My hometown of San Diego is nicknamed “America’s Finest City” for its nearly year-round perfect weather and wealth of things to do for both residents and visitors alike. This list of San Diego tourist attractions is for those who want a longer list of options from which to plan their itineraries. Or maybe you’re a resident and need inspiration for something new to do.

These places to go also offer versatility. All ages can enjoy them in their own way. Many are free to enter, while others allow you to book tours or immerse deeper into the experience. You can walk around for a bit or stay all day, depending on how much time you have to sightsee.

If you want an even more robust list, you can look at my top things to do in San Diego.


If you are visiting multiple paid tourist attractions on this list you may want to consider a Go San Diego pass.

1. San Diego Zoo

Location: Balboa Park

A chimpanzee sits on the grass at San Diego Zoo, the most popular San Diego tourist attraction.
A chimpanzee in the Africa Rocks exhibit

The most popular San Diego tourist attraction is the San Diego Zoo, located in Balboa Park. It is a truly special place in that every dollar you spend goes toward the care of the animals and various conservation initiatives. Over 4500 species of plants, many of which are prized exotics, help replicate the natural habitats of the 3500 animals who call these 100 acres home.

We are members, so I can tell you that can’t-miss exhibits include Polar Bear Plunge (especially if you can see them plunge into the water), the koalas, and the hippos. The Wildlife Explorers Basecamp (children’s zoo) is so cool that your kids may not want to leave it with its animals, water play areas, giant beehive, and more (you can also see my list of things to do at San Diego Zoo for kids). Take the Skyfari Tram for panoramic views of Balboa Park and planes landing at the airport.

Do not forget to check the app or online schedule for Keeper Talk times and other special events. You can also upgrade your day with various San Diego Zoo tours, some of which let you get in before the Zoo opens, like Early Morning with the Cheetahs. I also tips for visiting and have lots of advice for buying discount San Diego Zoo tickets.


I have the best final price on San Diego Zoo Safari Park tickets that is available to the general public, with no membership required, through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance ticket seller. For this reason, we can’t publish the promo code online, but you can get it by text or email. The price is $68/adult and $58/child (ages 3–11) — all taxes and fees included!

*By texting the word SDZOO to 1-833-490-0799 you agree to receive automated promotional messages with how to secure my deeper ticket discount and this agreement isn’t a condition of any purchase. Msg and data rates may apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privacy policy.

2. LEGOLAND California Resort

Location: Carlsbad

Kids drive around a track in LEGO cars a LEGOLAND California, a popular San Diego tourist spot.
Kids get a drivers license after completing LEGO Driving School

One of the most popular things to do in San Diego with kids between the ages of 2–12 is to visit LEGOLAND California Resort. Here, you’ll find more than 60 kid-friendly rides and attractions in the theme park, SEA LIFE Aquarium, a seasonal water park, and two hotels.

Most people head straight to the theme park where the various LEGO themes include Land of Adventure, Ninjago® World, Fun Town, Pirate Shores, and Castle Hill. Miniland, USA’s intricate and stunning replicas of America’s favorite cities, including New York City and San Francisco, are a highlight. Don’t forget to bring Minifigures to trade with staff (otherwise you can buy a few at Minifigure Market near the entrance).

The LEGOLAND Hotel and LEGOLAND Castle Hotel guests receive additional perks like entrance 30 minutes before the park opens. Check the park calendar before arriving to make sure everything you’d like to see is open on the day you purchase LEGOLAND tickets (the park isn’t open on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during the off-peak season).

3. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Location: Escondido

A tiger walks in the Tiger Trail exhibit at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
One of the beautiful tigers in residence at Tiger Trail

The reasons why we love this San Diego tourist spot are too long to list. You can read more in my Guide to San Diego Zoo Safari Park. It’s home to larger animals, hence its 1800-acre size and location in Escondido’s San Pasqual Valley, and broken up into themed regions worldwide.

If you can upgrade your day, we suggest the Wildlife Safari in the African Plains, where you’ll (if the animals are willing) get a closer look and perhaps feed a giraffe and/or a rhino. It’s free to take the 25-minute Africa Tram in a 2.5-mile loop around the park.

