5 AMAZING Things To Do in San Diego – Things To Do in San Diego, California

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What Are The Best Things To Do in San Diego?

Easily one of my favorite cities, San Diego constantly wins “best place to live in” awards.  But even if you don’t live here, San Diego is a great place to visit.  Whether you are here on a  romantic vacation or visiting with a family there is no shortage of things to do in San Diego. 

If you are going to visit the city and want to know more about what to do in San Diego, read on! From off the beaten path to classics such as the San Diego Zoo, explore the jewel of the West Coast with me.  

Here Are 15 AMAZING Things To Do in San Diego: 

1. Explore The Wild At The San Diego Zoo 

The San Diego Zoo is home to more than 12,000 animals from more than 350 species and subspecies over the 100 acres of Balboa Park. It is considered one of the best zoos in the whole world. They also started the cageless design for animals which later became the standard for a lot of zoos. If you or your children are looking for things to do in San Diego, or love watching animals in their natural habitat, then the San Diego Zoo is a great place to visit. The zoo also boasts of its tours, rides, theaters, and aerial trams. 

San Diego Zoo grew out of the abandoned exotic animal exhibits following the Panama-California Exposition. Dr. Harry M. Wegeforth established the Zoological Society of San Diego on October 2nd, 1916 that was initially a follow-up to precedents established by the New York Zoological Society at the Bronx Zoo. 

The only albino Koala in a zoological institution was born on September 1, 1997, in the San Diego Zoo and was called Onya Birri, which is “ghost boy” in an Australian Aboriginal language. The San Diego Zoo has the largest koala population after Australia.

2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, United States 

2. Stroll A Well-Manicured Lane At Harper’s Topiary Garden

Photo: “Topiary” by Peter Corbett from Flickr is licensed under CC BY 2.0

If you’re a big fan of plants or greenery, then you wouldn’t want to miss visiting San Diego’s magnificent Harper’s Topiary Garden. For the past 15 years, San Diego resident Edna Harper and her husband were meditating on what she would like the bushes to be before grabbing her pruners to make it happen. The couple has carefully transformed their once boring foliage into more than 50 distinct designs, many of which were resulted from their travels around the globe. 

If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego, the garden museum has pyramids, dinosaurs, a surfer, and the remains of a Buddha as well as a complete collection of animals, including a whale and an entire herd of elephants. There is also a portrait of their gardener who assists Edna maintain her work.

The majority of topiaries are formed by ad hoc growth of the shrubs around wire sculptures. The bushes are controlled as new growth emerges. They are distinct in that they’re completely solid all the way rather than hollow within the wire cage.

3549 Union Street, San Diego, California, 92103, United States

3. Make Your Way Around Famous Balboa Park, San Diego

When visiting San Diego, it’s almost impossible to not stop by and walk around Balboa Park. Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre historic cultural and historical park situated in San Diego, California, United States. Alongside open spaces as well as natural vegetation zone gardens, green belts, and walking trails there are theaters, museums as well as San Diego Zoo.

Around Balboa Park San Diego, there are trails, gardens Zoos, museums and theaters, concert stages, and other recreational facilities. It’s among the largest tourist attractions throughout California state. Nature lovers can walk around the dozens of gardens that range from lily ponds and zen gardens. For those who love history, there are tours of monuments, museums and art galleries, museums of science and culture, as well as cultural institutions. It is highly recommended to visit the park during the warmer months of the year.

Every summer, free outdoor concerts are held every Monday and Thursday in the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. Organ concerts are free every Sunday at 2:00 p.m. all year round.

1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101, United States

4. Go For A Spooky Good Time At The Whaley House 

Photo: “Bedroom” by whaleyhouse.com is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

There are a lot of things to do in San Diego but if you’re interested in a more quirky and unusual activity while in San Diego, you might want to visit the Whaley house. The Whaley House is well-known for its significance as a historical landmark within San Diego’s Old Town neighborhood. The house was built in 1856 and is two stories high and was designed by the original homeowner Thomas Whaley himself. The building was built with the bricks from Whaley’s brickyard and was the only building that was of this type within San Diego at the time.

