Just two hours drive from Los Angeles, San Diego is another of California’s coastal gems. This bountiful city has all the beauty of its larger neighbours but with a little less of the hustle and bustle. Expect to find world class beaches and top American attractions that will leave you wondering why you never made it here before. Read on to find out the city's best attractions and see why San Diego is worth the detour.
Did you know that San Diego is home to America’s largest urban cultural park? Boasting more than 25 incredible attractions, Balboa Park is one the city’s most exciting cultural hubs. A 1,200 acre oasis, the park has 15 major museums to explore, a host of lush botanical gardens and is also home to the world famous San Diego Zoo. You’ll also find a number of restaurants and cafes, a golf complex, tennis club and plenty of hiking and biking trails. The beautiful Balboa Park is often rated as the number one attraction in San Diego.
San Diego Zoo
The renowned San Diego Zoo is a highlight for all ages. It was one of the first zoos to move away from cages and embrace open-air natural habitats. Many visitors travel from across the globe just to catch a glimpse of the zoo’s cheeky giant pandas. You will also have the chance to meet tigers, elephants, giraffes, gorillas and even polar bears. For more animal fun, visit the famous San Diego Safari Park and jump on their famous safari cart ride to see herds of wild animals up close in a natural setting.
Cabrillo National Monument
Situated on the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula, the Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the 16th century explorer that first stepped foot on the west coast of the United States. Take a hike along the two mile Bayside Trail and look forward to spectacular views of San Diego Bay. Keep an eye out for the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and if you are visiting during December through February, you are sure to see pods of majestic gray whales passing through. Just don’t forget the camera!
One of the more affluent neighbourhoods in the city, La Jolla is a hilly seaside community that boasts glorious ocean views. The beaches are perfect for swimming, surfing and kayaking or even go underwater with a snorkelling or scuba diving adventure. The peaceful waters of La Jolla Cove are perfect for swimming, with seals basking in the sun nearby. Pack a picnic and enjoy the magnificent coast or for spot of shopping, hit up the upscale boutiques along Prospect Street. Golf aficionados can’t miss a game at the championship Torrey Pines Golf Course.
If you happen to have kids or grandkids in tow, or if you are just an avid Lego collector, make a stop at LEGOLAND California. There are over 60 attractions to explore, including many incredible Lego models that are created using millions of Lego pieces. There are also a number of rides for the kids and with a park hopper ticket, you can also visit LEGOLAND Water Park next door. Pick up great presents or souvenirs at the giant LEGO store, which has the largest selection of Lego in the entire country and they can also ship to anywhere in the world.
San Diego Harbour Cruise
Another way to experience San Diego’s incredible waterfront location, is by hopping on a harbour cruise. You can enjoy a one or two hour tour on the water complete with informative commentary. The full bay tour will cover popular landmarks including Point Loma, Cabrillo National Monument, North Island Naval Air Station and Coronado Bridge. This relaxing journey is the perfect way to start your San Diego adventure with great views of the city’s modern skyline. In season, you could also enjoy a whale watching tour.
USS Midway Museum
Visit the USS Midway Museum and you will enter a floating city at sea. Have the chance to walk in the footsteps of 225,000 Midway sailors as you explore more than 60 exhibits that include 29 restored aircraft. Enjoy a self-guided audio tour, narrated by Midway sailors, and discover the abundant history that surrounds you. Take it one step further with a thrilling ride on one of the two flight simulators.
Make the most of San Diego’s impressive coast with a visit to Missions Beach. One of the nicest stretches of sand, you can walk, run or ride the wide beachfront walkway and make the most of California’s gorgeous year round sunshine. Take a break at Belmont Park, San Diego’s answer to the Santa Monica Pier. Home to various amusement park rides, including the second oldest wooden rollercoaster in the USA, this is a fantastic place to just hang out. Grab a bite to eat and appreciate the ocean views, purchase a few souvenirs or enjoy a sunset yoga class underneath the swaying palms.
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