Signup Login

Forgot password? Don't have an account? Sign up here Close
Signup Login

+
Close

Reset my password

Close

100+ Fun Things to Do in San Diego

100+ Fun Things to Do in San Diego

X Filter by
    Annual Event
    Beach Amenities
    Cost
    Events
    Fitness
    Food & Drink
    Indoors
    Location
    Miscellaneous
    Museum
    Music
    Off-the-Beaten-Path
    Outdoors
    Outdoors: Water
    Park Amenities
    Restaurants
    Sports
    Theater

Fun, Food and Sun, San Diego has so many things to do! From theme parks to beaches, museums and historical sites, there are a variety of activities for any age. San Diego is a great tourist destination, but also a great place to explore if you’re a local!

Be sure to use the filters to sort by Location, FREE, Type of Activity & much more.

If you’re looking for family fun, check out this post: 100+ Things To Do in San Diego with Kids

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

things to do in san diego torrey pines

Located just south of Del Mar, the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the most picturesque locations in all San Diego. The 1,750-acre reserve has sandstone canyons, pine forests, and trails that overlook the ocean. Open during daytime hours, the trails are highly maintained and have various levels of difficulty. The Visitor Center/Museum has free guided nature walks for the general public on weekends and holidays at 10am and 2pm. The natural reserve is a great place to hike, but to preserve the ecosystem, only water is allowed in. Please keep pets at home and save picnics for the beach below. Pay parking lots are available on the beach below and up at the top of the reserve.

Soak in the Sun at Powerhouse/Seagrove Park

Seagrove and Powerhouse Park are both coastal parks with amazing views. Right next to one another, both areas have grassy lawns that overlook Del Mar City Beach. They also have picnic tables, benches, and walking trails. Powerhouse Park even has a small play structure for kids. Both of these parks are near two of the most popular oceanfront restaurants in Del Mar, The Poseidon and Jake’s Del Mar. Powerhouse Park and Community host several special events throughout the year including live music and movies in the park. Check out the Del Mar Foundation website for more information.

Climb to the Top of the Iconic California Tower

things to do in san diego balboa park

Constructed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition, the San Diego Museum of Man is one of the most recognizable buildings in San Diego. The California Tower was closed to the public for 80 years. Now open to the public, the tower provides a 360º view of downtown San Diego. The tower has 7 floors and the climb is 125 steps.

Del Mar Fairgrounds

One of the most popular locations in North County is the Del Mar Fairgrounds. Well known for the hosting the county fair and annual horse races, the Fairgrounds go beyond and host special events all year round. Featured below are some of the most popular annual events, but make sure to see the calendar for other unique experiences including expos, specialty races and more.

San Diego County Fair

Every June the Del Mar Fairgrounds hosts one of the largest County Fairs in America. The San Diego County Fair has everything you could want, musical groups, magic shows, hypnotists, animals, an array of fried foods and rides. The fair ends with a Fourth of July fireworks spectacular.

Del Mar Horse Races

The Del Mar Horse Races have been a San Diego tradition since the 1930’s. Every summer people flock to the races for the fun, thrill, and excitement. Opening Day is celebrated by over 40,000 people who come out to be seen at this fun and fashionable event. The races are also accompanied by a concert series. The shows are included in the ticket price.

Kaaboo Del Mar

Kaaboo Del Mar is a three-day festival that features music, art, food, and comedy. In September, the all-ages festival has a mix of current artists and legendary bands that are featured among several different stages. Kaaboo also has culinary delights by featured chefs and local craft beer. The comedy portion features many diverse comics and runs the length of the festival in a separate pavilion. Unlike more rugged outdoor fests, Kaaboo has many options and perks available to make the experience as luxurious as possible.

The Scream Zone

Some people love to be scared. The Scream Zone is San Diego County’s largest, goriest and scariest haunted experience. The Zone features three main haunting areas: the House of Horror, the KarnEvil, and the Haunted Hayride. In the House of Horror, there is room after room of visual and visceral experiences, clowns will scare you until you don’t know which way to go in the darkness! The Haunted Hayride takes you on a journey filled with zombies, clowns, and other wicked characters. KarnEvil incorporates everything scary from freak shows and carnivals and amplifies them until visitors are terrified. Parents are welcome onto the grounds free of charge if they don’t want to participate in any of the horrors.

