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Things to do in San Diego, the birthplace of California

by Visagov | May 14, 2020
Discover some of the things to do in San Diego

It is the eighth largest city in the United States and is said to be the birthplace of the state of California. It is one of the most historic towns in the United States since it was one of the first places that Europeans visited on the West Coast. We are talking, of course, about San Diego.

San Diego borders Mexico and the influence of this country is obvious and is felt in its streets, in its culture and in its gastronomy. There are many reasons why San Diego is considered one of the best cities to live in the United States: its beaches, its climate, its culture, its lifestyle, and its healthy economy are some of them. Without a doubt, this city should be a must stop on your route along the West Coast.

In addition to a charming old case, riddled with museum houses, San Diego has many corners to discover. Take note because we present some of the best things to do in San Diego.

Things to do in San Diego

The San Diego Pier

Located east of the San Diego Bay, El Embarcadero is one of the must-see places. Its shops, restaurants and incredible views of the bay are some of its attractions, but this promenade is known above all thanks to the San Diego Maritime Museum, one of the typical things to do in San Diego.

The USS Midway aircraft carrier, which was part of the US fleet that served in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm, has operated since 2004 as a museum and is considered the largest dedicated to the history of aircraft carriers and aviation. 

The Embarcadero has also become a space of cultural reference and leisure in the city thanks to the gastronomic festivals and concerts of the San Diego Symphony Orchestra that take place every year. In addition, boats can be taken from the port to go into the sea and spot whales.

Ocean Beach San Diego

One of the most bohemian and dynamic neighborhoods in San Diego, with an unmistakable beachy air, which has an offer of activities as varied and fun as the city itself. At Ocean Beach there is always some special event; from gastronomic and musical festivals to parades with fireworks, always with the immense Pacific Ocean as a backdrop.

Ocean Beach is also well known for its famous natural pools. It is not recommended to swim in them due to the strong tides, but the spectacle that they give is impressive. There is no better place to watch the sunset.

La Jolla of San Diego

Exploring La Jolla is one of the most idyllic things to do in San Diego. Although it is technically a neighborhood, many consider it to be a small city within this large city. 

This luxury community located next to the coast has everything to fall in love with. It is full of hotels, restaurants, luxury boutiques, art galleries and golf courses. If you are tempted to leave everything to move to live there, do not worry, it happens to many.

In addition, the white sandy beaches of La Jolla offer multiple leisure possibilities: surfing, snorkeling, diving and rowing boat rides. You will also find an aquarium where you can see the species that live in this part of the San Diego coast and a viewpoint to spot seals.

La Jolla, things to do in San Diego, USA

Things to do in San Diego with kids

Zoo Safari in San Diego

This is not just any zoo, it is one of the largest in the world with no less than 40 hectares.

In addition to being able to contemplate up to 4000 varieties of animals, many of them in danger of extinction, you can enjoy a visit to the San Diego Safari and observe the animals as if they were in their own habitat. Private experiences are also offered to watch up closely all kinds of animals such as cheetahs, ocelots, baboons and macaws.

SeaWorld San Diego

In San Diego things to do usually have a close relationship to the natural environment that surrounds the city. It’s no surprise that another of the essential things to do in San Diego is visit SeaWorld, where you can discover an endless number of species of marine animals with which you can interact to learn more about them and have maximum fun. 

The place has also got mechanical games, as well as water games with slides and pools, so it is essential that you take your bathing suit when visiting the park. In addition, entertaining shows are held for the whole family.

Belmont Park in San Diego

This amusement park located in front of the bay is another of the essential tourist places in San Diego and one of the most popular and fun in the city. Opened in 1925, this park has 12 mechanical attractions, a golf course and restaurants with spectacular views of the sea.

Surf simulators, laser tag, merry-go-rounds and cars are some of the main attractions of this park, although the king of it is the Giant Dipper, an original wooden roller coaster from the Belmont Park foundation.


Spending a day in Legoland California is one of the best things to do in San Diego with kids. It’s a LEGO-themed amusement park that also has a water park and an interactive aquarium. A fantastic activity for the little members of the family!

If you have days to spare, you can buy a two-day ticket and stay in the park’s hotel.

The park is free for kids under three years old. Everyone older will have to purchase a ticket. It’s best to buy everything online: they have special discounts. 

Blue bird at the San Diego Zoo

Free things to do in San Diego

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is home to some of the top things to do in San Diego, starting with its Zoo. Inside Balboa Park there are 17 museums, a cactus garden, a rose garden, a Japanese garden, musical theaters and more!

Laying around in the grass for a picnic or just walking around its many gardens, or even renting a bike, are all great options for enjoying what Balboa Park has to offer. Pay special attention to the California Building and the House of Hospitality so you can appreciate the Spanish architecture that’s characteristic of this area. If you are a plant lover, go inside the Botanical Building.

This huge park is free, of course, but the museums housed inside are not. You can buy tickets for everything here. There are free Balboa Park trams available to explore.

Go to the beach

Going to the beach is one of the things to do in San Diego that not everybody chooses, but they should. The beaches are sandy and long, with a strong infrastructure for tourists.

Probably the most famous is Mission Beach. If you go, you’ll be very close to Belmont Park, so you can fit both of these things to do in San Diego in a single day (if your energy level is up for it!).

Old Town San Diego

To catch a glimpse at what San Diego used to be, visit Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. In this place, the birthplace of California, you will find original and reconstructed buildings and shops showing how the first European settlers in California lived. 

This area is great for buying artisanal souvenirs and also to try authentic Mexican food, a delicious treat after a long day of exploring. 

Bench and flowers in Old Town San Diego

Fun things to do in San Diego

San Diego Bay Cruise

What better way to enjoy the sea surrounding San Diego than by cruise? You can book many different types of cruises, from fine dining-focused cruises to adventurous ones, at the Embarcadero, the starting point for most of them. 

It’s even possible to go whale watching in San Diego! Make sure the season is right for it and don’t miss the chance of enjoying this unique activity. 

Enjoy a game in Petco Park

Petco Park is the baseball stadium in San Diego, one of the best in the country. If you like this sport, or even if you don’t but would like to get a more authentic feel of American culture, book your tickets to cheer on the San Diego Padres while taking in the stunning views of the city. There are also tours available for those interested. 

Built in 2004, the stadium is located close to the Gaslamp Quarter, one of the most beautiful areas in San Diego, so it won’t be difficult to find places to have a drink or something to eat before the game.