San Diego is often described as America’s finest city and it is steeped in maritime history. It is also home to the world-famous zoo and wild animal park.
On top of that, San Diego almost always guarantees good weather so people can enjoy its miles of beautiful beaches.
And if you want to see league baseball you can watch San Diego’s home team the Padres play in their beautiful stadium which has magnificent views of the city.
Listed below are ten of the best things to do when you visit San Diego. They are not listed in any particular order and will suit all tastes and ages.
10 Speed Boat Adventures — Be The Captain
How would you like to be captain of your very own speedboat and set off on the adventure of your life? If you’re aged 18 or older San Diego is the place to do it — even if you’ve never driven a speedboat before.
Speed Boat Adventures gives you full training on how to drive an easy-to-handle boat before you leave the dock, and then you follow an experienced guide round the harbour.
There are frequent stops to ensure you are happy with the boat and a witty and historical commentary comes through the on-board two-way navigation system.
9 Zoo and Safari Park
This famous zoo and safari park was first opened in 1916 and is run by the not-for-profit organization San Diego Global. They are committed to saving animals from all over the world and the 100-acre zoo is home to more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals.
The separate safari park, which lies near Escondido, is a wildlife sanctuary that has more than 2,600 animals.
You will likely see animals here that you have never seen before, as well as some of the most beautifully varied habitats from around the world. There is so much to see so you should allow a whole day to visit.
8 Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari
This trip is a real treat, in a 48-passenger luxury powered catamaran. Southern California has the largest number of gray whales in the world and the most dolphins per square mile anywhere so the passengers on Captain Dave’s Safari do not go home disappointed.
People of all ages can pretty also experience eye-to-eye contact with the creatures without getting wet in the catamaran’s underwater research and hydrophone chamber.
The boat never takes more than 49 people at any one time so there’s always plenty of room.
7 San Diego Maritime Museum
Situated on the waterfront in downtown San Diego, the maritime museum showcases the city’s seafaring history and includes a collection of magnificent vessels.
It will appeal to all age groups, because as well as the exhibits there is a play center where children can dress up in costumes and play sailing games.
Highlights of the museum are the 1898 Victorian-style steam ferry boat The Berkeley and a Soviet navy diesel-electric submarine B-39.
You can also see HMS Enterprise, the actual ship that featured in the award-winning movie Master and Commander, which is a 179ft-tall fully rigged ship.
6 Old Town Trolley Tours
Probably the best sightseeing tour in San Diego, Old Town Trolley Tours have a large fleet of trolleys and passengers can hop on and off at will.
There is unlimited re-boarding on any trolley, so there is no need to look for the one you got off.
Every trolley has a fun-loving conductor whose main aim is to give you a thoroughly enjoyable experience. They give a witty and historical description of the places you are visiting so every tour is unforgettable.
Every passenger is also given a free map of San Diego with a day planner and free discount coupons to attractions and restaurants.
5 USS Midway Aircraft Museum
This is a museum with a difference, situated in downtown San Diego at Navy Pier. What makes this museum unique is that it is on board the USS Midway, the longest serving navy aircraft carrier of the twentieth century.
There are more than 60 exhibits on board this floating city at sea and 29 restored aircraft reflecting nearly fifty years of world history.
The admission price includes a self-guided audio tour and there are two different types of flight simulators to try as well as short films and an ejection seat theater.
4 Seaport Village
Also found in downtown San Diego, Seaport Village is a shopper’s paradise with more than fifty shops selling clothes for all the family, souvenirs, art, toys, gifts and more.
There are also seventeen different places to eat, free outdoor entertainment and a magnificent carousel with over thirty hand-carved animals.
At weekends there is a face painter and a balloon artist and every Sunday there is a free concert in the East Plaza gazebo.
You will also find a lagoon and a marina and stunning views of the Big Bay and Coronado Bridge.
If you haven’t had your fill of wildlife already after the zoo, check out SeaWorld. It offers amazing live shows like Blue Horizons where dolphins and birds fly and dive together, along with aerial artists, or the resident sea lion comedy team Clyde and Seamore who perform with the dancing pinnipeds.
You can also discover an underwater world bounding with fish in Sea World’s newest attraction Explorers Reef. On top of the shows there are six different exciting rides to choose from and fascinating exhibits like Turtle Reef, Shark Encounter and Penguin Encounter.
You can also get up close and personal with the penguins if you pay extra for the privilege.
2 San Diego Sand Castles
Everyone has made a sand castle at some stage in their life but have you ever seen the professionals do it? And how would you like to learn to create magnificent artistic creations in sand?
San Diego’s resident sand artist JT Estrela specializes in giving sand castle lessons to people of all ages on Ocean Boulevard. They are great fun and the bonus is you are learning on the beach.
Each lesson is personalized to you with a focus on having fun. When JT and his partners are not teaching you can watch him creating his own masterpieces on the Pacific Beach boardwalk.
1 Petco Park
You cannot visit San Diego without visiting the famous ball park home of the San Diego Padres. It has the best baseball sight lines anywhere and breathtaking views of the city.
You can book a behind-the-scenes guided tour to see the dressing rooms, VIP areas and of course the pitch. Or you can book to see a game, with the season beginning at the start of April.
There is a large shop to take home a souvenir of your visit or a Padres baseball jacket or cap. This is a not-to-be-missed highlight of any trip to San Diego.