Let’s just say that these extreme adventures in San Diego kick sightseeing a notch. Some of the adventures are for thrill-seekers while others are downright unforgettable tours.

Want to drive a Lamborghini? No problem. Crave a coastal skydive? You can book that, too.

Without further ado, have a look at these unique and extreme adventures in San Diego. The good news is that they are also outdoor activities in San Diego where you can soak up some sunshine.

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1. Fly Like a Fighter Pilot

Top Gun was filmed here, after all. You can satisfy your need for speed with a Top Gun and Air Combat Experience. Fly with a trained fighter pilot and experience panoramic city views along the way. Upgrade to experience aerobatic maneuvers and more.

They can pick you up from some San Diego hotels.

2. Drive an Exotic Sports Car

If you’re in the market for a high-end sports car or want to give one a whirl, San Diego Prestige lets you rent for the day. Cars include (but are not limited to):

  • Rolls Royce Dawn Convertible
  • Lamborghini Huracan
  • Tesla Cybertruck
  • Porsche 718 Boxster Convertible
  • Ferarri F430 Spider
  • McLaren 12C Spider

3. Take a Thrill-Ride on the Bay

San Diego Tours: Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride
Photo courtesy of Flagship Cruises & Events

The Patriot Jet Boat (by Flagship Cruises & Events) reaches speeds of up to 50mph and treats guests to 360-degree turns all while sightseeing along the San Diego Bay. Rock music blares and smiles are certain on this 30-minute thrilling San Diego boat tour. Not feeling adventurous? Flagship Cruises in San Diego offers a variety of more mellow experiences on the water.

4. Tour San Diego on a Harley-Davidson

Fulfill a lifelong dream of riding a Harley Davidson on this unique San Diego excursion. California Motorcycle Tours operates guided tours on late-model Harleys that start and end in San Diego, including a ten-day Desert & Parks Wild West Tour.

The Daytripper ride departs and returns each day to the same San Diego hotel so local riders can return home each night and visitors can explore San Diego on their own.

The itinerary covers the coastline, Mt. Palomar (to the Hale Observatory), Lake Henshaw, Ramona, Spring Valley, Tecate, Mount Laguna, Lake Cuyamaca, Julian, Borrego Springs, and more.

5. Fly Tandem at Torrey Pines Gliderport

Gliders with colorful parachutes against blue sky and over the bluffs at Torrey Pines Gliderport.

Perched on a cliff next to UC San Diego, the Torrey Pines Gliderport is one of the most historic aviation sites in the country. Charles Lindbergh made his maiden flight along the cliffs here, and it’s been a location for paragliding, hang gliding, remote-controlled models, and sailplanes for over 100 years.

They say that any age can paraglide or hang glide fly with an instructor here, wind permitting. It’s the largest tandem site in the world with incredibly experienced and accident-free instructors. Booking information is on the Gliderport’s website.

6. Drive a GPS-Guided Little Car

Me in a little yellow GoCar in downtown San Diego.
I drove one of these around downtown with a friend.

Imagine San Diego sightseeing with a GPS-guided tour car that tells you about attractions and history along the way. That’s what GoCar San Diego does.

Take a 1-hour to an all-day tour of downtown San Diego, Point Loma, Old Town, Balboa Park, and beyond depending on what you’d like to book. They also now have scooter tours.

Drivers must be age 21 and older with a valid driver’s license. You can book with Viator’s low price guarantee.

7. Go Off-Roading in the Largest State Park

San Diego County is home to California’s largest state park, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, and the best way to explore it is by going off-road with California Overland.

A paved road isn’t the solution if you want to experience the desert. They’ll take you to slot canyons, desert badlands, dry lake beds, and seasonal stargazing. They’ve got a fleet of rugged military vehicles, a vintage Jeep, and even an air-conditioned Jeep. Overnight adventures are also available.

8. Take a Beer Tour in a Swiss Pinzgauer

Scavengers Beer Tours take guests to North County breweries in a Swiss Pinzgauer
Photo courtesy of Scavengers Beer & Adventure Tours

Carlsbad’s Scavengers Beer & Adventure Tours offer public and private tours to North County San Diego or downtown San Diego breweries in a 6×6 Swiss Military Pinzgauer.  It’s an adventure you won’t forget. 

Some of the breweries on the tour are Stone, Iron Fist, Ballast Point, Belching Beaver, Pure Project, Lost Abbey, Bitter Brothers, Karl Strauss, Coronado Brewing, and Hess Brewing. You’ll even have a BBQ lunch (on the downtown tour, it’s from Phil’s BBQ, a local institution).

And, yes, you can enjoy beer while en route. They’ve also added an Agave Adventures tour.

9. Drive Your Own Speedboat

san diego bay cruises
Photo courtesy of San Diego Speed Boat Adventures

You’ll navigate your own 13-foot speedboat on a 13-mile sightseeing loop in the San Diego Harbor while following a guide in a different boat.

On one of these San Diego boat tours, you’ll see Navy ships, Seaport Village, the downtown skyline, and much more. Boats will stop several times at points of interest.

