This post provides details about the best activities and attractions to enjoy while you’re visiting San Diego.
We include tips on free things to do, family fun, and popular evening entertainment.
You’ll also learn about some of the easiest ways to save money on ticketed events and locations.
This section will list some of the best things to do in San Diego, including activities that are either family-friendly, free, or fun after the sun goes down.
Many of the attractions listed below are included with at least one San Diego City Pass, allowing you to save money on notable tours, museums, cruises, the USS Midway Museum, baseball stadium, and more.
1) Go to a Theme Park
There are a lot of different theme parks in and around San Diego.
If you’re interested in thrill rides, roller coasters, and carnival games, you might want to consider visiting one of the following locations:
Since there is so much to do at each park, you might want to pick just one and set aside an entire day to explore and enjoy as many rides as possible.
Each of these attractions is included at no extra cost with the Go City San Diego Pass.
2) Take the Kids to the Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is one of the biggest and most popular family attractions in the city, and it houses more than 4,500 unique, rare, and endangered animals.
Tickets include admission to a free open top bus tour which will take you throughout the zoo.
In addition to that option, you might also want to consider experiencing the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is itself home to over 3,000 animals.
Visitors can expect the opportunity to encounter cheetahs, alligators, and other wild animals.
Tickets for each attraction are sold separately, and they are both currently $65 for adults.
3) See the Whales
Although you might be able to see some whales at SeaWorld, it’s a completely different experience to see them in their natural habitat.
Luckily, San Diego is right on the water, and it’s actually a great place to spot whales in the wild.
Between the months of December and April, an estimated 20,000 gray whales migrate along the California coast, and several companies offer whale watching cruises to help visitors get a good view of these typically gentle giants.
TIP: This is another activity that is usually included with the Go City San Diego Pass.
4) Attend a Sporting Event
There are a lot of major teams in San Diego, so anyone who loves sports will have plenty of games to attend throughout the year.
Whether you love baseball, football, basketball or even soccer, there’s usually at least one sporting event to attend while you’re in town.
If you’re looking for even more options, make sure to check this list of sporting events in San Diego.
5) See a Musical/Theatrical Event
While San Diego might not be known for its theater scene, there are still usually at least a few major Off-Broadway musicals to see at various times throughout the year.
You can expect major shows such as Hamilton and Annie, notable comedians such as Jim Gaffigan and Adam Sandler, and even family theater such as Peppa Pig Live or Disney Junior Live.
Check some of the following venues to see what will be playing during your trip to San Diego:
Alternatively, if you want to see what’s playing right now, check this list of theatrical events in San Diego.
6) Go to a Concert
As with most big cities, San Diego tends to attract a lot of popular musicians throughout the year.
There are typically at least a few major concerts each month, and it’s not uncommon to see performers as notable as Elton John, Alicia Keys, or the Eagles.
The following popular venues typically host some of the biggest names in the business:
- Petco Park
- Viejas Arena
- San Diego Civic Theatre
- Embarcardero Marina Park
- The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park
For even more options, make sure to check this calendar of concerts in San Diego.
7) Take an Old Town Trolley Tour
While hop-on hop-off bus tours are popular in many cities, they aren’t as big of a deal in San Diego.
Even so, there is still one major company offering this service, and it’s Old Town Trolley. At the moment, they offer both a day tour and a night tour.
The day service allows you to jump off at any of their stops, spend some time in the area, and then hop back on to the next bus when it comes later.
The night outing is a limited service that runs for approximately 75 minutes after dark, so you won’t have the time to jump off and look around.
Each trolley ticket includes admission to the following 10 museums at no extra cost:
- Coronado Historical Museum
- Timken Museum of Art
- San Diego Firehouse Museum
- Mormon Battalion Museum
- Steeley Stable Museum
- Old Town Railroad Museum
- San Diego Chinese Historical Museum
- San Diego History Center
- Veterans Museum Balboa Park
- Hotel Del Coronado/Ice House Museum
Tickets also include $30 in coupons to use at various restaurants and other locations in San Diego. You’ll also receive a free map to help you find your way around town!
8) Experience a Harbor Cruise
If you’re interested in spending some time out on the San Diego Harbor, there are a variety of cruises and boat tours you can take.
In addition to these options, you can also expect a variety of speed boat tours for anyone interested in a more exciting outing.
