32 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in San Diego

32 Top-Rated Attractions & Things to Do in San Diego

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With its near-perfect climate and coastal location, San Diego is a paradise for entertainment, shopping, dining and more. This Southern California gem has something for everyone. Outdoor lovers can soak up the sun at Mission Beach or hike the trails of Torrey Pines State Reserve. Family-friendly attractions like the San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND will enthrall the kids.

Foodies indulge in Baja-style tacos and craft beer from local breweries. Trendy boutiques, massive malls and outdoor shopping centers offer retail therapy for all tastes. When the sun sets, the historic Gaslamp Quarter comes alive with restaurants, nightclubs and rooftop bars. Getting around is easy with public transit, bicycle rentals and rideshares.

With so many exciting things happening year-round, San Diego is truly a can’t-miss destination for fun in the California sun.

12 Things to Do and Places to Visit In San Diego

With endless attractions and places to visit, San Diego offers something for everyone. Outdoor lovers can hike the trails of Torrey Pines or kayak along the coast. Families delight in kid-friendly spots like the San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND. Foodies and beer fans indulge in Baja-style tacos and craft breweries. When the sun sets, adults head to the historic Gaslamp Quarter’s restaurants, clubs and rooftop bars.

With so many exciting options, visitors will never run out of fun things to experience in sunny San Diego. Here are Top Attractions in San Diego

1. USS Midway Museum

With nearly 60 exhibits and 30 restored aircraft, the USS Midway Museum allows you to step aboard this massive decommissioned aircraft carrier for a self-guided audio tour. Walk the narrow passageways and get an up-close look at the flight deck. Marvel at the amazing collection of Navy jets and helicopters. Experience life for over 200,000 Navy personnel who served on the USS Midway with reconstructed sleeping quarters, galleys, and pilot-ready rooms. Don’t miss narrated docent tours and simulated aircraft launches from the flight deck.

2. San Diego Zoo

Home to more than 3,500 animals, the world-famous San Diego Zoo is a must-visit during any trip to San Diego. In natural habitat enclosures, see exotic wildlife from around the world, including giant pandas, giraffes, elephants, koalas, polar bears, and more. Ride the guided bus tour for insider info on different species as you wind through the 100-acre zoo. Check out special exhibits like Tiger Trail and Zoo Safari Park.

3. La Jolla Cove

With its turquoise waters and rocky outcroppings, La Jolla Cove is considered one of the most beautiful beaches in San Diego. Peer into the clear water to spot leopard sharks and other marine life. You can walk through the shallow pools and sea caves at low tide. Sunbathe on the small sandy beach or admire coastal birds like pelicans from cliffside benches. Pack a picnic and dine al fresco overlooking the cove.

4. Balboa Park

Balboa Park is packed with attractions as the largest urban cultural park in the U.S.. Immerse yourself in art at the San Diego Museum of Art or photography at the Museum of Photographic Arts. Experience hands-on science exhibits at the Fleet Science Center. Admire the lush botanical gardens. Watch a play at The Old Globe Theater. Let kids play at the Balboa Park Carousel. And save time to explore architectural wonders like the Spanish Colonial California Tower and Domed Arcade.

5. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

Watch adventurous aviators at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, one of the most renowned soaring spots in the U.S. See experienced pilots taking off in sailplanes and paragliders and riding the sea breezes along the cliffs. Sign up for your breathtaking tandem flight to experience southern California from a bird’s eye view. Or simply enjoy an exhilarating afternoon spectating from the Torrey Pines clifftops as colorful gliders circle and descend over the Pacific. Located just north of La Jolla, the Torrey Pines Gliderport offers front-row seats to gravity-defying paragliding flights in San Diego.

6. Petco Park

Catch a Padres game at Petco Park and experience one of the best ballparks in Major League Baseball. Opened in 2004, Petco Park impresses with its downtown location, views of San Diego Bay, local food and craft beer offerings, and family-friendly amenities. Baseball fans shouldn’t miss the opportunity to watch the San Diego Padres play in this state-of-the-art stadium. Go on a behind-the-scenes tour for an insider’s perspective on Petco Park.

