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Is San Diego Fun? Check Out What We Found!

By: Swena Kalra

Edited By: Scott Sidders

Updated on November 6, 2023

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It's no secret that San Diego is a popular travel destination. With its stunning coastline, world-famous theme parks, and diverse array of attractions, it's easy to see why people flock to this Southern California city. But is San Diego fun? That's the question we set out to answer in this blog post. So please read on for our take on whether or not San Diego is worth your time and money. Spoiler alert: we think it is!

Top 10 Attractions & Things To Do in San Diego

The first thing you need to know about San Diego is that there is much to do here. Whether you're looking for outdoor adventure, family-friendly fun, or a bustling nightlife scene, you'll find it all in America's Finest City. Not sure where to start? Here are 10 of the most popular things to do in San Diego:

1. Visit Balboa Park

Balboa Park Architecture

Balboa Park is a well-known tourist destination in San Diego that offers historical buildings, art museums, gardens, and ample green space for visitors. It was initially created for the Panama California Exhibition of 1915-1916, and many of the original buildings from that event remain today.

The architecture throughout the park is primarily Spanish-style, with low-rise buildings that fit nicely with the park's natural surroundings. Some of the most popular attractions within Balboa Park include the botanical gardens and lily pond, the Museum of Man, the Museum of Natural History, and the San Diego Zoo. Even if you're not interested in going into any of the buildings, the park is still worth a visit for its beautiful scenery.

2. Visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo

The entrance to San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is a world-famous tourist attraction located in Balboa Park. This zoo is one of the largest and most popular in the United States. It is also one of the top things to do in San Diego with kids. The San Diego Zoo has a Safari Park that is just as famous as the zoo.

The Safari Park allows visitors to see exotic animals roaming free in significant natural habitats. These animals include gorillas, grizzly bears, koalas, leopards, bonobos, polar bears, rhinos, and sloths. What makes the San Diego Zoo so great is that it not only has fantastic animals to see, but it also has a dedication to educating visitors about protecting the environment.

The San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance invests in conservation projects worldwide that help restore wildlife populations in their natural habitats.

3. Spend a day at SeaWorld San Diego

SeaWorld San Diego

The SeaWorld in San Diego is where you can see many different types of sea animals and enjoy thrilling roller-coaster rides. In addition, there are exhibits where you can learn about the animals and their habitat.

For those who love the television show Sesame Street, there is a new attraction called Sesame Place that includes rides, shows, and a play area themed around the show. In addition, SeaWorld has restaurants, gift shops, and boutiques for visitors to enjoy.

4. Admire Exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Museum of Art

The San Diego Museum of Art is an impressive building home to many different works of art worldwide. The collection includes pieces from the Spanish and Italian old masters, South Asian paintings, and art from the Americas. There are also many sculptures on display. You can also learn more about the artists themselves, with busts of Spanish painters adorning the entrance.

5. Visit Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Sunset cliffs in San Diego

The Southern California sunset is a sight to behold, and one of the best places to experience it is Sunset Cliffs Natural Park. This 68-acre park stretches along coastal bluffs above the Pacific Ocean, providing visitors with incredible views of the ocean panoramas as the sun sets.

In addition, during the gray whale migration season, visitors have a chance to see these graceful creatures migrate to Baja, California, in Mexico. Whether you're a romantic looking for an awe-inspiring experience or a nature lover hoping to catch a glimpse of gray whales, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is worth a visit.

6. Stroll through Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter Historic District of San Diego, California

The Gaslamp Quarter is a downtown San Diego district home to many trendy shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. It is a great place to visit if you're looking for things to do in the city – especially after dark.

The district comprises restored late-19th- and early-20th-century Victorian buildings and is easily walkable. You can also hop on a bike taxi if your feet need a break. Thanks to its excellent location in the city's heart, the Gaslamp Quarter is also a great place to stay. High-end hotels range from boutique to big-brand properties and are all within walking distance of the action.

