After living in San Diego for 2.5 years, I made is my mission to get through all of my bucket list items. Here you’ll never be bored! San Diego has so much to do and offer. The only question is: can you fit everything into your itinerary? 🙂 Let’s go!
20 Things to Tick Off Your San Diego Bucket List
1. Watch a Game at Petco Park
Petco Park is the baseball park and home of the San Diego Padres. Located downtown close to the Gaslamp district, come here for a relaxing afternoon! Sit back, relax, take in a ball game, and drink some overpriced beer. 🙂
2. Visit the Hotel del Coronado
Crossing the Coronado Bridge and visiting the super famous Hotel del Coronado is a must! Rooms here are crazy expensive, but if you can afford it, hey – definitely stay the night. It is featured in a number of films, but the most popular is Some Like It Hot, starring Marilyn Monroe.
3. Enjoy the Views from the Mount Soledad Cross
Drive the windy roads up to the Mount Soledad cross. It’s a landmark in San Diego, and also a great lookout point over the city. On top of that, it’s designated as Korean War memorial, and you can even see a photo of my grandpa here!
4. Explore Cabrillo National Monument
This park offers great views of San Diego’s harbor and skyline. The Old Point Loma Lighthouse is a must, and is a San Diego icon. During the winter months of January to March, it’s a popular spot to try and catch a glimpse of the grey and blue whales migrating from Baja California to Alaska. There is an entrance fee of $10 per vehicle, but stay up to date before your visit by checking out the Cabrillo National Monument website.
5. Visit Seaport Village
Located downtown along the San Diego bay waterfront, you’ll find the charming Seaport Village. It’s fun for adults and kids alike, and features shops, eateries, and outdoor entertainment. It’s also nicely decorated and festive around the holidays. 🙂
6. Spend the day at Mission Bay Park
Mission Bay Park is one of the most popular spots to just be outside and enjoy the San Diego sun. The options are endless here. You can have a picnic, a bonfire, bike or run along the pathway, go paddle boarding, play volleyball, or even sail. It has it all!
Read more: San Diego’s Best Outdoor Activities
7. Discover Old Town
Come to Old Town and immerse yourself in history and culture! After all, Old Town was California’s first settlement. There’s plenty to do here. Wander through unique shops (like old school candle and soap shops), pan for gold, take an Old Town trolley tour, or see historic sites and museums. And let’s not forget, you must eat the Mexican food!
8. Wine and Dine at the Temecula Vineyards
Meet Southern California’s wine country, Temecula Valley. If you thought Sonoma and Napa Valley was all California had to offer, I’m pleased to inform you, they’re not. In Temecula you can expect award-winning wines, tasty restaurants, and cozy bed and breakfast inns.
Also not to be missed are the hot air balloon rides over Temecula Valley!
9. Frolic with the La Jolla Seals
La Jolla’s coastlines are easy to love. 😍 I mean, they have it all! Dramatic sea cliffs (check!), hidden coves (check!), rocky reefs (check!), and beautiful sandy beaches (double check!).
And you cannot miss La Jolla Cove! Here you can get up close and personal to the seals and sea lions that sunbath on the rocky shores.
10. Spend the Day at the San Diego Zoo & Safari Park
Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is famed for being one of the best zoos in the world! Here you can expect to see over 3,700 animals, not to mention the shows, 4-D theatres and play areas. Most notably, the San Diego zoo has been able to successfully breed the Giant Panda. You can receive daily updates via the panda cam from the convenience of your own home.
North of the San Diego Zoo, in Escondido, is the San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a not-for-profit organization. It is a species conservation and breeding facility for the San Diego Zoo, and offers free-range enclosures housing animals from Africa, Asia, Europe, North and South America, and Australia. Here you can go on safari and get up close to rhinos, giraffes, elephants, buffalo and more!
11. Go Paddle Boarding
A super popular (and fun!) activity is paddle boarding! There are many locations to paddle board, but I would recommend Mission Bay as a favorite. If you don’t have your own paddle board, renting and lessons are available through companies such as The SUP Connection and OEX Point Loma.
12. Wander through the Little Italy Mercato Farmer’s Market
This is my faaaaaavorite market! Every Saturday (year-round, rain or shine) the Little Italy Market is open. There are over 200 tents and live music on the streets. The vendor options are endless and the atmosphere is vibrant.
Here you can find a little bit of everything. Come hungry because this market has the best food! Sample fresh cheeses, almond paste, and flavored hummus and garlic spreads. Then wash it down with unique combinations of kombucha, cold brew, or refreshing juices.
The shopping is also fantastic! You can find the most beautiful jewelry pieces, boutique clothing, or even succulents and plants for your garden.
13. Enjoy an Evening in the Gaslamp Quarter
Located downtown, the historic Gaslamp Quarter is popular for its dining options and a fun night out. It’s the best place to be for food, bars, and entertainment and is in close proximity to the Convention Center, Seaport Village, and Petco Park.
14. Visit the LEGOLAND California Theme Park
Yep, that’s right. The plastic construction toy, Legos, has its own theme park! This is a family friendly attraction with rides, shows, and even a LEGOLAND waterpark!
15. Watch the Sunset at Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs is one of my favorite spots in San Diego! The rugged and rocky coastline is an ideal spot for running or walking along the sea-cliffs. Or my favorite choice, hunker down at sunset to watch the sun disappear into the sea. 😍
Free yoga is also available here! Sunset Cliffs Yoga meets every Wednesday at 5:30pm and Friday at 11am. So come get a great workout with a spectacular, seaside view.
16. Explore Balboa Park
Balboa Park is a gorgeous area to explore with a plethora of museums, parks, beautiful Spanish architecture, and gardens everywhere. Some personal favorites is the beautiful architecture at the Casa de Balboa and Casa del Prado buildings, the Spanish Village Art Center, the Rose and Japanese Friendship Garden and the Natural History Museum.
The Botanical Building and Lily Pond is an extremely popular spot and you’ll find many people here lingering to take a photo.
17. Go Surfing
It seems like just about everyone surfs in San Diego. There are surf schools along Mission Beach and Pacific Beach as well as rentals. Just be sure to wear a wetsuit, the water’s freezing!
18. Hang glide or Paraglide off Torrey Pines Cliffs
For all the daredevils out there, come to the Torrey Pines Gliderport. Paragliding and hang gliding has never been more scenic! You can fly tandem, or even earn your wings and get certified.
19. Explore the Carlsbad Flower Fields – Spring Only!
April showers brings May flowers. 🙂 And they’re especially beautiful at the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch. At $14.00 a person, these colorful flowers attract visitors from all over.
20. Take a Harbor Cruise
Going to San Diego? Check out these popular posts:
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- A San Diego Neighborhood Guide
- 5 Authentic Mexican Street Tacos in San Diego
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What’s on your San Diego bucket list? Love to know in the comments below!