7. Cabrillo National Monument

Located at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the first Europeans to navigate California’s coast. Hike the steep Bayside Trail to this historic lighthouse for sweeping views of Downtown San Diego and the Pacific. Walk the scenic tide pools to spot marine wildlife. The monument also memorializes the West Coast landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542 with a larger-than-life statue and museum exhibits.

8. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Stretching along the rugged Sunset Cliffs, this 68-acre park boasts some of the most spectacular coastal views in San Diego. Follow the winding trails along the headlands to take in the crashing waves below. Watch hang gliders launch from the cliffs above. Walk down to secluded beaches only accessible at low tide. From dramatic sunsets to whale watching, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is the ideal spot for ocean vistas and connecting with nature just minutes from downtown.

9. Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

Honor the legacy of veterans at the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial. Over 6,000 black granite plaques pay tribute to the sacrifice and service of U.S. veterans here. Enjoy panoramic views of La Jolla, the Pacific Ocean, and all of San Diego from the memorial’s peaceful setting atop Mount Soledad Natural Park. Check out the Walk of Honor, Wall of Valor, and plaques commemorating major conflicts.

10. Coronado Bridge

Spanning San Diego Bay, the iconic Coronado Bridge provides one of the most scenic drives in Southern California. The 1.5-mile bridge links Coronado to downtown San Diego with amazing city skyline, bay, and Pacific views. Drive across the white concrete arches reaching 200 feet above the water. Or walk or bike the bridge sidewalks to admire the vistas. At night, the bridge lights create a dazzling sight over the bay. An engineering marvel when built in 1969, the Coronado Bridge makes a memorable San Diego experience whether crossing by car or simply admiring from below.

11. Torrey Pines Gliderport

Watch adventurous aviators at the Torrey Pines Gliderport, one of the most renowned soaring spots in the U.S. See experienced pilots taking off in sailplanes and paragliders and riding the sea breezes along the cliffs. Sign up for your breathtaking tandem flight to experience southern California from a bird’s eye view. Or simply enjoy an exhilarating afternoon spectating from the Torrey Pines clifftops as colorful gliders circle and descend over the Pacific. Located just north of La Jolla, the Torrey Pines Gliderport offers front-row seats on gravity-defying flights.

12. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

With its sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean and San Diego Bay, Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery makes a moving and beautiful final resting place. The historic military cemetery contains the graves of more than 100,000 service members within its 77 acres. Hundreds of intricate private markers line the impeccably landscaped grounds. Fort Rosecrans offers a tranquil sanctuary to walk among the poignant memorials and reflect on the sacrifices made.

10 Best Shopping Destinations in San Diego

San Diego offers diverse shopping experiences to satisfy every style and budget. Find big-name brands at massive malls like Westfield UTC and Fashion Valley. Discover local boutiques in charming neighborhoods like Little Italy and La Jolla. Search for hidden gems at outdoor shopping centers such as Seaport Village and Liberty Station. 

With many excellent options, visitors can enjoy serious retail therapy during any San Diego getaway. Following is the Best 10 Shopping In San Diego:

1. Seaport Village

With its waterfront setting and cobblestone walkways, Seaport Village offers some of the most delightful shopping and dining in San Diego. Browse through uniquely themed stores and indulge at outdoor cafes. Find that perfect outfit at the San Diego Surf Co. Watch kites soar above at Kite Flite. Pick up handmade artisan wares at Mosaic Handcraft. And don’t miss riding the beautiful historic carousel. With live music and entertainment, this open-air marketplace perfectly captures the seaside culture that defines San Diego.

2. Las Americas Premium Outlets

Boasting the largest collection of outlet stores in San Diego, the Las Americas Premium Outlets makes bargain shopping a breeze. Fashion lovers flock here to discover amazing deals on top brands like Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, and Polo Ralph Lauren. Between the 150+ stores, you’ll likely walk away with everything on your shopping list while saving 25-65%. When you need a break, grab a bite at one of the casual food trucks just outside. And take home some authentic Mexican vanilla as the perfect souvenir.

3. Fashion Valley

With top department stores and designer boutiques, Fashion Valley Mall is a shopper’s paradise in San Diego. Stores like Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Gucci, and Louis Vuitton give you access to the biggest names in retail. Beyond the chic clothing and accessories, you’ll also find Apple, Sephora, and LEGO. Refuel with a meal at a restaurant or one of the many cafés.

