Framed by 70-miles of beaches and blessed with friendly locals and great weather, San Diego, California’s 2nd largest city, boasts a laid-back and fun-loving vibe all its own. Throughout the destination great hotels and resorts beckon guests to relax, while world-class attractions, pristine golf courses and a sizzling downtown nightlife entice visitors to play.
Considered the birthplace of California, explorer Juan Cabrillo landed on the shores of San Diego in 1542. Later, Father Junipero Serra established the first mission in a chain of 21 that were to become the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Today, Old Town San Diego celebrates that rich heritage with historic sites, theaters, art galleries, shopping and some of the best Mexican food found anywhere.
San Diego is known as much for its family-friendly attractions as it is for beautiful beaches. SeaWorld San Diego, a 22-acre marine zoological park and aquarium, features the amazing killer whale, Shamu, and offers up-close encounters with dolphins, rays and other incredible sea creatures. The San Diego Zoo boasts over 4,000 animals including giant pandas, and the San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park is an 1,800-acre reserve where herds of animals roam in natural habitats. LEGOLAND California and adjoining SeaLife Aquarium and Water Park feature more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. San Diego is also the perfect place to stay for a day trip to Disneyland California, an easy drive from North San Diego.
For the arts and culture enthusiast, Balboa Park near downtown, is the largest urban cultural park in America. Known as the Smithsonian of the West, the park is home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo. Just across San Diego’s bay lies the Island of Coronado where the Hotel del Coronado stands as a testament of time. Built in 1888, this cultural landmark and the adjacent village of Coronado are worth seeing.
For those who want to combine an urban and beach experience, downtown San Diego offers the best of both worlds. Located just 10 minutes from San Diego’s International Airport, downtown bustles with energy and excitement. Modern skyscrapers sit side-by-side with historic Victorian-era buildings housing trendy boutiques, cafes, galleries and museums. Downtown’s sparkling bayfront is home to the U.S.S. Midway Museum, Seaport Village and San Diego Padres’ new baseball stadium, PETCO Park. But the real fun happens after dark, when downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter transforms into a cosmopolitan playground complete with rooftop bars, nightclubs, live music and restaurants.
For a more laid-back scene, be sure to sure to check out San Diego’s local craft beer. Referred to as the “Craft Beer Capital of America”, San Diego boasts an enviable number of award-winning breweries and a wide variety of pubs and restaurants catering to those who enjoy unique locally crafted beers.
For families, couples and travelers of all kinds, San Diego never fails to bring out your sunny side. Come experience this unique Southern California destination - happiness is calling from San Diego.
San Diego, California Highlights
Don't leave without tasting...
- Our favourite fish tacos are from South Coast in Ocean Beach and Blue Water Seafood Market & Grill
- When it comes to Mexican food in Old Town—a must—Café Coyote has the best margaritas and tortillas made on the premises
- Many restaurants and pubs serve locally crafted beers, including Stone Brew and Karl Strauss. You can also taste these beers at the source at Stone World Bistro and Gardens in Escondido or Karl Strauss Brewery in Mission Valley
- Plenty of places along the San Diego Bay offer fresh seafood. Try Anthony’s, Point Loma Seafoods and Mitch’s Seafood in Point Loma.
Where locals go to relax
- Locals head to the beach all year long for surfing, riding bikes along the boardwalk or just simply lying on the warm sand
- With plenty of well-worn trails, San Diego is a hiker's paradise. Trek through pines and explore wildlife preserves and blooming desert landscapes.
You might be surprised by...
- World-class museums like the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego and the San Diego Museum of Art
- San Diego boasts more than 150 stages, including two Tony Award-winning theatres; the city has produced and sent more shows to Broadway than any other city in America
- Just 30-45 minutes from downtown, San Diego's casinos provide 24/7 Vegas-style action and entertainment.
Top photo opportunities
- The view of the downtown skyline from Cabrillo National Monument
- Torrey Pines State Beach
- Hotel Del Coronado
- Reflecting pool in Balboa Park
- Spring wildflowers in Anza Borrego Desert
- The Africa Tram at San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- Carlsbad Flower Fields in bloom during spring.
Your child will always remember...
- Dining with Shamu at SeaWorld
- Feeding the giraffes at the San Diego Zoo
- Exploring his or her creativity at the New Children’s Museum
- The amazing Lego displays and thrilling rides at Legoland California.
Don’t overlook this...
- To kick off a tour of San Diego’s missions, head a few miles inland to Presidio Park to visit the Junipero Serra Museum, which showcases California’s first mission, the Presidio (fort), and a narrative on the area’s original inhabitants, the Kumeyaay Indians. Further north is the Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala, considered the mother of the 21 missions that line the California coast. At the tip of San Diego’s North County, in the community of Oceanside, you’ll find the Mission San Luis Rey de Francia established in 1798
- Drive up to Mount Soledad and be rewarded with some breathtaking views stretching from the downtown San Diego skyline to the South, the beaches of La Jolla and the Pacific Ocean to the West, the majestic cliffs of Torrey Pines to the north and expansive mountains to the east
- Sixty miles north San Diego is the heart of Southern California’s Wine Country. Temecula Valley has 35,000 acres of rolling hills and vineyards and more than 35 wineries.
- Modern and historic buildings stand side-by-side in the historic Gaslamp District downtown, with shops and boutiques, trendy nightclubs, rooftop bars and restaurants
- With plenty of local bars, pubs, restaurants and boutiques, North Park is the best place to explore San Diego’s younger side
- Immerse yourself in San Diego’s Little Italy district, just north of downtown. Grab an espresso and biscotti from a local café, or dine alfresco with a plate of handmade pasta and a glass of Chianti
- A classic Southern California surf town, the coastal community of Encinitas is said to have inspired the classic Beach Boys hit ‘Surfing USA’. It’s a great place for dining, shopping and strolling.
- Stay at the iconic Hotel Del Coronado, go on a gondola ride, then roast marshmallows on the beach under a starry night
- In La Jolla, stay at the luxurious La Valencia Hotel, dine at George’s California Modern with majestic views of La Jolla Cove and then browse through the art galleries.
Only have one day here?
- Visit the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park
- Spend time on the beach
- Dine at any of the hot restaurants in the Gaslamp Quarter downtown.
- Stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking and sailing are among the watersports available in Mission Bay Aquatic Park
- Surfing at legendary surf spots like Bird Rock, Swami’s and Cardiff Reef
- Hiking, mountain biking and rock climbing in Mission Trails
- Sports fishing in the Pacific Ocean
- Scuba diving in La Jolla Cove
- Paragliding off the cliffs of Torrey Pines State Park.
Trip Ideas Near San Diego, California
Official San Diego, California Travel Site
Official San Diego Travel Site
San Diego Tourism Authority