Other exhibits (included with admission) that you can’t miss include the kangaroos and wallabies who literally run around you in Walkabout Australia. See the only platypuses outside of Australia in an adjacent exhibit, too.

The park is rather large, so it takes a full day to see everything. Be sure to take small kids to Nairobi Village for the Petting Kraal and a chat with the animated Robert the Zebra. Many of the trails are lined with exotic plants, aviaries, ponds, faux animal dens, and plenty of picture-taking opportunities. You can also buy San Diego Zoo Safari Park discount tickets.


Check for unpublished deeper savings on tickets through my partnership with aRes Travel, an authorized San Diego Zoo Safari Park ticket seller.

*By texting the word SAFARI to 1-833-490-0799 you agree to receive automated promotional messages with how to secure my deeper ticket discount and this agreement isn’t a condition of any purchase. Msg and data rates may apply. 2 msg/mo. Reply STOP to cancel. Read my full privacy policy.

4. Little Italy

Location: Downtown San Diego

The Little Italy San Diego sign hangs over the street at golden hour with cars parked in front of restaurants and storefronts.
The famous Little Italy sign.

Generations of Italian families who contributed to San Diego’s once-thriving tuna industry established a community near the San Diego Bay in what is now called Little Italy. It’s one of our most popular tourist places to visit for dinner and shopping near downtown.

The lively neighborhood is replete with boutique restaurants of nearly all cuisines, pizzerias, mom-and-pop shops, trendy cocktail bars, brewpubs, and the Little Italy Public Market. The neighborhood also hosts one of the area’s best weekly farmers’ markets where you can shop for homemade items, homegrown produce, and gourmet foods.

5. Coronado Island

Location: Coronado

Guide to Coronado in San Diego, California
The Coronado Bridge from downtown San Diego

Coronado is one of those popular San Diego tourist spots that people flock to no matter where they are staying. It’s easy to spend a half or full day in this charming residential community with gorgeous beaches that are rated among the best in the nation. Orange Avenue is the main street and fun for browsing shops and dining at excellent casual restaurants.

People stay at Coronado Island hotels, too, though, because they’re mostly close to Balboa Park and Downtown San Diego, which includes the airport. Getting to Coronado — whether by bridge, ferry or drive through Imperial Beach — is scenic, too.

6. Hotel del Coronado

Location: Coronado

Red and white striped lounge chairs on the beach in front of Hotel del Coronado.
Del Beach in front of Hotel del Coronado

Even if you’re not an overnight guest, you can visit Hotel del Coronado. Day guests typically make dining reservations (their Sunday brunch is legendary), browse the boutiques, take walking tours, and enjoy the beach. Since it opened in 1888, the hotel maintains a long-standing reputation for hosting celebrities, presidents, and royalty alike.

If you do plan to stay overnight, please read my Hotel del Coronado guide where I talk about the $500 million renovation happening now through 2025, which rooms to choose, and the perks you are entitled to at no extra cost through me. It is the hotel I am asked most about for good reasons.

7. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Location: La Jolla

Trails at Torrey Pines Natural Reserve that over look the ocean.
A trail with ocean views.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve encompasses 1500 acres of nearly untouched coastal lands that remind us of what our area was like hundreds of years ago. It has a La Jolla address but is on the border of La Jolla and Del Mar.

Go for a glimpse of the rare Torrey pine Pinus torreyana and some exercise on the various trails, many of which are kid-friendly, and keep an eye out for mule deer, eight species of lizards, and pretty native plants — to name a few of the many sightings.

Below the reserve is also one of the best beaches in San Diego, Torrey Pines State Beach.

8. Children’s Pool Beach

Location: La Jolla

View of the seawall and harbor seals at Children's Pool beach in La Jolla.
Seals lay on the beach during golden hour.

Children’s Pool Beach is where the La Jolla seals hang out and is a must-visit spot. The beach is surrounded by a seawall that was constructed in 1932 in an attempt to create a designated swim area for children. Over time, more sand filled the inlet area, and the harbor seals moved in to give birth in a sheltered environment.

Love them or loathe them, these seals draw visitors from all over to our seaside community. The beach is closed to the public during winter and spring pupping season but is typically open during summer. As the seals call it home year-round, swimming in the water is not wise due to bacteria levels.