7. Explore Seaport Village

The Seaport Village in late afternoon

The Seaport Village in San Diego is a place rich in history and culture, with something to offer everyone. Located on the waterfront, this unique area is perfect for a day of exploring. With its many shops and restaurants, there is plenty to do and see.

On weekends, the Seaport Village can be pretty busy, but picnickers and strollers can take advantage of the many benches and picnic tables throughout the area. In addition to its shops and restaurants, the Seaport Village is also home to a historic carousel with hand-carved wooden horses. This is a favorite among the kids who visit. The area also hosts regular performances by eclectic performers.

8. Spend some time at the San Diego Beaches

Drone view of Mission Beach, California

San Diego is a great place to visit for a beach vacation because it has year-round sunshine and miles of beautiful coastline. No matter what you like to do, there are beaches in San Diego that will accommodate you.

Mission Beach is a great place to people-watch and bask in the sun. It also has a boardwalk and cafés with sea views. Ocean Beach is also a famous beach, especially for those who want to let their dogs run off-leash at Dog Beach. Del Mar is another popular surf spot in San Diego.

If swimming is your main activity, then Summertime is the best time to visit San Diego as the temperatures are perfect for taking a dip in the ocean. If surfing is your thing, winter storms bring big waves to San Diego, making it a great place to surf.

If you have kids, The Del Mar Beach, Silver Strand, Coronado Beach, and La Jolla Shores are all great options for family-friendly fun in the sun. And if you're looking for a rugged and wild coastline, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve fits the bill with its scenic hiking trails and towering sea cliffs.

9. Visit Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument overlooks beautiful San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. It's a great place to visit for breathtaking views. You can drive up to a point, and on a clear day, you might even be able to see Mexico. If you're lucky, you might spot dolphins or whales offshore.

The monument commemorates Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on the west coast of what is now the United States. He landed here in 1542. You can learn about his voyage of discovery and see exhibits dedicated to him at the monument.

There's also a large statue of him overlooking the land he discovered. Another point of interest in the monument is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which was built in 1858. You can take a tour of the lighthouse building. Hiking the scenic trails is also a popular activity here.

10. Check out the USS Midway Museum

USS Midway Museum in San Diego, California

The USS Midway Museum is a must-see for anyone visiting San Diego. The museum features more than 60 exhibits, including over 30 restored aircraft, and provides a fascinating look into the ship's history and military personnel.

Visitors can take a self-guided audio tour to learn more about the ship's history or try a flight simulator for an additional fee. You can avoid long lines at the entrance by purchasing a Skip the Line: USS Midway Museum Admission Ticket, which will give you more time to explore everything the museum offers.

Top 4 Day Trip Ideas from San Diego

In a place as perfect as San Diego, it's hard to leave. But if you find yourself with some extra time, there are plenty of excellent day trip options. Here are four of the best:

1. San Diego Whale Watching Tour

Gray Whale Watching

The San Diego Whale Watching Tour is a great way to see some of Earth's most magnificent creatures. On this 3-hour cruise, you'll venture into the open ocean and look for whales and dolphins in their natural environment. With the help of marine biologists onboard, you'll learn about their life in the deep blue sea.

The tour departs from Mission Bay, so you'll be out into the open ocean and looking for animals in just 10 minutes. This is an excellent opportunity to see whales, dolphins, and other marine life in their natural environment. The boat captain and onboard biologists know the best places to look for wildlife, so you're guaranteed a great experience on this whale-watching cruise.


2. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park sign

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a must-see for animal lovers visiting southern California. With more than 3,500 animals living in large enclosures that mimic their natural habitats, the Safari Park offers a safari adventure unlike any other.

Visitors can explore exhibits inspired by the African Serengeti and the Asian Savanna, getting up close and personal with everything from lions to rhinos to elephants. What's more, admission to the Safari Park is included with tickets to the nearby San Diego Zoo – so you can see some of the world's most exotic animals without breaking the bank.

