A San Diego vacation is filled with so many things to do, the options can seem endless. With numerous activities, attractions and regions to explore, you can customize an itinerary perfect for your tastes, budget and interests. Every type of activity is available, which makes it easy to discover why San Diego is the highlight of Southern California.
Use our San Diego Things to Do Guide to plan your perfect trip.
A brilliant arts and culture scene makes San Diego a hot spot for entertainment and exhibits. The incredible Balboa Park offers 15 museums and performing arts venues, including the wondrous Old Globe Theatre. Take in a play at one of the two Tony Award-winning theaters, browse art galleries, visit historic sites and embrace the cultural side of San Diego.
World-class theme parks and top tourist attractions call San Diego home. Choose from aquatic parks like SeaWorld and Aquatica, or go wild at animal parks such as the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park. Engage in the history and culture of the area at the USS Midway Museum and Balboa Park. You can build memories with your kids at LEGOLAND, and with Anaheim just a short drive away you can easily spend the day at Disneyland.
Get swept away on a sunshine day in San Diego at one of the many beaches dotting the coast. With 70 miles of coastline and year-round mild temperatures, visitors can enjoy the San Diego beaches no matter when they choose to visit. Each beach has a distinct character all its own. Some with sea cliffs and tide pools, others expansive and sandy. Some of my favorite sandy spots include Mission Beach, Moonlight Beach, Oceanside and Del Mar.
San Diego has a culinary scene all its own. A diverse selections of flavors are served at local restaurants, many of which have some of the finest chefs in the nation. Fresh seafood and produce are staples of many menus, yet you can satisfy any craving at San Diego restaurants. From decadent meals in Little Italy to fiery Mexican dishes in Old Town, to the varied and excellent places to dine at the Gaslamp Quarter, visitors have a vast selection. San Diego nightlife really heats up at the Gaslamp Quarter, where unique bars, outdoor bistros and grills serve up a good time. You can also get the party started at rooftop bars, lounges, modern dance clubs and even jazz clubs.
Part of San Diego’s appeal is its varied landscapes. With desert, canyons, mountains and coastline creating a diverse display, parks and gardens in the region highlight the natural side of San Diego. Stop and smell the roses at the Japanese Friendship Garden and San Diego Botanic Garden, then explore the wilderness of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park. The Cabrillo National Monument Historic Park offers amazing views of the San Diego skyline and is worth a visit, too. Love watersports? Mission Bay Aquatic Park is the largest aquatic park in the United States, featuring water activities for all ages including kayaking, paddle boarding, wave runners and sailing.
From charming boutiques to luxury malls and outlet centers, it’s easy to indulge in retail therapy in San Diego. A temperate climate makes outdoor malls a breeze to shop at, and many of them have the best deals in San Diego. Top designers can be found at malls such as Fashion Valley and The Forum Carlsbad, while neighborhoods in Mission Hills, Seaport Village, Old Town and Coronado offer shops with a distinct style all their own.
Take some time to immerse yourself in the beauty and history of San Diego. Set sail on a San Diego Harbor Cruise for panoramic views of the Big Bay. Then, hop aboard the Old Town Trolley to tour through all of San Diego’s diverse areas. You can get an up-close view of whales, sea lions and dolphins on a boat cruise. Or take to the highway and cruise the coast for unfettered scenic views.