The view of them flopping around is completely worth the sacrifice, in my opinion. It’s still one of the popular San Diego tourist attractions during any season as you can watch them from the seawall or boardwalk when it’s not possible to walk on the sand.

9. Belmont Park

Location: Mission Beach

Belmont Park San Diego Tilt a Whirl Ride.
One of the spinning Belmont Park rides.

Belmont Park opened for business in 1925 and remains San Diego’s oldest and only beachside amusement park. Things to do at Belmont Park include a ride on the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster, miniature golf, laser tag, arcade games, and a handful of other rides.

It’s free to enter and walk through the midway full of pay-to-play carnival games, and you can also grab a Dole Whip, giant ice cream cone, hot dog, or other quick-service treats. That being said, other oceanfront dining options include sipping on local brews at Draft, sushi on Cannonball’s enormous ocean-view patio, or sticking your toes in the sand while sipping a margarita at Beach House.

10. Birch Aquarium at Scripps

Location: La Jolla

A yellow seahorse swims at Birch Aquarium, a popular San Diego tourist spot for families.
A yellow seahorse.

The public outreach arm of Scripps Institution of Oceanography is Birch Aquarium at Scripps. This La Jolla gem is home to over 3000 creatures that hail from the cold water climate of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and beyond.

It’s a fantastic outing in La Jolla with kids for a few hours and anyone interested in marine biology. The back patio boasts one of the best views in town, in addition to a simulated ocean tide pool where you can touch sea anemones and other creatures under the guidance of docents. Other hands-on exhibits emphasizing conservation await inside, and I think the Little Blue Penguins flurrying about their exhibit are super cute. You can even eat and sip a local beer at the counter-service Splash Cafe by The French Gourmet.

11. Balboa Park

Location: Balboa Park

View over the pond to the Botanical Garden Building in Balboa Park.
The Botanical Garden Building is one of the most photographed spots in San Diego.

Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre cultural destination a few minutes by car from Downtown San Diego that suits various travel styles. Each of the 18 museums are fantastic in their own right. Some are enumerated separately on this list, such as the kid-friendly favorites, including Fleet Science Center and San Diego Natural History Museum.

Culture enthusiasts may want to step into the San Diego Museum of Art or the Museum of Photographic Arts. You can climb the California Tower in the Museum of Man for panoramic city views (reservations are required).

You can skip the museums and take advantage of the green belts, gardens, walking paths, hiking trails, and open areas. Pop into the free Botanical Garden Building to glimpse spectacular orchids and tropical plants, or find your zen at the Japanese Friendship Garden. Plan a visit timed to a free performance at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion, the largest fully outdoor pipe-organ venue in the world.

12. Gaslamp Quarter

Location: Downtown San Diego

The famous Gaslamp Quarter sign arches over the street.
The famous Gaslamp Quarter sign.

The Gaslamp Quarter is a lively 16-block neighborhood in Downtown San Diego that is best known for its clubs, cocktail lounges, and bars mixed in with boutique shops, coffee shops, historic hotels, and dessert cafes. It’s also known for its charming Victorian-era buildings and modern structures.

Most people go to this spot specifically to eat or for nightlife. From here, you can also walk a few blocks to PETCO Park, Seaport Village, or Little Italy.

13. Old Town San Diego

Location: Old Town

An old wagon next to a small shop that look like a scene from old California in Old Town San Diego.
Buildings and props that are a blast from the past.

Old Town San Diego is one of the San Diego tourist attractions that usually heaves with more out-of-towners than locals but there is quite a bit to do. One of the top reasons to visit is because it’s known as the birthplace of California. The state’s first settlement here in 1769 consisted only of Mission San Diego de Acala, which you can still visit, and a fort.

For a bit of history and folklore, tour the haunted Whaley House or head over to El Campo Santo Cemetery, where some of the graves are literally in the street. You can also take in mass at the historic Immaculate Conception Church. Browse the many shops for Mexican handicrafts, custom jewelry, candy, and more.

Locals who have done their share of sightseeing here over the years visit for the enormous margaritas and Mexican food in a festive ambiance. Everyone has favorites, but Coyote Cafe (the freshly made tortillas are incredible) and Casa Guadalajara are common mentions.