See the Cherry Blossoms at The Japanese Friendship Garden

The Japanese Friendship Garden celebrates the bond between San Diego and its first sister city, Yokohama. Visited by over 100,000 people annually, the gardens are immersive and beautiful. They feature Japanese culture through landscaping, koi ponds, water features, and Sukiya-style architecture. A great community resource, the gardens have a variety of educational programs, artists, exhibits, and festivals.

Cherry Blossom Festival

Every Spring the garden celebrates the Japanese custom of Hanami, which is the appreciation of Cherry Blossom flowers. The garden bursts into a beautiful pink wonderland when the Cherry Trees bloom. The festival celebrates this glorious occasion with live performances, Japanese street food, vendors and a Children’s Corner. Even if you don’t make the festival, the gardens are abloom during Spring and a site to be seen.

  • Cherry Blossom Festival
  • The Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10am-7pm; Special Exhibit Hours: Monday-Sunday: 10:45am-4:45pm,
  • Admission (Garden-Only): $10/Adults; $8/Students,Seniors (65+), Active Military (must show ID), Children 6 and Under: Free
  • Admission (Garden & Special Exhibit): $15/Adults; $12.50/Students,Seniors (65+), Active Military (must show ID); Children 6 and Under: Free
  • Residents Free: Third Tuesday of the month (with ID).
  • Parking: Lot
  • 2215 Pan American Rd E, San Diego, CA 92101

Test Your Fear of Heights on the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

things to do in san diego Spruce Street Suspension Bridge

Constructed in 1912 the Spruce Street Suspension Bridge connects Spruce Street between Front Street and Brant Street. The Suspension Bridge crosses over the canyon below. On windy days the bridge will sway. This bridge is a fun and hidden historic site in San Diego, and a great place to snap a pic.

Celebrate History in Old Town San Diego

things to do in san diego old town

Founded in 1769, San Diego was the first European Settlement in California. On 230 acres, Old Town is rich with history and culture. The park has historic buildings and sites that give insight into early San Diego life. Old Town is also filled with shops and restaurants. Known for Mexican food many will be surprised to know that Old Town also has wonderful Italian, Japanese and American restaurants. Old Town also hosts several events throughout the year.

Fiesta Old Town

May 4-6

Old Town celebrates Mexican Heritage with a weekend packed with fun. The event includes live performances, mariachi groups, lowrider clubs, Lucha Libre matches, stagecoach rides and more. The Fiesta also has activities just for kids, such as a petting zoo, pony rides, and activities.

Stagecoach Days

Saturdays, July-August

Beginning with a parade to celebrate Independence Day, Stagecoach Days delve into the past and explore our heritage and traditions. On Saturdays in July and August, Old Town explores different themes with special demonstrations and historical artifacts. Learn how Blacksmiths forged, or watch Vaqueros ride and rope, Stagecoach Days transport you through time.

Dia de Los Muertos

End of October and Early November

Old Town celebrates Mexican culture with a Dia de Los Muertos celebration to remember those who are no longer with us. The festive weekend includes face painting, altars, public memorials, arts and crafts, piñatas and traditional dancers.

Explore the Little Italy Mercato

On Saturdays, the Little Italy Mercato brings over 200 vendors to the streets of Little Italy. The Mercato is one of the best Farmers Markets in San Diego and features fresh produce, flowers, and specialty foods. Farmers Markets are important because they support local farms and economies. Not only can you talk with the farmer who grows the food, you can ask whether it’s organic and non-GMO. You also know that the produce is ripe because it was picked locally and doesn’t need to be shipped before it can be consumed. The Little Italy Mercato is also a great place to eat lunch with plenty of delicious food that’s ready to eat.

Explore Liberty Station

Liberty Public Market is located in Liberty Station, which was formerly the site of San Diego’s Naval Training Center. In Point Loma, not only are the grounds historic, but they are vibrant as well. Liberty Station is an area that has been inhabited by restaurants, shops, artisans, galleries, and is a hub for entertainment and events. The grounds are green and inviting with tons of historical landmarks strewn throughout. A way to acquaint yourself with them is to explore Friday Night Liberty.

Friday Night Liberty

First Friday of Every Month

5pm-9pm

The first Friday of every month Liberty Station comes alive with the city’s biggest art walk. There are live performances, galleries, music, and food. Friday Night Liberty is a great way to explore the grounds.

