Showcasing world-class beaches, craft breweries, theme parks, intriguing museums, and some of the best Mexican cuisine this side of the border, San Diego is jam-packed with fun things to do.
From great outdoor activities to awesome nightlife and culture, this Southern Californian city has it all!
Thankfully, we’ve done the research for you — all you need to worry about is which of the near-endless fun and unusual things to do in San Diego will be ticked off the bucket list first.
Ready to explore all the best bits San Diego has to offer? Read on!
1 – See whales up close like never before
While in sunny San Diego, make sure to seize the opportunity of taking a whale-watching boat tour.
The experience of admiring these gentle giants off of California’s beautiful coast— not to mention the pods of graceful dolphins skirting around — promises to be nothing short of unforgettable.
2 – Soar over Temecula’s wineries in a hot air balloon
Experience serenity and peacefulness while soaring over the beautiful vineyards of Temecula in a hot air balloon tour with Compass Balloons — an adventure that delivers excitement and relaxation in spades.
This is one of the most magical and surreal ways to admire the San Diego region, especially at twilight!
3 – Sail across beautiful San Diego Bay at sunset
If you’ve already seen San Diego’s sites on foot, then opt for an alternative (and arguably more impressive) perspective of the city with a romantic sunset sailing cruise.
As you glide along the waters of San Diego Bay and admire the sunset over one of Californian’s most beautiful cities, the sparks are sure to fly.
4 – Taste local cuisine at Liberty Public Market
Just one visit to Liberty Public Market and you’ll be hooked; hungry visitors regularly enjoy the vast range of cuisines — no matter your craving, you’ll walk away more than satisfied.
Located within the Arts District of Liberty Station and featuring more than 30 independently-run food stalls, this is where all the best San Diego cuisine comes together under one roof.
5 – Spend a day exploring the award-winning San Diego Zoo
A visit to the San Diego zoo is a fun day out for adults and children alike!
Discover thousands of wild animals including lions, koalas, pandas, elephants, polar bears, and more; take a ride on the Skyfari aerial tram, and admire animals in a thoughtfully-built and landscaped environment.
Keep an eye out for Ron Burgundy too…
6 – Go on a thrilling jet boat adventure across San Diego Bay
Looking to get your heart racing?
Escape the crowds and zoom around San Diego Bay on a jet boat ride — the thrills will be aplenty and the views will be next-level!
From the warm waters, a number of the city’s most famous landmarks are visible — notably the USS Midway Museum and Coronado Island.
7 – Loop, roll and zip your way across the San Diego skies
San Diego Sky Tours offers aerobatic flights for everyone ranging from beginner fliers to expert pilots — no matter your experience level in the sky, with a seasoned pilot by your side, it promises to be an exhillirating experience like no other.
Besides the barrel roles and loop-the-loops, the views of San Diego’s famed coastline from up high are second to none.
8 – Explore San Diego, GoCar-style!
Hop into the world’s first GPS-guided car and discover San Diego’s finest landmarks at your own pace in what is legitimately one of the city’s most unique transport options.
Start with a cruise through the historic Gaslamp Quarter, then ramble around the beautiful Balboa Park, and top it all off by feeling like you’ve traveled back in time with a drive through Old Town.
9 – Immerse yourself in a world of wonder at the Fleet Science Center
A family-friendly venue that’s always growing in popularity, the Fleet Science Center is the perfect place to investigate all kinds of exciting science.
Conveniently situated in Balboa Park, the center sports a hands-on science museum as well as the world’s first IMAX Dome, combining serious learning with interactive fun.
10 – Sign up for a truly unique Segway experience
Zoom past all of San Diego’s most notorious landmarks on a Segway tour — with plenty of photo opportunities along the way, of course.
Thanks to the simple operating systems, riders can navigate effortlessly through the streets while learning all kinds of cultural tidbits and historic fun facts about the city from the professional guide.
11 – Experience the best of beach life at Coronado Beach
Home of the famous Hotel Del Coronado and regularly voted as the best strip of sand in the USA, Coronado Beach is as picturesque and vibrant as any.
In addition to world-class spas, fun surf camps, and awesome outdoor activities, Coronado Beach also plays host to a range of amazing beachfront events all year long.
12 – Have a good laugh at one of San Diego’s Comedy Clubs
Hosting emerging comedians to established artists and every funnyman in between, San Diego’s comedy scene is serious business.