Alternatively, you may want to consider a sunset cruise instead.
Here are just a few of the services included with the various tourist discount passes in San Diego:
- Speed Boat Adventure | Go City San Diego Pass, Explorer Pass
- Flagship Patriot Jet Boat | Go City San Diego Explorer Pass
- 2 Hour Harbor and Sea Lion Cruise | Go City San Diego Explorer Pass
- 1 Hour Harbor Cruise | Go City San Diego Pass, Explorer Pass, CityPASS
- Catalina Flyer Cruise | Go City San Diego Pass
For even more options, check this list of San Diego cruises.
9) Go to a Museum
There are several interesting museums all over San Diego, including some locations we will discuss in our section of free activities.
Whether you want to see some incredible contemporary art or learn about the history of the city, there are plenty of options to choose from.
Here are some of the best museums in San Diego:
- USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum
- San Diego Natural History Museum
- San Diego Automotive Museum
- Museum of Contemporary Art
- San Diego Maritime Museum
- New Children’s Museum
- Fleet Science Center
- And more!
Best of all, most of these museums are included at no extra cost with the Go City San Diego Pass.
Don’t forget that Old Town Trolley tickets also include admission to 10 different museums for free!
10) Get Active!
There is a lot of natural beauty surrounding San Diego, including sites such as La Jolla, Coronado, and other areas where you can stretch out and enjoy some fun activities.
Whether you want to go surfing or enjoy a hike, there’s plenty to do in and around this city.
Here are just a few ideas you might want to consider:
- San Diego Hiking Tour
- La Jolla Activities
- Coronado Activities
The best part about all of these options is that they’re included at no additional cost with the Go City San Diego Pass.
Check our free section for more details about other fun locations to visit such as the beach, the boardwalk, and farmer’s markets.
Free Things to Do in San Diego
The following section covers some of the best activities you can enjoy in San Diego without paying a dime.
While you might want to bring some cash for small things, it isn’t required for any location or service listed below.
11. Go to the Beach
San Diego is surrounded by beautiful beaches, and it’s usually very warm in the city, so there’s almost always a reason to spend some time walking along the oceanfront.
If you’re in the La Jolla area, you might want to consider checking out the famous tide pools at Shell Beach, False Point, Dike Rock, Hospitals Beach, and many other beautiful locations.
You might even want to consider starting a bonfire at La Jolla shores!
This is an excellent idea for a family activity, and the only thing that you really have to worry about is transportation costs.
Don’t forget: if you have the Go City San Diego Pass, you can use it for a free bike rental!
12. See the San Diego Symphony at Open Rehearsals
The San Diego Symphony performs regular open rehearsals at the Rady Shell, giving visitors a chance to hear some live music from one of the greatest symphonies in the United States for free!
They offer between 5-10 rehearsals a month, typically running from 10 am - 12:30 pm.
At times, they will have two shows in one day, with the second taking place between 1:45 pm - 3:45 pm.
On special occasions, they also offer open rehearsals at night from 7 pm - 9:30 pm.
The Rady Shell is located in Jacobs Park, which is open to the public. If you do choose to come, make sure to be quiet and respectful!
13. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego
While you do typically need a ticket to enter the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, it’s worth noting that you can actually visit for free on both the Second Sunday and Third Thursday of every month.
Members of the military and people under the age of 18 are welcome to visit for free at all times.
You can also get a Free Membership Art Pass if you are between the ages of 18-25!
If all else fails, keep in mind that this is just one of many museums included for free with the Go City San Diego Pass.
14. See a Concert at Spreckels Organ Pavilion
If you’re looking for an alternative to the San Diego Symphony rehearsals, you may want to head to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion on Sundays at 2 pm for a free concert.
These concerts are offered year-round, and they are always free and open to the public.
Each concert is 1 hour long, and you can expect them to perform all kinds of music from the classical masterpieces of Bach to modern hits.
Check the Sunday Concerts page to see what will be playing and plan out your trip!
15. Go to the Mission Beach Boardwalk
If you feel like going to the beach, but you don’t want to walk on the sand, the Mission Beach Boardwalk is an excellent alternative.
Whether you choose to simply walk along the ocean or do a little window shopping, there’s plenty to see and do while you’re here.
