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San Diego Travel Guide:
What to Do in San Diego
December 13, 2019 | By: Taylor Randolph
San Diego is world-renowned for its warm weather, beautiful beaches, and relaxed “SoCal” atmosphere. If you’re traveling to San Diego, get ready to enjoy gorgeous sunsets on the beach, incredible local cuisine, and plenty of cultural hot spots. If you’re up for an adventure, then San Diego delivers one of the most thrilling expeditions you will ever experience (hint: it involves sharks!). Start packing your bags with a swimsuit and plenty of sunscreen because there are tons of fun things to do in San Diego!
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#1 Balboa Park
Balboa Park is a 1200-acre park and is the cultural center of San Diego. There are several San Diego attractions here like the Botanical gardens, the Old Globe Theatre, the Puppet Theater, the San Diego Zoo, and nine different museums. Admission to the park is free, but many of the attractions charge fees. Balboa Park is a fun adventure for the whole family.
#2 Old Town San Diego
The first European settlement in California was right here at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Old Town San Diego is a fun experience to see what California would have looked like during the time of Spanish explorers and the California gold rush. Old Town San Diego also pays homage to its Mexican roots with various authentic Mexican restaurants, mariachi bands, and shops selling genuine Mexican handcrafted items. If you're looking for things to do in San Diego with kids, then look no further. Kids of all ages will enjoy exploring Old Town San Diego.
#3 San Diego Wine Country
The San Diego Wine Country is located about 30 minutes away from downtown San Diego and has more than 70 wineries doting its beautiful landscape. The valley has a unique microclimate with sun-soaked afternoons and cool, breezy evenings. The geography and climate of the region are ideal for growing high-quality grapes that create world-renowned wines. There are many hidden gems here, such as the San Pasqual, Highland, and Ramona Valleys where special family-run wineries produce gorgeous wines and treat guests like members of their family.
Experience the alluring beauty of the San Diego Wine Country on a Chauffeured San Diego Winery Tour. This VIP guided adventure will take you to stunning and unique local vineyards, where you will enjoy 18 different award-winning wines complete with lavish fruit and cheese platters, chocolate pairings, savory tastings, and a delicious dinner overlooking the spectacular winery grounds. The tour provides door-to-door transportation and complete coordination by San Diego Beer, Wine, & Spirits. You will not have to worry about a thing! If wine isn’t your thing, you can also substitute craft beer options in lieu of wine. Check out San Diego Beer, Wine, & Spirits for their full list of tours that showcase the very best of San Diego’s wineries, breweries, distilleries, and restaurants.
#4 Pacific Beach and Mission Beach
Hitting the beach is one of the best things to do in San Diego. Pacific Beach and Mission Beach are two distinct beaches, even though they are actually just one giant, connected shoreline. Pacific Beach is known for being lively, while Mission Beach is much more relaxed and family-friendly. The division of the beaches is at Belmont Park, which is a beach-front amusement park with arcades and rides. Pacific Beach and Mission Beach share a boardwalk, although the Pacific Beach side has many more restaurants, hotels, surf shops, bars, and retail stores. Pacific Beach is also next to the Gaslamp Quarter, which has a vibrant nightlife scene. Both beaches are free and open every day.
#5 Coronado Beach
Coronado Beach is one of the most pristine beaches in San Diego. You will find fewer tourists here and a more peaceful atmosphere than Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. There isn’t a boardwalk, but you can still walk along the 1.5-miles of shorelines while admiring the lovely sparkling waters, the magnificent beach-front mansions, and the historic Hotel Del Coronado. The Hotel Del Coronado has been here since 1888 and is a favorite amongst many past presidents, movie stars, and other elite guests. It is one of the top places to visit in San Diego.
#6 Sunset Cliffs
Sunset Cliffs is one of the best spots to find breathtaking ocean vistas and secluded beaches. There are plenty of walking trails along the ocean where you can look out to see the huge sandstone cliffs and surfers in the water. As the name implies, this is a great spot to watch a dramatic sunset. Sunset Cliffs is located about 9-miles outside of downtown San Diego, but public transportation will take you there directly.
#7 Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve offers incredible views, plenty of hiking trails, and an abundance of unique flora and fauna. Take a walk down to the beautiful, untouched beach and admire the backdrop of the towering sandstone cliffs. Torrey Pines is about a 25-minute drive from downtown San Diego, but the drive is well worth the breathtaking views over the Southern California coastline.
#8 Great White Shark Diving
Just a few hours from San Diego is the beautiful Isla Guadalupe, which is home to one of the best areas in the world to go diving with Great White Sharks. Although the idea of getting up close and personal with one of nature’s most fearsome predators might seem terrifying to you, the experience is very safe and not scary at all once you are actually doing it. The sharks are naturally curious and not aggressive toward divers. You will get to make eye contact with these amazing creatures, learn how to individually identify the sharks, and go home with a better understanding and greater respect for Great White Sharks.
Shark Diver leads 5-day diving trips to Isla Guadalupe that leave and return right from San Diego. During the five-day excursion, you will live onboard the boat, eat fresh delicious meals, enjoy luxury accommodations, and get to spend hours in the water in awe of these massive beasts. You don’t need to be scuba-certified, because your air is supplied through a hookah line system so that means no heavy tank on your back. Shark Diver is a special operation because all expeditions are hosted by Shark Diver’s CEO, Martin Graf, and/or a Marine Conservation Science Institute Researcher. Martin Graf has been diving with the sharks for decades and can identify many of the 300 Great Whites featured in the MCSI database. The next time you are watching Discovery Channel’s Shark Week, you might be able to recognize one of the sharks you met on this trip. How cool would that be?
*Valid passport is required for this trip!
Check out other things to do in California!
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