100+ Fun Things to Do in San Diego (2019 Guide)
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!
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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
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
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
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.
- Parking: Street
- W Spruce St, San Diego, CA 92103
Celebrate History in Old Town San Diego
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
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.
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.