This is a popular weekend destination, so it makes sense to head on down and take a look around.
This is also where you’ll find popular attractions such as Belmont Park and the Plunge, both included with the Go City San Diego Pass.
16. Visit a Farmer’s Market
If you’ve got a kitchen to cook in, head to one of the many Farmers Markets in San Diego to get some fresh food!
Here are a few of the best options to choose from:
- Del Mar Farmers Market
- Little Italy Farmers Market
- Carlsbad Village Farmers Market
- La Jolla Open Aire Farmers Market
- Pacific Beach Farmers Market
- Ocean Beach Farmers Market
- Hillcrest Farmers Market
17. Go to Balboa Park
This is one of the most popular parks in San Diego, and it’s home to a lot of great museums, some of which are entirely free to visit.
While the Timken Museum of Art is always free to visit, it’s worth noting that other museums in this area are only free on certain days each month.
Here’s what the calendar currently looks like:
- First Tuesday
- Fleet Science Center
- San Diego Model Railroad Museum
- San Diego Natural History Museum
- Second Tuesday
- San Diego Air & Space Museum
- The Veterans Museum
- Third Tuesday
- San Diego Museum of Art
- Japanese Friendship Garden
- Mingei International Museum
- Fourth Tuesday
- The Comic-Con Museum
- San Diego Automotive Museum
TIP: Most of these museums are also included with the Go City San Diego Pass, so you can still save money even if you can’t make it for one of the free days!
18. Take Photos of La Jolla Cove
It is a small cove with a beach that is surrounded by cliffs in La Jolla, San Diego.
California sea lions are frequent visitors to the Cove's waters, sometimes coming out to spend some time on its beaches, cliffs, and bluffs.
It is a very famous spot for swimming, snorkeling and scuba diving.
19. Visit the Old Point Loma Lighthouse
It is an inoperational lighthouse which is open to the public as a museum.
Visitors can visit the lighthouse and take a look at parts of the living quarters there.
There are two days a year when the lighthouse tower is open to visitors.
These dates are August 25, which is the National Park Service's Birthday, and November 15, which is the Lighthouse's Anniversary.
20. Discover Cedros Avenue Design District
The Cedros Avenue Design District is situated in Solana Beach between Lomas Santa Fe and Via de la Valle.
There are 85 plus stores of eateries, spas, and boutiques, fine jewelries, maternity wear, pet supplies, home decor, cafe, art galleries and more.
There is even a farmer's market at the southern end on Sundays from 12:00 to 4:00.
21. Visit Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
Spread in an area of 68 acres, It is a city park adjacent to the Pacific Ocean on the western edge of Point Loma.
The park has marine caves, arches, and carved coastal cliffs.
The California Grey whale can be observed from the cliffs as it makes its yearly migration from the Bering Sea to Baja California.
The name of the park comes from its popularity as a sunset viewing point.
22. Find Sunny Jim’s Sea Cave
The cave is dug by two Chinese laborers and It descends down to La Jolla Cove's sandstone cliffs and into Sunny Jim's Sea Cave from the Cave Store, Schultz's original home.
It is also said that during Prohibition, bootleggers transported alcohol and opium through this tunnel into San Diego!
The cave has 144 stairs to climb and descend and visitors can take the tour which approximately last 15-20 minutes.
23. Spend Some Time in Little Italy
It is a neighborhood in Downtown that was previously a predominantly Italian and Portuguese fishing neighborhood.
It is now an area full of Italian restaurants, grocery stores, home design stores, art galleries and residential units.
Festivals are held frequently in this neighborhood and a farmer market is also held weekly.
24. Take a Hike Through Mission Trails Regional Park
Established in 1974, Mission Trails Regional Park is a 7,220 acre open space preserve located within the city of San Diego, California.
The park's main features are rocky hills and canyons, along with developed and undeveloped recreation areas with lovely flora.
The park contains 46 campsites at the Kumeyaay Lake Campground, which is next to a small lake, and 60 miles of hiking, mountain biking, and equestrian paths.
It also has a rock climbing area.
25. See the Natural Beauty of Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a 2,000-acre coastal state park situated in the neighborhood of La Jolla near San Diego.
A plateau with cliffs overlooking Torrey Pines State Beach and a lagoon that is essential to migrating seabirds make up the reserve.