Swing with a View in La Jolla

The La Jolla Secret Swings are not-so-secret. The swings are usually located high up on a hill overlooking the beautiful La Jolla coastline. The tricky part about finding the swings is that they are constantly being cut down. However, someone keeps putting them back up. Currently, there is a swing near the Birch Aquarium. There is a small trail stemming from the parking lot which is marked by a small wooden pallet bridge. Follow the trail up a hill and find a swing hanging from a tree that overlooks La Jolla Shores. If you get there and the swing is missing search Instagram for #lajollasecretswings and see if any new ones have popped up!

Enjoy the Coast at Ellen Browning Scripps Park

things to do in san diego ellen browning scripps park

Ellen Browning Scripps Park is one of the most popular parks in Southern California. Right on the water, the park is always buzzing with people. It’s beautiful location also makes it very popular for weddings and photographers. Just north of the park is La Jolla Cove. Just south is the Children’s Pool filled with wildlife.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is a small beach just north of Ellen Browning Scripps Park. The Cove is part of the La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve which preserves the area and its inhabitants. On calm days the water visibility can exceed 30 feet, which makes the Cove popular for scuba divers and snorkelers. There is always a lifeguard on duty for swimmers and surfers. Picturesque, this beach is a local favorite.

The Children’s Pool

From the park, you can follow the sidewalk south to the Children’s Pool. Originally the Children’s Pool was meant to be a protected swimming area, but it has since become a favorite resting spot for harbor seals. Seals can be found at the Pool year round. Beach access is restricted during Harbor Seal Pupping Season, December 15-May 15, between these dates you can still watch the seals from above.

Enjoy the Sunset at Fletcher Cove Beach Park

A family favorite, Fletcher Cove Beach Park (also known as Pillbox), is a great place to spend an hour, an afternoon, or the whole day. When the tide is high, the actual beach may be small, but at low tide, families can enjoy the area and walk to nearby tide pools. Tide Pool Park (Table Tops) is located about half a mile north of the cove and has a reef that is uncovered during low tide. During high tide, the reef makes Table Tops a great surfing spot. Fletcher’s Cove also has a park with grassy areas, a playground with swings, picnic tables, and basketball courts. Popular at sunset, you’ll often see families gather to enjoy the last bit of the day. Fletcher’s Cove also has several great restaurants within walking distance. Leashed dogs are allowed in the park area, but not on the beach.

Explore La Jolla Cove on a Kayak

A San Diego favorite, Kayaking is a wonderful way to explore the coast. La Jolla Kayak offers various tours of La Jolla Cove which include kayaking, snorkeling, bicycling, diving and special sunset tours. During these tours, you can paddle into sea caves, swim with sharks, snorkel through an underwater park and more. La Jolla Kayak will lead you to all the best spots and inform you about the area.

Kayak and Snorkel Tour

2 Hours

Single Kayak: $69; Double Kayak: $109 (prices may vary based on date and time)

This tour begins at La Jolla Shores beach and follows the coast to sea caves. At the caves, the tour continues in the water as you snorkel through an Ecological Reserve. During the swim, you will encounter Garibaldi, leopard sharks and sea lions. The tour also includes all equipment and a personal flotation device.

Enjoy Nature at San Elijo Lagoon

The San Elijo Lagoon is over 1,000 Acres of Ecological Reserve land between Solana Beach, Encinitas and Rancho Santa Fe. The lagoon is home to over 1,000 species of animals. The Nature Center features exhibits about the local ecosystem. Just outside the center, you’ll find a mile-long loop trail is ADA-accessible and can be hiked at any age. The center also hosts several community events including walking tours, discovery days and informational classes on conservation.

Enjoy Nature on the Batiquitos Lagoon Trail

Opening up to the ocean, Batiquitos Lagoon is a coastal wetland that separates Encinitas and Oceanside. One of the few remaining tidal wetlands in southern California, the area is a nature preserve and designated Marine Protected area. The north side of the lagoon has a 2-mile walking trail with multiple public parking lots. Open from dawn to dusk, 7 days a week, the trails are wide and flat, perfect for strollers, wheelchairs, and dogs (leashed). There are several parking areas around the lagoon, check the Vister’s Page for more information.

Take a Stroll at Seaport Village

On the bay, Seaport Village is a popular tourist destination filled with shops and restaurants. The location is a great place to spend the afternoon strolling, dining and shopping. Every day you’ll find performance artists and musicians camped along the bayfront. The Village is also home to an antique Carousel that was built in 1895. Seaport also has several Special Events during the year including a Busker Festival, a pirate-themed Landlubber Day and Holiday Events.

