Best Attractions near the Cruise Port in San Diego

10 Best Attractions near the San Diego Cruise Port

Do plan time before or after your cruise to explore San Diego. The B Street Terminal Cruise Port enjoys a prime downtown San Diego location, a short distance away from Little Italy, the Gaslamp Quarter and even the Point Loma neighborhood. Translation: Take advantage of the fact you'll already be in the thick of things.

Attractions on this list include a few tours that can give cruisers without the luxury of several days in San Diego a quick overview of the city. While Another Side of San Diego can arrange basically anything you'd like from Segways to helicopter tours, hopping on and off the signature orange Old Town Trolley is easy, because it stops in front of the Maritime Museum, also a must-see. The trolley tours are a hop on and hop off situation, taking guests to Old Town or even as far north as scenic La Jolla.

Or, hop on a SEAL Tour. The funky, amphibious bus-boats start on land, touring a number of San Diego's photo-worthy sights and end up in the San Diego Bay where guests enjoy almost eye-level photos with wildlife, including seals and sea lions.

Whether your stay in San Diego is long or just a few hours, an attraction or two on this list will keep you happily occupied.


Hornblower Cruises in San Diego can handle everything from weddings to birthday parties to just a nice evening for two out on the San Diego Bay. Dinner cruises depart nightly and last for 3 hours. Cruises leave from San Diego Grape Street pier at 6:30pm, which is within walking distance of a number of downtown hotels. Not to worry if you have the kids in tow, there's a menu for them, too. Hornblower has a fleet of seven ships. The dinner cruise boat, Lord Hornblower, is inspired by designs of historic steamships. Book wildlife excursions such as whale watching and more.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Maybe a shorter cruise on a smaller boat in the San Diego Bay is in order?

Katie's expert tip: On the weekends they offer a 3-course lobster dinner cruise.

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Cabrillo National Monument
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona

Don't leave San Diego without visiting the Cabrillo National Monument, perched high on the cliffs at the end of the Pt. Loma peninsula. You'll be awed by the spectacular view onto San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego, and the mountains looming beyond the skyline. Pose for a photo in front of the massive statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the Portuguese explorer who sailed into port under the Spanish flag in 1542. A museum, run by the National Park Service, tells the story of San Diego's discovery through films and displays. Wander through the Old Pt. Loma Lighthouse, built in 1854, to see how life was then for the lighthouse keeper and his family.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: For those who have cars (catching a cab here may be tough) and love National Parks, this is one of San Diego's best views.

Katie's expert tip: Follow signs to the Tide Pools leading down from the monument for a view of fascinating sea life nestled between the craggy cliffs jutting out into the Pacific Ocean.

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The New Children's Museum re-opened in 2008 with a motto of think, play and create, which is exactly what kids do here. What is different about The New Children's Museum is that they specifically commission works of art with tactile features that appeal to kids rather than re-create existing art to suit a younger generation. The hands-on art and exhibits hold the attention of toddlers and teens who can climb the Trojan horse, build stuff with blocks or drop into an art class. The 50,000 square foot environmentally-sustainable building has an open yet clean feel. Family memberships are a good deal at $80 for the year.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Let the kids in tow off the ship and into a hands-on museum full of arts and crafts.

Katie's expert tip: The location is convenient to Seaport Village and the Gaslamp for a nice lunch afterward (the museum cafe isn't great).

Read more about The New Children's Museum →


If it's major league baseball time, why not grab some tickets to a Padres home game at PETCO park if they're in town? Not only does PETCO park have the best sight lines in baseball, there's also great views of San Diego from some spots. Innovative design features make it an intimate sports viewing environment and there are also state-of-the-art amenities to suit fans of any budget. Tailgating prior to games is permitted on a limited basis so check PETCO Park's website for details. Driving and parking at the game is relatively easy with 9000 spots designated specifically for Padres fans. The ballpark is operated in an eco-friendly manner due to the Padres' commitment to green practices.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: You'll need to catch a cab from the cruise port but baseball fans will love a tour or even a Padres game.

Katie's expert tip: It's possible to take a behind the scenes tour of the park 7-days a week. Buy tickets online.

Read more about PETCO Park →

Quite possibly the largest tour company in San Diego, Another Side Of San Diego Tours can customize any itinerary you'd like from shopping tours to VIP helicopter or hot air balloon tours. They've got wine tasting, horseback riding, hiking, skydiving, fishing and more already organized tours than we could possibly list. If you've always wanted to try out a Segway, their tours are ranked number one on TripAdvisor. The company is run by highly-trained travel agents and they have a long list of corporate clients. They even have tours that cover San Diego through Los Angeles and back for those who want a long day trip.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Rent a Segway or ask for a fully-customized tour... they can handle it all.