The reserve is home to a wide variety of animals and plants, including bobcats, foxes, skunks, raccoons, coyotes, rabbits, cactus, coastal chaparral, and the endangered Torrey pine.
26. Visit Liberty Public Market
The finest of what the area has to offer is available at Liberty Public Market, a public market and event space which is open seven days a week.
Prepared dishes, beer, wine, specialty cocktails, produce, fish, desserts and pastries, pastas, arts and crafts, a test kitchen, pop-up dinners, and educational activities are all featured in the market's rustic setting.
The mission of Liberty Public Market is to serve as the hub of the community where residents and tourists may experience the best local artisans' creations.
27. Go to Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala
On July 16, 1769, Spanish friar Junpero Serra established a mission in a region that had previously been home to the Kumeyaay people.
It was the site of the first Christian burial in Alta California.
The present church is the fifth to be built in this place and it was constructed in the early 19th century.
Mission site is now part of a National Historic Landmark.
28. Take a Walk Across the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
The 375-foot-long Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is a pedestrian suspension bridge that offers stunning views of Sessions Canyon 70 feet below.
The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge, which is situated in the residential Bankers Hill district, is held up by cables that are buried beneath large slabs of concrete.
It is not recommended for anyone who is afraid of heights to cross the lengthy bridge because it hangs precariously over the canyon and is susceptible to tiny swings in the event of a strong wind.
29. See the Cabrillo National Monument
The Cabrillo National Monument is located at the southernmost point of the Point Loma Peninsula.
It honors Juan Rodrguez Cabrillo's arrival at San Diego Bay on September 28, 1542.
The park provides views of Coronado and the Naval Air Station North Island in addition to San Diego's port and skyline.
On clear days, the Coronado Islands of Mexico, Tijuana, and a sizable portion of the Pacific Ocean are also visible.
The visitor center features exhibits about the expedition as well as a movie about Cabrillo's journey.
30. Visit the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Located in the Old Town neighborhood of San Diego, it is a state protected historical park which was established in 1968.
It honors San Diego's early history and contains numerous historic structures dating from 1820 to 1870.
The complex, which has stores, restaurants, and museums, consists of five original adobe structures.
A schoolhouse, a blacksmith shop, San Diego's first newspaper office, a cigar and pipe shop, houses and gardens, and a stable with a carriage collection are among the other significant structures.
31. Take a Self-Guided Street Art Tour
There's actually a self-guided San Diego street art tour that you can take, and it's entirely free of charge!
All you have to do is use the following guide to find some of the best free artwork in the entire city.
32. Visit Presidio Park
San Diego, California's Presidio Park is a historic city park.
The San Diego Presidio and San Diego Mission were established there in 1769, marking the beginning of European settlement in what is now the Western United States.
In order to defend against Native American raids or foreign invasions, the Presidio was built.
People began to prefer living in Old Town at the base of the hill as the necessity for such protection diminished, and by 1835 the fort was ruined.
33. Spend Some Time at Liberty Station Park
Liberty Station Park houses a golf course, a 46-acre waterfront park with play areas, a walking/jogging route along the boat channel, and an athletic club.
Liberty Station is a well-liked location for 5k walk/runs sponsored by neighborhood companies and nonprofit organizations because of its huge open spaces.
There are also seasonal rentals available for kayaks and paddle boards.
34. See the Murals and Sculpture Gardens at Chicano Park
The oldest Mexican-American neighborhood in San Diego is located in Logan Heights, and Chicano Park serves as both the community's physical and psychological center.
With more than 100 murals spread across seven acres of space that is also home to sculpture, gardens, picnic tables, and playgrounds, the park has the highest concentration of Chicano murals in the whole world.
It holds music and Aztec dance festivals all year long, with Chicano Park Day being the largest.
Additionally, Chicano Park serves as the center of a developing arts neighborhood that is close to galleries, stores, brew pubs, and specialty coffee shops.
35. Spend Time in the Hipster Neighborhood of North Park
The diversified and eclectic uptown communities of North Park is located east of downtown and borders Balboa Park.
The streets here are lined with coffee shops, boutiques, art galleries, different eateries, and craft beer bars that cater to the local populace.
