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10 Essential things to see and do in San Diego, California

When we set out to tour all of California for a month, we couldn't leave out San Diego. They say that it is one of the best cities in the United States to live, and after spending only a couple of days here we already realized that the comments were not misguided. The weather is great, there are spectacular beaches, a good atmosphere and great vibes, as well as being a fairly quiet city.

There are many places to see in San Diego, of all the days we spend touring the city and its surroundings, today I am going to tell you what to see and do in San Diego, which essential places you cannot miss, the best areas to stay, and some tips for trip.

Let us begin!

To explain a little more about San Diego, I tell you that it is located in the southwest of California and more than 5 million people live in its metropolitan area.

It is a border city, with the Mexican city of Tijuana, in Baja California. If your intention is to cross the border to get to know Baja California, I will tell you a little more about it in the Baja California posts.


1. Coronado Island (Isla de Coronado) San Diego Bay

Coronado Island is actually a city within San Diego County. It is one of the most expensive and exclusive areas of San Diego. The great reason why you should visit Coronado Island is because from here you will have spectacular views from the viewpoint towards San Diego Bay. You can enjoy the most beautiful skyline of the city.

Here is also the Coronado beach, it is 2 and a half km long and has fine white sand. It is an ideal place to enjoy the sun, a good bath and surf.

2. Balboa Park

Balboa Park is one of the essentials of San Diego that you cannot miss. It's a must see!

It receives its name in homage to the famous Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa and it is a huge cultural park of almost 5 square kilometers.

It hosts a multiple cultural offer; It has 15 museums, several theaters, gardens, the San Diego Zoo, restaurants, picnic areas, and various areas for sports and activities.

Balboa Park is the largest urban park in the country, even larger than Central Park in New York.

3. La Jolla Cave

La Jova Cave is one of the most attractive and striking beach destinations in the city.

It is a cove where there are different beaches to practice all kinds of sports, from surfing, diving or swimming; In addition to being a landscape of enormous beauty, ideal for delicious sunsets. The beach is surrounded by caves and sea cliffs, and is also part of a protected seabed area. Its seabed is spectacular, so if you are a lover of diving you cannot miss it. Here you can also find walruses resting in the sun.

4. Old Town

Another of the essential places to visit in San Diego is its historic center, the Old Town. In the Old Town we find the heritage of the city founded in 1769 by Gaspar de Portolà and Junípero Serra, in what represents the first and oldest Spanish heritage in Alta California.

The Old Twon is located in the western valley of the San Diego River, right at its mouth. San Diego was originally a Mission and a jail.

Currently, walking through the Old Town you will find a lively area of ​​shops, restaurants, beautiful buildings and an endless number of tourist activities.

5. Sunset Cliffs Nature Park

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a large 28ha natural park, located along the Pacific Ocean at the western end of Point Loma. It is one of the best areas to enjoy spectacular sunsets. Here every evening tourists and locals gather to enjoy this wonder.

The Park was inaugurated in 1983, and you will find several caves and sea grottoes, recreational water areas, garden areas...

6. Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery is a 80 acre federal military cemetery. You will find it on the outskirts of the city, about 16km. But it is worth getting closer to meet him.

The cemetery is named after William Starke Rosecrans, a Unionist general during the American Civil War.

The cemetery is located on top of a hill, from where you can also enjoy spectacular views of the Pacific Ocean and the city.

There are so many graves of former US Marines here, all of them perfectly aligned. It was declared a World Heritage Site in March 2016.

7. The San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is one of the most visited places in the city. It is located within the Balboa Park and occupies a total of 40ha. Assuming approx 10% of Balboa Park.

It is one of the most important and impressive zoos in the country. It is one of the few zoos outside of China to have a giant panda.

Whether you are traveling with children or just adults, the zoo is one of the most essential places to visit in San Diego.

8. USS Midway Museum (USS Midway Museum)

The USS Midway aircraft carrier has been a museum ship since 1992. It was the largest warship in the world until 1955. It was in service for 47 years, and participated in wars as significant as the Vietnam War or Operation Desert Storm in the year 1991. It is the only aircraft carrier of its category remaining from World War II.

9. Sea World

San Diego Sea World is a huge theme park. In which you can see various exhibitions and shows that allow us to get closer to the marine world. It was founded in the year 1964 and has an extension of 22 acres.

Sea World is owned by Busch Entertainment Corporation, and more than 20,000 animals can be seen in it. Shamu stands out above all, a gigantic killer whale.

Although there is much debate about whether to visit these types of places, the Sea World in San Diego is one of the most visited theme parks in the world.

10. Legoland California

If you are traveling with children you cannot miss Legoland. Although we travel without children and we enjoy it just the same.

It is a theme park dedicated to the famous Lego building blocks. It is the third worldwide park of the franchise, and the only one located outside of Europe. It is located in the town of Carlsbad, north of San Diego County. It opened in the year 1999.

The Park is divided into 9 sections: The Beginning, Dino Island, Explore Village, Fun Town, Castle Hill, Miniland USA, Pirate Shores, Imagination Zone and finally Land of Adventures.


The best option to stay in San Diego is downtown. Although if you want something more quiet you can opt for Coronado Island.

Some great lodging options in San Diego

  • Hotel Indigo San Diego - Gaslamp Quarter 4*

  • Hard Rock Hotel San Diego 4*

  • Gaslamp Hostel

  • Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Gaslamp/Convention Center 3*


I hope you enjoy your trip to San Diego very much and that this article has been useful to you. You can continue reading many more related articles on the blog.

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A hug and see you soon!


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