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10 Cool Places To Visit In San Diego

America's Finest City

Story Highlights

  • See Harbor Seals in La Jolla
  • Catch A Foul Ball At Petco Park
  • Do a brewery crawl down 30th street
  • Hike the spectacular and scenic Torrey Pines
If you’re a fan of the movie Anchorman, or simply love the idea of sunny weather, palm trees, culture, craft beer, proximity to Mexico, and endless miles of beaches, then San Diego is a perfect location for you to spend your next vacation!

I’ve personally spent the last 8 years living in San Diego, and I’ve explored several nooks and crannies and can give you a few insider tips on how to get around and what to see and do.  There are endless activities and places to see here in SD, and I never have problems when entertaining guests or giving people tips on what to do and see.  So without further ado, here’s a list of 10 cool places to visit in San Diego!  Oh and by the way, this isn’t an exhaustive list – there’s so much more than these 10 things, and I will be posting new guides regularly.

10. Blacks Beach And Torrey Pines Glider Port

The overlook at Blacks Beach and the Torrey Pines glider port is one of the most spectacular vistas in all of San Diego.  Simply enter “Torrey Pines Glider Port” into your GPS and it will take you to this picturesque bluff that overlooks the ocean.  To the south you can see Scripps pier and the beaches of La Jolla Shores.  To the north you can see all the way to Carlsbad in North County.  Most clear days will allow you the pleasure of a few dolphin and stingray sightings, as well as leopard sharks.  If the surf is up you’ll be able to watch some of the most spectacular waves that the west coast has to offer; Black’s is a well known surf spot featuring peaky but technical beach break barrels.  The hike down to the left of the glider port is steep but steps and walkways with railings have been carved into the cliff to allow for relatively easy passage.  However, be warned that weather and rains can erode this path, and it’s not always maintained well by the city.  If you descend this trail you can watch the surfers to the south, or you can walk north to hike towards Torrey Pines.  However be warned; north Black’s beach is a nude beach!

9. La Jolla Cove And Children’s Pool

If you want to see some San Diego wildlife up close and personal, head to La Jolla Cove, where you will see a multitude of seals, sea lions, pelicans, seabirds, and a wealth of ocean life should you choose to snorkel in the protected waters.  Known as one of the best snorkeling spots in California, the water in La Jolla Cove is usually crystal clear.  On a good day you can see leopard sharks (completely harmless to humans), Garibaldi, seals, and many other fish.  There are also natural sea caves that you can explore.  Kayak and scuba tours are available through many of the local businesses.  This is one of the most popular beaches in San Diego, so it can get very crowded in the summer.  To the south is the Children’s Pool, a manmade protected natural pool in the ocean that has been taken over by a colony of harbor seals.  This is one of my favorite places to take visitors because you’re guaranteed to see lots of animals.

8. Petco Park

Nestled in downtown San Diego in the Gaslamp district, Petco Park is a modern stadium with extremely reasonable prices for game day tickets.  With a smorgasboard of gourmet food in addition to hot dogs and peanuts, this is a great spot for visitors to San Diego whether you’re a baseball fan or not.  The thing I love about Petco is that it’s always a great time.  The stadium design is state of the art and it’s so close to downtown that getting there is a breeze whether you take the trolley, Uber, or simply drive.

7. Old Town

Old Town is like Mexican Disneyland.  This classic San Diego neighborhood has a multitude of excellent Mexican restaurants, a small authentic downtown shop area featuring local artisans, and a historic village recreation.  It’s also home to the Whaley House, known as the most haunted house in the United States.  You can take a ghost tour and take as many photos as you would like – be sure to inspect them later for evidence of the paranormal!  Old Town is fun for the Mexican flair and the tacos and margaritas.  It’s always lively and festive, and is a perfect place for families.

6. Hike Torrey Pines

One of the most popular hikes in San Diego is Torrey Pines, and for good reason.  This network of trails snakes along native chapparal, trees, and cacti while offering an absolutely breathtaking view of the ocean and beach.  The natural sandstone formations are haunting and beautiful, and you can even hike down to the beach to do the larger loop back to the parking lot.  Free street parking is available, as well as a paid lot for $15 (unless you have the California State Park Pass).  This hike is very popular on weekends, so the only drawback can be the crowds.  However this is a perennial favorite for locals and tourists alike.

5. The San Diego Zoo And Safari Park

The San Diego Zoo and Safari Park have been consistently rated as the number one zoo in the United States for quite some time.  While both are located in separate locations, they both offer a huge range of amazing wildlife.  The San Diego Zoo is located centrally in San Diego in Balboa Park, and offers an array of creatures to observe.  The new Africa Rocks exhibit just opened, and offers a great reason to go check it out, even if you have been to the Zoo before.  The Safari Park is located inland and to the northeast of the city, but is a reasonable drive for those staying in the city.  This is a favorite location for locals as well as tourists, and you’ll see people of all ages enjoying both locations on a regular basis.

4. 30th Street Breweries In North Park 

San Diego is quickly becoming the craft beer capital of America.  With a multitude of new breweries and more opening every day, even most locals haven’t been able to cover them all.  30th Street in North Park is a great location to do a brewery crawl, as there are quite a few great breweries and tasting rooms located along this strip.  My favorites are Fall Brewing, Thorn Street, Modern Times, Rip Current, Poor House, North Park Beer Co., San Diego Brewing Co., Mike Hess, Belching Beaver, Eppig, and Barn Brewing.  These are all doable in one outing and walk!

3. Little Italy

Little Italy was always a popular part of the city of San Diego, but it’s even more bustling now with the addition of many new restaurants that have opened their doors in the last few years.  A great spot for nightlife, this area is home to hip restaurants, wine tasting rooms, breweries, hipster coffee shops, and tons of art galleries and shops.  A great walking neighborhood, the view of San Diego harbor to the west makes this one of the most scenic areas of the city.

2. Mount Soledad

A Veteran’s Memorial, Mount Soledad is the highest point in San Diego and a perfect place to take in some amazing views of all of San Diego.  From this vantage point you can see an incredible amount of the surrounding area, and it’s one of my favorite places to take visitors.  The drive to Mount Soledad is very scenic, through the twisting roads and estates of La Jolla.  Then park your car and take in the sights!  This lesser-known tourist attraction is one of my favorites due to low crowds and the fact that you can see quite far on a clear day.

1. Balboa Park

The “Central Park” of San Diego, Balboa Park is home to museums, the San Diego Zoo, a golf course, archery range, dog parks, open fields, restaurants, an organ pavilion, and lots of walking and running trails and pathways.  Exploring Balboa Park to it’s full extent could require a full day, there’s so much to do!  Even if you just take a stroll and enjoy the fountains in the central courtyard, it’s a relaxing and enjoyable place to spend an afternoon or day.

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Leigh Gordon

Leigh Gordon is an avid surfer, writer, and blogger living in San Diego. She spends time hiking and traveling, and enjoys seeing all that California and the world have to offer. She owns a yellow lab named Finn.

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