Due to its abundance of craft-beer outlets, including Mike Hess Brewing, North Park Brewing, and Thorn St. Beer, the bar-filled junction of University Avenue and 30th Street is known as "the best beer neighborhood in the nation."
36. Experience the Mount Soledad Lookout
One of San Diego's most prominent places is Mount Soledad.
The Mount Soledad cross and military memorial are located atop this 822-foot summit.
It offers 360-degree panoramic views of San Diego and the Pacific Ocean and is most famous for its veteran's memorial.
37. Visit the San Diego Bay Wildlife Refuge
In California's San Diego County, on the San Diego Bay, sits the urban refuge known as the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge.
It is part of the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex.
Over 90% of the historic wetlands of San Diego Bay have been filled in, drained, or diked, making the refuge, which is made up of 316 acres of salt marsh and coastal uplands bordered by urban development, a critically essential place for wildlife.
Things to Do in San Diego With Kids
Although our top 10 list already includes some of the best family-friendly events and attractions in San Diego, there are several other activities you might want to consider.
And many of them are included for free with some San Diego tourist passes.
38. Visit an Aquarium
There are actually two aquariums near San Diego, so you have multiple options if you want to see beautiful aquatic life.
The first option of the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and you’ll find this location in La Jolla. They have over 5,000 fish on display living in 60 different habitats.
As with many modern aquariums, they have touch pools, opportunities for feedings, and live talks with professional guides.
In addition to this attraction, you may also want to consider a visit to the SEA LIFE Aquarium which is next to LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, CA.
While this will require you to drive out of the city, if you’re already planning a trip to the theme park, going to SEA LIFE could save you some time.
LEGOLAND offers free admission to SEA LIFE with all 2-day tickets.
39. Take the Kids to a Children’s Museum
If you’re planning to visit San Diego with young children under the age of 12, you may want to consider a trip to the New Children’s Museum.
This attraction is designed for kids, and it includes a lot of hands-on activities to help them learn about the world around them.
With fun exhibits such as a 40-foot slide, a giant hammock, and even an art studio where children can paint and create with clay, there is plenty for younger visitors to see and do at this museum.
This is yet another attraction that is included with the Go City San Diego Pass.
40. Go on the San Diego SEAL Tour
If you’re interested in either a boat or bus tour, you’ll have time to do both on the San Diego SEAL tour.
This outing takes place on an amphibious vehicle that will travel both by road and by water, allowing you to see the city from a unique perspective.
This is similar to the duck tours you’ll find in other cities around the world, but it has a different name in San Diego. Tickets start at just $49 per person.
41. Enjoy a Speed Boat Adventure
Even if you’re not interested in taking a peaceful cruise or going on a whale watching tour, you might still want to consider getting out on the San Diego Harbor in a speedboat!
This is an excellent activity for families, and an especially good idea for families with older kids who are looking for a little excitement.
One of the best options in this city is the Patriot Jet Boat which travels at speeds of up to 50 mph.
As you speed around the waters of San Diego, you’ll see major landmarks such as the USS Midway, the Coronado Bridge, and many other notable sites.
Alternatively, you can also just drive your own speedboat and experience the city from the water at your own pace!
NOTE: The Go City San Diego Pass includes one or more speedboat tours at no additional cost.
42. Go to Plunge San Diego
If you’re planning to visit the Mission Beach Boardwalk, it’s worth noting that there are a lot of fun attractions in the area, including the Plunge.
This is a giant enclosed swimming pool with all kinds of fun activities to enjoy.
In addition to a floating obstacle course, they also have a basketball hoop and 7 lap lanes, so it’s great for all types of swimmers.
If you’re worried about your kids going into the ocean, this might be a good alternative that is right at the beach!
TIP: Admission to the Plunge is included with the Go City San Diego Pass.
43. Take the Kids Go Karting
This is another excellent idea if you’re visiting San Diego with older kids, especially teenagers. Who wouldn’t enjoy a ride in a go kart?
San Diego’s Speed Circuit offers all day passes which allow visitors to use their go kart track.
They also have a thrill park with trampolines, human hamster balls, zip lines, and other fun activities.
If you’re already planning to get a Go City San Diego Pass, it’s worth noting that they include this attraction at no additional cost.
44. Experience iFly San Diego
iFly San Diego is an indoor skydiving experience provider that makes the dream of flying a reality!
