Looking for things to add to your San Diego bucket list? Look no further! This comprehensive list has all the fun things to do in San Diego to keep you busy on your trip to California.
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Ultimate San Diego Bucket List
1. Eat a donut from the Donut Bar
The sweets are immaculate in San Diego, so head to Donut Bar for a fantastic treat. There are a few locations around the San Diego area, so no matter where you’re exploring, you should be able to visit.
They have fun flavors, including Unicorn, Mud Pie, and Strawberry Split.
2. Explore the San Diego Botanic Garden
San Diego is best explored outside, so be sure to check out the city’s botanic gardens!
They’re located in northern San Diego and are filled with beautiful flora and fauna. Plus, they cover 37 acres, so there’s lots waiting for you to explore.
3. Go hiking in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
The state parks in California are out of this world, so you’ll want to add one to your San Diego bucket list.
It’s filled with hiking trails for all ages, so if you’re a novice or traveling with younger kids, you can still enjoy the park. Be on the lookout for the epic waterfalls.
4. Visit Mission Bay
Mission Bay is a popular destination in San Diego because it’s so beautiful. There’s a beautiful beach here, Mission Beach, and also a park. For an outdoor adventure with a coastal view, head to Mission Bay.
5. Walk around Balboa Park
Balboa Park is one of the largest parks in all of San Diego.
It covers 1,200 acres and is conveniently located near the Gaslamp Quarter. The San Diego Zoo is located here, along with other museums, trails, and more.
6. See a Padres game
The Padres are San Diego’s home baseball team. If you want to experience the city’s sports culture, try to see a Padres game during your visit.
They don’t always play at home, but if they do during your visit, be sure to purchase game tickets well in advance.
7. Explore Seaport Village
Seaport Village is a beautiful coastal area in San Diego. It’s home to tons of shops and restaurants, and of course great views of the water.
It opened in 1980 and has been a popular place to visit ever since. Even though it is seen as touristy by the locals, it deserves a spot on this San Diego bucket list.
8. Catch the view from the Sunset Cliffs
The Sunset Cliffs are arguably the best place in all of San Diego to catch the sunset. It tends to be visited more by the locals than tourists, so it’s not as busy as other places along the coast.
9. Learn how to surf
There’s truthfully no better place in all of California to learn how to surf than in San Diego. Make an appointment for surf lessons and learn how to ride the waves like the locals!
If you already know how to surf, try to go surfing at least once during your visit for a fun time.
10. Attend a show at the Old Globe Theatre
Located in Balboa Park, this theatre opened in 1981 and hosts different theatrical productions throughout the year.
On average, they show about 15 different performances. If there’s a show on while you’re visiting, purchase tickets to see one!
11. See the seals at La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is a beautiful area in San Diego! It’s home to a beach, caves, and of course, breathtaking cliffs.
If you’re interested, you can even go on a kayak tour of the area with a local guide which lets you explore the area even more than you could on foot.
12. Ride your bike along the Silver Strand Bikeway
The Silver Strand Bikeway is a great trail right along San Diego Bay if you want to get some exercise while visiting the city.
It goes on for just under 19 miles. If you don’t have a bike during your visit, you can rent one from a rental company in the city.
13. Take a tour of the U.S.S. Midway
The U.S.S. Midway is a museum located inside a boat in San Diego. It was founded in 1992 and is filled with artifacts and exhibits about naval aircrafts.
You can’t help but spot this boat out on the water because of its large size.
14. See the Cabrillo National Monument
For a historic outdoor attraction on this San Diego bucket list, head to the Cabrillo National Market. It opened in 1913 and is dedicated to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.
He landed at San Diego Bay back in 1542. The location of the monument is perfect and offers excellent views of the water.
15. Grab a coffee at The Cat Cafe
If you love animals, head to The Cat Cafe! This establishment has great coffee and small bites to eat. Plus, there are tons of cats inside the cafe that are actually up for adoption!
What better way to enjoy your favorite coffee drink than by surrounded by cute felines? This is a unique attraction to add to your San Diego bucket list.