The Travel Channel “Most Haunted” show designated the Whaley House as the most haunted house located in the United States.

San Diego Ghost Hunters host the Whaley House Museum Paranormal Investigation Tour to walk around the house on the final weekend of each month. Paranormal investigation techniques and equipment are employed throughout the tour and give access to a variety of roped-off rooms. The Whaley House is famous for its haunted reports and sightings. The museum is even charging more admission in the evening for those who want to leave slightly shocked.

2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, California, 9211, United States

5. Get Amazing Pictures At Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, San Diego

Photo: “Sunset Cliffs Natural Park” by j00bar is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Just like the name suggests, this amazing place is definitely something that should be on your list when visiting San Diego. Although you might need to do a bit of hiking if you want to see the gorgeous sunset from a higher vantage point, the effort is totally worth it!

The park has a cave too, along with beautiful rock formations and a gorgeous coastline. One of the famous spots in San Diego’s Sunset Cliffs is the underground cave that has an open ceiling where you can spend the day watching the clouds pass by or even the stars if you go there in the evening. 

There is also a bluff in the area where you can cliff dive if you’re into more extreme adventures. The breathtaking views and summits of Sunset Cliffs Natural Park are something that you don’t want to miss!

Ladera St, San Diego, CA 92107, United States

6. Tour The Infamous Villa Montezuma 

Photo: “Villa Montezuma” by Timm Williams is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Another haunted place that you can visit if you’re looking for a thrilling adventure in San Diego is Villa Montezuma. This is a red, Queen Anne-style mansion located in the Sherman Heights neighborhood. Built in 1887 for renowned composer Jesse Shepard, this mansion has stood the test of time. The mansion was known as haunted because of the seances that were allegedly performed inside. Strange occurrences have also been noted around the mansion. 

Tours around the mansion are done quarterly in San Diego. 

1925 K St, San Diego, California, 92102, United States

7. Check Out Priceless Art At San Diego Museum Of Art 

Photo: “File: Bodhisattva Guanyin made at the request of Emperor Duan Zhengxing, view 1, Dali Kingdom, Yunnan, China, 1147-1172 AD, gilt arsenical-copper with lacquer – San Diego Museum of Art – DSC06533.JPG” by Daderot is licensed under CC0 1.0

If you love art and are visiting the city to see some gorgeous artwork, then you can’t miss the San Diego Museum of art. This museum is very hard to miss with its gigantic, cathedral-style facade. The museum houses hundreds of paintings, sculptures, documents, artifacts, and historical pieces. The oldest piece that they have dated back to 5000 BC!

If you’re looking to visit the San Diego Museum of Art, you might want to book in advance because even though they have tours available, they don’t cater to walk-in guests. 

The San Diego Museum of Art is one of the most famous tourist attractions in the city. 

1450 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92102, United States

8. Feel The Italian Vibe At Little Italy In San Diego

Not ready to visit real Italy yet? San Diego has something for you! When in the city, you can visit Little Italy and discover new places to eat and drink. This district boasts of its authentic Italian restaurants and bars. If you love food and want to have a taste of Italy right in the heart of the city. 

Little Italy is one of the coolest places you can visit when in San Diego. They have street performers and upscale clothing places you can splurge your pocket money on. Or, if you’re in San Diego for relaxation, you can also sip cocktails in their open bars or sit outside their patios. There is a huge variety of food and bars to choose from!

1668 Columbia St From Laurel south to West A Street, San Diego, CA 92101-2502, United States

9. Be An Astronaut For A Day At San Diego Air And Space Museum

Fan of the Milky Way Galaxy? Or the universe in general? Then this is a place you wouldn’t want to miss dropping by when you’re in San Diego! The famous San Diego Air and Space Museum is a huge museum that offers pictures, videos, exhibits, and models of aircraft and spacecraft. 

You can also see the names and faces of astronauts, engineers, and pilots who have made significant contributions to science and technology as well as the exploration of space. San Diego Air and Space Museum is the place to visit if you love all things space!

