Places to go
The Oceanside pier is a San Diego landmark. It is 1,942 feet long, making it one of the longest wooden piers on the west coast, and is open for visitors for walking along it. Check out the fisherman casting their lines off its sides and surfers riding the waves down below. Don’t forget to visit Ruby’s Diner for a shake and burger at the end of the pier.
Cardiff’s most famous “local”. The Cardiff Kook is a 16-foot tall bronze statue of a surfer located along the Pacific Coast Highway, near the campgrounds at San Elijo State Beach. Locals dress up the kook throughout the year in different costumes, creating quite the tourist draw for Cardiff. The Cardiff Kook Run is also a favorite event in Cardiff.
Open daily, the botanical gardens in Encinitas consists of nearly 3,000 varieties of plants on 37 acres. Plants on display include: desert plants, bamboo, a tropical rainforest, plants native to California, succulent gardens, and native coastal sage. There is also a special children’s garden.
The Del Mar Fairgrounds and Racetrack is one of San Diego’s oldest attractions. Opened in 1937 by Bing Crosby, the track is known by its slogan “where the turf meets the surf”. The track still meets every summer, after the San Diego Fair. In 2014, a second racing season was added in November, known as Bing Crosby season. When the track isn’t meeting, the grounds are host to a number of other exciting activities. Chief among them is the San Diego Fair. Running from early June through the fourth of July, thousands of San Diegans turn out for the fair and the free evening concerts. Other events throughout the year include Scream Zone, a holiday light events, various smaller conventions, races, horse shows, and more.
Greater San Diego
Did you know that San Diego is considered the birthplace of California? The first permanent Spanish settlement was here. Father Junipero Serra arrived in 1769 and built the first mission. That mission was built on the hill overlooking Old Town San Diego and is still there today. In the 1820s, a small town was built at the base of the hill, establishing San Diego. In 1846, the first America Flag was raised in the town. Today, Old Town San Diego takes you back in time to what life was like in the first town of San Diego. Tour historic buildings and learn about the history of our city.
The Gaslamp district is the heart of San Diego’s nightlife. Clubs, bars, dining, shopping, theatres, and more pack the nearly sixteen blocks that make up the Gaslamp District. The Gaslamp District is also the site of many special and seasonal events throughout the year.
San Diego’s most famous hotel! This luxury beachside resort is located on Coronado Island. Built in 1888, it has been featured in such moves as Some Like It Hot, The Stunt Man, Wicked, Wicked, and My Blue Heaven. Notable guests include celebrities, presidents, royalty, visiting dignitaries, and more. Charlie Chaplan, L. Frank Baum, Thomas Edison, Katharine Hepburn, Bette Davis, FDR, JFK, Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon, and Dwight D. Eisenhower are just some of the famous people who stayed at The Del in years past. The Hotel is great for weddings and other events. There are lots of dining options at the Hotel and you can walk around the grounds and the beach in front of the hotel. The Hotel Del hosts many special events throughout he year, including seaside ice skating during the holiday season.
A visit to downtown San Diego isn’t complete without stopping off at Seaport Village for a little shopping! A great stop to pick up some San Diego souvenirs, it also has a wonderful sea shell shop and some great restaurants along the water.
Visit a classic boardwalk amusement park in Mission Beach. Ride the wooden roller coaster, go roller blading, grab and ice cream, ride teh wave machine at The Wave House or play on the sands of Mission Beach.
Sea lions are pretty easy to find in San Diego, sunning themselves on the rocks and splashing in the water. But if you want a guaranteed chance of getting some pictures, visit the Children’s Pool in La Jolla. The largest congregation of sea lions can be found here, lounging on the rocks.
High above San Diego Bay, the historic lighthouse stands guard. History buffs will love all the information about the history of the lighthouse, its keepers, and the first explorers of San Diego. The lighthouse has been well maintained and you can climb up inside it and see what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper while it was still operational.
One of San Diego’s dedicated parks, Sunset Cliffs, is located in beautiful Point Loma. Sunset Cliffs is one of San Diego’s most beautiful spots to watch the sun set. The cliffs can be treacherous though and the currents are strong in this area.
The Star of India is the world’s oldest active sailing ship. She was originally built in 1863. Today, she is part of the San Diego Maritime Museum. You can see her docked along the waterfront in downtown San Diego—you can’t miss her!
Step inside a decommissioned aircraft carrier! The USS Midway’s last mission was as part of Operation Desert Storm, before reaching her final home in San Diego. Today it is a floating naval aviation museum in San Diego Bay. It has over 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft.
In 2015, Balboa Park celebrated its 100th anniversary. Originally part of the 1915 World’s Fair, Balboa Park is one of San Diego’s most famous stops for visitors. From the famous spire of the California Tower to San Diego Zoo to the beautiful fountain in from of the San Diego Museum of Art, there’s something for everyone at this beautiful park. All told, Balboa Park houses fifteen museums. Additional things to include a visit to the artist’s visit, a ride on the carousel, dating back to 1910, or listening to free organ concerts in the outdoor pavilion. San Diego residents can enjoy free admission to select museums each Tuesday of the month.
The largest zoo of its kind in the United States. The San Diego Safari Park is over 1,804 acres. In addition to animals housed in traditional zoo enclosures, this park has a unique draw: the safari. Guests can choose from different “safari” rides through the larger animal enclosures. Some will even get you close enough to feed the animals, under the supervision of trained keepers. It’s a zoo experience unlike any other.
Seaworld San Diego is home to a variety of sea creatures. Beyond their famous whales and dolphins, they also have penguins, otters, fish, sting rays, and more. You’ll learn about Seaworld’s conservation efforts and how they help the marine animals of San Diego when they become sick or injured. The park has a number of shows and attractions, including the whale and dolphin shows. You’ll even have the opportunity to touch some marine animals while at Seaworld.
The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest zoos in the world. Like its sister park, the Safari Park, to the north, this zoo features animals in traditional zoo enclosures. Some of its most famous occupants include California Condors, elephants, koalas, tigers, and of course, the giant panda. Prepare to stay all day and bring comfortable shoes: the zoo is massive and the best way to see it is on foot. Of course if you need to rest your feet, take a ride on the tram or soar through the trees on the sky safari.