We all know San Diego for its beaches, laid-back people, and rich history. As the “birthplace of California“, people love San Diego for its mild climate, beautiful harbor and its longtime relationship with the United States Navy. It’s a place to experience beautiful sites, see the best of our military, and have some fun with family.
Below is a list of things to do in San Diego, varying from museums, to parks and family-oriented attractions. As the second largest city in California, there’s something for everyone in this beautiful city, making it a place you’ll want to visit time and time again.
1. See the Animals at the San Diego Zoo
This zoo is the largest zoological membership association in the world and is home to over 650 species and subspecies. Located just north of downtown San Diego, it’s certainly worth the drive. Take a walk through this beautiful zoo that features more than 700,000 exotic plants, and contribute your patronage to one of the world’s largest zoo-based research centers. For just $42 per child and $52 per adult (for standard one-day tickets), you can enjoy one of the best things to do in San Diego.
The San Diego Zoo is open every single day of the year, including holidays. Guests can enjoy its splendor anytime, within daily hours. Parking is free and even San Diego’s public transportation can take you there. The zoo is obviously a mostly outdoor experience, so you’ll want to visit on warmer, sunnier days. As it is over 100 acres in size, it is advisable to you bring your walking shoes. Those in wheelchairs can even enjoy the park, as mostly everything in the park is wheelchair accessible. This is a guaranteed fun-filled day for the entire family!
2. Explore the USS Midway Museum
As one of the longest-serving U.S. aircraft carriers, the Midway Museum gives guests access to a floating city on the sea. You can experience walking in the footsteps of over 225,000 American sailors who proudly served the country by arriving at Navy Pier in downtown San Diego. Ticket prices are as follows: $20 for adults, $17 for seniors, $15 for students, $10 for retired military or children, and free for children under 5. There are also discounts if you purchase your tickets online.
The Midway Museum is open most days, except Thanksgiving and Christmas day. The last admission is available at 4 PM, and you should expect a lot of walking! The Museum offers services to people with any kind of needs for assistance, giving visitors accessible parking spaces, elevator access, and written tour scripts for the hearing impaired. A visit to the Midway Museum is a true learning experience for people of all ages and a testament to the country’s proud military history.
3. Take a Tour or See a Game at Petco Park
Home to the San Diego Padres, this architecturally magnificent stadium is a must on the things to do in San Diego list for baseball and sports fans. Located within the city limits, there is ample parking and plenty to see and do. Ticket prices will vary depending on if you’re planning on catching a game or taking a tour. Tour prices range from $12-$15 per person, with discounts given on large groups. Guests can witness and experience the famed history of the Padres with a guided tour and a visit to the brand new Padres Hall of Fame and Museum.
Games are obviously during the regular baseball season, but tours can be given throughout the year. There are certain days they are not given, and times or tours can vary depending on game times, etc. If someone in your group isn’t up to walking, this may not be the activity for them. Tours are mostly outdoors and will be most enjoyed in warmer, sunnier weather. Even though baseball and sports fans may get the most out of the experience, the Petco Park tours are enjoyable for people of all ages.
4. Stroll in the Balboa Park
This is quite arguably one the most fun things to do in San Diego. Located just minutes from downtown San Diego on El Prado, entrance to Balboa Park is free, as are many of its activities. Take a ride on the carousel, take a look at the miniature railroad, or view the park’s beautiful arts building. After seeing all the park has to offer, you can enjoy a wonderful meal at The Prado Restaurant at Balboa Park. As several non-profit organizations manage most of the culture there, guests can truly enjoy the many treasures the area has to offer.
While many of the activities are outside, the park is open year-round with the exception of major holidays. To enjoy things like the carousel or a walk through the beautiful park, you’ll want to make your way there a nice, warm, sunny day. For other things like the arts building or the restaurant, inclement weather can’t dampen the fun. Most children will enjoy the experiences at Balboa Park. However, adults will have lots of fun too. As a whole however, the park is a beautiful experience that you can share with people of all ages.
5. Catch a Glimpse of the Underwater at the SeaWorld San Diego
If you’re looking for a seriously fun family experience, SeaWorld is an absolute must-see. As one of the most popular things to do in San Diego, tickets are available online with a discount for $73 per guest ages 3 and up (for a single day pass). Children two and under are free. You can buy additional tickets to dining bundles or you can purchase all-inclusive tickets. Located on SeaWorld Drive in San Diego, SeaWorld offers its guests exceptional rides, shows and attractions that are unrivaled anywhere else. Almost 200-acres large, there is plenty to see and do to keep you busy for the day.
SeaWorld San Diego is open year-round; however their hours of operation vary by the day and season. Their spectacular shows have particular schedules throughout the day, so it’s best to plan your visit in advance so you don’t miss a minute of it. The park is a wonderful experience for people of all ages, but it is large so you’ll want to be sure you’re ready to walk. SeaWorld also does a wonderful job of making everything at the park accessible to everyone, even those in wheelchairs.
6. Honour the Heroes of the Mexican War at the Fort Rosecrans Cemetery
Located on Cabrillo Memorial Drive, this is one of the more humbling things to do in San Diego. This federal military cemetery is spread out over 77.5 acres and is home to over 101,000 resting places for the country’s fallen heroes. It costs nothing to enter this national cemetery, though your respect and appreciation is expected. Many notable soldiers and military personnel are buried here and the history of those fallen is remarkable. There are still many military ceremonies performed here, including military funeral honors for those who are no longer with us.
The cemetery is open from dusk to dawn on every day except national holidays. On Memorial Day, there is a beautiful ceremony performed at Fort Rosecrans. Obviously an outdoor experience, there will be a lot of walking involved and wheelchairs may not be the easiest to navigate through the cemetery. While it is open to people of all ages, it may be better appreciated by adults. If you’re looking to teach your children about the country’s rich military history however, or teaching them appreciation for those who are no longer here, this is certainly the place to do it.
This list is full of great things to do in San Diego. While there are many other wonderful things to experience in San Diego California, this list will guarantee you not only a spectacular time, but also a look into the heart of the beautiful city. San Diego is meant to be enjoyed by everyone, and gives every opportunity to do so. Full of history and charm, this ocean-based community will leave you wanting to return as quickly as you can. Get out in the sun, take a dip in the beautiful ocean, and experience why citizens of San Diego have so much love for it.