9 Fun Things to Do in San Diego
If you’re new to San Diego, you may be in search of fun activities. Read on for a comprehensive list of fun things to do in San Diego!
With beautiful beaches, unbeatable cuisine, craft breweries, amusement parks, historical districts, festivals, conventions, a nightlife mecca, a renowned zoo, and tons of outdoor recreation, there’s no shortage of fun things to do in San Diego, California. Whether you’re heading to the City in Motion for work, a getaway, or are considering relocating there, it’s definitely worth exploring.
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Our long-term rentals are ideal for checking out a new metropolis, including California’s second-largest and southernmost city. San Diego is a booming destination that has something for everyone. Find a rundown of nine fun things to do below.
Explore Balboa Park
Balboa Park is a historic park that sits on 1,200 acres of land in Downtown San Diego’s cultural hub. It has lots of walking and bike paths, gardens, sprawling open spaces, green belts, museums, and even several theaters. But the main attraction is the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Whether you have an afternoon or an entire day to spare, you won’t get bored exploring Balboa State Park.
Take a leisurely walk or bike ride along the paths and then stroll through the rose garden, cactus garden, or Japanese garden. Pack a picnic lunch or grab some grub at one of the food trucks. Admire the Spanish-Renaissance architecture, and then take some selfies at the Botanical Building, the park’s most photographed attraction and one of the world’s largest lath structures.
Head to a Farmers’ Market
The mild, Mediterranian-like climate of San Diego County means farmers’ markets are open year-round. Each week, there are roughly 50 markets in the metro area where growers from nearly 400 organic farms offer up fresh produce. You can also enjoy baked goods from local bakers and delicious foods from other San Diegan artisans.
On any given day of the week, you can usually find at least a few open farmers’ markets. In light of the coronavirus pandemic, many are now operating under new guidelines. For instance, most require masks and don’t permit dogs. That said, heading to a farmers’ market is still a great way to get outdoors and check out the local scene in San Diego.
Catch a Movie at the South Bay Drive-In Theater
If you’re looking for fun things to do in San Diego at night, you might consider catching a movie at the South Bay Drive-In Theater. It’s open year-round, seven nights a week after the sun goes down. And at $9 for adults and $1 for kids, it’s a perfect budget-friendly date idea or family activity.
The South Bay Drive-In has three fully digital 100-foot screens, which show new releases with bright, high-def picture quality. Plus, entry includes a double-feature, so you can hang out for hours.
Take the Coronado Ferry
The Coronado Ferry is a 15-minute ride across San Diego Bay. It docks at Coronado Ferry Landing on Coronado Island, where you can peruse shops, grab lunch or dinner, bike, swim, or even paddleboard at Coronado beach. The Silver Strand Bikeway begins right at the landing. It’s an 18-mile paved loop with striking Pacific Ocean views that takes you out to Imperial Beach and back again. We also recommend going for a swim at Silver Strand Beach while you’re there.
You can board the Coronado Ferry at the San Diego Convention Center or Broadway Pier. Fares are around $5 a person each way, but bicycles and kids under the age of 3 are free. If you don’t have your own bike or paddleboard, you can rent one at the Coronado Ferry Landing.
Spend the Day at SeaWorld
If you’re looking for fun things to do in San Diego with kids, SeaWorld is a must. You can see tons of aquatic animals, go on cool rides, explore aquariums, and check out many amazing attractions throughout the theme park. You’ll definitely want to say hi to the dolphins, orcas, sharks, sea lions, and penguins. And if you’re a thrill-seeker, we suggest taking a ride on the Electric Eel, San Diego’s fastest roller coaster.
SeaWorld San Diego is located in Mission Bay Park, a 190-acre aquatic park made up of more than 50% water. Aside from SeaWorld, Mission Bay Park is home to a gigantic water sports arena where you can kite-surf and sail. There are also beautiful beaches, tide pools, and salt marsh preserves with wading birds and other wildlife. Another theme park option is Legoland, which is one of the top family-friendly destinations in Southern California.
Visit Mission Beach and Pacific Beach
One of the reasons San Diego is dubbed “America’s Finest City” is that it has unbeatable beaches. While there are many to choose from, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are must-sees. They’re part of a massive connected shoreline and offer a plethora of attractions, amenities, and food destinations. Belmont Park, a beachfront amusement park, connects the two beaches. It’s home to the Giant Dipper, a wooden roller coaster, and National Historic Landmark that’s been operating for nearly 100 years.
When you make your way down the miles-long stretch of San Diego sand, you’ll see surfers, sun-bathers, boogie boarders, and swimmers. If you decide you want to hit the waves, you can get a surfboard or boogie board at one of the many sports shops within walking distance. Over on the boardwalk, Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are popular spots for rollerbladers, bicyclists, and tourists. When you get hungry, get some tasty San Diego fare right on the boardwalk or over on Mission Boulevard. Another San Diego beach worth checking out is La Jolla Shores, which is just a few miles away.
Spend an Afternoon in Little Italy
We couldn’t have a list of the best things to do in San Diego without mentioning Little Italy, which is charming and very walkable. It’s home to some of the best places to eat in San Diego, with top-tier restaurants, bars, brewpubs, bakeries, and grocery marts. You can also spend some time looking at high-end boutiques and quirky stores, hanging out in the piazzas, or seeing live music at one of the indie venues.
Every Wednesday and Saturday, the district hosts the Little Italy Mercato farmers market, which is known for its craft stalls, gourmet eats, and fresh seafood. You can also go down to Waterfront Park and enjoy views of San Diego harbor, sprawl out the green lawns, or get food for a picnic from the farmers market or an Italian grocer.
Spend an Evening in Gaslamp Quarter
If you’re looking for something to do at night, you might consider spending a few hours in the Gaslamp Quarter. The alluring and lively historic quarter of downtown San Diego spans over 16 blocks. It’s famous for its nightlife, including fancy clubs, dive bars, and quaint cocktail lounges.
Gaslamp Quarter is a shopping destination and has upwards of 100 retail stores. You can also see a music, drama, or comedy show at one of the theaters. And, of course, there are lots of incredible places to eat. From independent eateries and chains to cafes and ice cream shops, Gaslamp Quarter has it all.
Check Out the USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum is one of the most famous San Diego attractions. It’s a monument of the USS Midway, the US Navy’s longest-serving aircraft carrier, which was decommissioned in the early 90s.
At about one-fifth of a mile in length, the acclaimed ship is massive. It sits along San Diego Bay, where people can climb aboard for an educational tour. The self-guided audio tour of the maritime museum is fascinating and entertaining—and not just for history buffs.
Short-Term Rentals in San Diego
The San Diego area is full of fun things to do! If none of the ideas on this list pique your interest (perhaps you’re a return visitor) there’s still Ocean beach, Old Town San Diego, Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma, the Birch Aquarium, Mount Soledad, North Park, and more! The list of fun San Diego activities is endless.
We researched this list of fun things to do in San Diego to ensure its accuracy. But amid the pandemic, it’s always a good idea to check the website of an attraction or location before heading there. That way, you’ll know the operating hours, reservations requirements, what to bring, and what to expect from these San Diego activities.