Continue your stroll through Embarcadero Marina Park North. Located right next to Seaport, the park trail continues to follow the bay on a peninsula. The park is filled with grassy areas, picnic tables, and giant Coral trees.

Explore the Mission Beach Boardwalk

Ocean Front Walk is an urban trail that follows the coast for 3.2 miles between South Mission Beach Park and Palisades Park. Start your trek at South Mission Beach Park. There is a parking lot there, additional parking can be found just east at Mission Point Park. South Mission Beach is wide and has a basketball court, several volleyball courts, picnic areas and fire pits. From there follow Ocean Front Walk north. Along the path, there are several restaurants, shops, and even Belmont Park. Ocean Front Walk is a popular area, perfect for a stroll, a jog and people watching.

Explore Cabrillo National Monument

things to do in san diego cabrillo national monument

The Cabrillo National monument is located on the southern tip of Point Loma. Established in 1913, the historical grounds commemorates Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo. Cabrillo was a Spanish explorer and was the first European to set foot on what is now the west coast of the United States. The site is also home to a historic lighthouse, which was built in the 1800’s. Cabrillo only opens the old Point Loma Lighthouse three times a year. The Cabrillo National Monument has a variety of activities including hiking, tide pooling, and whale watching.

Cabrillo Festival

Annually at the end of September, the Cabrillo Festival celebrates our diverse history and highlights traditional Native American, Spanish, Portuguese, Mexican cultures. The festival begins with the reenactment of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo’s first step on the sand and continues with live performances, educational activities, cultural demonstrations, food, and artisans. During the festival, the Kumeyaay tribe also demonstrates traditions such as basket weaving.

Explore a Sea Cave at The Cave Store

La Jolla has seven naturally carved sea caves. Popular with kayakers, most of the caves can only be accessed by water. The Sunny Jim Cave is the exception. The Cave Store is a short walk from La Jolla Cove and is an eclectic shop with clothing, jewelry and more. The store also has a man-made cave entrance. A stairway in the ground may seem to lead to a lower level, but in fact, it’s a stairwell down to the Sunny Jim Cave. The stairs are steep and plentiful, which may be difficult for some. Also beware, the stairs get slippery towards the bottom. The Sunny Jim Cave is a fun and unique adventure. After exploring the cave, visitors can follow the trail west of the parking lot out onto scenic sandstone cliffs.

Take the Ferry to Coronado Island

Flagship Cruises ferry visitors between San Diego and Coronado Island every day. The Ferry departs from the Broadway Pier or from the San Diego Convention Center. The ride only takes 15 minutes and passengers get a great view of the San Diego skyline. On Coronado, the Ferry Landing has a small beach, grassy areas, unique shops, and restaurants. On clear days the area is a great place to grab a snack and watch all the boats in the bay. The Coronado Ferry also allows bikes onboard free of charge. Tickets can be purchased at any of the departure areas. The schedule varies so make sure to check times beforehand.

See the Ocean Sparkle at Coronado Beach

Coronado Beach is one of the most well-known beaches in San Diego County. The beach is 1.5 miles long and is popular with families, surfers, and sunbathers. The sand and water of Coronado beach glimmer with little specs of Mica. This shine adds to the magic. The beach offers a lot, a dog park, fire rings, restrooms, tide pools, restrooms, fishing and a lifeguard on duty. The lifeguard tower even provides beach accessible wheelchairs free of charge. The beach also backs against the famous Hotel del Coronado, which is a wonderful and historic place to stay if you want to enjoy the beach for multiple days.

Explore Balboa Park

Balboa Park was established in 1868 and is a National Historic Landmark. A cultural hub, the park is on 1,200 acres near downtown San Diego. Every day the park is alive with visitors, street performers, and artists. Several museums are on the grounds and range from fine art to science. Balboa is also home to the Old Globe theater which was originally built in 1935 and still runs productions today. The San Diego Zoo is also located in Balboa Park and is one of the most popular destinations for visitors. The grounds also have several gardens, restaurants, play areas and trails. Every Sunday at 2pm, guests can listen to free organ concerts at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion. The park has hosts many community events and festivals annually. With so many things to explore, the park is an ideal place to spend the day.

Balboa is free to explore, however, there are admission fees for the museums, theaters, and zoo. There are several ways to enjoy Balboa at discounted prices. Resident discounts, Explorer Passes, and Kids Free October are only some of the ways to save.

