San Diego’s famous coastline, world-famous amusement parks and fascinating history make it a favorite California vacation destination. Its numerous beaches are a source of year-round, outdoor entertainment; you can watch a surfing competition, play volleyball, watch the sun descend beneath the crystalline waves of the Pacific Ocean, and still find time to explore the charming, centuries-old streets of Old Town. Whether you want to learn about Father Junipero Serra’s mission or spend a relaxing day at sea, San Diego’s got it all!
Explore Earth’s atmosphere and beyond at the Air and Space Museum, one of San Diego’s top cultural destinations. With live tour guides and thousands of air and space—related artifacts, the Museum’s collection is seemingly endless— which is amazing since it was rebuilt after a fire razed the original building!
One of the oldest and most famous outdoor entertainment parks in San Diego, Belmont Park is located next to Mission Beach. After a day of sun and sand, you can take a ride on The Giant Dipper, a National Historic Monument that is literally history in motion.
Spend the afternoon on the high seas watching majestic gray whales in their natural habitat. On the Harbor Cruise and Whale Watch, you will learn about the San Diego coastline and the great variety of marine life that inhabits its waters.
Pacific walruses, beluga whales and dolphins are just some of the creatures that you will find at San Diego Sea World. In addition to the diverse marine life, Sea World has a number of rides, interactive shows, shops and restaurants. Don’t forget to stop by Shamu Stadium, where you can meet six killer whales that live in a seven million gallon habitat!
Opened in 1925, the San Diego Zoo is one of the oldest zoos in the United States. If you’ve never fed a giraffe, you will have the opportunity to give the friendly, long—necked mammals a snack. You’ll also want to take a ride on the SkyFari®, an aerial tram that gives you a bird’s—eye view of the zoo!
See Point Loma, Shelter Island and other San Diego points of interest in this unique maritime tour, featuring an amphibious vehicle that is a boat on water and converts into a land vehicle when it reaches the shore. This combination land and sea tour will top your list of most memorable moments on your San Diego vacation.
The best way to see San Diego’s historical and cultural attractions in one day, the Old Town Trolley will take you to the city’s most important sights, such as La Casa del Estudio and Presidio Park. The Old Town Trolley tour gives you the freedom to explore longer if you want to stay and learn about one of the sights— you can always catch the next trolley at the stop and continue your adventure!
With 3000 animals of more than 400 species, you will find antelope, giraffes, buffalo and rhinos among the colorful and diverse representatives of earth’s creatures. The Safari Park is noted for its spacious, open—range enclosures, which include habitats representing the Asian Plains and North Africa. While you’re there, don’t miss an opportunity to take a ride on the African Tram!
If you’ve ever imagined a world built entirely of Legos, it actually exists! Legoland California is a theme park with rides, attractions and interactive shows featuring America’s favorite building block. You will be astounded at the variety of people, animals and buildings that were created using millions of tiny Legos. Legoland California also features a Water Park with rides.
This enormous, historical ship has been converted into a complete maritime museum. You might think that a boat museum would be small, but this mighty vessel measures the length of three football fields! See the Captain and Admiral’s quarters, the ship jail and learn about the USS Midway and her multiple military tours and humanitarian missions.
With interactive exhibits and a state—of—the—art planetarium, Fleet Science Center is one of San Diego’s top attractions. In the Cellular Journey exhibit, you can learn all about human biology, and even have the opportunity to examine real human cells under the microscope. You’ll also want to experience The Virtual Zone, a motion simulator, one of the Center’s top interactive attractions.
From seahorses to snorkeling with the sharks, there is an entire underwater world to explore at Birch Aquarium. See brand new discoveries by Scripps Oceanography explorers in the Aquarium’s colorful exhibits, including the Coral Reef and the Living Tide Pools. With more than sixty habitats and thousands of species of underwater life, it’s no wonder that Birch Aquarium is one of San Diego’s top attractions!
Initiated by Woodrow Wilson to honor the first Spanish settler to set foot upon California, Cabrillo National Monument is a 19—foot tall sandstone monument depicting Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese sailor who changed California’s history in 1542. Be sure to visit the museum next to the monument, where you can learn about California’s history and information about the Spanish expedition.
Home to a species of pine tree that is only found in this location of the world, Torrey Pines State Reserve is one of the most scenic spots in San Diego. A favorite natural refuge for birdwatchers, joggers and hikers, Torrey Pines State Reserve may be one of the last remaining public places in San Diego that have remained essentially unchanged since the first settlers arrived.
See one of the oldest lighthouses in California, preserved to its 19th century splendor. When you climb up the long, winding spiral staircase, you can see how the lightkeeper and his family lived over a century ago. Located at Cabrillo National Monument, Old Point Loma Lighthouse is an important part of San Diego’s maritime history.
Home to many of San Diego’s top attractions, Balboa Park is an attraction in its own right: with a number of museums, shops, theatres and botanical gardens, you could spend an entire day discovering one of San Diego’s most beautiful and historical public meeting places.
The Gaslamp Quarter has been San Diego’s party district for over a century. For a long time, it was actually the city’s red light district, but city renovations in the 1980’s turned the once—seedy zone into a thriving neighborhood of restaurants, bars, art galleries and locally owned shops. For late—night entertainment, head to the Gaslamp!
An award winning, modern bridge, the Coronado Bridge is considered to be one of the most beautiful bridges in the United States. In the 1970’s, an innovative project was initiated to turn the bridge into a canvas for Chicago artists. The brightly colored bridge is one of San Diego’s best examples of functional art.
Literally the birthplace of California, Old Town is the location where Father Junipero Serra established the first of twenty—two Spanish missions. See historic buildings like La Casa del Estudio and The Exchange Hotel, both preserved to reflect its appearance in the 19th century. Old Town San Diego is a great place to learn about the city’s history and eat some of the best Mexican food on this side of the border!
One of the best places to people watch in San Diego, Mission Beach is filled with surf shops, cafes, souvenir stores and people from all walks of life. A great place to go on a walk by the shore, ride your bike or simply enjoy the San Diego Sun, Mission Beach is a top pick for California beach relaxation.
Since it was built in 1888, Impressive architecture is the hallmark of this luxurious and historic hotel. Even if you cannot afford to stay here, it has much to offer including historic tours, dining and a fabulous beach. Accessible by the famous Coronado Bridge, or by ferry, the Village of Coronado is a great destination as well.
A child centric approach to an aquarium, all the activities and displays are geared towards children up to the age of 12. Get hands on at the Rockpool and Claws exhibit. Get a chance to feed a sea horse. It’s a great addition to a day at it’s sister park, LEGOLAND which is located on the same property in Carlsbad.