With over 70 miles of scenic beaches, as well as the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, the city of San Diego, California is packed with fun things to do. Many San Diego vacation rentals put you close to many famed attractions and dining options. Whether your family loves visiting water parks, exploring amusement parks, building sandcastles, or touring museums, your vacation itinerary will fill up fast with so many exciting activities. Here’s a list of the top 15 things to do in San Diego.
1. Spend a Day at the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo houses approximately 3,700 animals on 100 acres. The zoo also includes a botanical collection of more than 700,000 plants. Ways to view the zoo include walking the pathways, entering aviaries, and passing through bio-climatic zones to see rare giant pandas, koalas, reptiles, and many other species. If time is an issue, the half-hour bus tour offers a round-trip orientation to acquaint you with the layout of the zoo.
2. Tour the USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway Museum, located at the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego, houses an extensive collection of aircraft. As you enter this floating city, you walk in the footsteps of 225,000 sailors who served on the Midway. The self-guided audio tour helps you explore more than 60 exhibits, including a collection of 29 restored aircraft. Two flight simulators allow visitors to see what it’s like to pilot Navy aircraft.
3. Experience a Whale-Watching Cruise
When you board the Davey’s Locker 65-foot whale-watching ship, choose indoor seating with large windows or a large upstairs sundeck with wrap-around outdoor seating. The California coast offers great opportunities to see up to a half dozen whales per cruise, and you may encounter mega pods of a thousand or more dolphins.
4. Visit the Cabrillo National Monument
This is your chance to step back in time as you visit the site where, in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo first set foot on the West Coast of what is now America. Besides learning the story of the first European to explore the West Coast, you can enjoy the other cultural and natural resources in the park. Beginning with the Cabrillo National Monument, the park tour is basically self-guided to allow you to explore at your own pace.
5. Catch the Shows at SeaWorld San Diego
While SeaWorld is famous for spectacular shows that feature beautiful aquatic animals performing amazing stunts with their trainers, you can also view the inhabitants in their aquariums. There’s also a fun amusement park that includes rides and carnival-type treats.
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6. See San Diego From the Old Town Trolley
Old Town Trolley Tours offers your family the best way to experience the city’s beauty, history, and attractions. The two-hour tour lets you get off and on as often as you want. Tours take you to Old Town, Balboa Park, the USS Midway, the San Diego Zoo, and other locations.
7. Feed Your Imagination at LEGOLAND California
A bright red, nine-foot-tall dinosaur named Bronte stands just inside the entrance to LEGOLAND Park to welcome you to let your imagination soar. He is made entirely of LEGO blocks and measures 34 feet from nose to tail. From over 60 rides to shows and other attractions, there’s something in LEGOLAND for every member of the family. Meet LEGO characters, build and test LEGO structures, and spend a fun day with the kids.
8. Launch a Rocket at San Diego Air & Space Museum
The San Diego Air & Space Museum features a collection of airship and dirigible artifacts, including a large collection of travel posters related to the Hindenburg and the Graf Zeppelin. “Be the Astronaut” is an interactive adventure that lets you launch a rocket, pilot a spaceship, and drive a rover in space, using touchscreen stations and simulator pods that look like space capsules.
9. Hit the Rides at Belmont Park
It’s a historic, old-fashioned beachfront amusement park with lots of exciting rides. Belmont Park is home to the Giant Dipper roller coaster and the Plunge pool, two historical attractions built in 1925 and still in use. Other rides include bumper cars and the carousel. In the heart of the midway, the Sweet Shoppe serves fudge, ice cream, cotton candy, candy apples, and frozen bananas.
10. Take the Gaslamp Segway Tour
Your Gaslamp Segway Tour guide takes time to teach you how to ride and glide on your Segway before setting out on your exciting tour of the city. Your tour includes the Gaslamp District, Downtown San Diego, Inez Parker Rose Garden, and a beautiful skyline view of the city.
11. Watch Art in Action at Spanish Village Art Center
Artists and art lovers enjoy seeing daily demonstrations by working artists in the Spanish Village studios. Flowering vines and colorful cobblestones lead the way into the Villages courtyard, where you can view the work of over 200 artists and craftspeople in about 37 studios and galleries.
12. Drink a Toast at Bernardo Winery
Bernardo Winery, Southern California’s oldest operating winery, just happens to be in San Diego. Besides touring the winery and the tasting room, two restaurants offer you the chance to sit, visit, eat, and drink. Cafe Merlot is located in the courtyard, surrounded by beautiful gardens. Serving breakfast, lunch, and dinner, V’s Coffee Shoppe invites you to enjoy a cup of coffee or espresso and serves cheese to go with your wine from the tasting room.
13. Spot Some Cool Rides at San Diego Automotive Museum
For the automobile buff in the family, a tour of the San Diego Automotive Museum makes an ideal stop. In addition to seasonal and occasional live events, the museum displays a wide array of antique and rare automobiles and motorcycles. From a 1909 International Harvester truck to a 1999 Tango electric car, exhibits also include a 1914 Model-T, a 1981 DeLorean DMC-12, and many others. Motorcycles on the floor range in date from 1910 to 1995.
14. Bravely Tour America’s Most Haunted House
Whaley House has several good reasons to be haunted, if ever a house had a reason. Featured on numerous television shows as the most haunted house in America, it was built on the site of the town gallows back in the 1800s. Further, one of the Whaley daughters committed suicide in the house in 1885. Although it is now a museum, the docents love to share stories about the spirits who still inhabit in the house.
15. Learn to Build Sand Castles
Learn to Build Sand Castles instructors offer to teach sand sculpting. They provide all the equipment needed and spend up to three hours teaching families how to use everything from simple buckets to advanced tools.
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