It’s common knowledge that San Diego has some of the best comedy clubs in the United States — from The American Comedy Co. to the National Comedy Theatre, The Comedy Club at Pechanga, Sycuan Live & Up Close, and The Comedy Store, you’ll be spoiled for choice when it comes to a hilarious night out.
13 – Go on a deep-sea fishing trip
Enjoy a deep-sea fishing trip off the coast of San Diego.
Whether you’re tagging along with your friends or family or simply heading out to sea solo in search of a big catch, a fantastic fishing trip on a wonderful boat with an expert crew is always a good time.
14 – Plan a quick trip to Tijuana
Sitting just 20 miles south of San Diego, Tijuana is always an easy, exciting place to go for a day trip.
After crossing the border, make a beeline for Avenida Revolución, discover its unique culinary and craft beer scenes, and don’t forget to admire the city’s amazing urban art street.
Tijuana is more than just a party town, that’s for sure.
15 – Kayak around La Jolla Underwater Park
Spanning 6,000 acres across the ocean floor in San Diego, La Jolla Underwater Park is a popular destination for kayakers, snorkelers, and divers.
With warm, crystal-clear waters, a kayak trip out to the best snorkeling spots promises an array of local wildlife, including blubbery sea lions and adorable sea turtles.
16 – Relax on a harbor sightseeing cruise
Jump on a sensational cruise and marvel at the multi-million dollar views of San Diego Bay.
For something a little more touristy, opt for a sightseeing cruise; for something sure to kindle the romance, sign up for a romantic dinner cruise and see San Diego’s finest landmarks from the water, bubbly in hand.
17 – Feel the thrill of indoor skydiving
Always wanted to feel the thrill of skydiving but never had the guts to actually jump from a plane? iFly San Diego at Mission Valley is the solution we’ve all been waiting for!
One session here and you’ll experience the genuine adrenaline rush of skydiving without the fright of an actual freefall.
It’s one of the most thrilling things to do in San Diego, and you don’t even need to leave the ground.
18 – Experience life at sea by visiting the USS Midway Museum
Discover the most visited floating ship museum in the country and immerse yourself in over 50 years of world history at the same time!
With over 60 exhibits, a range of short films that give you the chance to relive historic war moments, and hyper-realistic flight simulators, there’s something for everyone on the USS Midway.
19 – Ride horses along Imperial Beach
Have you ever wanted to ride a horse on a beach?
Pony Land offers a unique and fun horseback riding experience fits for visitors of all ages — it’s the perfect family-friendly activity.
The rides take place on Imperial Beach on the southern end of the city, the only place in San Diego that allows horseback riding on the beach.
20 – Come and cheer at Petco Park
Sports fans, this one’s for you! Head to Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres baseball team, and soak in the unique atmosphere of an MBL game.
Petco Park is regarded as one of the nation’s more impressive venues, offering some of the best sightlines in baseball thanks to the stunning San Diego skyline backdrop.
21 – Spend an afternoon at the Natural History Museum
Journey through time at the San Diego Natural History Museum and learn how life on Earth has evolved through the centuries.
Home to a variety of intriguing exhibits, the museum is a great place to learn about nature and the environment of not only California but the entire history of civilization.
22 – Tackle the fairways at Torrey Pines Golf Course
Situated 20 minutes from San Diego downtown, Torrey Pines Golf Course is a 36-hole municipal public course renowned nationwide for its spectacular oceanfront setting.
It’s not all about the views though: besides the ocean breeze, the course is noted for its highly challenging gameplay.
23 – Go behind the scenes of an authentic San Diego brewery
Are you a beer lover? Then we’ve got the activity for you!
With new microbreweries popping up every year, San Diego is sure to quench any thirst.
With a locally-led beer tour, guests learn all about the brewing process and the ingredients used to create delicious drinks, and, of course, sample some of the city’s most famous brews along the way.
24 – Make a splash in San Diego Bay
Explore San Diego by land and sea without leaving the comfort of your own seat!
In this best of both worlds experience, visitors zoom past a range of the top San Diego attractions on route to San Diego Bay’s Shelter Island, where friendly dolphins and sea lions lurk.
25 – Fall in love with the Mexican cuisine
Are you a real foodie?
Whether you’re a hard shell or soft shell kind of person, the Mexican food in San Diego is nothing short of exquisite.
Explore the Old Town get and a taste of the south in San Diego’s most historic neighborhood; sample some authentic Mexican dishes; and taste a vast selection of tequilas, all as part of a captivating Old Town walking tour.
26 – Let the good times roll with a cycle bar
Social Cycle lets you combine sightseeing with a social drinking session — a great combo on any hot San Diego day.