16. Hike Cowles Mountain
For a fun hike, head to Cowles Mountain. This hike is only about three miles long and offers incredibly epic views of the nearby area.
On average, it takes no more than three hours to hike to the top of the mountain, and it’s medium difficulty.
17. Go on a hike in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Torrey Pines State Reserve is a beautiful state park along the coast in San Diego.
It covers more than 2,000 acres and is home to tons of great hiking trails. No matter your hiking level, you’ll be able to find one to do here.
18. Ride the Coronado Ferry
If you plan on heading to Coronado during your trip to San Diego (which you absolutely should), then hop on the Coronado Ferry.
It is a short 15-minute ride and has great views the whole way. The ferry only costs $5 too, so it’s pretty affordable. This is a fun thing to add to your San Diego bucket list!
19. Go to San Diego Comic Con
If you’re a fan of pop culture and entertainment, plan your trip to San Diego around San Diego Comic Con.
This is one of the biggest comic conventions in the world and takes place every July. There are panels with celebrities from your favorite shows, vendors, and more.
20. Explore the Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter is a historic area of San Diego that is known for being filled with tons of attractions.
You won’t run out of things to do in this area. Plus, there are many great coffee shops, galleries, and restaurants here too.
21. Hike up to Potato Chip Rock
Yes, there’s a rock called Potato Chip Rock in San Diego! The hike takes about four hours tops and is only about 5.5 miles long if you do a loop.
The views are epic, and parts of the hike are considered challenging.
22. See the beautiful Carlsbad Flower Fields
The Carlsbad Flower Fields are truly breathtaking! It’s only open through part of the year from March until Mother’s Day, but if you visit during this time of year, it’s a must-visit on a San Diego bucket list. The fields are immense and so colorful.
23. Explore Belmont Park
Belmont Park is another theme park along the coast! It’s located near Mission Beach near Mission Bay and is filled with fun roller coasters, places to eat, and more. Plus, the views are an added bonus.
24. Spend a night glamping at Keys Creek Lavender Farm
Who wouldn’t want to add a night glamping to their San Diego bucket list? The Keys Creek Lavender Farm is a popular wedding venue located in San Diego.
You can spend a night near the lavender fields on this beautiful farm for a night!
25. Eat an acai bowl from Northside Shack
Acai bowls are incredible in San Diego, so head to Northside Shack. This is one of the top-rated places to get one in the city, and they also offer vegan options.
It’s the perfect spot to stop for breakfast while visiting San Diego.
26. Visit Legoland California
Legoland California is a fun theme park in California that’s all about LEGOs! It opened in 1999 and is filled with great rides no matter your age.
Plus, there are tons of extraordinary sculptures throughout the park that are made entirely out of LEGOs.
27. Walk around San Diego’s Old Town
One of the best ways to experience San Diego is to walk around the Old Town. It gives you a feel of what it was like when the Europeans first settled in this area.
It’s San Diego’s oldest neighborhood and is a great place to explore.
28. Go on a gondola ride in Coronado
Yes, you can go on a gondola ride in Coronado as if you were in Venice! This is a truly romantic experience and can be pretty unforgettable.
There are also package options if you’re traveling with a family or a larger group of friends.
29. View the Japanese Friendship Garden
The Japanese Friendship Garden covers twelve acres and is a very peaceful place to explore. If you want to escape the city and have a bit of tranquility, then head to this garden.
You probably won’t need more than an hour or two to explore it.
30. Check out the Hotel del Coronado (and the beach!)
The Hotel del Coronado is one of the top-rated hotels in San Diego. It was famously featured in a movie with Marilyn Monroe and was boosted into popularity ever since.
It’s also located right on a great beach. If you have time, go inside the hotel. There are tons of shops on the bottom floor; it almost feels like a mall!
31. Walk the Mission Beach Boardwalk
For a coastal walk, make your way to the Mission Beach Boardwalk. It’s a fun promenade located right near Mission Bay that is lined with great stores and restaurants.
This is the perfect place to go for a bit of fresh air during a visit to this area of San Diego.
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