San Diego is a dynamic, urban metropolis that is home to world-renowned family attractions, sophisticated arts and dining, exciting nightlife, trendy neighborhoods, popular shopping, endless outdoor recreational opportunities and much more. It is where California was first discovered in 1542 with a rich Hispanic heritage found in beautiful missions, numerous museums and historic areas like Old Town San Diego.
What distinguishes San Diego from other big U.S. destinations is its relaxed, comfortable Southern California lifestyle and vibe. Here, visitors from around the world join together with friendly residents to enjoy the spirit of San Diego that embraces fun, creativity and a carefree attitude. “Happiness is Calling” in San Diego -- it is time to visit one of the most beautiful, exciting and popular cities in America.
- Culinary & Craft Beer
- Historical Sites
- Seasonal & Special Events
- Diverse Region
- Outdoor Recreation
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is a world-famous 100-acre tropical garden that houses 4,000 animals of 800 rare and exotic species including Giant Pandas from China. It is considered one of the top five zoos in the world.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
Located northeast of downtown, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a 1,800-acre preserve where wild animals roam free over vast expanses as they would in their native habitats of Africa and Asia.
SeaWorld San Diego
Located on scenic Mission Bay, SeaWorld features six major shows like One Ocean with Shamu, fun family attractions, thrilling rides and dozens of exhibits containing marine life from around the globe.
Located north of downtown, LEGOLAND delivers 128 acres of fun, interaction, imagination and entertainment with more than 50 interactive attractions and rides geared to children aged 2-12.
The U.S.’s largest urban cultural park, Balboa Park is home to the San Diego Zoo, striking Spanish Colonial Revival architecture, beautiful gardens, 17 unique museums and popular outdoor recreation.
USS Midway Museum
The world’s most visited ship museum, the USS Midway honors San Diego’s rich military history and features 29 restored aircraft, flight simulators, a self-guided walking tour in many languages and more.
Maritime Museum of San Diego
Set along downtown’s bayfront, the Maritime Museum consists of several historic sailing vessels including the Star of India, the world’s oldest merchant sailing vessel still in operation, built in 1863.
Nicknamed the “jewel” of San Diego, this strikingly beautiful Mediterranean-style village is home luxury and historic hotels, award-winning dining, luxury shopping, world-class arts and culture, and diverse outdoor recreation.
Situated across San Diego Bay from downtown, Coronado is home to the famous Hotel del Coronado, pristine beaches, beautiful gardens and parks, and a quaint village with unique restaurants, shops and arts.
The historic heart of downtown, the Gaslamp Quarter combines beautiful Victorian buildings from the late 1800s with a dynamic urban setting to create an exciting dining, nightlife and shopping district. When the sun sets, the Gaslamp Quarter comes alive.
Little Italy is a vibrant downtown neighborhood home to outdoor patio cafes, popular Italian eateries and markets, trendy bars and restaurants, art galleries, boutique shops and colorful annual festivals.
Hillcrest and North Park
Located near downtown, Hillcrest and North Park are known for their exciting mix of unique eateries, exotic bistros, chic boutiques, vintage clothing stores, trendy nightlife, fun entertainment and eclectic arts and culture.
Popular Outlet Malls
San Diego is home to three popular outlets malls that feature great discounted savings at many named-brand stores: the Viejas Outlet Center, next to the Viejas Casino, in San Diego’s East County; the Carlsbad Premium Outlets in San Diego’s North County, and the Shops at Ls Americas, located near the border of San Diego with Tijuana, Mexico.
Outdoor Shopping Centers
Visitors can shop outdoors year-round at numerous malls located around San Diego including Fashion Valley Shopping Center in central Mission Valley with high-end department stores like Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdales and Nordstrom, and Westfield UTC in La Jolla offering a unique mix of specialty stores, services and restaurants in a open-air setting.
Neighborhood and Specialty Shopping
Trendy boutiques, unique shops and specialty stores are found in many neighborhoods like downtown’s East Village, Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Hillcrest, North Park and La Jolla. The Ocean Beach Antique District and Cedros Design District are unique shopping areas. For fun San Diego gifts, visit Seaport Village, Old Town San Diego and the Coronado Ferry Landing.
Fine Dining to Street Food
San Diego’s 6,700 eateries range from sophisticated temples of haute cuisine to casual, surfside taco shacks. The region’s multi-cultural communities provide diverse cuisines from Afghan and Vietnamese to Lebanese and Ethiopian. Also, San Diego is blessed with the virtues of its land and oceans, which is a big contributor to its Cali-Baja fair, a style that was born from combining fresh-local produce with the rich influence of Mexico’s gastronomy.
