8 Things You Need to Do When Visiting San Diego

February 03, 2021

Did you know that San Diego attracted a record number of 34.9 million visitors to the city in 2016? This earned the city about $10.4 billion to its tourism industry which employs about 183,000 people.

San Diego boasts about 50 miles of coastline, has a wide variety of natural environments to enjoy, and is one of the most active cities in the country. It is also one of the top cities in education and biosciences. 

If this is your first time visiting San Diego, there are tons of fun activities to do. Check out our list below. 

1. Balboa Park Is the Place to Be 

Balboa Park, San Diego

Balboa Park is the place to visit in San Diego. It's in the city's downtown and home to some of the most beautiful parks and gardens.  Whether you want to spend the day admiring nature's most beautiful flowers or have a picnic with friends or loved ones, you'll enjoy this 1,200-acre park. You can check out the cactus or rose gardens or the many tropical plants native to the area. 

2. Spend a Day at the Beach 

San Diego Beach 

You can't visit San Diego without spending a day at one of its gorgeous beaches. Home to some of the best beaches in the country, you can spend a relaxing day tanning on the shore or learning to surf. 

Mission and Pacific Beach offer some of the best conditions for those new to surfing and for the pros as well. You can rent some of the gear you'll need at one of the many shops in the area. 

Belmont Park sits in front of the beach. This amusement park has a variety of rides. The Giant Dipper is the 100-year wooden roller coaster that makes the park a national landmark. 

3. Head to a Drive-in Movie 

South Bay Drive-in Theater

After a long day at the beach, you can unwind at night by heading to the South Bay Drive-in Theater. Check out the newest releases from the safety and comfort of your own car. 

Enjoy a snack bar of classic movie theater snacks like popcorn and nachos as well as some favorite Mexican dishes. Adults pay $10 while children 5-9 years old get in for only $1!

4. Get a Drink or Bite to Eat at the Gaslamp Quarter 

If you're looking for things to do in San Diego then you should check out the Gaslamp Quarter. Here you'll find some of the best nightlife and entertainment.

You can spend your day at the Gaslamp Quarter doing some shopping, visiting a few art galleries, or having a drink at one of its many bars. Many of the restaurants in the area offer outdoor seating and there are plenty of rooftop bars you can enjoy today. 

Andaz San Diego Hotel's rooftop Lounge has beautiful fire pits for the cooler San Diego nights. Check out Travioso's list of the best places to eat and drink in San Diego for more places to get your grub on. 

5. Stay Fit by Visiting Mission Bay Park 

Mission Bay Park 

Mission Bay is the perfect place to try out one of the many water sports practiced in the area. Whether you want to learn to sail, paddleboard, or jet ski, you'll find beginners and pros enjoying the water here. 

Mission Bay also has a ton of biking and jogging trails if you're looking to stay fit while visiting the city. These trails along the shore provide the perfect view for the avid runner. 

The Mission Beach Boardwalk is great for skateboarders and rollerblade enthusiasts. The 3-mile boardwalk provides the perfect route along the beach to ride out on your board or skates. 

6. Take a Ferry Ride 

Coronado Ferry

You can't leave San Diego without taking a ride on the Coronado Ferry. This ferry ride takes you across the beautiful San Diego Bay into the Coronado Ferry Landing. 

You can explore the multiple shops and restaurants in the area. You can also take your bike on the ferry to explore more of Coronado. A kayak tour of the San Diego Bay should be on your itinerary as well!

7. Hike Through the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve 

Torrey Pines

This 1,750-acre of reserved land demonstrates the importance of nature and the value in protecting it. The Torrey pine is a rare type of pine tree that only grows in this natural reserve and on Santa Rosa Island.

See some of Southern California's only salt marshes, visit the famous sandstone ravines, or come for the spectacular views of the coast.

The Razor Point Trail is the best way to hike through the sandstone ravines. The Guy Fleming Trail is best known for its views of the ocean. 

8. Check Out History and Art by Visiting Chicano Park 

Next on our list of San Diego destinations is the historic Chicano Park. Chicano Park is considered a national landmark and has the largest collection of Chicano murals anywhere in the world. 80 murals stretch across seven acres of San Diego's oldest Mexican-American barrio or neighborhood.

The paintings depicting the Mexican ancestry of many of the city's residents are now recognized for their cultural and political significance. They'll be preserved for future generations to learn about their city's rich history.  What You Should Do When Visiting San Diego

There are plenty of fun activities to do when visiting San Diego. Visiting one of the city's beautiful beaches and exploring all there is to see at Balboa Park should be at the top of your list. 

Check out our blog to learn more fun things to do when you visit San Diego or to learn about things you can do in other cities around the country.

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