Enjoy a couple of ice-cold drinks with your friends as you roll effortlessly along the city’s lovely streets — the ideal activity for stag and hens parties, birthdays, or any sort of celebration.
27 – Meet Shamu at SeaWorld
SeaWorld San Diego offers up-close animal experiences, extraordinary aquatic shows, and wildlife-inspired thrill rides.
Come face-to-face with fascinating marine mammals and learn about marine animal conservation efforts in this world-famous theme park — the kids will absolutely love it!
28 – Explore the wonderful world of Legoland
With tons of exciting rides and attractions, fantastic live shows, a fun aqua park, and a fascinating aquarium, Legoland California is a budding brick builder’s paradise.
Whether you’re young of age or young at heart, Legoland is always a great day out.
29 – Shop till you drop at Las Americas Premium Outlets
The perfect spot to unleash the inner shopaholic, the beautiful outdoor shopping plaza that is Las Americas Premium Outlets features exceptional brands like Tommy Hilfiger, Adidas, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, and more.
It’s not just the setting that’s beautiful here… so are the prices and huge savings!
30 – Try paragliding in Torrey Pines State Reserve
With nearly 100 years of flying history, the Torrey Pines Gliderport is San Diego’s premier location for paragliding.
Book a tandem flight and soar the skies above La Jolla’s rugged seaside cliffs — an activity fit for all experience levels.
31 – Discover Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, one of San Diego’s true coastal gems
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a lovely, steep hillside park offering countless opportunities to get immersed in the great outdoors.
Tackle one of the various hiking trails (even camp overnight), spend a few hours playing in the tide pools, try your hand at fishing, or just hang out and enjoy the scenery.
32 – Take the family to the Air & Space Museum
No trip to San Diego is complete without visiting the Air and Space Museum, an interactive and informative indoor attraction adored by kids and adults alike.
Not only can you admire a collection of historic aircraft and spacecraft from all over the world, but you’ll walk away having learned a thing or two as well!
33 – Hike to the Cabrillo National Monument
Situated at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, Cabrillo National Monument showcases tremendous views of the San Diego region, as well as excellent opportunities to explore the best local bits that Mother Nature has to offer.
With hiking trails, tide pools, and whale watching lookouts, there’s plenty to do around here.
33 – Grab a beer and burger at the Waterfront Bar & Grill
Looking for an eaterie that’s hip, affordable, and most importantly, delicious?
Then take a stroll down through Little Italy and head to the Waterfront Bar & Grill, one of San Diego’s most dynamic food and drink haunts.
Dig into a juicy burger and down a delicious cocktail or two, with great music and a trendy atmosphere all around.
34 – Explore San Diego’s vibrant street art scene
You don’t have to visit museums to see the amazing art in San Diego, just stroll through the local alleyways!
The city acts as its own canvas, becoming a virtual outdoor art gallery full of stunning murals — some official, and some underground yet still intriguing.
With a dedicated street art walking tour, it’s the ideal way to learn about San Diego’s history and culture.
35 – Listen to a performance of the San Diego Symphony at Copley Symphony Hall
The San Diego Symphony performed its first concert in 1910 and has since become one of the finest classical music venues in California.
With wonderful acoustics, extraordinarily talented musicians, and its housing in a brilliantly-decorated theater, it’s a must-visit for any classical music fan.
36 – Driving your own speed boat!
Experience the thrills and spills of an incredible boat tour, with the extra excitement of being behind the wheel!
Grab your friend, partner, or random stranger at the hostel, don a life jacket, and cruise around the bay’s waters in your very own 2-seater speedboat — always a welcomed relief from the crowds of the mainland.
37 – Get awe-inspiring views of San Diego on a thrilling helicopter tour
If you want to go sightseeing in style, take to the San Diego skies with Corporate Helicopters.
As you soar above the city, bask in all San Diego has to offer; marvel at the stunning skyline, fly past Ocean Beach Pier and get up close to sights like SeaWorld and the Del Mar Racetrack.
38 – Fly like Iron Man; swim like a dolphin
Looking for some fun San Diego water sports?
Look no further than the latest nautical adventure trend: flyboarding!
At the Mission Bay Sportcenter, thrillseekers are offered the chance to experience the adrenaline rush of hovering above the warm Pacific waters, Iron Man-style, before diving below the surface just like a dolphin.
It’s a unique adventure you won’t soon forget.
39 – Go fishing on Ocean Beach Pier
Pier fishing in any city is fun; pier fishing in San Diego, with glowing sunsets and warm ocean breezes, is mesmerizing.
