61 Fun Things to Do in San Diego California

San Diego, California, is known for its beautiful beaches, sunny weather, and laid-back atmosphere. But there is so much more to this vibrant city than meets the eye. Whether exploring nature or sampling some delicious food, this coastal community has something for everyone. From outdoor activities like surfing and hiking to visiting the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, there are numerous things to do in San Diego.

In this article, we’ll explore all the things to do in one of America’s most desired destination spots – So get ready for an unforgettable vacation!


Located along San Diego Bay, the Embarcadero is a bustling waterfront area with plenty of activities for visitors. Stroll along the waterfront promenade and enjoy stunning bay and skyline views. You can also hop on a harbor cruise or rent a bike to explore the area. The Embarcadero is also home to several museums, including the Maritime Museum of San Diego, which showcases historic ships and exhibits.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is a popular spot for locals and tourists alike, thanks to its beautiful sandy beach and lively boardwalk. This beach is perfect for sunbathing, swimming, and playing beach games. You can also rent bikes or rollerblades to cruise the boardwalk and take in the sights. Don’t forget to stop by Belmont Park, an amusement park with rides, games, and delicious food options.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a must-visit for any traveler in San Diego. This 1,200-acre park is home to over 15 museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art and the San Diego Air & Space Museum. The park also features beautifully landscaped gardens, walking trails, and open spaces for picnics or relaxation. You may even catch a performance at the outdoor Spreckels Organ Pavilion.

San Diego Old Town

Travel back in time to the birthplace of California at San Diego’s Old Town. This historic neighborhood is full of preserved adobe buildings and is known for its vibrant Mexican culture. Take a stroll through the streets and visit museums, shops, and restaurants offering traditional Mexican cuisine. Don’t miss out on a chance to experience live music and dancing at one of the many street festivals held in Old Town.

La Jolla

La Jolla is a picturesque seaside community known for its upscale shops, restaurants, and stunning coastline. One of the main attractions here is La Jolla Cove, a small beach surrounded by rocky cliffs where you can spot sea lions and seals lounging on the shore. You can also explore the tide pools at low tide or go snorkeling to see the colorful marine life. Afterward, take a walk along the coast and enjoy breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean.

The Gaslamp Quarter

For those looking for a lively nightlife scene, look no further than San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter. This downtown neighborhood is full of trendy bars, restaurants, and clubs that come to life after the sun. During the day, you can also visit the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House to learn about the area’s colorful history. Don’t miss a chance to attend one of the many events held in this lively district throughout the year.

Belmont Park

Belmont Park is home to San Diego’s iconic Giant Dipper roller coaster, a historic wooden coaster entertaining visitor since 1925. This amusement park also features other thrilling rides and games and delicious food options like funnel cakes and ice cream. Located right on Mission Beach, Belmont Park is a fun-filled attraction for all ages.

USS Midway Museum

History buffs will love exploring the USS Midway Museum, a retired aircraft carrier that has been turned into a museum. This floating attraction features over 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft, giving visitors an up-close look at naval aviation history. You can also take a self-guided audio tour or join one guided tour led by knowledgeable volunteers who served on the ship.

Little Italy

San Diego’s Little Italy is a charming and vibrant neighborhood full of Italian influence. Stroll through the streets and admire colorful murals, boutique shops, and delicious restaurants serving authentic Italian cuisine. Don’t forget to visit the weekly Little Italy Mercato farmers market for fresh produce, artisanal products, and live music.

The Cabrillo National Monument

Located at the southern tip of Point Loma Peninsula, the Cabrillo National Monument offers stunning panoramic views of San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean. The highlight of this monument is a statue honoring Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on the West Coast in 1542. You can also explore trails and tide pools or visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, a historic lighthouse restored to its 1800s appearance.

The San Diego Air & Space Museum

Aviation enthusiasts will love the San Diego Air & Space Museum, which features a collection of over 100 aircraft and artifacts. You can see everything from early flight pioneers to modern-day space exploration here. The museum also offers interactive exhibits and simulators for a hands-on learning experience.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

For a tranquil escape from the bustling city, head to Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. This 68-acre oceanfront park features rugged cliffs, secluded beaches, and stunning sunset views. You can take a leisurely walk along the trails or find a spot to sit and watch the waves crash against the cliffs. Watch for wildlife such as dolphins, sea lions, and migrating birds.

San Diego Zoo

The world-famous San Diego Zoo is a must-visit attraction for animal lovers of all ages. This 100-acre zoo is home to over 3,500 animals from around the world, including giant pandas, polar bears, and koalas. You can explore the park on foot or take a guided bus tour to see the exhibits. The zoo also offers special experiences like a behind-the-scenes tour and animal encounters.

