Must-see attractions in San Diego

  • Children's Pool

    La Jolla

    Built in the 1930s behind a wave-cutting seawall, La Jolla’s Children’s Pool was created as a family beach but has since been invaded by herds of seals…

  • Birch Aquarium At Scripps, La Jolla, California. (Photo by: Education Images/Citizens of the Planet/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

    Birch Aquarium at Scripps

    La Jolla

    This state-of-the-art aquarium is a wonderous underwater world home to 5000 fish. Visitors can watch sharks dart, kelp forests sway, and even meet a…

  • California Surf Museum

    San Diego

    It's easy to spend an hour in this heartfelt museum of surf artifacts, from a timeline of surfing history to surf-themed art and a radical collection of…

  • Star of India at the Maritime Museum on the Embarcadero.

    Maritime Museum of San Diego

    San Diego

    Next to the new Waterfront Park, this collection of 11 historic sailing ships, steam boats and submarines is easy to spot: just look for the 100ft-high…

  • New Children’s Museum

    San Diego

    This interactive children’s museum offers interactive art meant for kids. Installations are designed by artists, so tykes can learn principles of movement…

  • Estudillo Museum, Old Town State Historic Park.

    Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

    San Diego

    On the site of San Diego's first European settlement, Old Town consists of a cluster of restored or rebuilt historic 19th-century buildings filled with…

  • San Diego Main Library

    San Diego

    A couple blocks east of Petco Park, the city's recent landmark is a beauty. Crowned by a steel-and-mesh dome, the futuristic, nine-story library features…

  • San Diego, AUG 2 2014 - Overcast view of the entrance of Sunny Jim Sea Cave; Shutterstock ID 2148197953; GL: 65050; netsuite: Online editorial; full: POI updates: San Diego; name: Ann Douglas Lott

    Cave Store

    La Jolla

    Waves have carved a series of caves into the sandstone cliffs east of La Jolla Cove. The one below the Cave Store, a shop selling vintage curios, is 200…

  • A gorilla named Jessica holds its two week old unnamed baby in its enclosure at the San Diego Zoo, California on January 13, 2015.  A naming competition is currently underway for Jessica's sixth baby gorilla. Gorillas' live in tropical or subtropical forests in Africa.            AFP PHOTO/MARK RALSTON        (Photo credit should read MARK RALSTON/AFP/Getty Images)

    San Diego Zoo

    San Diego

    This justifiably famous zoo is one of SoCal’s biggest attractions, showing more than 3000 animals representing more than 650 species in a beautifully…

  • Photo of the USS Midway aircraft carrier bridge in San Diego, California. August 17, 2017

Bridge Of USS Midway Aircraft Carrier - stock photo

    USS Midway Museum

    San Diego

    The hulking aircraft carrier USS Midway was one of the navy’s flagships from 1945 to 1991, last playing a combat role in the First Gulf War. On the flight…

  • Mr. Palomar Observatory at dusk
Mt Palomar, astrophysics, cosmology

    Palomar Observatory

    San Diego

    High on Palomar Mountain, at an elevation of 5500ft to avoid light pollution, the Palomar Observatory is simply spectacular – as large as Rome’s Pantheon, with…

  • Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Pacific Ocean, CA,(P)

    Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

    La Jolla

    This reserve preserves the last mainland stands of the Torrey pine (Pinus torreyana), a species adapted to sparse rainfall and sandy, stony soils. Steep…

  • Organ Pavilion in San Diego

    Spreckels Organ Pavilion

    San Diego

    South of Plaza de Panama looms the tiered benches, curved colonnade and ornate pavilion housing a 5017-pipe organ, said to be the world’s largest of its…

  • Lifeguard tower on the Coronado Beach during sunset time.

    Coronado Municipal Beach

    San Diego

    Just beyond the ‘Hotel Del', this beach is consistently ranked in America’s top 10. Four-and-a-half miles south of Coronado Village is the white-sand…

  • Front St

    San Diego

    Old Town Front St’s turn-of-the-last-century storefronts and wooden sidewalks make for an attractive stroll – pick up the Historic Old Town Temecula…

  • CARLSBAD, CALIFORNIA - MARCH 23: Visitors check out a miniature Petco Park made of LEGO brick at the Grand Opening of MINILAND San Diego at LEGOLAND California on March 23, 2023 in Carlsbad, California. (Photo by Daniel Knighton/Getty Images)
theme park

    Legoland California Resort

    San Diego

    A fantasy environment built largely of those little colored plastic blocks from Denmark. Many rides and attractions are targeted to elementary schoolers:…

  • Hotel del Coronado

    Hotel del Coronado

    San Diego

    One of the world's most iconic hotels, ‘The Del’ is an all-timber whitewashed architectural fantasy complete with conical towers, cupolas, turrets,…

  • Hamel's surf and skate store on Mission Beach.

