Whether you’re a San Diego local or planning a trip here, one thing is clear – There’s an abundance of areas to explore in California’s second-largest city. Popular tourist attractions like the beach and the zoo are great options, but if you’re looking for unique things to do in San Diego, you’ve come to the right place.
Known for its year-round perfect weather, delicious food, and friendly locals, San Diego has something to suit your fancy, no matter your age or what your interests may be. Plenty of intriguing spots await you, including the city’s astonishing hidden gems.
You might be looking for things to do with the kids, or by yourself to get away from the kids. Either way, here are some different ideas based on what locals like to do in San Diego. Come along for a fun, inside look at “America’s Finest City.”
- San Diego Activities for the Family
- San Diego Outdoors
- Balboa Park Museums
- Day Trips from San Diego
- San Diego Concerts
- Things to Do for Adults
San Diego Activities for the Family
The Musical Bridge
This interesting work of street art is hidden behind a railing that separates traffic from the sidewalk on 25th St. It’s easy to miss unless you look for it or hear the music coming from the bridge. A man by the name of Joseph Waters created it in 2003. There are 488 chimes, all of which respond to your steps on the bridge, creating a beautiful piece of music.
763-799 25th St
Secret swings are located on this beautiful hillside of La Jolla, just 12 miles north of Downtown San Diego. You’ll have to do a bit of hiking to get to these hidden swings. It’s totally worth it though because you’ll get one of the most amazing views of the Pacific Ocean.
2555 Ruette Nice, La Jolla, CA 92037
Total Raptor Experience
If you’re fascinated by birds of prey, then Total Raptor Experience, located in Ramona of San Diego County, has the ultimate adventure for you. With group classes and private experiences available, you’ll get the opportunity to be up close with these incredible creatures. You can also check out our recent article and video tour.
326 Oak St #1906, Ramona, CA | 619-535-7307
San Diego Airbnb Experiences
From ghost tours, to exploring the sea caves by kayaks, there are over 100 unique adventures for the entire family that you can book through Airbnb. View all of your options at this link.
San Diego Outdoors
Sunny Jim Cave
If you like quirky, historic places, then visiting Sunny Jim Cave is a must. Located in La Jolla near the northwestern part of the county, this is a tunnel that was dug in the early 1900s. It was used by bootleggers during the Prohibition era for smuggling alcohol and opium into the city.
1325 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA | 858-459-0746
Harper’s Topiary Garden
Harper’s Topiary Garden is one of the best hidden gems in San Diego. Edna Harper and her husband Alex of Missions Hills were unwilling to cut the bushes just for aesthetic reasons, so they came up with a solution that didn’t require destroying the existing shrubs. Harper’s Topiary Garden took over 20 years to create. Keep in mind when you visit here, this is a private residence.
3549 Union St | 619-867-5309
California State Parks
Of California’s 280 beautiful state parks, the San Diego Coast District manages 13 of them. Immerse yourself in the parks’ natural experiences and diverse terrains. And if you can’t make it to one of these parks in person, they offer fascinating virtual experiences.
San Diego Outdoor Dining
From ocean views to rooftops with the best skyline, enjoy great food, craft cocktails, and San Diego’s best brews, all while supporting local business in a safe environment. We’ve compiled a list that includes 33 of the best San Diego restaurants with outdoor dining.
Many famous street artists from across the country participated in creating this hidden downtown gem. The exhibition is called “Viva La Revolucion: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscapes.”
Balboa Park Museums
Balboa Park Explorer Pass
Occupying 1,200 acres overlooking downtown San Diego, Balboa Park offers 17 museums, performing arts, recreation, exquisite gardens and more. Since there’s a ton of things to see and do here, you can purchase the Balboa Park Explorer Pass for year-round access so you can enjoy all of the park’s attractions any time you visit. Take a look at our recent article on the Balboa Park Explorer Pass for more information.
New Comic-Con Museum
Now you can enjoy the magic of Comic-Con year-round at the new Comic-Con Museum in San Diego’s Balboa Park. It will fully open its doors to the public later in 2021, so be on the lookout for updates. It will be the first museum to open in the park in nearly 20 years. Currently, you can still enjoy the museum and participate in programs online. Learn more here.
2131 Pan American Plaza | 619-414-1020
Day Trips from San Diego
Day Trip to Temecula
Take a day trip to Temecula for wine tasting, or spend the night at one of its wineries. It’s only an hour away from San Diego and offers great dining, spas, hot air balloons and more.
Day Trip to Julian
Julian is only a little over an hour away from San Diego. Go for a drive for Famous Julian Apple Pie or rent a cabin for a mountain getaway. There’s plenty of things to do like hiking, goldmine tours and picnicking, just to name a few.
Mammoth Lakes is a few hours away from San Diego in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains with pretty lakes and streams. You can go mountain biking, fly fishing, camping, and more. Yosemite National Park, with its gorgeous granite cliffs and ancient sequoias, is also nearby.
Take your bike, or rent one and hop on the Coronado ferry and explore Coronado by pedaling around this beach city located on a peninsula in San Diego Bay. There’s a leash-free dog beach too. The Coronado Ferry Landing has shops and restaurants. And nearby Centennial Park offers skyline views of San Diego.
2131 Pan American Plaza | 619-414-1020
San Diego Concerts
Spreckels Organ Pavilion
The Spreckels Outdoor Organ in Balboa Park is the largest pipe organ in the world, with 5,000 pipes, ranging in length from the size of a pencil to 32 feet. Live, weekly concerts are presented to the public every Sunday afternoon. Enjoy the music. Then, get an up-close look at the pipe organ to see how it works. See our visit to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion.
2125 Pan American Rd E | 619-702-8138
San Diego Symphony’s New Venue “The Shell”
The Rady Shell at Jacobs Park is opening very soon on August 6th, 2021. And they’ve released their concert series for the summer. They even have cool movie nights like Star Wars where the symphony plays along.
200 Marina Park Way | 619-235-0804
Things to Do for Adults
San Diego Deep Sea Fishing
Deep sea fishing is the perfect adventurous getaway with built-in social distancing. You can go on a half-day trip, a full-day trip, multi-day trip, all the way up to 18 days to catch tuna and wahoo or just locally to catch yellowtail. But before you get out on the water, you’ll need to be prepared. Recently, Pete Gray, President of LetsTalkHookUp.com, showed us what to know before heading out on the boat.
Harrah’s Resort Southern California
There’s so many things to do at Harrah’s Resort Southern California, a fun, friendly casino and AAA Four Diamond Award hotel. While the gambling is left to the adults, the kids will enjoy the many other areas of the resort. We recently visited Harrah’s Resort SoCal – Check out the video.
777 S Resort Dr, Valley Center, CA 92082 | 760-751-3100
Del Mar Racing Season
Del Mar Racing Season is July 16th through September 6th and November 3rd through the 28th. This thoroughbred horseracing track hosts major meets and has stadium seating, trackside dining and suites. Patrons must be at least 18 years of age to wager. But children 17 and under are permitted to attend as long as they are accompanied by a parent or legal guardian at all times.
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA 92014 | 858-755-1141