4. La Jolla Open Aire Market

Each Sunday, the La Jolla Open Aire Market brings together San Diego’s best local farmers, artisans, and chefs. Sample fresh organic fruits and vegetables. Taste gourmet prepared foods while listening to live acoustic music. Browse stalls filled with boutique apparel, jewelry, candles, and more from local makers. Stop for an organic latte before stocking up on breads, cheeses, and flowers. The La Jolla Open Aire Farmer’s Market offers a delightful Sunday morning excursion.

5. Liberty Public Market

Located in historic Liberty Station, Liberty Public Market houses an eclectic collection of eateries and boutiques all in one place. Grab lunch from local favorite stations like Mess Hall, Le Parfait Paris, or Mastiff Sausage Company. Browse home goods at Leisure Collective, apothecary items at Botanica SD, and gear at Bottlecraft Beer Shop. With free parking and events like yoga in the courtyard, Liberty Public Market is a community destination perfect for an afternoon of eating and shopping in San Diego.

6. Spanish Village Art Center

Located in beautiful Balboa Park, the Spanish Village Art Center is a must-visit for art lovers. This vibrant artist community is home to 37 working studio galleries showcasing jewelry, paintings, glasswork, sculptures, and more by local San Diego artists. Watch artists at work in their open studios. Tour the lovely courtyard and fountains. Then browse the eclectic mix of unique creations, perfect for taking home something truly special as a souvenir from your trip to San Diego.

7. Little Italy Mercato Farmers’ Market

Don’t miss Little Italy’s Saturday farmers market for fresh local produce and artisanal fare. Sample seasonal fruits and veggies from regional farms. Savor-prepared foods like waffles, tamales, or wood-fired pizza. Browse stalls filled with bread, cheeses, and flowers. Sip coffee and listen to live music in the Mercato piazza. With beautiful harbor views and an authentic Italian vibe, the Little Italy Mercato makes weekend mornings lively.

8. San Diego Factory Outlet Center

Just steps from Mexico, the San Diego Factory Outlet Center delivers discounted designer brands, perfect for bargain shoppers. Major retailers like Calvin Klein, Kate Spade, and Michael Kors offer savings up to 70% off. Refuel at the food court in between hitting all your favorite outlet shops. With downtown San Diego sightseeing nearby, you can couple outlet shopping with urban attractions for an all-encompassing San Diego experience.

9. Africa and Beyond

Transport yourself to Africa without leaving San Diego at Africa and Beyond gallery. Authentic imported masks, statues, textiles, jewelry, and more fill the colorful shop. Chat with the owner about each handcrafted treasure. Check out ceremonial pieces full of history and cultural significance. Located in Old Town, Africa Beyond offers an opportunity to take home a truly original African art work.

10. Westfield UTC

As San Diego’s premiere luxury shopping destination, the Westfield UTC Mall combines top brands for an elevated retail experience. Department stores Nordstrom and Macy’s anchor the open-air center. In between, shop fashion staples like Gucci, Louis Vuitton, and Tory Burch. Beyond apparel, find Apple, Tesla, and BRIO Toys & Games. With plentiful dining, Westfield UTC makes for an upscale shopping day in northern San Diego.

10 Best Restaurants in San Diego

San Diego’s dining scene impresses with fresh seafood, tacos, and craft beer. Foodies find bliss in the Gaslamp Quarter’s diverse eateries and Little Italy’s authentic cuisine. La Jolla delights with fine dining and ocean views. And treats like fish tacos, California burritos, and carne asada fries count as local delicacies.

With many excellent dining options, visitors can eat through America’s Finest City. following are the Top 10 Restaurants in San Diego:

1. Flama Llama

Bringing Mexican cuisine north of the border, Flama Llama offers inventive tacos and shareables with a funky vibe. The Baja-style fish tacos piled high with crispy cod and zesty crema are a must-try. Share cheesy queso fundido loaded with mushrooms and chorizo. Wash it all down with a refreshing margarita or Mexican beer. With eclectic decor and friendly service, this hip yet laid-back eatery makes a tasty introduction to San Diego’s taco culture.