Residents Free Days

On Tuesdays Balboa Park offers San Diego County residents free admission to the Museums (please see calendar for dates, certain exhibits may not be included, must show ID)

Balboa Park Explorer Pass

The Explorer Pass allows visitors to explore Balboa museums in an affordable way.  With an Explorer Pass visitors can customize their savings and choose between Annual, Multi-Day and Single Day options.

Macy’s Museum Month

Historically, February is the slowest month for local museums. To change that, Macy’s Department Stores and San Diego County Museums have joined together and created Macy’s Museum Month. During the month visitors can explore local museums and gardens at a fraction of the cost. Click the link above for more information.

Spend the Night at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is an unexpected wonder in North County San Diego. Acres of habitats and savannahs are hidden amongst the hills. The Safari Park is massive, which means that even on busy days you don’t feel crowded. The Park takes you on a journey through Bamboo Forests, Jungles, and the Savannah. The Safari Park offers various extras that you can add to your day, including a 2-hour Caravan Safari where guests can feed the giraffes. The Safari Park also hosts several unique dining events throughout the year.

Roar and Snore

The Safari Park has a special camp set up and invites guests to spend the night. The park even offers dates just for adults. Roar and Snore includes night hikes, animal encounters, and special behind-the-scenes moments. The sleepover also includes an evening snack and breakfast the following morning.

Grab a Brew at the San Diego Zoo

Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is home to over 3,700 animals and has more than 700,000 exotic plants. The zoo is known around the world and is often the number one destination for visitors. The zoo is massive, on 100-Acres it takes a whole day to see everything. Luckily there are buses, tours, and a Skyride to help navigate through Rainforests, African savannahs, and the Arctic.  The zoo also has many restaurants and snack shacks around the park.

Zoo Brew is a great place to stop during your visit. Close to the entrance, the hut has snacks, water and your choice of “brew”. Choose from a variety of specialty coffees or adult beverages like craft beer and wine. The zoo allows visitors to walk around the park with alcohol and doesn’t require you to stay in a specific area with your drink.

Food, Wine, and Brew Celebration

In September, the Zoo holds a tasting event with over 160 of Southern California’s best vendors. The event has globally inspired food, and drinks from local breweries and wineries. The night also features live music with 7 stages set up throughout the park, animal encounters, and several fun entertainment zones. Proceeds benefit the San Diego Zoo Global Wildlife Conservancy. 21+

Green Flash Concert Series at Birch Aquarium

The Birch Aquarium in La Jolla is home to more than 5,000 types of sea life, and features research done at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. The Birch Aquarium has something for every age. The habitats are beautiful to look at, there is a giant kelp forest, and a bioluminescent Infinity Cube. The tide pool area at Birch allows visitors to touch marine life and overlooks La Jolla Shores. Birch also hosts Whale Watching Tours, Grunion Run outings and Tide Pool excursions.

Green Flash Concert Series

Starting in May, the Birch Aquarium teams up with The Belly Up that combines live music with amazing view. The evening series features different musical artists each month and runs through September.

Spend the Day at SeaWorld

SeaWorld is an aquarium, a theme park, a marine mammal park and more. In recent years SeaWorld has become a polarizing topic. To combat that, they have switched their theme to conservation. They have also added rides and attractions without animals to cater to a wider audience. SeaWorld offers several deals on Admission Prices, check them out here. The park also hosts a variety of special events, such as food and wine festivals and holiday celebrations throughout the year.

Marine Life

SeaWorld is a portal into the fascinating world inside the sea. Seaworld has informative and interactive animal encounters. There are touch pool and tide pools, aquariums with octopus and spider crabs, and encounters with sharks, penguins, and turtles. Larger animals include walrus, beluga whales, dolphins and of course, orcas. The Orca Encounter is no longer a “show”, but highlights natural behaviors, and teaches about orcas in the wild.

Rides and Attractions

SeaWorld has thrill rides for all ages. Large roller coasters include the Manta, Journey to Atlantis and Shipwreck Rapids. Smaller kids can enjoy rides at the Sesame Street Bay of Play. Children of any age can enjoy the Skyride and the Skytower. For busy days a Quick Queue Pass is available to skip long lines. Please check height requirements prior to your visit.

Shows

SeaWorld has a variety of shows during the day. There are animal-based shows, such as the Sea Lion, Dolphin, and Orca Shows.  There is also a show filled with trained rescue animals, called Pets Rule. SeaWorld revolves themed shows based on holidays throughout the year. On special holidays, SeaWorld also features fireworks.