Katie's expert tip: Both locals and tourists should check their section of tours on sale to check out San Diego at a discount.

Read more about Another Side Of San Diego Tours →


Need to grab some San Diego souvenirs? Seaport Village is an entertainment complex located on the waterfront in downtown San Diego. Full of casual dining from sit-down steak and seafood at Edgewater Grill to a casual bag of popcorn to-go from a vendor, there's a lot to choose from. Bay views are also abundant. The shops are geared toward tourists with souvenirs and trinkets galore, but if you need to bring home something that says "San Diego" on it, this is your place. There's plenty of live entertainment from musicians to balloon artists. Kids will love the old historic carousel. Check the event calendar online especially around the holidays to see what's on tap here.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: Seaport Village has drastically improved with the addition of the revitalized Headquarters dining and shopping complex.

Katie's expert tip: It is a little bit touristy, especially the shops, but it's convenient with scenic photo opps.

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The orange and green trolleys have been touring San Diego for over 20 years. Trolleys depart every 30 minutes from 11 stops (covering over 100 points of interest), so guests can hop on and off at their leisure. The trolleys are eco-friendly as they run on propane. You can start and end your trolley tour at any stop. It was also voted the best way to see the city by the online version of San Diego's major newspaper. The trolley map is on their website, should you want to plan your day in advance. During the fall, there's even a ghost tour focusing on haunted ships and cemeteries.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The trolley stops in front of Star of India, right next to the cruise port.

Katie's expert tip: The trolley is great because it allows you to sightsee without worrying about driving or parking. They do stop in Old Town where you'll surely want a fish bowl margarita, right?

Read more about Old Town Trolley Tours →

This is San Diego's only bus-boat amphibious tour. You start out on land at Seaport Village, traversing bayside roads as you listen to interesting and witty commentary about San Diego history, wildlife, the military and more. Then the Coast Guard-approved vehicle dives into the bay for a look at the highlights from a different perspective. It's fun for the whole family. Tours last about 90 minutes and are fully-narrated. Interestingly enough, the tour spots more sea lions than seals. Do book in advance to avoid disappointment. The tour is 90 minutes long and residents can go for free with a paid adult if they have the Hometown Pass.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: If you only have a short time to kill, the Seal Tours can give you a quick overview of the city.

Katie's expert tip: A map of the tour and videos are available on the San Diego Seal tour website. Have a look at the crazy bus-boat so you'll know what it is if you see it driving around Downtown.

Read more about San Diego Seals Harbor Tour →

Maritime Museum of San Diego

The Maritime Museum is home to one world's most impressive collections of historic ships. The Star of India (1863) is the oldest active ship in the world. The Berkeley is an 1898 steam ferryboat. The tall ship Californian was built for the 1984 Summer Olympic Games in Los Angeles, and was subsequently named the official state tall ship. Medea is a steam yacht dating to 1904. For 82 years, the Pilot (1914) was the official pilot boat for ships entering and leaving San Diego Bay. The HMS Surprise is a replica of an 18th century Royal Navy frigate that was used in the film Master and Commander. Additionally, there are five galleries of exhibits detailing San Diego's Navy, Pirates of the Pacific, and other interesting topics.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: You're cruising so why not explore a world class collection of ships and artifacts?

Katie's expert tip: Parking is tough so walk from your hotel (or cruise ship).

Read more about Maritime Museum of San Diego →

Just a few minutes walk from the cruise port, the aircraft carrier USS Midway, which served from 1945-1992, offers a fascinating glimpse into life aboard a giant ship. Take the self-guided audio tour through the ship, then check out some two dozen aircraft on the flight deck and experience the simulator ride. Docents, some of whom served on the ship while it was active, are on board every day to answer questions and can occasionally be persuaded to relate a funny or interesting story or two. There are 29 restored aircraft on the ship as well as more than 60 exhibits and two flight simulators. There's also a cafe and a gift shop on board.

Recommended for Attractions near Cruise Port because: The USS Midway is a quick walk from the cruise port and a great place to gain a sense of military appreciation.

Katie's expert tip: Plan to spend time listening to the audio tour or really take in what the docents are saying. It would be a shame to miss out on so much interesting history by quickly walking through.

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Meet Katie Dillon

Katie Dillon originally moved to the seaside community of La Jolla to attend UC San Diego. When the opportunity presented itself, she and her husband set off for a 7 year stint overseas as...  More About Katie