Come either early morning or sundown, choose the right bait, and catch halibut, bass, and other fish.
Best of all, you don’t need a fishing license to cast a reel from San Diego’s Ocean Beach Pier, just a decent rod.
40 – Glide through the water at high speed on a jet ski
Hop onboard a jet ski and zoom through San Diego’s waters — an easily-accessible thrill that promises the perfect chance to cool off on those typically toasty SoCal summer days.
While there’s plenty of vendors around the area, many tourists head to San Diego Bay Adventures to pick up their rentals.
41 – See wild animals roaming free at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
With 1,800 acres home to over 4,000 species of wild animals roaming free, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a surefire hit for locals and tourists alike.
Get nose to nose with lions, admire the majestic California condor, see stunning African elephants, and so much more — this gigantic safari park is certainly worthy of a day out!
42 – Visit local wineries in Temecula wine country
Explore the prestigious Temecula region, learn about the history of winemaking in the area, and tour a number of different and totally unique wine cellars — Vindemia, Callaway, and Baily are regular crowd favorites, but the list goes on and on.
Of course, there’ll be tasting to boot; nothing beats a summer day sipping on some of the best Californian wines.
43 – Dive with colorful fish at La Jolla Cove
The San Diego region is a nautical playground for humans and animals alike, with waters that are as warm as they are clear.
From amazing sea lions to stunning leopard sharks, La Jolla Cove is teeming with sealife, making it a particularly fabulous place to scuba dive.
44 – Check out the Automotive Museum
Highlighting the history and evolution of the automobile, with stories, artifacts, and genuine cars from around the world, the San Diego Automotive Museum offers a nostalgic look at the extraordinary vehicles of the 20th-century.
For all the petrolheads out there, this is one of the best things to do in San Diego.
45 – Visit the amazing Birch Aquarium
Embark on an underwater adventure with the family at Birch Aquarium, a popular attraction home to thousands of local marine animals.
With countless species spread across more than 60 different purpose-built aquarium habitats, the hours will fly by. Don’t forget to grab a souvenir at the gift shop either.
46 – Have a few beers on the paddle pub
Experience a real floating party with Paddle Pub, one of the most unique watering holes in the state.
Whether you’re celebrating a bachelorette or bachelor party, a birthday, or just want to try something different with a group of friends, it is one of the most fun ways to explore San Diego.
47 – Head into the Anza-Borrego Desert on a quad bike
Who knew San Diego had a wild side, right?
A high-octane activity not too far from the main hustle of the city, the thrills of driving an ATV in the Anza-Borrego desert are second to none.
Run by San Diego Dune Tours, this adventure is packed with fun at every turn — a once-in-a-lifetime experience that shouldn’t be overlooked.
48 – Take a hot tub cruise!
Looking for some more unique and fun things to do in San Diego?
Then look no further! Whether you’re a local, new in town, or just passing through, all kinds of guests rave about hot tubbing on a boat.
With a glass of champagne in hand and sparkling views of the skyline, it’s a must for the bucket list.
49 – Stroll through the Maritime Museum of San Diego
From tall sailing ships to classic yachts and Navy submarines, the Maritime Museum of San Diego showcases one of the largest collections of historic sea vessels in the United States.
While there’s plenty to see, the museum’s undisputed centerpiece is the Star of India, an iron bark that dates back to 1863.
50 – Jump out of a plane!
Looking for a unique addition to your San Diego vacation?
Dive from up to 15,000 feet and experience the thrill of freefall for up to an insane 60 seconds, traveling at speeds of over 120 mph.
Get this thrill of a lifetime at Skydive San Diego.
51 – Get splashed at Aquatica aquapark
San Diego might be famed for its long sandy beaches, but it also offers fantastic theme parks.
Part of the SeaWorld experience, Aquatica offers splashes galore in the form of an exciting water park with a collection of impressive thrill slides designed to get your heart racing.
On those hot summer days, there’s no better place to be.
52 – Pull on some rain boots and go tide pooling
There are a number of fine spots in San Diego to get up close and personal with the variety of tide pool residents, including the Cabrillo National Monument Tide Pools, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park, Birch Aquarium at Scripps, and Swami’s State Beach Tide Pools — just to name a few.
Just remember: look, don’t touch.
53 – Sip on refreshing beach craft cocktails at Cannonball
Sample Japanese delicacies by the sea at Cannonball, San Diego’s largest oceanfront rooftop, and enjoy the stunning beachfront views.