2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA 92101, United States

10. Hang Out With The Seals At Children’s Pool Beach 

If you’re visiting San Diego with kids and would like to see cute seals, then Children’s Pool Beach is the place for you! The place used to be a safe spot for children to swim in until it became a nesting spot for seals. Because of that, it became unsafe for kids to swim in because of the bacteria the seals brought. Although swimming is discouraged, this is still a great place to visit because and see the wildlife.

It will be a good experience for the kids to see the seals in their natural habitat and to watch them swim in the waters and sunbathe on the rocks. It will surely be a great memory for the children when you’re in San Diego!

850 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037, United States

11. Eat A Delicious Meal At Red Fox Steakhouse And Piano Bar

Of course, after a long day of roaming around San Diego, you’ll want a place to sit in and relax and have a hearty meal. Well, look no further because Red Fox Steakhouse and Piano Bar is the place for you! The place is designed like a restaurant from the old times. 

They serve all sorts of food from steaks to kebabs, and they offer seafood too! After the main course, they also serve delicious desserts like cheesecakes of chocolate mousse pie. If you’re also a fan of music, the restaurant has live bands performing several nights every week. They serve such delicious meals that you are surely likely to come back for more!

2223 El Cajon Blvd, San Diego, CA 92104, United States

12. Try Something New At Nico’s Mexican Food 

Another food place you would want to visit when in San Diego is the popular Nico’s Mexican Food. They are famous in the city for their delicious and unique takes on famous Mexican dishes. Their most famous food in the restaurant is their fry-filled burrito, also called “California Burrito”.  They also have other dishes they serve daily so you don’t want to miss out on this Mexican wonder while you’re staying in San Diego! 

4918 Newport Ave, San Diego, CA 92107, United States

13. Discover The Wonderful World Of Science at Fleet Science Center

Photo: “Fleet Science Center – San Diego California” by Smart Destinations from Flickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

For all the science geeks out there, this place is a great place to visit when you’re in San Diego! The science center was founded in 1973, the Fleet Science Center has a wide range of options that show scientific subjects. They even have an IMAX dome on site! They have a lot of games, events, and interactive classes that are definitely entertaining and worth the pit-stop while you’re in San Diego!

1875 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101, United States

14. Watch The Dolphins At Play At Seaworld San Diego 

Now, this is something that you won’t want to miss visiting when you’re in San Diego. The SeaWorld in San Diego is both a huge aquarium and an amusement park where the whole family can have fun! They have their famous shows with orcas and dolphins, but they also have movies, rides, and gondolas inside. Not only those, they even have roller coasters!

SeaWorld San Diego is one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Diego. It’s a very popular spot that has over a thousand visitors each year!

500 Sea World Dr, San Diego, CA 92109, United States

15. Dive Deep At Waterhorse Charters

There are a lot of San Diego tours in the city, but for the more extreme adventurers out there, you need to visit the Waterhorse Charters. They are a company in San Diego that can help – even beginners – dive underwater and visit sunken ships, canyons, coral reefs, and kelp forests! They will take care of everything from transportation, to the dive and take you to all the cool spots underwater. 

It doesn’t matter if you’re a professional diver or if it’s just something you want to cross off your bucket list, Waterhorse Charters is here for you! Drop by when you’re in San Diego. They have a really awesome staff who are ready to assist you in your diving experience.

1617 Quivira Rd suite b, San Diego, CA 92109, United States

There you have it, the 15 best things to do when you’re in San Diego. The city is full of attractions and tourist spots that can cater to whatever you like to do! Swim, sing, dance – San Diego has it all! This list is just the tip of the iceberg, though. San Diego is a huge city so if you roam around for longer, you’ll find that it has everything you may need and want! 

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Looking for vacation ideas or travel tips? You’ve come to the right place! 
On GoTravelTipster.com, you will find one-week vacation itineraries for couples and families.  Don’t have time for a week-long trip? Check out my weekend getaway ideas!
Always practical, accompanied by beautiful photography and a bit of history, my goal is to help you create – and fulfill – the ultimate travel bucket list.  I look forward to your comments and questions, and happy traveling!

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