1. The Beaches – Not only is San Diego known for having some of the most consistently beautiful weather in the U.S. but, also some of the BEST beaches! Be it Coronado Island, LaJolla Shores, or Mission Beach…Just get to the BEACH!!!

 

 

 

belmont_park2. Mission Beach Boardwalk – While at Mission Beach, feel free to peruse the Boardwalk. It houses different small shops from local vendors, restaurants and the iconic Belmont Park.  The latter being one of the last historic amusement parks and home of the Giant Dipper (a wooden roller coaster).

 

 

 

california-san-diego-balboa-park-pond3. Balboa Park– The Park is over a 1400 acre site with historical buildings, numerous museums, gardens, and green space. The park was created for the Panama California Exhibition of 1915-1916 with most of the buildings in the park remaining from that event. The predominant architecture is Spanish-Mexican style, low level buildings that blend in with the natural surroundings. Among the highlights of the park are the Botanical Gardens and lily pond, the Museum of Man, the Museum of Natural History, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the famous San Diego Zoo. Even if you never go into a building the park is simply a beautiful place.

 

 

 

california-san-diego-gaslamp-quarter4. Gaslamp Quarter–  In downtown San Diego is the Gaslamp Quarter National Historic District, an area of restored late 19th and early 20th Century Victorian buildings. Today the Gaslamp Quarter is a trendy area with shops, restaurants, and galleries, attracting locals and tourists. The area covers less than 20 blocks and runs approximately from Broadway to San Diego Bay. There are also a large number of upper end hotels that are popular with both tourists and business travelers due to its great location in the city. This area underwent restorations in the 1970s which eventually led to it being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

 

 

 

Oldtown-5. The Old Town San Diego State Historic Park – The park gives visitors a look at the town’s Mexican and early American history, and offers opportunities for shopping and dining. It was probably founded in 1820 by demobilized Mexican soldiers who had done their military service at the Presidio or in the fort on Presidio Hill, both of which are located here. Many of the historic buildings, including numerous adobe houses, have been repaired. Also located here are interesting shops and restaurants with outdoor patios. The Old Town State Historic park is the most visited State Park in California. There is no admission fee.

 

 

 

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6. Point Loma and Cabrillo National Monument – Point Loma provides an incredible view out over San Diego and the Pacific Ocean. This is the place where Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first landed on the west coast of the United States in 1542. The history of his incredible “Voyage of Discovery” is told through a variety of displays and exhibits at the Cabrillo National Monument. A large statue dedicated to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo gazes out over the land he discovered. Also located on Point Loma is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, built in 1858. Visitors can tour the refurbished lighthouse building. Access to Point Loma is along a very scenic roadway.

 

 

 

california-san-diego-museum-of-art7. The San Diego Museum of Art – Is a copy of the 17th century University of Salamanca, in the so-called Platero style, with finely-chiseled terracotta and silversmith work. Busts of Spanish painters adorn the façade, and their works hang in the museum’s collection. The museum’s collection covers a broad spectrum of works from around the world and pieces that date back to 7000 years ago. Spanish old master paintings, along with Asian Art, European Art and Art from the Americas are highlighted.

 

 

 

San_Diego_Zoo_entrance_elephant8. The San Diego Zoo – Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is one of the largest and most famous zoos in the United States. The zoo has all kinds of exotic animals, including pandas which have been successfully bred here. It is spread out along a canyon, with many hills that can sometimes be challenging for visitors wandering through the site. The park prides itself on the Animal enclosures which are designed to recreate natural settings.

 

 

 

SeaWorld-Shamu-and-Trainers9. SeaWorld – One of the city’s main attractions, particularly for families. It is located along the waterfront in Mission Bay. For many American’s SeaWorld has been a long time family tradition, having been around since the 1960s. Among the highlights are the myriad of shows featuring killer whales, sea lions, dolphins, and other sea life. There are all kinds of rides from roller coasters plowing into water, to more sedate carnival type rides for tots. SeaWorld is an aquarium that allows for close up looks at sharks and other sea creatures that can be seen through an acrylic tunnel, along with touch tanks, and close encounters with dolphins and inhabitants of tidal pools.

 

 

 

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10-san-diego-seaport10. Seaport Village – A delightful place to stroll around and spend an afternoon. Located right on the waterfront this area of unique shops and restaurants is one of the city’s must sees. Picnic tables, benches, and waterfront patios are sprinkled throughout the area and weekends can be very busy. Outdoor performers take to the stage regularly in the afternoons, some of which can be quite eclectic. The area is easily accessible on foot from many of the nearby attractions including the USS Midway. Since there is limited and expensive parking at Seaport Village, it may be best to park a little distance away and enjoy the stroll along the waterfront to the site.

 

 

 

california-san-diego-midway-aircraft-carrier11. Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum – Walking along the San Diego waterfront trail, visitors may be surprised when they come across one of the US military’s largest ships. The decommissioned USS Midway is permanently berthed at Navy Pier. The highlights of a visit to the USS Midway Museum include over 60 exhibits and 25 restored aircraft. Over 225,000 military service personnel served on the ship and today visitors can take a self-guided audio tour to learn all about its history. For an additional fee visitors can try a flight simulator on board.

 

 

 

Torrey-Pines12. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve – located on the cliffs above Torrey Pine State Beach is a 1,750 acre reserve dedicated to preserving its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. A coastal wilderness of pine forests and sandstone canyons, the park offers a collection of trails which winds its way along the cliffs offering breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. With both easy, family-friendly paths and more advanced trails, the park provides a great hiking experience for all levels.

 

 

Honorable Mention: 

tijuana

Tijuana Mexico – While this is not IN San Diego, it’s so close, it might as well be. Literally 15 minutes away by train, you get off and walk across the border. However, make sure you have your passport to get back in the States.

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