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Best known for its beautiful beaches and parks and its near-perfect weather, San Diego is a popular destination along the southern Californian coast. With opportunities for wildlife viewing as well as a range of cultural, natural, and historic attractions available, you’ll never be at a loss for things to do.

Following are some of the best things to do on a trip to San Diego. The best part is that you won’t have to travel far each day. Each attraction is located near San Diego’s best hotels.

Visit the Seals at La Jolla Cove

La Jolla Cove is home to the largest seal and sea lion population in California. If you can put up with the stench, it’s quite the experience to witness a beach full of seals and sea lions napping and sunning themselves.

If the water’s not too cold, you can go kayaking or snorkeling to take a lap around the cove. This is a popular spot for swimming and other water sports, and there are many sea caves to explore. Access to the cove is free.

Image via Flickr by Mick Thompson1

Take in the View at Cabrillo National Monument

Located high on the cliffs at the end of the Point Loma Peninsula, the Cabrillo National Monument offers some of the best views in San Diego.

The view from the top stretches over San Diego Bay and includes scenes from the harbor, the stunning coast, and the mountains that loom beyond the skyline.

This is site of historic significance, and a National Parks Service museum here commemorates the first European explorer to land on the West Coast of the United States. Make sure you don’t miss the Old Point Loma Lighthouse or its exhibition depicting 19th-century life in a lighthouse.

Photo CC Bill Gracey

Spend a Day at the Beach

With their 17 miles of coastline, San Diego beaches offer a popular place to spend the day. Whether you’re interested in swimming, surfing, whale watching, playing volleyball, or sunning, the beaches here are consistently ranked among the best in America.

A popular way to end the day is by watching the sunset from the beach and then striking up a bonfire at one of the many public fire pits. Be sure to get there early, as both locals and visitors claim the fire pits quickly.

Photo CC by  priyaswtc

Balboa Park

As America’s biggest urban cultural park, Balboa Park is a must in San Diego. Spanning 1,200 acres, the park is home to 15 museums, some housed in authentic Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, as well as award-winning performing arts venues and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

There are multiple gardens and botanic areas, along with a constantly rotating calendar of plays, musicals, and outdoor concerts.

Access to the park is free, and each attraction has a separate price. Start at the park’s visitor center, where you can grab a map. Purchase a Balboa Park Passport for entrance to most attractions throughout the park.

Photo CC by Mark W Weston

These are just a few highlights from our time in San Diego. From culture and history to wildlife and the outdoors, you’ll never be bored in San Diego.

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Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; a website dedicated to opening your eyes to the wild & natural world.

Committed to bringing you the best in adventure travel from all around the globe, there is no mountain too high, and no fete too extreme! They haven’t been everywhere, but it’s on their list.

Follow their journey on Facebook, TwitterYouTube, Pinterest and Instagram.

Photo credit: Featured photo by Bill Dickinson.


  1. San Diego is a beautiful place. I was there last week. We stayed in a Vrbo property on Wind and Sea. The views from our rooftop deck were breathtaking. Blacks beach was a must see. People are friendly and the whole town has a cool laid back vibe.

    • Agreed! So glad you enjoyed your trip Audra :) I haven’t looked into Vrbo before, so will have to check it out. Thanks for the tip – sounds like you had some pretty epic accommodation!

  2. San Diego is one spot that my husband would LOVE to go! We have heard so many things about the beauty and the weather and now your photos! We have seen the area around San Francisco on our honeymoon and that was fun, too! We are considering attending the Comic Con convention there in the summer. It is supposed to be the biggest and grandest of all the comic cons!

    Now, we have a list of other things to do while we are there getting our ‘super hero’ on!! We always travel with the kiddos and think traveling is a great way to make memories!

    • Hi Natalie, you guys will love San Diego! Especially if traveling with the kids – it’s a really family friendly city and there’s so much to do! Glad we could help you out with some ideas :)

      You’ll LOVE Comic Con too – yes, San Diego is one of the biggest and best. Definitely a reason to travel in itself!! Have an amazing time! :)

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