Flyers of all age groups from 3-103 can indoor skydive in this experience.
Also, people of all shapes, sizes, and abilities can take flight and have the experience of their lifetimes.
45. Visit MooTime Creamery
If you want to taste a different kind of ice cream, then you can visit MooTime Creamery.
They create ice cream from scratch using the finest ingredients.
MooTime ice cream has more than 16% butterfat which provides the next level of creaminess.
The ice cream has a texture similar to gelato, which is achieved by churning ice creams at low speeds.
46. Experience the View from California Tower
The California Tower is one of the city's most iconic historic landmarks.
The eighth-floor viewing deck of the Tower provides visitors with a 360-degree view of San Diego, spanning from the Pacific Ocean in the west to the Cuyamaca Mountains in the east and beyond.
This stunning building, built for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, is a fantastic example of a fusion of several architectural styles, including Baroque, Plateresque, Churrigueresque, Rococo, with some Gothic accents.
47. Visit the Cat Cafe
The Cat Cafe is a coffee and pastry shop that offers drinks and light meals alongside a variety of adoptable cats.
This is southern California's first cat cafe. The cafe offers cats up for adoption from The Rescue House.
The Cat Cafe aims to feature other regional small businesses in addition to their kitties.
48. Visit the Japanese Friendship Garden
Spread across an area of twelve-acres, this garden was created to mark the friendship between San Diego and its Japanese sister city, Yokohama.
The Japanese Garden's basic concepts and practices served as the foundation for the naturalistic design of the garden, which also incorporated features of the local San Diego landscape and climate.
The garden is renowned for its distinctive setting, sukiya-style structures, koi ponds, and landscape displays.
Numerous regional educational events, activities, festivals, and horticulture seminars that emphasize the connection between nature and Japanese culture are also held at the Japanese Friendship Garden.
49. Go to San Diego Comic-Con in the Summer
Since 1970, San Diego has hosted the annual San Diego Comic-Con International, a nonprofit multi-genre entertainment event dedicated to comic books.
It is a four-day event that takes place in the San Diego Convention Center in San Diego during the summer (in July since 2003).
Since its inception, the convention has featured a wider variety of pop culture and entertainment items from virtually all genres, including horror, western animation, anime, comics, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, webcomics, and fantasy novels.
50. Check out the San Diego Comic-Con Museum
Similar to the annual Comic-Con International event, the Comic-Con Museum is a year-round attraction devoted to comic books and popular culture.
The Comic-Con Museum intends to promote pop culture by offering rotating exhibits, galleries, educational facilities, etc.
The exhibits in the museum have included many well-known characters, such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Pac-Man, and Spider-Man.
51. Eat Fish Tacos
(list top 5 restaurants for fish tacos)
Fish taco is perhaps the most recognizable meal from San Diego.
According to legend, fish tacos were initially served in Ensenada and have since gained enormous popularity.
Top restaurants which serve fish tacos are:
- The Taco Stand - 621 Pearl St, La Jolla, San Diego
- Woody's Breakfast and Burgers - 4111 Ocean Blvd Pacific Beach, San Diego
- Vessel Restaurant + Bar - 1551 Shelter Island Dr Kona Kai Resort & Spa, San Diego
- Oscars Mexican Seafood - 703 Turquoise St, San Diego
- Mitch's Seafood - 1403 Scott St, San Diego
52. Take the Kids to an Indoor Trampoline Park
(Rockin’ Jump San Diego)
It is an ultimate trampoline park which is liked by kids of all ages.
Everyone should be able to find something to enjoy in the sizable main trampoline jump arena, trampoline basketball court, trampoline dodgeball court, stunt bag, climbing wall, x-beam, and mini-golf course.
It is also an ideal location for a birthday party and a fun family activity.
53. Take a Day Trip to Los Angeles
If you're confident you've seen everything you want in San Diego, you might want to consider taking the kids on a day trip to Los Angeles.
Believe it or not, some San Diego tourist passes actually include admission to attractions in Los Angeles, so you can actually use it there as well!
For more details and ideas for fun family activities, make sure to read our post covering things to do in Los Angeles.
54. Visit the San Diego Botanical Gardens
The San Diego Botanic Garden, formerly known as Quail Botanical Gardens, is a botanical garden that is situated near Encinitas, California.