San Diego is home to 6,000 small farms and popular farmer’s markets where visitors can sample and buy delicious local fresh produce. Held daily in different neighborhoods like the Little Italy on Saturday and Hillcrest on Sunday, the farmer’s markets also feature food booths, arts and crafts and entertainment.
San Diego is considered the “Craft Beer Capital of the U.S.” and home to nearly 100 craft breweries which are located in popular neighborhoods like North Park and Little Italy. Many offer tasting rooms and tours that allow visitors to sample the many unique brews and meet the brewmasters in person. San Diego beers are award-winning beating out traditional countries like England, Germany and Belgium in world beer competitions.
Cabrillo National Monument
Set on the tip of scenic Point Loma peninsula, Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the discovery of California by explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542 for Spain. Cabrillo National Monument offers spectacular views of downtown, San Diego Bay and the surrounding region.
Early California Missions
Out of the 21 missions established in California by Father Junipero Serra of Spain, the first, Mission San Diego de Alcala founded in 1769, and largest, Mission San Luis Rey founded in 1798, can be found in San Diego.
Old Town San Diego
Dating back to the early 1800s, Old Town San Diego is the first Spanish settlement on the U.S. West Coast and features numerous historic sites and buildings, a museum and the haunted Whaley House. It is now a popular area for shopping, entertainment and restaurants serving authentic Mexican cuisine.
Dating back to 1869, the Gaslamp Quarter replaced Old Town as the city’s downtown. Its colorful past includes a time when the area started attracting brothels, saloons and gambling halls during the Wild West’s late 1800s, and the area became known as the “The Stingaree,” an infamous “red light” district. Today, visitors can take tours and learn more about the area’s colorful past and historical buildings.
February, Farmers Insurance Open
The annual PGA Tour men’s golf tournament is played at the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla.
February–April, Wildflowers Bloom in the Desert
Depending on winter rains, the Anza-Borrego Desert turns into a wonderland of color when the spring wildflowers bloom.
May, Cinco de Mayo
A celebration of Mexican spirit and culture, the Fiesta Cinco de Mayo is held in Old Town with music, food and entertainment.
July, Fourth of July Celebrations
Fireworks, festivals and patriotic parades are held in numerous San Diego communities. The Big Bay Boom fireworks extravaganza over San Diego Bay is the largest fireworks display.
July, Comic-Con International
The largest comics and pop culture event in the U.S. attracts thousands of artists, celebrities and fans of comic books, movie memorabilia and pop culture to downtown.
September–October, Annual Julian Fall Apple Harvest
Local residents and guests celebrate autumn with music, art shows, cider and delicious apple pies in the charming East County mountain town of Julian.
November, San Diego Beer Week
Hundreds of beer-centric events take place throughout San Diego during this 10-day festival that highlights San Diego’s award-winning craft beer.
December–April, Whale Watching
The majestic California gray whales travel annually along the San Diego coast as they migrate from Alaska to the warm lagoons in Mexico for breeding. Daily whale watching excursions are available.
San Diego’s East County
A scenic rugged landscape unfolds as you travel from San Diego’s coast to rural East County where you can visit quaint countryside communities like the historic mining town of Julian, the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert, the majestic Cuyamaca Mountains, Native American casinos and more.
San Diego’s North County
San Diego’s North County coastline offers some of the most beautiful scenery and beaches in the nation. Visitors can drive along Historic Highway 101 from luxurious La Jolla to laid-back Oceanside and enjoy European-style spas, fun local shopping and eateries, and unique attractions and activities.
San Diego features the novelty of a two-nation, with colorful Tijuana, Mexico conveniently located 28 kilometers from downtown. Tijuana bustles with activity day and night and offers duty-free shopping, authentic Mexican cuisine, rich arts and culture, and glittering nightlife.
Beaches and Water Sports
San Diego’s beautiful beaches range from the white sandy shores of Coronado Beach, once rated the #1 beach in the U.S., to Torrey Pines State Park, set against dramatic 300-foot sandstone cliffs. Surfing, swimming, kayaking, snorkeling, diving, paddle boarding, sailing and sport fishing are popular water activities that can be enjoyed year-round.
On Land and Above Land Activities
Rolling hills, canyons, lakes, mountains and the vast Anza-Borrego Desert in the north and east of the city offer diverse outdoor recreational experiences on land and above land including mountain biking, hiking, rock climbing, camping, 4-wheeling, fresh water fishing, para-gliding and skydiving.
San Diego has 93 outstanding courses, located in every conceivable setting from the ocean to the mountains to the desert, and the region’s year-round, near-perfect climate allows golfers to play 365 days a year. The most popular course is the world-famous Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla.