theater, Casa del Prado Theater, WorldBeat Center, and Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater. Visitors can check the calendar and plan to see the events of their choice — if their travel schedule is flexible.

The northern San Diego County beach city of Encinitas located on the cliffs along the Pacific Ocean approximately 30 miles north of downtown San Diego.
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At the Spanish Village Art Center, visitors can watch artists at work, seeing demonstrations from the more than 200 painters, metalsmiths, sculptors, jewelry designers, photographers, printmakers, and more. With time to explore, guests can enjoy the art and even take a class in watercolor, ceramics, glass art, or pottery. For fun or perhaps a new hobby, the Art Center is perfect for a day of browsing and learning.

Speaking of hobbies, gardening is a favorite of many retirees, and Balboa Park’s gardens will inspire, educate, and provide pleasure to anyone with or without a green thumb. Nearly twenty different gardens include the Botanical Building, Desert Garden, and California Native Plants.

Balboa Park’s 17 museums cover anthropology, art, aviation, science, technology, history and more, and with time to delve into your interests or to see them all, you’ll have a most rewarding experience. Perfect for retirees with a flexible schedule, the Balboa Park Explorer Pass provides savings—for example, the Multi-Day pass offers admission to 16 participating museums over seven consecutive days for only $57, a saving of around $100.


More than 70 miles of coastline guarantees visitors their perfect experience whether it includes swimming, surfing, bike riding, tide pooling, or just relaxing under an umbrella or building a sand castle. Visitors with enough time can rent a bike and wind along Mission Bay’s 27-mile-long paved path at their own pace or ride along San Diego Bay on the Bayshore Bikeway. Whether it’s for a bracing workout or a casual ride, exploring on two wheels is a great way to see San Diego.


The Unconditional Surrender Statue (Navy sailor kissing a nurse) created by artist J. Seward Johnson, where tourists gather to take photos
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The U.S.S. Midway is a must-see attraction in downtown San Diego. The aircraft carrier is now an interactive museum with flight deck, restored aircraft, flight simulators, and theater. There’s a self-guided tour, but conversations with docents who tell stories and answer questions really bring the visit to life and remind visitors of San Diego’s role as a Navy town.

The Maritime Museum of San Diego displays a collection of historic ships, including the Star of India, the world’s oldest active ship. Book a cruise on one or all of the replicas that include the Californian, the official tall ship of the State of California, and a high speed Swift Boat.

The Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma commemorates the exploration of San Diego Bay by Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo who arrived in 1542 in his flagship, the San Salvador. Take time for a ranger-led or self-guided tour to learn about the area’s history and roles in both World Wars. Enjoy the spectacular views and in winter, perhaps a whale or two will swim by on their annual migration to Baja California.

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