Del Mar Racetrack

Horse racing fans won’t want to miss out on a visit to the Del Mar Racetrack, one of San Diego’s most popular summer attractions. This historic racetrack has operated since 1937 and features thoroughbred and quarter-horse races. In addition to placing bets on the races, visitors can also enjoy live music, food trucks, and other special events held at the track.

Petco Park

Even if you’re not a baseball fan, visiting Petco Park is still worth it for its stunning views of San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline. This state-of-the-art ballpark is home to the San Diego Padres and offers a variety of seating options, including luxury suites and rooftop seats. You can also take a tour of the stadium to learn about its unique design and history.

Communal Coffee

Located in North Park, Communal Coffee is not just your average coffee shop. This trendy spot features a floral shop inside, making it a popular spot for photoshoots and Instagram-worthy moments. Sip on expertly crafted coffee drinks while surrounded by beautiful flowers and plants. You can also grab a delicious pastry or breakfast sandwich with your coffee. Communal Coffee is the perfect place to start your day in San Diego.

Point Loma

Located on a peninsula that juts out into the Pacific Ocean, Point Loma offers some of the most breathtaking views in San Diego. This scenic escape is a must-visit for nature lovers and anyone looking for a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life. Take a stroll along the picturesque trails that wind through the Cabrillo National Monument, or sit back and take in the stunning sunset over the ocean.

The Old Point Loma Lighthouse 

While at Point Loma, visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. This historic landmark was built in 1855 and served as a beacon for ships entering San Diego Bay until it was decommissioned in 1891. Today, visitors can tour the lighthouse and learn about its unique history and the daily life of its keepers.

San Diego Harbor Cruise

For a truly unique perspective of San Diego, hop on a harbor cruise. You’ll set off from the bustling downtown area and sail past iconic landmarks like the USS Midway aircraft carrier, Coronado Bridge, and Seaport Village. With informative narration and breathtaking views, this is a must-do activity for anyone looking to see the city from a different angle.

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Art lovers will not want to miss the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. Located downtown, this museum features an impressive collection of contemporary art from local and international artists. With constantly changing exhibitions and diverse mediums, there’s always something new to discover here.

Liberty Station

Tucked away in the Point Loma neighborhood, Liberty Station is a hidden gem that often gets overlooked by tourists. This former naval training center has been transformed into a lively community space with many shops, restaurants, and events. Spend an afternoon browsing the local boutiques, enjoying a delicious meal at one of the many eateries, or catching a live performance at the outdoor theater.

Barrio Logan Neighborhood 

Known for its colorful murals and vibrant street art, the Barrio Logan neighborhood is a must-visit for anyone looking to immerse themselves in San Diego’s unique culture. This eclectic neighborhood is home to a diverse community of artists, musicians, and small businesses. Walk through the streets and discover hidden art galleries, trendy shops, and delicious eateries.

Torrey Pines Golf Course 

Golf enthusiasts will find heaven on earth at Torrey Pines Golf Course. This world-renowned course offers stunning ocean views and challenging holes played by some of the best in the game. Even if you’re not a golfer, it’s worth visiting to take in this iconic course’s beauty.

Cedros Avenue Design District 

Located in the charming coastal town of Solana Beach, Cedros Avenue Design District is a shopper’s paradise. This quaint street has over 85 one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques selling everything from handmade jewelry to vintage furniture. Plus, there are plenty of cozy cafes and delicious restaurants to refuel after a day of shopping.

San Diego National History Museum

Explore the wonders of the natural world at the San Diego National History Museum. From dinosaur fossils to interactive exhibits about local wildlife, this fascinating museum has something for everyone. Don’t miss the rooftop terrace that offers stunning views of Balboa Park and beyond.

Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

Located atop a picturesque hill in La Jolla, the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial is a beautiful tribute to the men and women who have served our country. Walk around the memorial and read the stories of those honored here, or enjoy the peaceful surroundings and panoramic views.

Seaport Village

For a fun-filled day by the water, head to Seaport Village. This charming waterfront marketplace has various shops, restaurants, and entertainment options. Take a ride on the historic carousel, catch a live music performance, or stroll along the boardwalk while enjoying the gorgeous views.

Moonlight Beach

No trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to one of its stunning beaches, and Moonlight Beach is a local favorite. With soft sand, clear water, and plenty of space to spread out, this beach is perfect for sunbathers, swimmers, and surfers alike.

San Diego-Coronado Bridge up Close

Get an up-close look at one of San Diego’s most iconic landmarks, the San Diego-Coronado Bridge. You can walk or bike across the bridge, which offers stunning views of the city skyline and Coronado Island. Pro tip: For a genuinely Instagram-worthy shot, head to Centennial Park on Coronado Island for a panoramic view of both sides of the bridge.

