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Things to do in San Diego

Things to do in  San Diego

Welcome to San Diego

A quintessentially coastal California town, San Diego welcomes visitors with picture-perfect weather and a surprising variety of things to do. Within its vast city limits, you can scale mountains, embark on desert hikes, and surf at one of many palm tree–lined beaches. You can also learn about military and Spanish colonial history, and eat fresh seafood and Mexican cuisine to your heart’s content. From its laid-back beach neighborhoods—like Ocean, Mission and Pacific beaches—to the bustling nightlife and downtown dining destinations of Little Italy and the Gaslamp Quarter, San Diego offers something fun for every traveler.

Top 10 attractions in San Diego

#1
USS Midway Museum

USS Midway Museum

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Formerly the US Navy’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century (1945 to 1991), the USS Midway is now a floating museum docked off the coast of California. Aboard the hulking vessel, visitors can now explore more than 60 exhibits as well as peek inside the museum’s impressive aircraft collection.More
#2
Coronado

Coronado

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Across the bay from downtown San Diego, the small resort town of Coronado is an idyllic escape from the city with a wide, sandy coastline and a tree-lined main drag that’s home to shops and restaurants. Visitors go to hang out on the beach, tour historical sites, and watch the sunset.More
#3
Balboa Park

Balboa Park

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Home to world-class museums, manicured gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park tops the list of San Diego city sights. Its 1,200 lush acres (486 hectares) comprise the largest urban park in the United States. Apart from its many attractions, Balboa Park also features lengthy walking and hiking trails, distinctive landscaping, Golden Age Spanish buildings, and one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs.More
#4
Gaslamp Quarter

Gaslamp Quarter

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The epicenter of San Diego’s party scene, the lively Gaslamp Quarter offers much more than just pulsating nightlife. The charming downtown neighborhood is also rich with cultural museums, art galleries, concert venues, and symphony halls, plus loads of lovely alfresco eateries. But back to the nightlife: Clubs, dive bars, and cocktail lounges draw the university crowd, while diverse audiences fill the Spreckels and Balboa theaters for performing arts, comedy shows, and live music.More
#5
San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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The San Diego Zoo Safari Park, part of the larger San Diego Zoo, is an 1,800-acre (728-hectare) open-range park housing some 3,500 animals from about 430 species. The park’s open layout allows herds of giraffes, zebras, rhinos, and other animals indigenous to Africa to roam the re-created valley floor.More
#6
San Diego Harbor

San Diego Harbor

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The city’s waterfront Embarcadero district is one of the San Diego Bay's most vibrant areas. From museums to maritime attractions, and from Seaport Village's shops and restaurants to the area’s parks, the San Diego Harbor is known for its entertainment offerings and family-friendly attractions.More
#7
San Diego Air & Space Museum

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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The year of 1911 was historic for the field of aviation. In an even that would shape the aviation as we know it, the Vin Fiz Flyer—piloted by Calbraith Perry Rodger—completed the first transcontinental crossing of the United States in an airplane. The flight required 82 hours of total time in the air—although the entire trip, including ground time, was a remarkable 84 days. Today, commercial jetliners make the trip in a little over five hours, and with the ease of transport that aviation has provided, it’s almost too easy to forget the steps that brought us up to this point. At the San Diego Air & Space Museum, however, every visitor, both young and old, can see how the craft of aviation has changed since its early years. Gaze on an intricate reproduction of the original Vin Fiz Flyer, or examine a replica of Charles Lindbergh’s famous Spirit of St. Louis. Military enthusiasts will love the collection of Hellcats and early fighter planes—including an exhibit on early aircraft that flew in World War I. There are educational placards that date all the way back to 18th-century hot air balloons, and also look forward to the next frontier of exploring the corners of space. For kids, a large, 3D movie theater offers thrilling movies from the air, and there’s even the chance to take the joystick on the simulator of an F15.More
#8
Little Italy San Diego

Little Italy San Diego

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Once home to generations of Italian families who who made their living in San Diego’s flourishing fishing industry, Little Italy is now a lively neighborhood packed with restaurants, patio cafés, craft brewpubs, urban wineries, and little plazas with fountains and views of the bay. The trendy, walkable neighborhood—in San Diego’s historic Gaslamp Quarter—also has upscale boutiques, art galleries, chic shops, boutique hotels, and live music venues, so there is far more to experience here than just the delicious food.More
#9
Maritime Museum of San Diego

Maritime Museum of San Diego

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From steamships to submarines, the Maritime Museum of San Diego welcomes you aboard an array of historic ships, letting you delve into the rich maritime history of San Diego. Each vessel offers its own exhibits and experiences. The museum’s fleet ranges from the world’s oldest active sailing ship—Star of India—to modern submarines.More
#10
Cabrillo National Monument

Cabrillo National Monument

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On the southern tip of the Point Loma peninsula, which separates the Pacific Ocean from San Diego Bay, Cabrillo National Monument stands in honor of Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who journeyed up the California coast in the mid-1500s. Stop at the statue for views of the open sea, bay, and San Diego skyline.More

Trip ideas

How to Spend 1 Day in San Diego

How to Spend 1 Day in San Diego

How to Spend 2 Days in San Diego

How to Spend 2 Days in San Diego

Mexico Tours from San Diego

Mexico Tours from San Diego

Top activities in San Diego

San Diego Harbor Cruise

San Diego Harbor Cruise

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$28.00
San Diego Whale Watching Cruise
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San Diego Premier Dinner Cruise

San Diego Premier Dinner Cruise

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San Diego Seal Tour

San Diego Seal Tour

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$44.00
Luxury Sunset Sail Experience on San Diego Bay - Small Group
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San Diego Bay Jet Boat Ride

