Active Outdoors: Hiking, Biking, Water Play
Ideas for an Active Day Out in San Diego
- Mission Bay: Play beach volleyball, bicycle, surf.
- Kayak La Jolla Cove: La Jolla Cove is a nice, calm place to kayak with lots of marine life to see. Rent yours from Hike Bike Kayak La Jolla or La Jolla Kayak.
- San Diego Bike Tours: With them, you can bike and learn about town at the same time.
- Segway Tours: I think Segway tours are so much fun that I don't really care what I'm seeing along the way. Add a touch of Coronado ambiance and you're almost sure to have a good time.
- Best Beaches: Whether you're looking for a place to surf, a beach volleyball net or a place to play with the dog, we've got them covered.
Active Day Trips Out of Town
- Cuyamaca State Park: This is one of the prettiest parks in the area, with lots of hiking trails and places to get active.
Arts, Architecture, Science and the Unusual
Ideas for an Unusual Day Out in Diego
- Old Town San Diego: Tour the historic buildings and imagine what San Diego used to be like.
- Chula Vista Olympic Center: You can watch Olympic athletes in training and learn how they do it.
- USS Midway: First-class docents make a visit to this retired aircraft carrier a memorable experience.
- Petco Field Baseball Park Tours: See what goes on behind the scenes.
Unusual Day Trips Out of Town
Cute Towns Near San Diego
- Julian: A former mining town with an old-fashioned downtown.
- La Jolla: Pretty, upscale, located on the cliffs above an interesting ocean cove.
- Tijuana: We may be stretching it a bit to call any part of Tijuana "cute," but interesting is definitely a good descriptor these days.
- Coronado: We like the laid-back ambiance and tidy neighborhoods here.
Famiy Days Out in San Diego
- Sea World: You know the place, at least by reputation. What always surprises me is how much fun I have when I go.
- Legoland: A great place for the younger set.
- Mission Bay: Less tourist-ified than most of the San Diego beaches.
- Coronado Beach: Gently sloping sand, small surf and year-round lifeguard make Coronado Beach great for kids.
- Ocean Beach: If any of your family members are the furry, four-legged kind, this beach is the only place in San Diego where dogs can run off-leash.
- Whaley House: If your kids like ghosts or the idea of ghosts, they might like to visit one of the most haunted places in the country.
- San Diego Zoo or San Diego Zoo Safari Park: These are both old standbys for a day out in San Diego.
- Balboa Park: With plenty of room to romp and lots of places to visit, Balboa has something for every family member.
- Birch Aquarium, La Jolla: We like this small aquarium, which is much more kid-manageable than its bigger siblings.
Family Day Trips Out of Town
Ideas for a Day Indoors in San Diego
San Diego weather is generally mild and it doesn't rain much, but there are days when you might want to be inside instead of out.
- Balboa Park Museums: They've got a museum that should appeal to almost any interest.
- San Diego Missions: Take a tour of San Diego history at two of the state's most noteworthy Spanish missions.
- Maritime Museum: The boats are out in the open, but there's a lot to see inside them.
- Casinos: If gambling strikes your fancy, the San Diego area has plenty of places to participate.
Lunch, Brunch and Foodie Destinations
Ideas for Brunch in San Diego
- Hash House A Go Go: Citysearch readers voted it the best place for breakfast in 2008.
- Cafe on Park: A neighborhood eatery serving creative egg dishes.
- Hornblower Brunch Cruises: A great way to get your brunch and sightseeing, too.
- Old Town: Pleasant surroundings, outdoor patios and large portions make the Old Town restaurants a perennial favorite with many visitors
- San Diego Brewery Tours: San Diego has become one of the best places in California to find fine, micro-brewed beers and this tour lets you visit three of the area's best breweries without having to find a designated driver to do it.
Ideas for Exploring Natural Beauty Near San Diego
- Joshua Tree National Park: A stark desert landscape, popular with rock climbers and dotted with the "trees" that inspire its name but really aren't trees at all.
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Interesting any time of year, but especially pretty in the spring.
- Tide pools at La Jolla Cove: They're easily accessible and full of sea creatures.
Nice Drives From San Diego
- Cabrillo National Monument: OK, it's really kinda in town but on the edge, a nice short drive to a really scenic spot.
- Scenic Loop: If you've ever seen those scenic highway signs on the road or on a map, this route follows their California poppy icons. Take I-8 east to Hwy 79 north to Hwy 76 west and back to San Diego
- Anza-Borrego State Park: It's a nice drive out into the desert and if you go at the right time in spring, you may catch the wildflowers in bloom.
- Coronado Bridge and Silver Strand Highway: Just head over the bridge and turn left at the water for a nice drive through Coronado and along a sliver of sand so narrow you can sometimes see water on both sides of the road. Keep going south through Imperial Beach and you'll eventually reach the mainland again.
- San Diego Harbor Cruise: On this one, you leave the "driving" to the skipper, but it's the same kind of experience as a good drive, with lots of interesting things to see along the way.
- Drive to Julian: The drive up to this little former mining town is always pleasant, and in the fall, you'll find plenty of produce stands sellling locally-grown apples along the way.
Rest and Relax
Relaxing Day Trips Out of Town
- Hot Springs Resorts in Desert Hot Springs: They've got a whole bunch of options and places to get into "hot water."
- Grover Hot Springs State Park: Many Californians enjoy the hot springs at this state park.
- Glen Ivy Hot Springs: It's a bit of a drive, but worth the trip to one of the nicest, most relaxing outdoor hot spring spas around.
Seasonal Events, Festivals and Things to Do
Ideas for a Seasonal Day Out in San Diego
- Old Globe Theater: An award-winning theatre troupe presents Shakespeare under the stars.
- Whale Watching: Catch their migrations, south in early winter and back north in the spring.
- Annual Events
- Carlsbad Flower Fields: They grow a showy bunch of flowers in Carlsbad
- Horse Racing at Del Mar: They call it the sport of kings, and Del Mar is one of the most elegant places to watch.
- Imperial Beach Sand Castle Contest: This is one of the biggest contests in the country.
Seasonal Day Trips Out of Town
Ideas for a Day of Shopping in San Diego
- La Jolla: Lots of art galleries and boutiques make for great window-shopping even if you don't buy a thing.
- Hillcrest: One of the city's liveliest areas, with lots of local shops and things to do.
- Spanish Village, Balboa Park: You'll find a lot of nice artist's studios here, and with no middleman taking their cut, prices are reasonable.
Shopping Trips Out of Town
Vacation Side Trips
If you're on vacation in San Diego, you don't have to stay in time all the time. These places are all suitable for a one or two-day side trip.
- Hollywood: Great for the star-struck and fun even if you aren't.
- Newport Beach: San Diego has plenty of beaches, but Newport's Balboa Island is a nice slice of old-fashioned fun.
- Disneyland: It's not too far away. Find out how to stay out of line and have a great time.
- La Jolla: With a beautiful bay and a pretty downtown overlooking it, La Jolla really is a jewel (which is what its name means).
- Death Valley: Best visited on a two-day side trip, Death Valley offers a fascinating desert landscape.
- Palm Springs: Fun for shopping, mid-century architecture and desert relaxation.