Animal Encounters

For guests that want a closer look, SeaWorld offers many animal encounters for an additional fee. Interact with dolphins and penguins, or get an up-close visit with an orca. Guests can even experience being in the water with dolphins or beluga whales. Less expensive options include dining with a view of the orcas.

Drink Play Create at The New Children’s Museum

The New Children’s Museum downtown has three levels dedicated to playing and art. The museum uses hands-on and interactive exhibits to engage children and encourage creativity, confidence, socialization, and collaboration. All art installations are inspired by children and have been constructed with them in mind. From playhouses to giant food sculptures, there is always something to run and jump on. The museum is also very hands-on, you can find a variety of art areas for creating. Outside sculpt with clay or paint a giant metal object, sinks are nearby in case things get messy! The New Children’s Museum also has community events, workshops, classes, school groups, birthday parties and camps.

Drink Play Create

For the 21+ crowd, the museum hosts themed parties called Drink Play Create. The events feature music, local brewery samples, and “big kid” art activities. Drink Play Create is a fun time to explore the museum and exhibits that are just as fun for adults.

Go on a Culinary Adventure at Liberty Public Market

Liberty Public Market is a daily public market that brings together artisans, restaurants, vendors and craftsman in one open location. The market has a variety of cuisines to choose from, as well as bakeries and desserts. On Monday have Lobster Rolls, Tuesday try Stuffed Burgers, Wednesday get a Taco, Thursday a Sushi Burrito, and Friday some Ramen. The market has so much you could eat there every day and still have not tried it all. Not only can you grab lunch at Liberty, you can get everything you need for dinner later. On weekdays, the market has a happy hour that’s not to be missed.

Happy Hour

Happy Hour at the market doesn’t just mean drink specials, during Happy Hour all the vendors run specials! Which means half-off burgers, $1 baguettes, half-price oysters, $4 pints, and much more!

Spend a Romantic Evening on a Gondola

You don’t have to travel all the way to Venice to experience a romantic gondola ride. The Gondola Company gives tours locally through the waterways of the Coronado Cays. And unlike Venice, the Cays have less traffic, which means a more serene experience. The gondolier plays music and talks about the area, certain gondoliers will even sing a song or two. The Gondola Company offers two cruise types, a daytime trip and a sunset cruise (both last 50 minutes). The Sunset Cruise is the most popular option. Passengers can select from a menu of wines or bring their own. The gondola will have glasses, blankets, and an ice bucket. Feel free to bring a small picnic as well (finger foods work best onboard), or you can buy a truffle plate for a treat. The Gondola Company also has packages for larger tours, family trips and is available for special events.

Listen to a New Band at the Casbah

The Casbah is a San Diego staple and brings a variety of music to the city. The venue has a 200+ capacity and includes an enclosed smoking patio, a back bar with pool tables and a music room with a full bar. The Casbah has bands almost every night of the week. The venue opens at 8:30 pm and bands usually start playing around 9 pm. Most Shows range from Free-$15. 21+.

Whale Watch with The Maritime Museum of San Diego

The Maritime Museum is a collection of ships that educate the public about the history and science of the sea. The historic vessels include sailing ships, steam-powered boats, and submarines. The Maritime Museum also has several nautical exhibits, including the history of chart navigation, the age of exploration and sailing, and the steam age. The Maritime Museum also hosts several special events throughout the year including festivals, regattas, and a concert series.

Included with admission is the Star of India, the B-39 Submarine, and the Steam Ferry Berkeley. Constructed in 1863, the Star of India is the world’s oldest active sailing ship. Built out of iron, the Star of India has circumnavigated the world 21 times. Another unique vessel is the B-39 Submarine. The B-39 is an authentic diesel-electric submarine from the Soviet Navy. Commissioned in 1967, the sub served active duty for more than 20 years, through the height of the Cold War. The Steam Ferry Berkeley houses the bulk of the museum. This is where most of the exhibits are. The Maritime Museum also has several Water Adventures to choose from. One of the most popular is the Whale Watching Tour.

Whale Watching Tour

4 Hours

$42.50-$85

America was one of the world’s most famous yachts and is what the “America’s Cup” trophy is named for. A replica of that glorious ship can be found at the Maritime Museum. The 139-foot low black schooner cuts through the water smoothly. America goes out on Whale-Watching trips only once a day and each voyage includes a full-sail experience. The tour includes light snacks and beverages (beer and wine available for sale), and FREE admission to the Maritime Museum. America is also available sunset sails, dinners, corporate events and overnight sails.

