top of page
  • Writer's pictureWanderlust Mike

Top Tourist Destinations to Explore in San Diego, CA

We travel to San Diego often as I was raised there. After a recent trip, I thought I should make a travel entry for those of you considering a trip to the sunshine city.

seaport village


Our favorite places to visit and explore while in downtown San Diego include Seaport Village with its lovely waterfront shops and restaurants, the USS Midway aircraft carrier museum which allows you to see how one of these floating cities operates, and the Maritime Museum along the downtown embarcadero where you can tour classic sailing ships and submarines!

Named after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa in honor of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the beautiful Spanish-style architecture, gardens and museums of Balboa Park lie just on the outskirts of downtown. The San Diego Zoo is also located here!

The historic, unique, all-wooden Hotel Del Coronado was opened in 1888 and has lodged world leaders and Hollywood celebrities alike. It contains many fine restaurants and shops which are open to the public, and is just on the other side of the sweeping Coronado Bridge at Coronado Island. And the downtown district known as the Gaslamp Quarter, centered on 5th Avenue between Broadway and Harbor Drive, is all a buzz at night with vibrant restaurants, clubs, and bars.

Just to the North of downtown San Diego, along Interstate 5, is historic Old Town. Established in 1769, Old Town San Diego was California's first settlement. With its authentic Mexican shops, restaurants, and charm, Old Town is a great place to while away an afternoon. And the historic Presidio de San Diego sits picturesquely on a hill in Presidio Park, just to the North of Old Town, overlooking much of San Diego.

Across from downtown San Diego and San Diego Bay, on the tip of Point Loma, is the Cabrillo National Monument where Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo discovered San Diego in 1542. Here you'll find the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, a statue dedicated to Cabrillo himself, a great gift shop and information center, and fantastic views of both San Diego Bay and the Pacific Ocean while you're standing 348 feet (106 meters) above sea level!

old town san diego
Old Town San Diego

hotel del coronado san diego
Hotel Del Coronado

gaslamp quarter at night
Gaslamp Quarter

Another place to visit could include Tijuana, Mexico, just across the border. I'd recommend utilizing the San Diego trolley to take you to and from the border, parking at any of the park & rides along the route. You can walk to downtown Tijuana from the border crossing, just remember your passport!


western seagull

There are many beaches in San Diego, so take your pick! I recommend Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, and Mission Beach. But the nicest is probably La Jolla Shores, which has a nice mix of grassy cliffs and sandy beach.

Small yet scenic Birch Aquarium in La Jolla showcases some of the local California marine life with kelp forest and interactive tide pool exhibits. And native marine life is abundant at La Jolla Cove with sea lions, harbor seals, pelicans, and shops, hotels, and restaurants situated above.


Theme parks and zoos include Sea World, the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park inland near Escondido, Legoland up North in Carlsbad, and a small beach-front amusement park in Mission Beach known as Belmont Park. And don't forget small yet scenic Birch Aquarium in La Jolla as well!

Great places to enjoy live entertainment in San Diego include the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park, and the Rady Shell along the waterfront in downtown. There's also live entertainment at the Gaslamp District in downtown, from comedy to theatre!

You can find many outdoor and aquatic activities around town as well, from surfing to paddle boarding to sand volleyball! If you love a laid-back vibe and plenty of sunshine, San Diego's definitely the right vacation destination for you.


bottom of page