3. Baja California Coastal Day Trip

Puerto Nuevo, Baja California Mexico

If you're looking for a unique and exciting day trip outside of San Diego, consider traveling to Baja, California, for a coastal adventure. This 9-hour excursion will take you along the Pacific coast into Mexico, where you'll explore Tijuana's iconic landmarks and enjoy a delicious lobster lunch in the charming seaside village of Puerto Nuevo.

You'll also have time to explore Rosarito Beach, a historic coastal resort city known for its mariachi music and vibrant atmosphere. Round-trip hotel transport is included, so you must sit back and enjoy the ride.

4. Temecula Wine Country Tour

California spring vineyard in the Temecula Valley

The Temecula Wine Country Tour will take you to some of the best wineries in the San Diego area. During the 6-hour tour, you'll taste wines from 3 local vineyards, learn about the unique microclimates that create the distinct flavors of San Diego wines, and get an in-depth look at the winemaking process. This is an excellent introduction to the wine industry of San Diego and a perfect way to learn more about this up-and-coming wine region.

Top 3 Places To Stay in San Diego

Skyscrapers of San Diego skyline at night, California

This beachfront city is known for its endless sunny days, so it's no surprise that San Diego is a popular vacation destination. With so many things to see and do in this beautiful city, you'll want to ensure you're staying in a comfortable and convenient place. Here are three of the best places to stay in San Diego:

1. Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina

The Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is a modern hotel overlooking San Diego Bay. Guests can enjoy airy rooms with city or bay views, flat-screen TVs, desks, and coffeemakers. WiFi is available (fee). Some rooms have access to a club lounge with complimentary breakfast and evening appetizers. Suites add living areas with pull-out sofas and balconies. The property offers three restaurants serving American, Asian, and Mexican cuisine, a spa, a 24/7 fitness center, and an outdoor pool with a bar. Other amenities include a 446-slip boat marina and meeting/event space.

2. Courtyard by Marriott San Diego

Courtyard by Marriott San Diego offers guests a modern and stylish hotel experience close to the San Diego International Airport and SeaWorld. All rooms include free WiFi, a comfortable desk area, a flat-screen TV with premium cable channels, and a mini fridge. Guests staying in suites can enjoy additional living space. The hotel has several social spaces, including a living room-style lobby and an outdoor courtyard with a fire pit. The American restaurant serves breakfast and dinner, and a deli on site serves breakfast and lunch. The business center provides workstations and printers for guests' convenience, and three meeting rooms are available for events. Guests can enjoy the outdoors at the hotel's outdoor heated pool and whirlpool, or they can get their workout in at the fitness center. Also, free airport shuttle service and complimentary on-site parking are available at Courtyard by Marriott San Diego.

3. Samesun Ocean Beach - San Diego

Samesun Ocean Beach is a hostel located in San Diego, California. This hostel is a 7-minute walk from Ocean Beach Park, 2.4 miles from SeaWorld, and 7.5 miles from the nightlife of the Gaslamp Quarter. The hostel offers basic dorm rooms, which include free WiFi and shared bathrooms. Private rooms with an in-room toilet and sink are also available. Some complimentary amenities offered at this hostel include shuttle service to local transport hubs, a breakfast buffet, and weekly BBQ dinners. Guests can also enjoy access to a communal kitchen and patio area. Surfboards, boogie boards, and bike rentals are available for a fee.

In Conclusion

Downtown San Diego Skyline

San Diego is a popular vacation destination for a good reason. With its endless sunny days, beautiful beaches, and diverse culture, there is something for everyone in this city. San Diego has you covered if you're looking for a modern hotel experience with great amenities or want to stay in a more relaxed hostel atmosphere. You can't go wrong with either of these top three places to stay or any of these things to do on your next vacation to San Diego. We wish you all the best on your adventure, have fun, and take care!

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