Play with Art on the Crab Carillon Musical Bridge

San Diego artist Roman de Salvo and composer Joseph Waters collaborated to create a musical bridge in San Diego. The bridge is located on 25th Street above State Route 94. The bridge’s railing contains 488 brass chimes that play a song composed by Walters. The song is a palindrome and plays the same whether pedestrians are walking north or south.

Crab Carillon is a unique little wonder in San Diego. Next time you’re in the area make sure to bring a stick to play the music as you cross.

Celebrate! at San Diego Pride

San Diego Pride is the city’s biggest yearly party, but it is also where we celebrate our diversity and promote equality. It’s an event when any person can stand up and say “I matter, and my voice should be heard”. Pride is a sea filled with colorful, educational, and debaucherous fun. While a lot of partying happens during the events, the undercurrent is filled with history, and struggle. Pride is a time to celebrate LGBTQ families and individuals that have withstood the tide. Pride consists of the Parade, the Festival, SheFest and many other events surrounding the date. Check the calendar for dates, times and prices.

Explore an Aircraft Carrier at The USS Midway Museum

things to do in san diego USS Midway

Approximately 200,000 sailors served aboard the USS Midway during its service almost 50-year service. In 2004, the USS Midway opened as a museum and has over a million visitors per year. A visit to the USS Midway is educational and awe-inspiring. The self-guided tour traverses the whole ship, including sleeping quarters, the bridge, the engine room, the galley and the brig. Above deck displays different types of aircraft and includes open cockpits and flight simulators. The Midway even has a movie theater! The Midway hosts special events throughout the year, including a special Fourth of July celebration on the water.

Fourth of July Aboard the Midway

The Midway has the best location to view the San Diego “Big Bay Fireworks” show. Located just across from the barges that set off the fireworks, 4,000 lucky guests will get an amazing view. The event also features food, live music, and a USO Review. The Midway also allows guests to bring picnic blankets, lawn chairs and small coolers with snacks. This event sells out annually so get your tickets early!

Learn to Skate with the San Diego Derby Dolls

Roller Derby teaches players how to stay focused and be calm while under pressure. The San Diego Derby Dolls were established in 2005 and represent the San Diego Community with integrity. The Derby Dolls are open to all new participants 18 and older, and also has a Junior League and a Co-ed Recreational League. For the main league, the Dolls have a tiered program that will teach even the most inexperienced skater how to play Roller Derby. Bootcamp practices are held Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings. There is also an open skate on Fridays to practice skills.

Open Skate

All ages (skaters under 18 must have a legal guardian present)

Friday: 6pm-8pm; Sunday: 3pm-5pm

$5 Drop-In Fee

Open skate is co-ed and open to all ages. Open skate includes both banked and flat tracks, as well as the ramp. Skaters must skate on quads and some loaner gear is available (but limited).

Get a Dole Whip at Belmont Park

Belmont Park is a historic amusement park on the beach in Mission Bay. The park’s main attraction is the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster. Originally built in 1925, the wood coaster has scenic views of the ocean at its peak. The park has many other carnival rides for all ages, including a carousel and train for little ones. Belmont also features a climbing wall, zip line, miniature golf, and laser tag. Parking and admission are free, and the rides and attractions are individually priced. Belmont Park has several dining options. During the winter months, the park closes several attractions for maintenance. Call ahead of time to plan your visit.

Dole Whip

Hours: Friday: 12:30-8pm; 11:30am-9:30; Sunday: 12:30-8pm

Price: $4-$8

Disney fans will rejoice to find this famous treat somewhere out of the park! Not only that, Dole Whip at Belmont includes Strawberry as a flavor!

Enjoy the San Diego Symphony Orchestra

The San Diego Symphony Orchestra has performed for over 100 years. Based at the Historic Copley Symphony Hall the orchestra performs over 140 concerts per year. One of the highlights of the year is the Symphony’s Summer Concert Series, Bayside Summer Nights.

Bayside Summer Nights

June-September

7:30 pm

Set against the San Diego Bay, Bayside Summer Nights pairs the Symphony with an array of guest artists. The summer series begins with a 4th of July spectacular that includes fireworks. In fact, many of the shows in the series conclude with a fireworks display. Located at the Embarcadero Marina Park South, the concerts have a variety of seating options including Lawn Seating all the way up to reserved Champagne Seating.

