San Diego Bucket List: Top 15 Best Things to do in San Diego, California

Best Tourist Spots in San Diego CA
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San Diego tourist attractions and best things to do in San Diego, California, USA

San Diego is the right destination for adventurers and sun seekers as there are many fun activities waiting for you. There are many fun things to do in San Diego whether it is hiking along the sandstone cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve or just admiring the stunning scenery at La Jolla Cove, you will surely find something to keep you in this city.

Carlsbad Beach - Best Things to do in San Diego, California
Carlsbad Beach – Best Things to do in San Diego, California

Top 15 things to do in San Diego

Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park
Balboa Park
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This is 1,200 acres’ urban park which homes a world-class zoo, museums in refined Spanish revival buildings, restful cultivated areas, and live shows. The park has a tapestry of gardens around the park and it was planted with over 350 plant species that is chosen at the turn of the 20th century by the botanist Kate Sessions. The park is also among the largest lath buildings in the world as the Botanical House contains 2100 individual plants with a pond at the front which contains lilies and lotuses.

Chill out in La Jolla

La Jolla Beach in San Diego CA
La Jolla Beach in San Diego CA

This is San Diego’s most upscale prime beach town and the meaning of La Jolla in Spanish means the jewel and the location on the cliffs as it overlooks the ocean is certainly among the top things to do in San Diego. You can just visit shops and eat in the excellent restaurants while enjoying the stunning ocean views or you can try out water sports like kayaking, surfing and so on. You will surely love your time here.

Admire the glittering city lights

San Diego CA at night
San Diego CA at night

One of the things to do in San Diego is to visit the Mount Soledad at night. You will be in awe of San Diego as you enjoy the bird’s eye view as the city lights entertain you. You can also come here early in the morning to catch the sunrise and have the opportunity to enjoy San Diego in the morning. You will surely have much to post on your social media feed from this trip.

Tour the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier

The USS Midway was the longest serving U.S Navy carrier of the 20th century and also the largest ship in the world from 1945 to 1955 and can carry over 4000 people. This is one of the things to do in San Diego and you will also find more than 25 aircraft that is on display. The highlight of the tour is the docents, as many of them are military retirees who served on the midway or other aircrafts carriers as you will hear about what it takes to get an airplane in the air from them.

Go sightseeing at Coronado Island

Coronado Island
Coronado Island

This is a narrow strip of land between the San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. Although Coronado is not big in size, it is a fun place to be and it has a beach which is one of the best in the country and it has a classic hotel and a lively little downtown. If you are tired of the busier parts of San Diego across the water, then this is the best place for you to visit.

Visit the San Diego Zoo

Giant Panda San Diego Zoo
Giant Panda San Diego Zoo

The zoo shows up often on the top zoo lists and it is active in animal conservation. The first animal to be on display was a Kodiak bear called Caesar in 1916. The highlight of the zoo is you will get to see the Giant Pandas. You can also see California Condors, warty pigs, koalas, and an albino boa constrictor, there are over 4000 rare and endangered animals that live on the zoo. There is also a prominent botanical collection which boats of over 700,000 exotic plants.

Go on Harbor Cruise

San Diego Harbor Cruise photo by Joanna Poe via Flickr CC
San Diego Harbor Cruise photo by Joanna Poe via Flickr CC

Apart from going on a walking tour, this is another way that you can explore San Diego. There are a lot of things to see along its shores and you can explore most of it by boat. You will love the city views from a San Diego harbor cruise and the highlight of the cruise is that you will get a peek at the Pacific Fleet and you will also get to know how tall is the Coronado Bridge.

Have fun at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Texas Longhorn Cattle - San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Texas Longhorn Cattle – San Diego Zoo Safari Park

You will get a different kind of animal experience from this park that is different from the one you will get from the zoo. You will get a safari-like experience from this park as many large animals live in the same big, open areas but the predators are kept away from the prey. The highlight of this tour is that this may be the closest that you will ever come to seeing these animals in the wild. You will also get to see other animals like a pride of lions in their natural environments. You will also get hands-on time with the tamest critters at Petting Kraal.

