With great weather year around, San Diego is the perfect destination for your next vacation or weekend getaway. You can spend your sun filled days enjoying the endless coastline, visiting some of the cities famous tourist attractions, or people watching. Don’t forget to check out these free sites, too!
- Mission Bay Park
Mission Bay Park is the largest aquatic park in the country with 4,600 acres, including 27 miles of shoreline, 19 miles of sandy beaches, and 8 designated swimming areas. The park has the following activities available: bike and walk paths, boating, picnic areas, playgrounds, basketball courts, swimming, windsurfing, kayaking, and stand-up paddle boarding. There is something for every age and skill level to enjoy.
- Historic Old Town
Old Town San Diego is a great place to spend an afternoon, and The Old Town Historical Park gives free guided tours. The local area has 17 historical points of interest, with shops and dining all within a mile radius. Make sure you stop at the visitor center for an old town map.
- Balboa Park
Balboa Park has some of the most elaborate Spanish Colonial architecture in the area along with beautiful gardens (seven are free daily). You can spend a day exploring this vast park with 65 miles of hiking trails, a botanical building, free daily park tours, and well-maintained grounds. This is a must-see destination when you visit San Diego.
- Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California with 600,000 acres. Located about two hours from San Diego on the eastern side of San Diego county, this park has 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas, and many miles of hiking trails providing visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the California Desert.
- Spreckels Organ Pavilion
Source: Travel Bugster
The Spreckels Organ Pavilion located in Balboa Park has been a San Diego landmark since 1914 when it was gifted to the city. This is one of the largest pipe organs in the world with 4,725 pipes, from as small as pencil to 32 feet. Witness the amazing sound with a free concert at 2:00 pm on Sundays.
- Seaport Village
A 14-acre waterfront shopping and dining experience, Seaport Village is also a great place to people watch. Take a scenic walk along the bay and check out the boats, birds, ducks, and turtles. Afterwards, enjoy the grass areas for picnicking and kite flying. Don’t leave without visiting the antique carousel; it runs daily and is only $3 per ride.
- Olympic Training Center
San Diego is home to one of only three official Olympic Training Centers in the country. Actual Olympic athletes offer guided tours at the center each Saturday at 11:00 am, or you can take a self-guided tour daily from 9:00 am – 4:00 pm.
- Beach Bonfire
A beach bonfire is a time-honored tradition on many California beaches. In the summer months, fire pits are provided on a first come, first serve basis, with no fires between midnight and 5:00 am. This is a great way to spend an evening.
- Torrey Pines State Reserve
The hiking trails at Torrey Pines offer unparalleled views of the ocean, and people hike the trails for a glimpse of the sandstone cliffs and Torrey pine trees. One of the park's most famous hikes starts at the visitor’s center and winds down to the beach below. Although grueling on the way back to the top, the beach and the views of the cliffs are worth it. Bring your swimsuit (or don't — the beach below, Black's Beach, is one of the U.S.'s only nude beaches).
- Seaworld Fireworks
You can take in the show without paying the price of admission. You can set your watch by them every night in the summer, and they can be seen for miles around San Diego. South Shores Park is the best place to watch them; it is off of Sea World Drive about 1/2 mile before the Sea World parking lot. The show begins around 8:50pm- 9:50pm nightly.
- Mission Trails Park
Only eight miles northeast of downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park provides a quick, natural escape from the urban hustle and bustle. You can choose of plenty of activities, such as 60 miles of trails, boating on Lake Murray, camping at Kumeyaay Lake, numerous informative hikes, and a state-of-the-art Visitor and Interpretive Center.
- Children's Pool at La Jolla
If you want to see seals or sea lions in the wild, this is the place for you. Every day hundreds of harbor seals and sea lions hang out a Sea Rock, which is just north of the beach. Swimming in the children’s pool isn’t as weird as it sounds - the cove offers calm waters and is perfect for snorkeling and swimming.
- Pacific Beach Boardwalk
The Mission Beach – Pacific Beach Boardwalk, also known as Oceanfront Boardwalk, spans about 3 1/2 miles, from North Pacific Beach to South Mission Beach. Walking, biking, bicycling, and rollerblading are permitted on the boardwalk, and it's a great place to people watch.
- Farmers Market
San Diego has both day and night markets located throughout the city, one of the most well-known and popular is the Little Italy Mercato Farmers Market. Throughout the year every Saturday from 8:00 am- 2:00 pm, this market comes alive with local produce, meats, unique gifts, seafood, live music, and food trucks. There are over 200 tents spanning five blocks.
- Visit Mexico
With passport in hand, it is easy to walk across the border to Tijuana for some duty-free shopping and experience some authentic Mexican cuisine. Avenida Revolucion, the city's main thoroughfare, is where you will find the best shopping and dining opportunities. Including the legendary restaurant Cesar's where the Cesar salad was created. A few blocks away you can also be immersed in traditional festive outdoor bazaars and plazas where local vendors sell everything from Mexican candy and homeopathic remedies to piñatas.
San Diego has a magical quality that gets under your skin no matter your age. Who can resist a walk along a beach, a hike in the mountains or watching sea life frolic in the nearby waters.
Don't forget to check out the Top 15 Things to Do in San Diego and The 15 Most Romantic Spots in San Diego!