Things to Do in San Diego

San Diego is known as the birthplace of California and offers everything you want in a city only minutes away with beaches to the West, desert and mountains to the East, and a relaxed urban city in front of you. It is the 2nd largest city in California and the 8th largest in the USA, so there is plenty to explore. Enjoy hiking one day, relaxing at the beach the next day, and sightseeing downtown the day after. Catch the trolley for a ride to Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo or Old Town San Diego. Wander down Embarcadero to eat at Seaport Village or board the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum. Day or night, there is always something to do in America’s Finest City! San Diego has recently seen an emergence as a healthcare and biotechnology development center, and that’s what we are most excited about. With over 400 biotech companies in the area, it is the 2nd largest biotech cluster in the nation, only behind Boston. Companies include Cibus, Illumia, Neurocrine, Acadia Pharmaceuticals, TimeLogic, EMD Millipore, Genomics Institute of the Novartis Research Foundation, Sapphire Energy, and so much more. Educational opportunities are expansive with schools, such as The University of California, San Diego (UCSD), The Scripps Research Institute, Sandford-Burnham Medical Research Institute, and the Salk Institute for Biological Studies offering programs in biotech.

Balboa Park
https://www.balboapark.org/

Where culture, science, and nature collide, Balboa Park is home to more than 16 museums, multiple performing arts venues, lovely gardens, trails, and many other creative and recreational attractions, including the San Diego Zoo. With a variety of cultural institutions among its 1,200 beautiful and lushly planted acres, there is something for everyone. Located in downtown San Diego (about 2 miles north of the city center), Balboa Park is a great place for a stroll, bike ride or picnic. Wander around the park’s many gardens while admiring the intricate Spanish-Renaissance architecture that permeates the grounds (the best examples are the California Building and the House of Hospitality). The Botanical Building is a great starting point in Balboa Park. The building is one of the most photographed places in Balboa Park and is one of the largest lath structures in the world. But don’t just look at it. The famous botanical building features more than 2,100 permanent plants, including striking collections of tropical plants and orchids. The park also features a cactus garden, rose garden, a Japanese-style garden as well as a palm tree canyon and is home to the San Diego Zoo

Disneyland/ Disney’s California Adventure
https://disneyland.disney.go.com/

Visit the Happiest Place on Earth! Only a couple hours away by car, Disneyland is the original home of Walt Disney’s vision to find a place where the entire family can enjoy the day together. Fly like Peter Pan in Fantasyland, explore the Jungle in Adventureland, visit 999 happy haunts at the Haunted Mansion, or blast into outer space into Galaxy’s Edge, the new Star Wars themed land. And your day can be spent at not one park, but two! Just across the way you can head to Disney’s California Adventure to visit the newly released Avenger’s Campus as well as stopping in Carsland to ride Radiator Springs or Pixar Pier to scream on the Incredicoaster. This is truly fun for kids of all ages!

Gaslamp Quarter
https://www.gaslamp.org/

Created in 1850, the Gaslamp Quarter is 16 blocks of Victorian-style buildings that now house a variety of shops, art galleries, theaters, trendy restaurants, bars, and clubs. Wander the streets viewing the history of San Diego enjoying the architecture or learning about its questionable history as a red-light district in the early 1900’s. Revitalized in the 1980’s, you can start your tour at Horton Plaza outdoor shopping center, then wander the neighborhood’s side streets before hitting the main thoroughfare. If shopping isn’t your thing, you can visit at night as it is also San Diego’s premier nightlife destination. Visit for dinner, drinks or both! Looking for culture? You’ll find top-notch theater, captivating museums, and engaging fine art galleries. No matter what you are looking for, you’ll find it here!

San Diego Natural History Museum
https://www.sdnhm.org

Affectionately referred to as The Nat, this flagship institution in Balboa Park has four floors of exhibitions, a 3D theater, and a research collection of 9 million specimens. The organization welcomes nearly 400,000 people into the Museum each year, hosts environmental education programs in the community, and is engaged in scientific research throughout Southern California and the Baja California Peninsula.

San Diego Zoo
https://sandiegozoowildlifealliance.org/

The San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, houses over 12,000 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies on 100 acres of Balboa Park leased from the City of San Diego. The San Diego Zoo was a pioneer in the concept of open-air, cageless exhibits that recreate natural animal habitats. For decades, the zoo housed and successfully bred giant pandas, though the pandas were repatriated to China in 2019. In 2013, the zoo added a new Australian Outback exhibit, providing an updated Australian animal experience. With more than 4 million visitors in 2018, San Diego Zoo is the most visited zoo in the United States. Travelers have also cited it as one of the best zoos in the world.

Seaworld
https://seaworld.com/san-diego/

For more than 50 years, animal rescue and rehabilitation has been the heart of SeaWorld. From habitat protection and ocean health initiatives to their many rescue and rehabilitation efforts, SeaWorld supports conservation projects across the globe. Your visit to SeaWorld is just a chance to feel connected to the ocean and its creatures. But that’s not all! You can experience thrilling coasters and extraordinary rides for the whole family like the heart-pounding thrills of Electric Eel, a multi-launch coaster with high-energy twists, electrifying loops and inversions, or Manta, with two thrilling launches that send riders soaring and diving in the spirit of world’s largest ray. Each ticket purchased helps fund wildlife rescue and rehabilitation efforts, habitat protections, and ocean health initiatives.

USS Midway Museum
https://www.midway.org/

The USS Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Named after the climactic Battle of Midway of June 1942, Midway was built in only 17 months, but missed World War II by one week when commissioned on September 10, 1945. Midway was the first in a three-ship class of large carriers that featured an armored flight deck and a powerful air group of 120 planes. From the beginning of its service, the Midway played key roles in the Cold War. In 1946 it became the first American carrier to operate in the midwinter sub-Arctic, developing new flight deck procedures. The USS Midway Museum is dedicated to honoring the approximately 100,000 young men who served aboard the USS Midway–and by extension all those who serve in uniform. They pioneered new naval aviation standards. They led successful humanitarian missions. And they protected America. During the self-guided audio tour, you’ll see the crew’s sleeping quarters, the engine room, the ship’s jail and the primary flight control room, among other areas of the 4-acre flight deck. There are also flight simulators and fo’c’sle knot tying demonstrations.