14. USS Midway Museum

Location: Downtown

View of the USS Midway from the Embarcadero and the planes on the flight deck.
USS Midway Museum

As one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers of the 20th century, the USS Midway boasts an extensive and incredible history. Built-in only 17 months and named after the climactic Battle of the Midway in 1942, the USS Midway served the nation honorably during its 50 years in commission. It continues to serve the public as a museum by reminding it of world history and of the U.S. military’s impressive power.

The USS Midway Museum houses an extensive collection of retired aircraft and many of the docents were stationed on the carrier back when it was still active. All ages enjoy the flight simulators and audio tours, too.

15. Cabrillo National Monument

Location: Point Loma

Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo monument view with the bay and Coronado Bridge in the background.
Cabrillo National Monument boasts views like this from all over.

Situated at the southernmost spot of Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing in 1542 of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo — the first European to have stepped foot on California soil. In addition to telling the story of early West Coast exploration, visitors can walk easy trails, marvel at panoramic ocean views, and step into historic structures such as the Point Loma lighthouse. At low tide, you can explore popular San Diego tide pools on the Pacific Ocean side.

It’s San Diego’s only National Park so kids can earn Junior Ranger badges here, too. Look at that San Diego Bay view!

16. SeaWorld San Diego

Location: Mission Bay

Sea turtles and fish swim in an aquarium at SeaWorld San Diego.

SeaWorld San Diego does a good job of catering to all ages of kids, which is why many families visit specifically to spend a day (or more) here. Toddlers love the Rescue Jr. area with tame rides and a jungle gym.

The park has become popular with tweens and teens because SeaWorld San Diego rides include thrilling roller coasters. All ages tend to enjoy wandering the exhibits including viewing sharks from an underwater tunnel and chilling (literally) with penguins.

17. San Diego Museum of Art

Location: Balboa Park

Two women look at paintings on a wall at San Diego Museum of Art
Photo courtesy of San Diego Museum of Art

San Diego Museum of Art is known for its collection of renowned Spanish and Italian masters, collections of Indian paintings, 19th- and 20th-century American sculptures and paintings, and new and changing exhibits from across the globe. Famous names include El Greco, Diego Velázquez, and Francisco Goya.

The museum restaurant, Panama 66, is one of our favorite places to eat in Balboa Park. The back sculpture garden’s grass is a nice place for kids to run around while adults sip a craft beer and enjoy an excellent sandwich or salad.

18. Mission Bay Outdoor Activities and Water Sports

Location: Mission Bay

Small catamarans line the sand on Mission Bay, a popular San Diego tourist spot.
Little catamarans at Mission Bay Aquatic Center

This human-made aquatic park located just a few miles north of Downtown San Diego encompasses 4,600 acres of water and shoreline and plenty of opportunity for good times. Things to do at Mission Bay include water sports ranging from jet skis to kayaking to SUP. There are some waveless sandy bay beaches here, designated swimming areas, and a small nature reserve near Crown Point on the Pacific Beach side.

You can go biking or rent a surrey to pedal the paths, stop with the kids at a playground or two, or even check into one of the fantastic Misson Bay resorts that give you easy access to all of the above.

19. Maritime Museum of San Diego

Location: Downtown San Diego

The Star of India ship docked at the Maritime Museum of San Diego, a popular tourist spot.
The Star of India ship

Maritime Museum of San Diego is an easy stop while soaking up the sunshine during a walk along the Embarcadero. Explore ten original and replica vessels here including the Star of India, the world’s oldest active sailing ship. Tour also the HMS Surprise, a ship that has made several appearances on the big screen, or the San Salvador, a replica of the first European ship to have sailed the Southern California coastline.

A visit here can last an hour or so unless you are lucky enough to catch a docent story of what life was like on board some of these ships.

20. Fleet Science Center

Location: Balboa Park

A girl looks through a larger than usual kaleidoscope at Fleet Science Center.
My daughter looks at one of the kaleidoscopes

The Fleet Science Center is an interactive museum that highlights how we are connected through science. All ages tend to love the over 100 interactive exhibits that simplify and allow you to test various theories you may have learned at school.

