Top Seven Best Things to Do in San Diego

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San Diego, the oldest town in California, shares its border with Mexico. Nestled on the scenic southern California coastline, San Diego’s Mediterranean climate, stunning natural beauty, and diverse neighborhoods cater to all kinds of visitors. Whether you are backpacking solo or with your family, there are plenty of best things to do in San Diego. The city is filled with top tourist attractions, such as museums, Spanish colonial architecture, San Diego Zoo, lush gardens, and museums dedicated to US defense.

The streets of San Diego’s Old Town Historic Park and Gaslamp Quarter are the two perfect places to stroll around in the evening. If you want to soak up in the sun and sand, the 68 miles of coastlines are the best bet.

The city has a lot to offer for outdoorsy visitors. Many of its best attractions are centered around Balboa Park. If you are an avid hiker, carve out some time to hike in the Torrey Pine State Natural Reserve. San Diego is also a surfer’s paradise. With year-round consistent waves, and gentle, warm weather, it has become a hub for surfing in California. 

If you are craving for a relaxed, low-key vacation, then find out umpteen number of things to do in San Diego this weekend in this blog. We’ve carved out some of the best attractions and experiences in the city 

Gaslamp Quarter

For tourists, Gaslamp Quarter is where the night begins. This charming downtown neighborhood is dotted with clubs, dive bars, cocktail lounges, theaters, cafeterias, and restaurants. Located near Petco Park and the Convention Center, Gaslamp Quarter is a National Historic District, where you can admire Victorian-style buildings in its 16 blocks. These buildings have now been transformed into various restaurants, art galleries, boutiques, and theaters. Some of these 19th and 2oth century buildings are buzzing with entertainment venues as well, where you can catch live Jazz, Theater performances, and comedy shows. Visiting the Gaslamp Quarter is one of the best things to do in San Diego.

Maritime Museum of San Diego

San Diego is not just about surfing and exploring the diverse neighborhoods. Its history is associated with the US Marine. It is home to one third of the US Marine corps with active duty force. Hence, visiting a museum dedicated to the country’s best marines is one of the best things to do in San Diego. The Maritime Museum of San Diego offers a hands-on look at the city’s navy vessels, sailing ships, submarines, and Star of India, the oldest active ships in the world. Visitors take boat tours to learn about workmanship and skills of a sailor. The USS Midway Museum nearby boasts 60 exhibits and 30 restored aircrafts. This decommissioned vessel was served by more than 225,000 military personnel.

San Diego Zoo

Sprawling over a hundred acres of Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo is one of the city’s top tourist attractions. It houses 4,000 animals of 650 species and subspecies, the San Diego Zoo is one of the country’s largest zoos. It also has one of the largest zoological membership associations in the world. The permanent and star residents of the zoo are mighty gorillas, leopards, polar bears, bonobos, rhinos, grizzly bears, koalas, and sloths. It houses Escondido, a safari park, where you can spot some of Africa’s wild and exotic animals, such as lions, elephants, and cheetahs. At the safari park, visitors can spend the night in tent cabins. All animals in the zoo roam free in large enclosures in the replicas of their natural habitat. Visiting the zoo is one of the must things to do in San Diego with kids.

Beach Hopping

No trip to San Diego would be complete without sunbathing on its excellent beaches. Beach hopping is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in San Diego. The year-round sunshine, miles-long coastlines, and gentle waves ideal for surfing, make it a popular beach destination in all of California. Del Mar is for those who are in San Diego for surfing. If Del Mar seems too crowded, you can always visit Pacific Beach, Black’s Beach, Oceanside or La Jolla shores. For fewer sunbathers and calm waves, head to Coronado Beach, just across the Bay of San Diego. The Hotel del Coronado near the beach is a National Historic landmark. For basking in the sun and to meet people in the buzzing beachfront boardwalk, visit Mission Beach. If you are traveling with your fur baby, the Dog Beach is where all the pooches run off-leash.

Old Town State Historic Park

One of the free things to do in San Diego is to explore the city’s historic locations. At the Old Town State Historic Park, you can travel back in time and learn what San Diego was like hundreds of years before. It recreates the 1821 to 1872 atmosphere of the city, when Mexican and early American settlement grew. There is a blacksmith shop, where you can buy authentic Mexican crafts or enjoy Mariachi music, while relishing Mexican cuisine. Moreover, this mile-long and half-a-mile wide area is home to preserved or repaired houses and shops. The Old Town is widely considered as the ;birthplace of California’. It shows what life was like during the arrivals of Spanish explorers and during the California gold rush. It also houses one of the oldest surviving Mexican-Spanish style architecture Casa de Estudillo, built in the 1820s.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is an oceanfront reserve, highly popular among the locals as well as visitors. It features 1750 acres of unspoiled area that houses 3,000 torrey pines, the rarest pines in the Americas. It is also known for housing southern California’s last salt marshes and waterfowl refugees. Surfers, who have had enough of the waves, can hit the eight miles of hiking trails. During your hike here, you can admire a plateau with cliffs overlooking Torrey Pine State beach and a lagoon, visited by thousands of migrating seabirds. The reserve is also home to a wide species of wildlife, such as bobcat, coyote, racoon, skunk, fox, rabbit, etc. If luck favors you, it is possible to spot humpback whales in the ocean from the cliff. If you are looking for the best things to do in San Diego, visit the reserve on a clear day for a surreal experience.

Seaport Village

Seaport Village is a bustling area in San Diego, where walls are adorned with graffiti and streets are filled with galleries, shopping and dining areas. Most visitors come here in the afternoon to relax and enjoy a cup of coffee while watching ships floating away. It is not far from USS Midway Museum. In this 14-acre village, you can find 50 shops, 13 casual eateries, and four upscale restaurants. During sunset, wind through the four-miles of cobblestone paths or sit in one of the restaurants, relishing your favorite food, while admiring the golden hues of the setting sun. One of the things to do in San Diego for couples is to enjoy a street performance by local artists. Expect a heavy crowd if you are visiting the area during the weekend.

Bottom Line

Your first visit to San Diego could be overwhelming. With so many attractions to cover, visitors can begin their trip from Gaslamp Quarter. For the outdoorsy, the city has plenty of best things to do in San Diego. Book your hotel in one of the hotels in the downtown area as it affords easy access to many tourist attractions in the city.

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