San Diego is a is a fun tourist destination with sunshine almost every day in both winter and summer. Some say that this city has the most ideal climate in the world! We’ll help you discover the best San Diego activities with our favorite fun things to do in San Diego.
There are many fun things to do in San Diego on a weekend adventure. Hiking, surfing, kayaking or SUP, eat tacos, taste craft beer, or visit the many famous local attractions. Let’s go on a San Diego for a weekend getaway!
San Diego is located on the California coast about 120 miles south of Los Angeles and can be reached by car, bus or train from there. The drive takes about two or three hours depending on traffic, which unfortunately can be really bad.
Most people visit San Diego by car but it is also possible to get there by Greyhound bus and Amtrak train. Both will take you directly into the downtown area which is very convenient for a fun weekend trip. And you can even enjoy a craft beer on the ride. Another unique option is to grab a ride in a Tesla with Tesloop. (check out this post with 10 things to bring on your Amtrak trip!)
There is a small international airport in San Diego (SAN) that sees flights mainly from domestic destinations but also cities like London, Zurich and Tokyo. The closest major airports are John Wayne (SNA) Los Angeles (LAX). You can rent a car at these airports or take an airport shuttle.
Once you are in the city it is easy to get around the downtown area on foot or by bike. Try Lyft or Uber to take you where you need to go if you don’t have your own wheels. You can take local public transport to get around too, I especially like taking the trolley which goes to Old Town, downtown, Little Italy and Gaslamp. You’ll probably prefer a car to take you to locations further afield like La Jolla. San Diego is quite large in size so definitely choose your lodging locations based on things you’d like to see and do.
Here are a few of my favorite activities to do in San Diego and places to see when visiting the city and the surrounding area.
Did you know San Diego has 70 miles of coastline? The beach is just one one of the fun, cheap things to do in San Diego. Some of San Diego’s best beaches are:
Are you looking for things to do in downtown San Diego or interesting things to do in San Diego? Learn more about the city on a guided tour:
Hit the water. There are so many cool things to do in San Diego around the ocean. You can go surfing, boogie boarding, kayaking, SUP, sailing and snorkeling:
San Diego is surrounded by beautiful trails. If you are looking for fun places in San Diego and places to explore near the city, go for a hike at:
Some of the most popular San Diego family activities and San Diego tourist spots include:
Balboa Park: This large city park includes San Diego museums and performing arts venues like the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum and the Photographic Arts Museum. Explore this popular San Diego attraction on your own or even go on a scavenger hunt.
SeaWorld: This marine life park is one of the most popular things to do in San Diego with kids. Purchase tickets online here.
Old Town State Park: Step back in time at the most visited State Park in California. You can see how life was lived back in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Check out old hotels, schools, horse drawn carriages and shops. Free guided tours happen regularly so check the website or ask when you arrive. The park is free to enter and there are plenty of charming eating and drinking establishments in the area.
San Diego Zoo and Safari Park: Head to Escondido to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park where you can see zebras, elephants, giraffes and lions in a grassland setting. The famous San Diego Zoo is home to polar bears and pandas, elephants and koalas. It is one of the best San Diego attractions for kids. Save money and get your combo tickets here.
A favorite activity for San Diego visitors is a day trip across the border to Mexico. Popular destinations include Tijuana, Rosarito Beach, Ensenada, and the Baja California wine country.
If you are planning to take a day trip to Tijuana you can do a guided tour or head there on your own. The best recommendation is to take the San Diego Trolley or drive to the border, park at the lots on the USA side and walk across instead of driving your own car into Mexico. On the Mexico side you can grab a cheap taxi or Uber to take you into town.
Oh and just a side note, for some reason many gringos say Ti-a-juana. Notice that there is no “A”. It is pronounced Ti-hwana. 🙂 Tia Juana would be Aunt Jane.
If you’d like to explore further south you might want your own car, or join a group tour like this one to Ensenada. Remember you will need Mexican car insurance (buy it online ahead of time) if you plan to take your vehicle across the border and some rental car companies forbid it. Also be prepared for a sometimes very long wait at the border, especially crossing back into the USA.
Would you like to visit Valle de Guadalupe and taste the wines from the region? You can visit on your own or do a wine tour. A few of the best tour companies that make trips here include Baja test Kitchen, Club Tengo Hambre, Valley Girl Wine Tours and Baja Winery Tours. And there is another option as well. You can book an UBERValle to take you from Tijuana or Ensenada on a day excursion to Valle de Guadalupe for your own wine tour itinerary.
San Diego and the surrounding area is full of microbreweries, and finding the best one is an exciting thing to do in San Diego for fans of craft brews. Beer lovers should check out some of the more than 140 craft brewers in the San Diego area like major players AleSmith, Ballast Point, Karl Strauss, and Stone. Looking for something more crafty? Head to Lost Abbey, Wavelength, Modern Times, Belching Beaver and Border X. If you love craft beer and want to learn all about the local scene, check out this guide to San Diego’s Top Brewers by Bruce Glassman.
Here are some of the best hotels to stay in San Diego, from most luxurious to more budget options.
Looking for unique lodgings in San Diego? Check out these gorgeous apartments on Airbnb. Use this link to make your first booking and get a credit for up to $38.
Use Hotels Combined to search for San Diego lodgings and find the best prices across booking engines.
I hope this article helps you plan an amazing trip with both inexpensive things to do in San Diego as well as exciting things to do in San Diego. Have fun!
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