2. Formosa

For authentic Taiwanese fare in San Diego, Formosa hits the spot. The extensive menu covers all the classics like juicy potstickers, sweet and sour pork, and xy ling wing drummettes. Don’t miss the signature beef noodle soup with melt-in-your-mouth brisket. Round out the feast with zesty seafood pancakes and garlic string beans. Formoosa’s simple, casual setting lets the bold flavors of Taiwan shine. It’s an under-the-radar spot loved by locals.

3. Steamy Piggy

Steamy Piggy offers a modern take on Chinese comfort food at this Gaslamp hot spot with shareable plates and creative cocktails. The signature pork and chive dumplings make an irresistible starter. Follow with noodle and rice bowls like drunken beef brisket or mapo tofu. With lounge seating, neon lights, and hip music, Steamy Piggy brings a lively dining and drinking experience well-suited to a night out with friends.

4. C Level

Perched above San Diego Bay, C Level provides one of the best settings to soak in breathtaking coastal views. The seafood-focused menu spotlights local catches like buttery halibut and ahi tuna. Or opt for lighter fare like lobster rolls or cioppino. Make a meal of small plates like crabcakes and oysters on the half-shell.

5. Ten seconds Yunnan rice noodle

To taste Yunnan province, visit this modest noodle house near UC San Diego. Watch cooks hand-pull noodles to order. Slurp warming bowls of spicy beef or pork ribs over springy rice noodles. Balance the heat with cool cucumber salad and jasmine tea. Ten Seconds brings authentic Yunnan cuisine to San Diego with friendly service and simple, unfussy ambiance.

6. Malibu Farm San Diego

For fresh, flavorful fare with million-dollar views, dine at Malibu Farm in San Diego. Located on the pier at Hotel Del Coronado, the menu bursts with creatively prepared California cuisine like avocado and crab toast and rainbow vegetable salad. Sip farmer’s market cocktails and local beer on the breezy patio overlooking the Pacific.

7. Yuk Dae Jang

Specializing in Korean beef soup, Yuk Dae Jang is a local favorite for comforting, homestyle cuisine. The namesake Yuk Dae Jang soup features tender brisket simmered in a complex bone broth for hours. Customize your bowl with noodles and veggies. Balance the savory broth with spicy kimchi and crisp Korean pancakes. The simple cafeteria-style setting lets you focus on the soul-warming flavors of Korea.

8. Woomiok

Michelin-recommended Woomiok brings high-end dining to Convoy’s “Asiantown” dining scene. Artfully plated dishes like Wagyu tartare with pear and uni spotlight creative Korean flavors. Share banchan sides like seasoned seaweed and kimchi. For mains, don’t miss the KBBQ with marinated short ribs. With industrial decor and a speakeasy vibe, Woomiok offers a contemporary take on classic cuisine.

9. Cross Street Chicken & Beer

Locals flock to no-frills Cross Street Chicken & Beer for crispy fried chicken. Order the signature double-fried or soy garlic chicken alongside banchan and kimchi. Wash it down with Korean and local brews. With quick counter service in an unfussy setting, Cross Street Chicken & Beer is a beloved late-night spot for wings, beer, and hanging out with friends.

10. Baba’s Pizza

Baba's Pizza delivers authentic New York-style pizza in San Diego. Hefty slices with stretchy, nicely charred crust make the perfect on-the-go bite. Build your pie from classic toppings or opt for house favorites like the Greek with feta and Kalamata olives. With patio seating overlooking Balboa Park, this casual pizzeria is a perfect spot to refuel while exploring the neighborhood.

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San Diego offers something for every traveler with its sunny beaches, vibrant neighborhoods, and endless attractions. Foodies indulge in exceptional dining, from fish tacos to fine cuisine. Outdoor lovers hike the trails of Torrey Pines, kayak along the coast, or relax at La Jolla Cove. Families blast at kid-friendly spots like the San Diego Zoo and LEGOLAND. History buffs explore the USS Midway and Old Town. And when the sun sets, the Gaslamp Quarter comes alive with restaurants, clubs, and rooftop bars.

With so much to see and do, it’s easy to fill any length of vacation in this Southern California gem. 

Treat yourself to the full San Diego experience by booking a stay at one of the area’s luxurious beachfront resorts.



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