Kids under the age of 5 spend quite a bit of time in Kid City. Rest your feet after a day of sightseeing during a movie in the IMAX dome theater. Older kids love the brain-bending puzzles and building blocks. Adults aren’t left out either as you should check the calendar for 21 and older edutainment events.

Tip: If you’re looking for a unique kids’ birthday present, try the gift shop here that is full of fun science-oriented gifts.

21. Coronado Ferry

Location: Coronado (Ferry Landing Marketplace) and Downtown (Broadway Pier)

The Coronado Ferry is a way to sightsee on the San Diego Bay.
Photo courtesy of Flagship Cruises & Events

The Coronado Ferry takes you from downtown San Diego to the Ferry Marketplace on Coronado Island and vice versa. Not only is it practical and inexpensive transport from one place to the other, but the ride comes with amazing views of the San Diego Harbor and city skyline. During the summer, a free bus service takes guests from the Ferry Landing to the other side of the island.

22. San Diego Natural History Museum

Location: Balboa Park

My daughter searches for items on a scavenger hunt at San Diego Natural History Museum.
My daughter takes the scavenger hunt

The San Diego Natural History Museum (theNAT) showcases the diversity and evolution of the Southern California landscape to inspire respect for all of nature. The exhibits draw on findings from their collection of over 8 million specimens that showcase how plants and animals adapt to changes in our environment.

It’s one of our personal favorites and on my list of best San Diego museums for children. Highlights include Cool Stuff from Storage featuring specimens from the vast storage facilities behind-the-scenes that I have been lucky to see in person. Families of young children will appreciate The Backyard play area next to the cafe.

I can tell you that local kids do not grow tired of visiting no matter their age. Creepy crawly creatures in the living lab, Meg the megalodon that hangs from the ceiling, the big Foucault pendulum, and exhibits they’ve loved since they were barely able to walk never get old.

23. Seaport Village

Location: Downtown San Diego

People walk along the boardwalk at Seaport Village in San Diego.

Located in the Embarcadero District in downtown San Diego, Seaport Village waterfront entertainment area. People call it touristy but there are over 70 shops, eateries, and galleries to explore. You can even buy a kite from Kite Flight and fly it on the nearby grassy area, let the kids ride in the carousel, and keep an eye out for the occasional busker.

Walk here in just a few minutes from the USS Midway and nearby downtown San Diego hotels like Manchester Grand Hyatt.

24. La Jolla Cove

Location: La Jolla

Clear water at La Jolla Cove with people walking on the sand.
La Jolla Cove on a sunny day

La Jolla Cove is a picturesque beach flanked by cliffs that serve as home to birds and sea lions. It’s one of the most photographed areas in town and one of the most popular things to do in La Jolla. The beach here is small and can get quite busy in the summer because it’s convenient to the Village hotels and usually good for small kids. Waves typically (though not always) break gently here, if at all. Many use it as an entry point to the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park mentioned below.

Others simply walk by for photos and glimpses of the chatty sea lions. The adjacent Ellen Browning Scripps Park and its large green space provide a nice place to lay out a blanket or do a little yoga. Keep walking along the boardwalk here, and you’ll eventually pass Shell Beach to wind up at Children’s Pool Beach.

25. Petco Park

Location: Downtown San Diego

A Padres baseball game as viewed from the stands at PETCO Park, a popular San Diego tourist spot.
Photo from a recent game

Dare I say that Petco Park is one of the coolest ballparks in the MLB. Part of the reason is that it’s built around the historic Western Metal Supply Co. building, hosts some of the best sight lines in baseball, and boasts panoramic water and skyline views from some seats.

Go, of course, to take in a Major League Baseball game, but that’s not the only treat. Many of San Diego’s best restaurants and breweries (in Beer Alley) maintain smaller outlets here so that attendees can sample our region’s best cuisine.

Games are also very kid-friendly, and you can take a guided tour year-round, which is one of the fun things to do in downtown San Diego when the Padres aren’t in season (or if they are).

26. Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

Location: La Jolla

View of Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial from a helicopter, looking toward the ocean.
The cross surrounded by plaque walls

Mt. Soledad National Veteran’s Memorial is located at the top of La Jolla’s Mount Soledad and considered one of the most unique memorials of its kind in the nation. Below a large and controversial white cross, over 3,500 plaques honor veterans, past presidents, generals, celebrity veterans, Medal of Honor recipients, and others. On most days, a docent is available to answer questions, tell stories, and help you locate specific plaques.