With service just as spectacular as the panoramic views, this is one of the best places in San Diego for a delicious seafood dinner.
54 – Have a blast at Belmont Park
Situated along Mission Beach, Belmont Park is a historic oceanfront amusement park that offers a one-way ticket to the land of adrenaline.
Strap into a wide range of thrilling attractions, from roller coasters to bumper cars and zero-gravity rides before grabbing an ice cream and walking along the beach.
55 – Party the night away in the Gaslamp Quarter
You’re on vacation, after all, so why not let loose a little?
A night out pub crawling with your friends (old or new) is one fun way to spend the weekend, that’s for sure.
Located in the heart of downtown San Diego, Gaslamp Quarter is the place to be when it comes to nightlife — with pubs, bars, clubs, and restaurants to boot, there’s plenty of watering holes to choose from.
56 – Check out some live music at Belly Up
Looking for a cool place to catch some live music?
San Diego has one of the most exciting music scenes in the United States, although perhaps no venue is more well-known than Belly Up, famed for showcasing talented artists like John Lee Hooker, BB King, and the Black Eyed Peas.
57 – Trek through Mission Trails Regional Park
Encompassing more than 8,000 acres, Mission Trails Regional Park is a nature lover’s paradise, offering hiking trails suitable for all experience levels, and providing a great natural escape from the hustle and bustle of San Diego city.
58 – Watch a live play at the Old Globe Theatre
Located in Balboa Park, the award-winning Old Globe Theatre is one of the city’s most important cultural attractions, standing tall for over 75 years.
Check the upcoming calendar, pick your favorite performance, sit back, and just enjoy the show!
59 – Go surfing at La Jolla
La Jolla is renowned as one of the world’s premier surfing destinations, and it’s also conveniently located not too far from the main draws of downtown San Diego.
Whether you’re a beginner or a seasoned pro, there’s never a bad day to ride the waves at what is arguably California’s best surfing beach.
60 – Take an afternoon stroll through Seaport Village
Seaport Village offers amazing dining options, unique shopping, and awesome live music events, bringing San Diego’s waterfront to life.
Nestled between the historic USS Midway Aircraft Carrier and the San Diego Convention Center, not only does the village provide great views of the Coronado Bridge (and island), but also fresh ocean breezes 365 days a year.
61 – Visit the Happiest Place on Earth — Disneyland!
Embark on a scenic drive north en route to Disneyland Resort, California’s most famous and popular theme park — sitting only 90 minutes from downtown San Diego.
Don’t want to wait in line? Grab fast passes and visit during the week.
62 – Bet on horse racing at Del Mar Racetrack
After traversing the Gaslamp District or Old Town, cap off the evening with a visit to the Del Mar Racetrack, home of regular horse racing.
Events at Del Mar run Wednesday through Sunday, typically from mid-July through to early September.
63 – Go out at The Observatory North Park
Are you a rock music fan? When it comes to rock music in San Diego, you can guarantee that the Observatory North Park has got your back.
The atmosphere is wild, the performers are world-class, and the drinks and food are never too far away!
64 – Spend the evening at Mister A’s, a feast for the eyes and the stomach
Looking for a romantic place to dine with your special someone?
Maybe you’re thinking of popping a certain question! Either way, escape the city crowds and venture up to Mister A’s, a venue boasting what is arguably the best view from any San Diego eaterie.
It’s not all about the view though; the menu is equally impressive!
65 – Take drinking to the next level at ALTITUDE Sky Lounge
Perched 22 stories above the historic Gaslamp District in downtown San Diego, ALTITUDE Sky Lounge boasts unparalleled panoramic views of San Diego.
With a large menu full of beers, wines, cocktails, and snacks, it’s the ideal spot to watch the sun go down before hitting the town.
66 – Take it easy with a spa day
On those days where you want nothing more than a chance to recharge the batteries, San Diego is flush with wellness and relaxation opportunities.
Whether you’re after a massage, a spa day, a yoga session, or a combination of them all (plus more), there are always sizeable discounts available when you book online and in advance.
67 – See a live show at Humphreys Concerts By The Bay
Located on Shelter Island, Humphreys Concerts By The Bay has been a San Diego summer tradition for the past 40 years, showcasing the biggest names in music history including Willie Nelson, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, and Bob Dylan, just to name a few.
The season runs from April to October, so there’s plenty of time to see your favorite artists strut their stuff.
We hope you enjoyed our selection of fun things to do in San Diego!
Do not hesitate to comment below if you have other fun activities in San Diego to recommend.