Pacific Beach

For a taste of the laid-back beach lifestyle, head to Pacific Beach. This lively beach town is known for its 3-mile boardwalk with bars, restaurants, and shops. Spend a day soaking up the sun on the beach, grab a drink at one of the rooftop bars, or catch a live music show in the evening.

Whaley House Museum

Located in Old Town San Diego, the Whaley House Museum is one of America’s most haunted houses. This historic house turned museum-has a rich history dating back to 1857 and offers visitors a glimpse into the past with its preserved architecture and artifacts. Take a guided tour to learn about the Whaley family and their eerie encounters with the supernatural.

The Mission San Diego de Alcala

As California’s first mission, the Mission San Diego de Alcala holds a special place in the city’s history. Founded by Spanish missionaries in 1769, this architectural masterpiece is now a National Historic Landmark and an active Catholic Church. Explore the museum and gardens to learn about the mission’s role in shaping the city’s culture and religion.

The Aquatic Animals at Birch Aquarium

Located in La Jolla, the Birch Aquarium is home to an impressive collection of aquatic creatures. From sea turtles to sharks, visitors can get up close and personal with various marine life through interactive exhibits and activities. Don’t miss out on the daily shows and feedings for an unforgettable experience.

Fleet Science Center

A trip to the Fleet Science Center is a must for science enthusiasts. With over 100 interactive exhibits and an IMAX theater, this hands-on museum offers endless opportunities for learning and discovery. From exploring outer space to diving deep into the ocean, visitors of all ages will find something to fascinate them at this popular attraction.

Liberty Public Market

San Diego’s first public market, the Liberty Public Market, is a foodie’s paradise. Located in Point Loma, this bustling marketplace offers a variety of gourmet food and drinks from local vendors. From fresh seafood to artisanal cheeses, there’s something for every palate at this lively spot.

Legoland California

Perfect for families with young children, Legoland California is a theme park based on the iconic toy bricks. With over 60 rides, shows, and attractions, this amusement park offers endless entertainment for kids and adults. Don’t miss out on Miniland USA, where famous landmarks are recreated in impressive detail using millions of Lego bricks.


Take a stroll along San Diego’s waterfront at the Embarcadero. This bustling area is home to popular attractions such as the USS Midway Museum, Seaport Village, and the Maritime Museum of San Diego. Enjoy scenic views of the bay while indulging in delicious food and shopping for souvenirs.

Maritime Museum of San Diego

Located on the Embarcadero, this maritime museum houses a collection of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active sailing ship, the Star of India. Take a self-guided tour or hop on a guided tour to learn about maritime history and even onboard some ships.

Children’s Pool La Jolla

For a unique beach experience, head over to Children’s Pool in La Jolla. Originally designated as a safe swimming area for children, this beach has become a popular spot to observe seals and sea lions. Watch these majestic creatures bask in the sun and play in the water for a truly memorable experience.

SeaWorld San Diego

Home to Shamu the killer whale, SeaWorld San Diego is a marine theme park perfect for families. With thrilling rides, interactive exhibits, and exciting shows, this popular attraction has something for everyone. Don’t forget to check out the new Sesame Street-themed area for younger kids.

Mormon Battalion Historic Site

A visit to the Mormon Battalion Historic Site is a must for history buffs. This outdoor museum offers a glimpse into the life of the Mormon soldiers who marched from Iowa to California in 1846. Explore the exhibits and watch live demonstrations to learn about this significant event in San Diego’s history.

South Bay Drive-In Theatre

Experience a blast from the past at the South Bay Drive-In Theatre. This retro-style drive-in theater offers a unique movie-watching experience, perfect for a laid-back evening with loved ones. Grab snacks from the concession stand and enjoy a double-feature under the stars.

The Old Globe

Located in Balboa Park, The Old Globe is a renowned theater that has entertained audiences since 1935. With multiple stages hosting over 15 productions each year, visitors can enjoy a variety of plays and musicals in this stunning outdoor setting. Check their calendar for upcoming shows during your stay.

Presidio Park

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city at Presidio Park. This tranquil park is home to several historical sites, including the original site of the San Diego Mission and a replica of the first European settlement in California. Take a picnic or hike to enjoy stunning views of San Diego.

Mission Bay Stand-Up Paddle

Try stand-up paddleboarding in Mission Bay for a unique way to explore San Diego’s beautiful coastline. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced paddler, rentals and lessons are available for all levels. Enjoy the calm waters and scenic views as you glide on your board.

Mira Mesa Lanes

Looking for a fun indoor activity? Head to Mira Mesa Lanes, where you can bowl with friends and family in a lively atmosphere. This bowling alley offers 40 lanes, state-of-the-art technology, and even cosmic bowling on the weekends. So put on your bowling shoes and challenge your friends to a game or two!