Go also for 360-degree views of San Diego. Many joggers, bikers, and walkers stop here to rest and admire the views that span to Mexico, Del Mar, and beyond, depending on which direction you look. We live near here and see bunnies run on the lawn in the morning and at dusk.

27. La Jolla Shores Beach

Location: La Jolla

My daughter walks our dog on La Jolla Shores Beach in the morning on a sunny day.
My daughter and dog walk on the beach in the early morning

La Jolla Shores Beach is a mile-long stretch of perfect sand and shoreline that is my favorite San Diego beach. It’s a gorgeous stretch for sunbathing, walking the dog, and sandcastle building. A state-of-the-art lifeguard tower oversees the ocean here which is divided into swimming and surfing areas. Sure, it gets busy in the summer when parking can be tough but it doesn’t feel touristy. You can walk into the business district to grab excellent food, beach rentals, and supplies like sunscreen for your beach day.

If you’d like to learn how to surf, this is the place. We have several facilities for all levels of surfers here like Surf Diva and Everyday California that can get you up and hanging ten. Young kids also enjoy the play structure at adjacent Kellogg Park.

Our two beach hotels which are also among our best kid-friendly hotels in San Diego are steps from this sand — La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club and La Jolla Shores Hotel.

28. La Jolla Underwater Park

Location: La Jolla

An orange Garibaldi swims in the San Dieg-La Jolla Underwater Park.
You can see Garibaldi from kayaks, too, because of their bright orange color.

The San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park is made up of 6,000-acres four distinct habitats: kelp bed, sand flats, rocky reef, and a submarine canyon. The water at this underwater park runs on the clearer side (rare for California, but it isn’t quite like Hawaii clear), meaning you can see an array of fish, leopard sharks, rays, and more.

You can bring your mask and diving gear to explore it or take advantage of the many kayak, SUP, snorkeling, and diving tours that launch from either La Jolla Shores Beach or La Jolla Cove. You can read more about a recent kayaking tour I took (I have discounts on these tours).

29. Embarcadero

Location: Downtown San Diego

The Embarcadero is the point in San Diego where the city meets the bay, and it embraces its transitional nature in the liveliest way possible. Arrive and decide which of its many San Diego tourist places — some larger than others — you’ll walk to. Walking its entire route around the bay is also a nice way to get some exercise.

The USS Midway, Maritime Museum of San Diego, Seaport Village, and the Coronado Ferry, which we’ve already covered, are all stops you can make here. Port Pavilion is an architecturally stunning cruise ship terminal, event venue, and public gathering space and there’s also Portside Pier with its restaurants.

Kids love running through the fountains (yes, it’s allowed) at Waterfront Park where there are also outdoor movies in the summer. Admire public art in Tuna Harbor Park, including the giant Unconditional Surrender kissing statue.

Broadway Plaza has a viewing point equipped with amenities, including concessions, arbors, public restrooms, and artwork, and several parks with green lawns, benches, fishing points, and spectacular views.

30. Harbor Cruises

Location: Downtown San Diego

Explore the San Diego Bay with Flagship Cruises
Photo courtesy of Flagship Cruises & Events

Head over to Broadway Pier on the Embarcadero to board one of the many recommended San Diego harbor cruises which allow you to view multiple San Diego attractions in one trip.

We have two main operators (Flagship Cruises & Events and City Experiences) of luxury ships equipped with dining rooms, dining rooms, observation decks, snack bars, indoor and outdoor seating, and a controlled climate. You can take a one- to two-hour narrated tour, book a dinner reservation, go whale watching, or even host an event aboard your choice of vessel.

Thrill-seekers may love speeding, twisting, and turning through the bay on the Patriot Jet Boat. You can also drive your own mini speed boat on a tour with Speedboat Adventures. Or, go from land to sea (kids love this one) with SEAL Tours.

