There is no shortage of things to do in San Diego. And with the weather being gorgeous all year round, most of the fun things to do are outdoors. Below are a few of my favorite things to do in San Diego. I’m always adding to the list, so check back often!
Balboa Park – A huge public park near downtown San Diego that houses museums, restaurants, cafes, gardens and performing arts venues. The grounds are gorgeous and on any given day you’ll find couples and groups taking pictures for all sorts of occasions. It’s also wedding central on the weekends, so be prepared to see many wedding parties if you’re there Friday-Sunday. Visit their site for a list of museums and events!
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park – The San Diego Zoo is really one of my favorite places. I really hadn’t been to a zoo before it (I just thought it wasn’t my thing), but it really is a gorgeous place and a great way to spend a day. It is located in Balboa Park and is so clean and well-kept. All of the plants and flowers make the place absolutely beautiful; seriously the vegetation there is an attraction in and of itself. The Safari Park is farther north in Escondido and is larger than the zoo and more spread out. If you visit the Safari Park, the Africa Tram Safari is a must!
Sunset Cliffs – Sunset Cliffs is a breath-taking stretch of road from Ocean Beach to Point Loma. There are several places to park along the route so you can just breathe in the fresh ocean breeze or catch a beautiful sunset.
Torrey Pines State Reserve – If you love hiking, hit up Torrey Pines. There are several different trails each with their own stunning views of the coast. Relax on the beach after!
Bird Park Summer Concerts – If you’re looking for a free and family-friendly event, this concert series is great! It’s in my neighborhood, so I’m a little biased about the location, but Bird Park is on a hill in North Park overlooking Balboa Park. Bring your fam, a picnic and your dancing shoes!
Del Mar Summer Concert Series – Go for the horse races and stay for the concert! This concert series can get some pretty big names and your ticket is free with racetrack admission as long as you arrive before the last race.
Humphrey’s Concerts By the Bay – What could be better than a concert on the bay with a great view? Humphrey’s is a resort on Shelter Island near Point Loma. You don’t have to be staying at the hotel to go to a concert, but why not make a weekend out of it?
San Diego Symphony Summer Pops – Another great concert series on the bay with a view where you can bring a picnic and enjoy the great weather, great company and great music! Summer Pops takes place on the Embarcadero behind the San Diego Convention Center and just across the water from Coronado. Concerts run July 4th through Labor Day and feature a variety of concerts for all tastes. Past concerts include Ozomatli, Leann Rimes, Wynona, Best of Broadway and a selection of rock tribute bands.
The Observatory North Park – A fairly new concert venue, but quickly becoming a must-stop place for great acts. Past concerts include Brett Dennen, The Decemberists and Belle & Sebastian.
Pala Casino, Spa & Resort – Located about an hour northeast of downtown San Diego, Pala is a great little getaway. Rooms are large and reasonably priced and there are many restaurants on the grounds, not to mention a gorgeous pool and spa! I hosted my sister’s bachelorette party at Pala and we had a fantastic time and were very well taken care of. Get a group together and rent a cabana by the pool and you’re all set!
Sycuan Golf & Tennis Resort – Going to BINGO at Sycuan is one of my favorite things to do. If you’re going with a group, I especially recommend Kozmik Binglo on Saturday nights when they play club music and have black light galore. For this, glow in the dark attire is extra fun. Other than BINGO, there is a great selection of slots!
Viejas Casino & Resort – A decent selection of slots and if you win big, they have a large outlet center right across the street!
Most of the cities museums are in Balboa Park. You can find a list of all of them here. My favorites are the Museum of Photographic Arts, Ruben H. Fleet Science Center and the San Diego Museum of Art.
New Children’s Museum – Such a fun place for kids and adults! The exhibits are super interactive and they have tons of events during the month. One of these events is Target Free Second Sunday, where admission is waived thanks to the great folks at Target!
Nearby Cities to Visit
Coronado – Take the ferry from downtown San Diego (or drive over the famous Coronado Bridge) to the beautiful city of Coronado. One side of Coronado has breathtaking views of the downtown San Diego skyline, while the other side is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the country. While you’re walking up and down Orange Street and popping into shops, stop by the historic Hotel del Coronado.
La Jolla – There is so much to do in La Jolla, so make sure you carve out time to get in a good visit – I’d say at least a day or two is perfect! Visit the beautiful La Jolla Cove, the harbor seals at the La Jolla Children’s pool or rent a kayak and explore La Jolla Shores. Besides the beach, there is shopping galore in “the village” and it’s home to the Museum of Contemporary Art and Birch Aquarium.
With the great weather all year-round, we are incredibly lucky to be able to grow and eat tasty produce all year-round! There are multiple Farmer’s Markets around the county each day, each varying in size. My favorite is the Hillcrest Farmer’s Market which takes place each Sunday. Check out this list of all the markets in San Diego!
Cinema Under the Stars – This is seriously one of my favorite things to do in San Diego. This outdoor cinema is located in Mission Hills and is unlike any other in the city. Take in a classic or recent movie in a super comfy zero gravity chair with your own soft fleece blanket. You will want one of these chairs at home and I dare you not to fall asleep in it! Tickets are around the same price as a ticket in a regular movie theater, but the concessions are super cheap – I’m talking a bag of microwave popcorn for a couple of bucks! Can’t be beat!
December Nights – This event takes place the Friday and Saturday of the first full weekend in December and is a huge holiday festival. Each evening during the event, the museums open their doors for free for those in attendance. Parking can get crazy, so plan ahead; December Nights is attended by over 350,000 people!
San Diego County Fair – Head up to Del Mar and get your fill of fried foods, concerts and amusement park rides! The fair runs for about a month starting at the beginning of June.
Rancho Bernardo Inn – Since I live in San Diego, I don’t really have a reason to stay in a hotel in the area. I have, though, had quite a few staycations at the Rancho Bernardo Inn. I cannot recommend this place enough. Service is topnotch and the grounds are breathtaking. If you’re a golfer, there is a great course, but if you’re more of a spa kind of person, theirs is magnificent. With entrance to the spa, you get access to the spa pool and cabanas and their food and drink service. I wish I could take their gigantic room beds home with me, no joke. The two restaurants on the property are also some of the best in the area. This place is a must visit if you can!
Pigment – Love place! Whenever I’m looking for a special, unique gift for someone, it’s the first place I think of to hit up since there really is something for everyone there. It’s also a store that I stop into whenever I can because they’re always getting in new items and the store just makes me smile!
Check out my list of Top Restaurants to Visit!
Kid-Friendly Places to Visit
Have kids? Check out my five favorite places to go with a toddler in San Diego!