The 37-acre garden features subtropical fruit gardens, unique bamboo groves, desert gardens, a tropical rainforest, native Californian species, and Mediterranean climate settings.
In order to more accurately reflect the garden's standing as a popular regional attraction, the facility's name was changed in 2009.
55. Check Out the Spanish Village Art Center
Located in Balboa Park in San Diego, Spanish Village Art Center is a premiere artist collective.
It is a community of over 200 living artists from diverse backgrounds who create art year round right before your eyes.
On any given day, you can find artists from various categories like painters, sculptors, metalsmiths, jewelry designers, clay, gourd, fiber, mixed media, glass, leather, photographers, printmakers creating their art.
56. Visit the Legends Gallery
This is a fine art gallery situated in La Jolla, California.
The gallery primarily focuses on the art of Dr. Seuss, Mackenzie Thorpe and Tom Everhart, along with local artists.
The gallery opens every day except Wednesday and you can also buy the painting on call.
57. Go Golfing at Torrey Pines Golf Course
Torrey Pines Golf Course is a 36-hole municipal golf facility situated on the west coast and owned by the city of San Diego.
It is located south of Torrey Pines State Reserve in the La Jolla neighborhood on the cliffs that overlook the Pacific Ocean.
It was constructed on the site of Camp Callan, a World War II-era American Army camp, and opened its doors in 1957.
Things to Do at Night in San Diego
This city might not be world renowned for its nightlife, but there are still quite a few interesting activities to enjoy after dark.
If you haven’t checked our top 10, make sure to look for sporting events, concerts, and theatrical shows in that section.
58. Take a Ghost Tour
There are a few interesting haunted history tours in San Diego that you might enjoy.
One of the main services is actually the Ghosts & Gravestones trolley tour that will take you to some of the spookiest sites in the city.
You can expect to visit the Whaley House, old town, and 2 cemeteries.
In addition to that option, you might also want to consider taking a haunted tour of the Gaslamp Quarter, one of the oldest neighborhoods in the city!
59. Enjoy a Sunset Cruise
Although most of the cruises in San Diego are offered during the day, there are a few services that begin at or around sunset.
This is one of the best times to see the skyline of San Diego from the water, and it can be quite romantic.
Some of these outings include a free glass of champagne, while others offer a full dining experience with 3-plate dinners and/or buffets and music for dancing.
60. Discover the Best Food in San Diego
There are a lot of fantastic foods you might want to try in San Diego, but it’s easy to forget about that until it’s well past time to find a restaurant!
If you’re looking for some advice on the best dishes to order and where to find the best restaurants, you might want to consider taking a food tour.
Many of these services take place in the early evening, just before dinner time.
There are also pub crawls and other types of tours that cover some of the best drinks to get in the area!
Here are a few options to consider:
- Brothels, Bites and Booze Gaslamp Quarter Food Tour
- Pizza, Pasta and Piazzas: Little Italy Food Tour
- Little Italy Wine Tasting Walking Tour
- Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones Walking Tour
- Carlsbad Village 3-Hour Food Tour
61. Explore the Gaslamp Quarter
What better place to visit after dark than a neighborhood named after the type of gas lamps that were once lit at night?
This is one of the most historic areas of San Diego, and it’s usually the site of at least a few stops on popular ghost tours.
In addition to the potentially haunted history of the area, there are also a lot of great restaurants and other attractions to see.
For example, this is where you’ll find Petco Park, home of the San Diego Padres, and they frequently have night games you can attend.
This is also where you’ll find the USS Midway and the New Children’s Museum, both of which are included with the Go City San Diego Pass.
62. Have Fun at the Drive-In
The Drive-In Movie Theater is fast becoming a staple of the past, but there are actually a few of them located right here in San Diego.
If you’ve got a car and you feel like experiencing this kind of show, consider heading to one of the following locations:
63. Go Stargazing
This activity fits just as well under free things to do, because it won’t cost a thing to enjoy the night sky!
Although the city lights can make it difficult to see the stars, a quick drive out into the more desertous areas surrounding San Diego can produce some great results.
Here are a few locations you might want to consider:
- Fleet Science Center (Telescope)
- Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
- Cowles Mountain (Mission Trails Regional Park)
- Palomas Observatory
TIP: Fleet Science Center is included with the Go City San Diego Pass.