Have fun with your kids at Legoland

Legoland San Diego CA
Legoland San Diego CA

The Legoland get its inspiration from little brick toys that when snaps together to form different fun things. Your kids will surely want to stay here and the highlight of this tour is that you will find life-sized traffic cops, dinosaurs, and a stunning collection of creations that are made from Lego blocks all over the place to decorate the park’s ride. There are plenty of rides at this park and your kids will get the rides for them as there are age limits that keep the bigger kids from running over them.

Go sightseeing at Birch Aquarium

The aquarium is located north of San Diego in La Jolla and it is not as big as some of the other aquariums in California. You will also have a fun time here as it is filled with stunning exhibits and it also homes the leafy sea dragons and you will be fascinated by these creatures as they look as they are something that is found in a children’s book than from the ocean.

Visit the San Diego Old Town

San Diego Old Town Market
San Diego Old Town Market

This is where the first European settled and it is a visitor-friendly neighborhood with historic adobe buildings from the city’s earlier days from 1820-1870. The highlight of the town is the State Historical Park. At this park, you will see the site where the San Diego Mission and the San Diego Presidio which is the first settlements in the modern day San Diego was founded in 1769. The highlight of the old town is a good place to eat real Mexican food and brims with specialty shops and art galleries.

Go sightseeing at Cabrillo National Monument

Spiral Staircase at Cabrillo National Monument
Spiral Staircase at Cabrillo National Monument

This is where the first European to visit San Diego Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped on shore in 1542. You will get the best views of San Diego as you look across the Bay and then back toward downtown. There is a historic lighthouse where you can visit which has some beautiful tide pools down below, a visitor center and a good whale-watching in the winter. You should try to visit here on a clear day as there is enough moisture in the air that obscures your view.

Visit the Sea World

Sea World in San Diego CA
Sea World in San Diego CA

This is a nice place to have fun as you will get to see different shows which are numerous here and you will have the opportunities to see marine creatures so close. The highlight of Sea World is that you can even get to touch and feed them.

Explore San Diego’s Arts Districts

Murals in Chicano Park Barrio Logan photo vy Smedpull via Wikipedia CC
Murals in Chicano Park Barrio Logan photo by Smedpull via Wikipedia CC

This is a place where you get to discover up and coming artistic side at one of the city’s nine arts districts. You will get to see young artists and designers at the popular Barrio Logan while at the North and South Park is filled with great food and fashion-forward boutique. The highlight of Barrio Logan is you will get to see the city’s famous pieces of street art.

Chill out at the local’s hangout and enjoy coffee talk

Lestat's Coffee House photo via FB Page
Lestat’s Coffee House photo via FB Page

You can watch San Diego’s nightlife from the café window while you take coffee or have a cuppa with some friends. You can also go for people watching at Lestat’s in Normal Heights which is a 24-hour joint that many locals in San Diego visit. Free internet is also provided for customers; you can also head downtown to Café Bassam for more bustling scene outside the window.

Best Tourist Spots in San Diego CA
Best Tourist Spots in San Diego CA

San Diego is the best place for you regardless of whether you are traveling with a loved one, your family or on your own, there are many things that you can try out which will make your trip memorable.

San Diego CA Travel and Tour Packages

San Diego Zoo Admission Ticket

San Diego Zoo Admission Ticket photo via KLOOK
San Diego Zoo Admission Ticket photo via KLOOK

Ranked as one of the best zoos in the whole of the United States, the San Diego Zoo is one of the most popular family-friendly attractions.

San Diego Zoo Admission TicketBOOK A TICKET

Sea World San Diego Ticket

Sea World San Diego Ticket photo via KLOOK
Sea World San Diego Ticket photo via KLOOK

All over the world, Sea World San Diego is bringing joy to children everywhere with its massive array of marine animals.

Sea World San Diego TicketBOOK A TICKET

Do you have other recommended fun and interesting things to do in San Diego, California? Please feel free to share by posting a comment below.

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