31. Torrey Pines Gliderport

Location: La Jolla

A paraglider waits to take off from the gliderport.
A pretty place to fly

Torrey Pines Gliderport is a city-owned, private-use glider airport where you can take paragliding lessons or watch as others brave the heights. While you wait or watch, grab a casual bite to eat and take in stunning, panoramic views of La Jolla Shores Beach and beyond. This is another one of the popular San Diego tourist attractions that is free to visit.

32. The New Children’s Museum

Location: Downtown San Diego

Two kids read books in a play area at The New Children's Museum, one of the top San Diego tourist attractions for families.
Photo courtesy of The New Children’s Museum

With immersive art studios, interactive art installations, and workshops and camps, The New Children’s Museum strives to stimulate creativity, imagination, and critical thinking through engaging experiences and contemporary art.

The museum itself is housed in a dynamic space and is one of the first fully green museums in San Diego. It commissions artworks from local artists with which children can interact and engage and, as a result, always has something new to offer visitors.

33. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Location: Ocean Beach

People sit on bluffs during sunset at Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach San Diego.
Please be careful of the cliffs here.

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park encompasses 68-acres of resource-based land that is situated along the western edge of Point Loma. Here you will find sea caves, arches, and coastal bluffs, and you’ll be privy to stunning ocean views. From the cliffs (be careful), you might be lucky enough to catch the California seasonal whale migrations and dolphins but be sure to see the sunsets. The area is also popular for its walking trails.

If you don’t have time to stop, you can drive south on Sunset Cliffs Boulevard starting at Adair Street and ending at Ladera Street to take in the views.

34. The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

Rows of red, pink, orange, yellow ranunculus at the Carlsbad Flower Fields, a popular San Diego tourist spot in the spring.

Open annually from roughly March to Mother’s Day, The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch boasts vibrant rows of colorful ranunculus flowers along a North County hillside overlooking the stunning Carlsbad coastline.

The 50-acre plot of flowers is popular for photos and family fun in a sweet pea maze, tractor rides, an orchid greenhouse, and several themed gardens. It’s also a popular location for weddings, showers, corporate events, and other gatherings.

35. Del Mar Fairgrounds

A couple of major seasonal San Diego events happen at the Del Mar Fairgrounds. The first is the annual San Diego County Fair, with its carnival rides, outrageous fair food (think deep-fried Oreos), and other special events.

The second is the now two Del Mar Thoroughbred Club horse racing seasons. The first and largest, which draws people from all over the country to San Diego, occurs in the summer, where attendees bet on their favorite jockeys, enjoy family days on the infield, and listen to big-name concerts. The second, less-busy racing season happens in the fall.

FAQs About San Diego Tourist Attractions and Sightseeing

What is San Diego famous for?

San Diego is famous for 70 miles of coastline, sunshine, San Diego Zoo, and being a fantastic year-round vacation destination.

What can you do in San Diego without walking?

Various tours like harbor cruises and San Diego SEAL tours do not require walking once onboard. Some companies also offer guided bus or private car tours. We also have a 59-mile mapped out scenic drive.

Is San Diego good for tourists?

Yes. As someone who helps people plan San Diego vacations, I can tell you, based on the feedback I receive, that people love coming here. We get a lot of return visitors.

One reason is because our weather makes it easy to sightsee year-round. Some people visit to escape cold weather in the winter so they’re happy to shed their puffer jackets and soak up some sunshine. During the summer, it can get hot but not so hot and rarely humid that it makes visiting a theme park difficult.

Regarding San Diego tourist attractions, visitors love our museums, theme parks, beaches, water sports, hikes, culinary scene, and so much more. We have something for everyone here in San Diego.

Is 3 days enough in San Diego?

Yes, you can visit San Diego and do quite a bit across three full days. You may spend one full day at a theme park, one full day touring museums or historic neighborhoods, and perhaps another full day at the beach or exploring a beach town.

Is one day in San Diego enough?

One day in San Diego is better than no days in San Diego. Unless you live within driving distance and can make repeat visits, one day is usually not enough.

In one day, you could visit La Jolla Cove and our seals, go shopping, and have a meal in the Village. You could add on the Museum of Contemporary Art or Birch Aquarium in the morning or afternoon. Or, you could visit Balboa Park museums, restaurants, and gardens for the majority of one day, finishing with dinner in the Gaslamp Quarter.

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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