64. Take in the Views From the ALTITUDE Sky Lounge
The 22nd level of San Diego Marriott Gaslamp Quarter houses the Altitude Sky Lounge.
Altitude San Diego is a fantastic destination to bring a date or friends looking for a unique and cool nightlife experience because of its stunning views of the city skyline.
One of the most elegant after-dark experiences in San Diego is created by the combination of premium bottle service, expansive skyline views, and Petco Park.
65. See What is Playing at the Rooftop Cinema Club
Rooftop cinema club is an outdoor movie space where friends and family come together to see incredible movies, eat delectable cuisine, and drink premium liquor while unwinding in the moonlit shadow of the Downtown San Diego cityscape,
It offers its visitors cutting-edge HD video, studio-quality Bluetooth headphones, plush lounge-style deck seats, and warm blankets for chilly nights.
66. See a Live Performance at Humphreys Concerts By The Bay
The biggest names in entertainment have performed here since 1982, including Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, Jimmy Buffett, Jackson Browne, Willie Nelson, ZZ Top, Steely Dan, Ringo Starr, and many others.
Situated on Shelter Island and surrounded by the San Diego Bay, the sparkling lights of Point Loma, and the lush tropical landscaping of the Humphreys Half Moon Inn are all visible from Humphreys Concerts.
67. See a Show at the Old Globe Theatre
The Old Globe is a professional theater company located in Balboa Park in San Diego.
Every year, during the summer and winter seasons, it produces around 15 plays and musicals.
The complex's three distinct theaters, collectively known as the Simon Edison Centre for the Performing Arts, host plays.
68. Discover the Haunted Whaley House Museum
Built in 1857, The Whaley House is a Greek Revival style residence and museum located in Old Town, San Diego.
It is also the oldest brick structure in Southern California.
Because some visitors have reported hearing or seeing weird things, the house has frequently been mentioned as being haunted.
The Whaley family reported to the San Diego Union that shortly after moving in, they heard what they assumed to be the ghost of James "Yankee Jim" Robinson, who had previously been hanged on the property for stealing a boat, walking around the house.
Some tourists claim to have seen the ghosts of Thomas or Anna Whaley.
69. Enjoy a Wine Tasting at Bernardo Winery
Since 1889, the Bernardo Winery has been producing and serving San Diego grown wines.
Visitors can savor flights, wine by the glass or bottle, and delectable bites from Bernardo Winery kitchen tasting room menu.
The Sicilian/Old Californian small snacks, dishes, and pizzas are all available on the tasting room menu.
70. Hit the Slots at Barona Resort and Casino
Located in Lakeside in San Diego County, Barona Resort and Casino is a Native American casino on the Barona Indian Reservation.
Over 75 table games, including blackjack, poker, Pai Gow, Mississippi Stud, California-style craps, roulette, and more than 2,500 slot and video poker machines are available to visitors at Barona.
Barona does not provide alcoholic beverages on the casino floor, in contrast to other casinos.
71. Experience the Haunted Mansion Villa Montezuma
Villa Montezuma is a Queen Anne style mansion which also has a place in the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1887, this villa is a palace of art, music, and literature.
Tours are organized from Fri-Sat where visitors can observe the entire magnificence of the mysterious Villa Montezuma Museum.
72. Grab a Drink at 10 Barrel Brewing Company
This brewing company has 3 patios and 2 bats and offers a nice city view from its rooftop decks.
Wood and metal work throughout the interior offers a rustic yet modern feel and provides a comfortable atmosphere to enjoy your favorite beer.
Basically, they are a bottle shop with a large selection of craft beer, cider, and wine.
Is San Diego a walkable city?
San Diego has walkable attractions like Mission Bay, Coronado Beach, and the pier, making many areas pedestrian-friendly.
What is the easiest and most affordable way to get around San Diego?
Besides walking to places like Seaworld San Diego, public transport is an affordable option, easily connecting to attractions like the famous San Diego Zoo.
How many days do you need to see San Diego?
A 4 to 5-day trip allows exploration from the Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo monument to the amusement park and local spots like the engine room.
What is the best time of year to visit San Diego?
Spring or fall is ideal in San Diego, with great weather for exploring mission bay, seeing the stars of India, or relaxing on a Saturday at Coronado beach.