Meet a Sea Turtle at the Living Coast Discovery Center

The Living Coast Discovery Center educates visitors about local wildlife, environmental protection, and coastal conservation. The center features sea turtles, rays, and spiny lobsters. There are also feathered friends such as owls and falcons. They have feeding demonstrations throughout the day that are informative. They also offer Private VIP tours for an additional fee. Living Coast is great for an afternoon picnic and also has hiking trails that lead to the beach. Living Coast has Yoga classes, composting classes and more.

VIP Turtle Encounter

$50 for up to 6 people

The VIP Turtle Encounter allows guests to get up close to these creatures that are usually only seen in the wild.Guests will get to feed the animals and get a special behind-the-scenes tour.

Skate Your Heart Out at Linda Vista Skatepark

The newest skatepark in San Diego is epic. Linda Vista Skatepark is totally interwoven into the landscape and made to feel like a natural part of the environment. The skate terrain is huge with 34,000 sq ft of skate space. There are street plazas, different bowls and a snake run with a one of a kind full pipe. Linda Vista even has a pedestrian bridge where you can watch the action from above. Skaters from all over will flock to this new haven.

San Diego Comic Con International

Comic-Con International is a huge event in downtown San Diego. Drawing hundreds of thousands of people every year, the entertainment and comic convention usually sells out before most people know it’s scheduled. Fortunately, the Con has become so massive that you don’t need a badge to enjoy the festivities. San Diego Comic-Con attracts celebrities, networks, and fans from all over. The event completely takes over downtown San Diego for the time it’s here. Hotels, parks, museums are parking lots are transformed into pop-culture experiences. There are several parties, meetups, gallery displays and interactive demonstrations that are worth visiting. In order to fit it all in, look up events beforehand and plan a walking map for the day. Find a central parking garage (there are several in the area), and enjoy!

Celebrate Culture at Chicano Park

Chicano Park has almost 8 acres of art, sculptures, and earthworks dedicated to the Mexican-American, Native American and Immigrant cultures. The park, like any other, is a great place for picnics and family gatherings, but the art and history make it unique. In 1970, the community took a stand and fought for the park being built instead of any other development. Together they brought the idea of a public space with artwork. All of which is celebrated on Chicano Park Day.

Chicano Park Day

April 21, 2018

Chicano Park Day celebrates the history of the park and the cultures that it represents. The celebration includes performances by Aztec and Folklorico groups, live bands, art workshops, speakers and more.

Get Spooky on a Haunted San Diego Tour

For over 15 years, Haunted San Diego has been entertaining visitors with the haunted history of the city. The year-round tours are intimate and only allow groups of less than twenty. Each tour will provide an educational insight into San Diego History and allow passengers to exit and explore different historical sites. During the 2-hour experience expect spooky stories, a visit to five documented haunted locations and a haunted theme. Fun and entertaining, Haunted San Diego is an excellent way to explore unknown parts of the city.

Look Into the Past at the Flying Leatherneck Aviation Museum

The Flying Leatherneck Museum is located at MCAS Miramar San Diego and is a one-of-a-kind US Marines Aviation Museum. Dedicated to preserving the history and incredible contributions by Marine Corps aviators and their ground support, the museum is a unique and interesting place to explore. The grounds are home to over 48 aircraft flown by Marines. Volunteers are on hand to answer any questions you may have. Located on base, the museum has its own entrance for the public.

Open Cockpit Days

In the summer months, the Aviation Museum hosts several open cockpit days. During cockpit days, selected aircraft will be open for guests to sit in and imagine what it’s like to be an aviator. On select dates, former pilots discuss the planes they once flew.

Take a Selfie on Potato Chip Rock

Tourists and locals flock to the Mount Woodson trail just to take pictures on Potato Chip Rock. The thin rock seems to defy gravity, and even though it’s only about 20 feet above the ground, the right camera angle can make it seem like you’re death-defying. Besides the great pictures, the summit also offers great views. The main trail begins at Lake Poway and is almost 7 miles long (there is a small fee to park in the Lake Poway lot). There is an alternate route from the southeast, that is about half that long, and has more shade. The trailhead is on CA-67, south of the fire station. The climb is fairly steep with 1220 feet elevation gain and is on paved road. Take plenty of water, especially during the summer months. Leashed dogs welcome.


Drea Colores Drea Colores grew up in Tucson, AZ and now lives in Carlsbad. Writer + Maker + Photographer. IG: dreacolores