San Diego Bay Jet Boat Ride

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$32.00
San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise
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San Diego Harbor Dinner Cruise

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$110.90
Small-Group San Diego Sunset Sailing Excursion
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Classic Sunset Sail in San Diego
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Small-Group San Diego Afternoon Sailing Excursion
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San Diego Scenic Tour

San Diego Scenic Tour

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San Diego Harbor Speed Boat Adventure
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Brothels, Bites and Booze: A Culinary Tour of San Diego's Questionable Past
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Recent reviews from experiences in San Diego

star-5
A most enjoyable part of our trip!
Gale, Jul 2021
Luxury Sunset Sail Experience on San Diego Bay - Small Group
A great way to see San Diego at night.
star-5
Excellent
Dale, Jul 2021
San Diego Scenic Tour
Tour of the city was awesome and I would like everyone that is interested in visiting San Diego to consider Viator as they search for things to do.
star-5
Fun and educational history
Wayne_L, Jul 2021
San Diego Harbor Cruise
We got to see first hand the navy fleet of battleships and the process of fishing boats.
star-5
Weekend getaway
Charles_H, Jul 2021
San Diego Seal Tour
The tour was more than I expected, our guide really provide insight to the city of San Diego and it’s attractions
star-5
Great experience
Joan, Jul 2021
San Diego Zoo 1-Day Pass Ticket, No Reservations Required!
Particularly enjoyed observing some enrichment activities provided to the animals.
star-4
Day cruise
Tony_G, Jun 2021
San Diego Harbor Cruise
Being able to see San Diego from a different view was amazing.
star-5
Great experience
Beverly, Jun 2021
San Diego Zoo Safari Park 1-Day Pass Ticket, No Reservations Required!
I always wanted to visit the San Diego zoo.
star-5
Great way to see the city
Michelle_H, Jun 2021
San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley
This was a great way to see San Diego and get around town.
star-5
It was the sh*t
doodles, Jun 2021
San Diego Bay Jet Boat Ride
You get to see San Diego while on the water.
star-4
Great tour to introduce San Diego
Nancy_O, Jun 2021
San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley
Be prepared to wait longer to get back on the trolly when you get off if it is a weekend day in summer.
star-5
Awesome Tour!
Eric_R, Jun 2021
San Diego Scenic Tour
I would highly recommend San Diego Scenic tours to anyone wanting to see all the best spots in San Diego in a short amount of time without the hassles of driving, parking, etc…!
star-5
Excellent!
Hope_R, May 2021
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park 2-Visit Pass Ticket, No Reservations Required!
The only downside was we didn’t get to see the Penguins..
star-5
Great
Virginia_H, May 2021
San Diego Zoo 1-Day Pass Ticket, No Reservations Required!
Great places to visit.
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Just like being home
John_G, Apr 2021
San Diego Zoo Safari Park 1-Day Pass Ticket, No Reservations Required!
Always love going back to the zoo when I come back home to San Diego to visit!
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Enjoy and relax
Leo_G, Jun 2021
San Diego Harbor Cruise
Great way to see the entire bay front without the hassle of auto traffic.
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Jim ROCKS!!!
DJ_Dave, Jul 2021
Behind-the-Scenes at Petco Park Tour
We went on a tour to Coors field, and got to see the visitors locker room & dugout.
star-5
Amazing workout and ride!
Sherie_A, Jul 2021
1 HOUR Eco Pedal Boat Rental in San Diego Bay
We got to see beautiful views of San Diego and other boat life.
star-5
Excellent
yvonne_l, Jul 2021
Skip the Line: USS Midway Museum Admission Ticket in San Diego
We were there 4 hours and still did not to see it all.
star-4
Sweet activity for kids
Hannah_S, Jul 2021
San Diego Seal Tour
We got pretty close to sea lions and it was nice to see Point Loma from a distance.
star-5
A Wave of Fun!
Mariel_T, Mar 2021
1 HOUR Eco Pedal Boat Rental in San Diego Bay
I loved being able to see the buildings and views of San Diego.

A local’s pocket guide to San Diego

Sasha Lozovoy

A Viator account manager, California native, and La Jolla resident, Sasha can be found enjoying the sunshine, petting dogs, and seeking out the tastiest acai bowl San Diego has to offer.

The first thing you should do in San Diego is...

rent a car. You’ll need a set of wheels to explore the multitude of diverse neighborhoods in San Diego and try the fish tacos each has to offer.

A perfect Saturday in San Diego...

starts with a hike around Torrey Pines State Reserve, where you can enjoy views of the Pacific, the golf course, and the gliderport. Cap off your day with carbonara at Barbusa in Little Italy.

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Coronado Island. Grab brunch at Parakeet Cafe and wander through the whimsical and historical Hotel del Coronado. Don’t be surprised if you witness a beachfront wedding or proposal!

To discover the "real" San Diego...

walk along the Pacific Beach Boardwalk. Jump in a game of volleyball, take a dip, grab a bite, or simply people-watch. You’ll find a harmonious collection of locals, tourists, college students, roller skaters, and more.

For the best view of the city...

most people would say a rooftop in the Gaslamp District, but try Point Loma Lighthouse in Cabrillo National Monument instead. Explore the tide pools below if you visit during low tide.

One thing people get wrong...

is assuming everyone surfs. On any given day, you’ll get your fair share of sandy folks out riding tubes, but it’s by no means a prerequisite for visiting or living in the area.

Frequently Asked Questions
The answers provided below are based on answers previously given by the tour provider to customers’ questions.
Q:
What are the top things to do in San Diego?
Q:
What are the top activities in San Diego?
Q:
What are the top things to do near San Diego?
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Q:
What do I need to know before visiting San Diego?