Best San Diego Attractions to See on Your Vacation

You've decided to visit San Diego and aren't sure what to do. Or, perhaps you live here and would like to explore the city more than you have in the past. Not to worry, this list of 10 best San Diego attractions helps pack a fun-filled itinerary regardless of age, budget or traveling companions.

Have kids? San Diego is one of the most popular family-friendly destinations in the world. If you can pull them away from the gorgeous sandy beaches, SeaWorld offers special experiences like dinner with Shamu or behind the scenes tours. LEGO enthusiasts definitely need to head up to LEGOLAND and neighboring SEALIFE Aquarium for a day.

All ages should plan a visit to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Not only will you enjoy seeing pandas, hippos, koalas, polar bears and more roam spacious enclosures, you will also be supporting the Zoo's conservation efforts while learning along the way.

Budget-conscious travelers can take advantage of the beach, stroll through Balboa Park and perhaps duck into a museum or two. It's also free to soak up California history and sunshine in Old Town though a Mexican food meal there doesn't have to break the bank either.

Attractions are spread out all over the city, so think ahead regarding what to visit, when and how to get there (rental cars are advised). If you're short on time, any of the big amusement parks are O.K. to be seen in half of a day, too.

Cabrillo National Monument
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo is credited with discovering San Diego in the 16th century. The Cabrillo Monument, located on the cliffs of Point Loma where he is thought to have first set foot, is dedicated to telling the story via...  Read More



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....  Read More

San Diego Embarcadero
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


"Embarcadero" is a Spanish word meaning "landing place" and San Diego's welcomes cruise ships, is home to the USS Midway and other historic ships, and stretches for several miles south of Lindbergh Field International Airport. Daily dinner...  Read More

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


Relive San Diego's early days in Old Town, a state park that recreates life in the Mexican and Rancho California periods of 1821 to 1872. Original adobes are part of the complex, which also includes historic buildings such as a schoolhouse, a...  Read More

SeaWorld San Diego
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


Pet a dolphin, watch the antics of barking seals and walruses, enjoy polar bears taking an icy plunge, view penguins in their icy habitat, come eye-to-eye with a shark, see cats and dogs (and even pigs) doing amazing tricks, and more. SeaWorld...  Read More



Experience what it's like to be a "city at sea" without leaving port. Located at the Broadway Pier on the San Diego Embarcadero, the USS Midway Museum has become one of the city's most popular attractions since it opened in 2004. Kids and adults...  Read More

San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


Get nose-to-nose with a lion, feed a giraffe, see rhinos tending their young, view an elephant herd splashing in a pond, and marvel at the fact that you can have a mini safari experience right here in the USA. A tram takes you through the heart...  Read More

LEGOLAND California
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


This is the place for kids and the kid in you. LEGOLAND California is perched on a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean in Carlsbad, a 40-minute drive north from Downtown San Diego. Miniland USA, with its miniature models of famous cities and...  Read More

Balboa Park


With over 85 cultural and recreational facilities, Balboa Park is a must-see. It's probably best to start at the Visitor's Center to grab a map and events calendar (if you aren't able to use the iPhone App), or to purchase a Balboa Park...  Read More

San Diego Zoo
Photo courtesy of Joanne DiBona


A trip to San Diego isn't complete without a visit to the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Located in Balboa Park on 100 acres, the Zoo is home to more than 4,000 animals and 800 species, many of them rare or endangered as well as over 700,000 exotic...  Read More


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