Nine Best Things To Do in San Diego in 2022
Visiting San Diego this year? There’s so much to see and do in this Southern California hotspot that you’ll want to start planning well in advance.
Should you visit the Old Town, Torrey Pines, or the city’s numerous breweries? Or should you focus more on the ocean side of things by visiting La Jolla Cove, taking a kayak trip, or exploring San Diego Bay?
If you’ve never been here before, read on. We’ll break down the nine best things to do in San Diego, from catching some surf to checking out charming seaside shops.
1. Visit Balboa Park
You can get started with a visit to the 1200-acre enclave of Balboa Park. Home to the San Diego Zoo, it’s nestled deep in downtown San Diego and is the perfect place to enjoy a picnic in the sunshine or take a calming bike ride.
Not only are the natural elements beautiful, but you’ll also find gorgeous Spanish Renaissance architecture throughout the Park’s grounds. Consider checking out the Botanical Building first; it’s one of the most photographed places in the city and has over 2100 permanent plants, ranging from tropical plants to orchids to Japanese bonsai trees and more.
2. Stroll Down Coronado Beach
Many people visit San Diego specifically for its beaches. If that’s the case for you and your family, you’ll want to check out Coronado Beach. It sits across the bay from San Diego’s metropolitan sprawl, and it has many miles of glorious shoreline to explore.
While it doesn’t include a boardwalk, it does offer excellent surfing opportunities and beautiful sights. There’s even an ice skating rink if you visit during the winter.
3. Check Out the Gaslamp Quarter
San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter is truly a one-of-a-kind place comprised of 16 blocks of Victorian-style architecture. It’s the place to go if you want to enjoy San Diego’s downtown offerings. Clubs, trendy restaurants, theaters, art galleries, and shops are all available in this unique and historic quarter, which runs from L Street up to Broadway.
You’ll especially want to stop by Fifth Avenue, which is San Diego’s main thoroughfare and major nightlife destination. Even during the day, it’s got plenty of open-air restaurants and rooftop bars to enjoy.
While you’re in the Gaslamp Quarter, you might also consider stopping by Old Town San Diego. It’s chock full of fun boutiques, eateries, craft beer breweries, and a variety of sightseeing opportunities to really bring out the beauty of what San Diegans call America’s Finest City.
4. Don’t Forget Mission Beach and Pacific Beach
Aside from Coronado Beach, you can also check out both Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. They’re both parts of a truly massive Pacific Ocean shoreline that runs down the coast of San Diego.
These beaches are a popular tourist attraction and offer many miles of sunny sands — plus a boardwalk with great places to eat, shop, rent bicycles and skates, and much more. This big beach is also one of the most popular surfing spots in San Diego, whether you are a beginner or a regular surfing fan.
How can you tell which is which? Mission Beach is to the south and begins at Belmont Park. It’s closer to residential homes and has fewer hotels and amenities. Pacific Beach, on the other hand, starts to the north of Belmont Park and is a little more lively, featuring more restaurants, shops, bars, and hotels.
5. See the San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is 100 acres in size, making it one of the biggest zoos in the entire USA. It also has one of the biggest collections of rare and endangered animals in the country — around 3500 distinct species at last count. These species range from koalas to polar bears to giant pandas to sea lions and more.
Many of the San Diego Zoo’s exhibits are artfully linked with a variety of trails that guide visitors through beautiful scenery. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is of particular interest to fans of African wildlife.
Keep in mind that this zoo is quite massive, and it can easily take an entire day to see everything. Luckily, the zoo offers a Skyfari aerial tram experience that allows you to quickly get from one end of the grounds to the other.
6. See the Seaport Village
San Diego’s Seaport Village is an excellent coastal attraction, perfect for those who like to shop for souvenirs or sip coffee while watching ships go to and from the local harbor. It’s situated on the waterfront and includes about 13 restaurants and 50 distinct shops.
Many call Seaport Village the best place to grab a bite in San Diego, especially if you like seafood. All the seafood cuisines are fresh and delicious, whether you stop by for brunch or dinner.
Excursions such as whale watching or tours to San Diego beaches are also accessible here, as are places to rent gear if you and your friends are surfers.
7. Explore the USS Midway Museum
As a big military town, it’s no surprise that San Diego is also home to a major military museum: specifically, the USS Midway Museum. The Midway was the American aircraft carrier with the longest service lifespan. Over its tours of duty throughout the 20th century, over 225,000 sailors worked aboard it.
Museum-minded visitors can and should check out this expansive historic ship, which includes over 60 exhibits and the opportunity to get up close and personal to 29 restored aircraft. Many of the aircraft saw real action in conflicts like World War II and the Korean War.
8. Attend a Game at Petco Park
Are you a baseball fan? Then you’ll want to check out Petco Park, one of the most popular baseball stadiums in the nation. It’s an especially important site for fans of the San Diego Padres, of course!
Regardless, this historic baseball stadium is a great place to enjoy a sunny day. It’s a notably beautiful park, featuring a sandstone exterior, decorative palm trees, and other local vegetation.
You can also get plenty of delicious bites to eat in the park without having to give up your seat, from fish tacos to hotdogs, hamburgers, and more.
9. Try the Maritime Museum of San Diego
Last but not least, visit the Maritime Museum, which takes you on a deep dive through the historical activities of San Diego’s local port. There are lots of restored vessels you can climb aboard at this museum, including sailing ships and submarines, plus the oldest active ship in the world: the Star of India.
Indeed, the Maritime Museum is a highly engaging and educational experience for everyone involved. Board one of the ships for a tour, and you’ll leave knowing much more about seamanship and how to sail than you did before!
Other Fun Activities To Try During Your Visit to the West Coast
Although these are our favorite things to do, they’re by no means all that San Diego has to see. For example, you can also visit Point Loma, San Diego’s own Little Italy, or stay at the Hotel del Coronado for an unforgettable experience. The oceanic sea caves, snorkeling experiences, and guided tours across La Jolla shores are also worthwhile excursions.
In addition to the options listed above, you can also pay a visit to any of these attractions:
- Ride rollercoasters at Belmont Amusement Park
- Visit SeaWorld San Diego for a glimpse of marine life in their natural habitats
- Check out the hiking trails in Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
- Visit the San Diego Museum of Art and San Diego Natural History Museum
- Go scuba diving, paddle boarding, and more at the La Jolla Underwater Park
- Head into town for the San Diego Comic-Con
- Enjoy dinner at Nico’s Mexican Food
- Take the Embarcadero Coast segway tour
- Stop by the Cabrillo National Monument
- Check out the Birch Aquarium at Scripps
- Enjoy the Ocean Beach Farmers Market
- Tour the Coronado Bridge
- Visit the Del Mar Thoroughbred Club
- See the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve State Park
- Hear Live Music at Seven Grand
- Take your kids to Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla for tide pools and playgrounds
Contact Advantage Rent-a-Car Today
No matter your interests or personality, there’s something fun to see and do in San Diego for everyone.
Of course, you’ll need to get there if you want to enjoy everything this sunny city has to offer. Advantage Rent-a-Car can make that easy for you, even if you’re only 18.
Don’t worry about driving your personal vehicle down and finding long-term parking. Instead, fly in and stop by our convenient Advantage rental offices at major airports. We have a diverse fleet of rental vehicles, so you’re sure to find a car or van that speaks to you.
Contact Advantage Rent A Car today for more information!
USS Midway Museum | Midway.org
Guide to Coronado Beaches | sandiego.org
Discover Mission Bay, Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, and Pacific Beach | sandiego.org
Visit | Maritime Museum of San Diego