This experience is suitable for first-time boaters. Two-way communication systems allow boats to communicate with the guide. Boats can carry up to 3 people. Book directly through Speedboat Adventures.

10. San Diego Skydiving Near the Coast

GoJump Oceanside operates the only tandem skydive in Southern California with a full view of the ocean during the entire dive.

Jumps take place from 13,000 feet, and you may choose to have evidence of your extreme sightseeing filmed or photographed.

If you want to stay closer to the ground but still experience the adrenaline rush of skydiving, head to iFLY Indoor Skydiving, also located in Oceanside. They provide all the gear, and you can fly in a state-of-the-art vertical wind tunnel to get a feel for what you’d expect in the sky.

11. Rise High in a Hot Air Balloon

Book a sunset hot air balloon tour for some San Diego sightseeing up and down the coast.

San Diego hot air balloon tours typically take off from Del Mar though if you’re taking a day trip to Temecula, you can take a ride there, too.

From Del Mar, views from the sky span to downtown and Mexico and include our gorgeous 70 miles of coastline.

You can book private or group (up to 8 people) rides with Compass Balloons and even sip champagne while in the sky.

12. Plan A Unique Overland Adventure

Funki Adventures can help you plan your own overland expedition. They’ll provide you with a tour guide to help you research and plan your route, comfort level, and vehicle. Just note that it takes them 1-2 weeks to plan your tour.

Then, you can rent either one of their 4×4 Jeeps or 2WD Adventure vans or simply use your own to head off on your ‘off the beaten path’ adventure. Funki Adventures will plan where you can buy firewood and provide a custom Google map of your route.

13. Take a Deep Dive on a Shark Boat

The name says it all. And if diving with sharks is on your bucket list, America’s Shark Boat experience may be what you’re looking for. The experienced crew of the MV Horizon boat will put you in expert hands. America’s Shark Boat has been offering shark diving trips for almost 25 years.

While you will actually be diving around the Guadalupe Islands in Mexico, the boat leaves from and returns to San Diego. Three full days of cage diving are included in the trip, and you can expect between 11 and 18 hours of in-water time.

Eight air-conditioned cabins sleep up to 16 divers per trip, and everyone shares 2 bathrooms. There’s an indoor salon/entertainment area and a large sun deck to relax on and recount your day’s adventures. The trip price is all-inclusive and an onboard chef will serve up to three meals daily, plus snacks, beer, and wine. Good luck!

14. Sail Like a Pro With America’s Cup Sailing

You’ll be in for an exhilarating ride aboard an authentic America’s Cup racing yacht with this experience.

America’s Cup Sailing offers public day tours on one of the fastest and biggest sailing vessels in the world, and you’ll be whizzing around beautiful San Diego Bay.

This unique sailing excursion lasts three hours. During it, you’ll not only learn how these incredible yachts operate but also help out, as the tours are interactive and hands-on. You’ll even get a chance to take the helm.

The trips are designed for novice or experienced sailors, and children are welcome. Photos and videos of the experience are included in the price, as are water and soft drinks.

15. Do Air Aerobics with Sky Combat Ace

This aviation experience promises to be like nothing else. Apart from maybe ‘Top Gun’, that is. Sky Combat Ace was created by a U.S. Air Force veteran fighter pilot and offers thrilling aerobatic tours in the sky for the ultimate adrenaline rush.

You’ll be paired with a certified flight instructor guide for the ride and all planes have dual flight controls. You choose from various package options, including simply enjoying spectacular coastal views as you soar over San Diego, or you can be guided through basic to advanced air aerobatics and stunts.

If you really need speed, there’s a ‘Sky Combat’ option: You can fly the plane yourself alongside a trained SCA fighter pilot and play Laser Tag against others in the sky.

16. Go Water Wild With Aquatic Aviation

Aquatic Aviation offers Flyboard, Hoverboard, or Jetpack adventures on some of San Diego’s most pristine waters. You’ll be zooming up to 45 feet in the air and at speeds of up to 30mph, thanks to water propulsion jets, which are strapped to various parts of your body depending on the activity you choose.

It’s the perfect way to enjoy San Diego’s sunshine and beaches, get airborne, and experience flying with a twist.

Jetpack America also offers similar experiences. You can choose from 20 or 30 minute flights on a jetpack or jetboard, or a longer Pro package where your flight time is split between both devices.

Jetpack’s Tandem Jetpack Flight Experience is perfect for kids from 5-13 years old. They will be teamed with a Certified Flight Instructor and learn to help fly their jetpack up to 20 feet above water.

What unique or extreme adventures in San Diego are missing from this list?

See also: 10 Best Sightseeing Tours in San Diego (For All Adventure Levels) and 17 Best Hotel Pools in San Diego (Perfect for After Your Adventure)

Katie Dillon is the managing editor of La Jolla Mom. She helps readers plan San Diego vacations through her hotel expertise (that stems from living in a Four Seasons hotel) and local connections. Readers have access to exclusive discounts on theme park tickets (like Disneyland and San Diego Zoo) and perks at luxury hotels worldwide through her. She also shares insider tips for visiting major cities worldwide, like Hong Kong, London, Paris, and Shanghai, that her family has either lived in or visits regularly (or both).

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