Fashion Valley

If shopping is your guilty pleasure, you’re in for a treat at Fashion Valley. With over 200 stores, this upscale shopping center has something for every fashionista. You’ll find it all here, from high-end designer brands to popular retailers. And when you need a break from your shopping spree, stop by one of the many restaurants or catch a movie at the luxury cinema.

Kobey’s Swap Meet

For a more eclectic and affordable shopping experience, head to Kobey’s Swap Meet. This outdoor market has been a San Diego staple since 1976 and offers a variety of vendors selling everything from antiques to fresh produce. With live music, food trucks, and a flea market feel, this is the perfect place to find unique treasures and support local businesses.

Antique Mall

If you’re a fan of all things vintage, then the Antique Mall is a must-visit. With over 45 dealers featuring various antiques and collectibles, you’ll feel like you’ve stepped back in time. From furniture to jewelry, there’s something for every antique lover here.

Ocean Beach Farmers Market

One of the best things about San Diego is its diverse and thriving food scene. And what better way to experience it than at the Ocean Beach Farmers Market? Every Wednesday evening, locals and visitors alike come together to enjoy live music, delicious food from over 60 vendors, and fresh produce from local farms. So, grab a bite to eat, listen to some tunes, and soak up the true essence of San Diego.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

If you’re an animal lover, visiting the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is necessary. This 1,800-acre wildlife sanctuary is home to over 3,500 animals from all over the world. Take a safari tour through the expansive habitats and get up close and personal with lions, giraffes, rhinos, and more. You can even camp overnight for a truly immersive experience.

James Coffee Co.

Fuel up for your day of San Diego adventures at James Coffee Co., a hipster haven serving up some of the best coffee in town. This coffee shop is a local favorite with industrial decor, a diverse menu, and unique blends roasted in-house. Grab a pastry and a cup of joe before exploring more of the city.

Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market

Another must-visit for foodies is the Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market. Every Saturday morning, this bustling market comes to life with over 200 vendors selling fresh produce, artisanal goods, and mouth-watering food. Sample local delicacies, sip on homemade kombucha, and enjoy the vibrant atmosphere of San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.

The Cave of Wonders

Tucked away in the historic Balboa Park is the Cave of Wonders, a unique shop filled with crystals, gems, and fossils worldwide. Take a guided tour through the cave-like store and learn about the healing properties of these natural treasures. You can even purchase your piece to take home as a souvenir.

Sunset Cliffs

For some breathtaking views, head to Sunset Cliffs – a stretch of coastline in Point Loma. Take a scenic walk along the cliffs, watch surfers catching waves, and admire the stunning sunset over the Pacific Ocean. This is the perfect spot for a romantic evening or to relax and enjoy nature’s beauty.

San Diego Central Library

Bookworms will love spending time at the San Diego Central Library – an architectural masterpiece filled with books, art, and history. Take a self-guided tour through the nine floors of this modern library or attend one of their many events and workshops. And don’t forget to grab a book and cozy up in one of the reading nooks overlooking the city.

Water Grill San Diego

San Diego is known for its fresh seafood; there’s no better place to indulge than at Water Grill. This upscale restaurant offers a variety of delicious seafood dishes, from oysters to sushi to grilled fish. With an elegant ambiance and top-notch service, this is the perfect spot for a special date night or celebratory meal.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Escape the hustle and bustle of the city and immerse yourself in nature at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. This protected area boasts stunning coastline views, unique plant life, and various hiking trails for all levels. Spend a day here to recharge and reconnect with nature.

Coronado Beach

No visit to San Diego is complete without a trip to Coronado Beach. This picturesque beach is known for its sparkling white sand, calm waters, and iconic Hotel del Coronado. Take a dip in the ocean, build sandcastles on the shore, or soak up the sun and admire the stunning views.

Mission Trails Regional Park

For outdoor enthusiasts, Mission Trails Regional Park offers endless opportunities for adventure. With over 60 miles of trails, you can hike, bike, or horseback ride through this expansive natural park. You can also visit the Visitor Center to learn about the history and wildlife of the area.

Coronado Island

Take a ferry ride from downtown San Diego and escape to Coronado Island for a charming seaside getaway. This quaint community is home to beautiful beaches, charming shops and restaurants, and the iconic Hotel del Coronado. Spend a day exploring the island’s charm before returning to the bustling city of San Diego.

Final Words

San Diego has something for everyone, from relaxed beach attractions to the more active, like surfing and sailing. No matter your interests, San Diego offers a vast range of activities and places to explore for locals and tourists alike. San Diego is the perfect destination for all ages with its year-round agreeable weather and gorgeous natural scenery. Whether you want to get outdoors or immerse yourself in art and culture, there’s no shortage of amazing things to do in San Diego! So go outside and start exploring the best California’s southernmost city offers.

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