    Mission & Pacific Beaches Boardwalk

    San Diego

    Central San Diego's best beach scene is concentrated in a narrow strip of land between the ocean and Mission Bay. There's great people-watching along the…

  • White stone monument near blue ocean and sky

    Cabrillo National Monument

    San Diego

    Atop a steep hill at the tip of the peninsula, this is San Diego’s finest locale for history, views and nature walks. It’s also the best place in town to…

  • Two women chatting whilst stand up paddleboarding in Mission Bay.

    Mission Bay

    San Diego

    Just east of Mission and Pacific Beaches is this 7-sq-mile playground, with 27 miles of shoreline and 90 acres of parks on islands, coves and peninsulas…

  • Casa de Balboa, architectural landmark in Balboa Park, San Diego, California, USA

    Balboa Park Museums

    San Diego

    Balboa Park is a 1200-acre space with 17 museums and cultural institutions, including key attractions San Diego History Center, San Diego Air & Space…

  • Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala. - stock photo

California's first mission.  Aloe plants blooming in foreground.

    Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá

    San Diego

    Padre Junípero Serra founded the first of California's 21 missions in 1769 on Presidio Hill near present-day Old Town but, five years later, it was moved…

  • FGHCGA Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

San Diego, United States - December 25, 2015: The entrance to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego on December 25, 2015 in San Diego.

    Museum of Contemporary Art

    San Diego

    In an upcycled Santa Fe Depot baggage building, this well-respected museum presents changing exhibits drawn from a collection spanning the arc of artistic…

  • California Tower, Museum Of Man, Balboa Park, San Diego, California, USA

    Balboa Park Gardens

    San Diego

    Balboa Park includes a number of gardens, reflecting different horticultural styles and environments, including Alcazar Garden, a formal, Spanish-style…

  • Sandstone Cliffs and ocean view. Point Loma tide pools, San Diego peninsula, California Coastline. San Diego, California/USA - August 13, 2019

    Ocean Beach Coast

    San Diego

    Just north of the pier, near the end of Newport Ave, is the beach scene’s epicenter, with volleyball courts and sunset barbecues. Further north on Dog…

  • San Diego, USA- June 11, 2014: The San Diego Museum of Art is a fine arts museum located in Balboa Park in San Diego. The museum building was designed in a plateresque style to harmonize with existing structures from the Panama–California Exposition of 1915. The dominant feature of the facade is a heavily ornamented door inspired by a doorway at the University of Salamanca.

    San Diego Museum of Art

    San Diego

    Pride of place in SDMA's permanent collection goes to its Spanish old masters (El Greco, Goya) and a respectable selection of works by other international…

  • San Diego Museum of Us

    San Diego

    Housed in the iconic 1915 California Building, this anthropological museum is packed with exhibits hopscotching from ancient Egypt to local Kumeyaay…

  • San Diego, California: Horizontal view of a mother and her two children going to the Natural History Museum entrance, Balboa Park

    San Diego Natural History Museum

    San Diego

    The 'Nat' houses 7.5 million specimens, including rocks, minerals, fossils and taxidermied animals, as well as an impressive dinosaur skeleton and an eye…

  • SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 17, 2018: The Fleet Science Center, a science museum and planetarium, along with the historic Bea Evenson fountain, both located in Balboa Park, an urban city park.; Shutterstock ID 1027097284; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update

    Fleet Science Center

    San Diego

    A top pick in Balboa Park, this hands-on science museum features interactive displays, including a room geared to the milk-tooth set. Look out for…

  • Editorial March 28, 2019 - Belmont Park roller coaster in Pacific Beach, San Diego California. Aerial drone photo taken late evening.; Shutterstock ID 1401262877; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update

    Belmont Park

    San Diego

    This old-style family amusement park has been a Mission Beach fixture since 1925. The star attraction is the Giant Dipper, a classic wooden roller coaster…

  • Escondido, CA / USA - 05/05/2019: Giraffes Next to a Safari Truck at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park; Shutterstock ID 1391111201; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update

    San Diego Zoo Safari Park

    San Diego

    Take a walk on the 'wild' side at this 1800-acre open-range zoo, sibling of the San Diego Zoo, in the suburban San Pasqual Valley. Giraffes graze, lions…

  • Balboa Park Botanical Building In San Diego, California

    Botanical Building

    San Diego

    The Botanical Building looks lovely from El Prado, where you can see it reflected in the large lily pond that was used for hydrotherapy in WWII when the…

  • Petco Park in San Diego

    Petco Park

    San Diego

    A quick stroll southeast of the Gaslamp is the home of the San Diego Padres baseball team. The stadium has beautiful brick construction and skyscraper…

  • San Diego, CA / USA - December 25 2018: San Diego History Center building at Balboa Park; Shutterstock ID 1278624472; your: Bridget Brown; gl: 65050; netsuite: Online Editorial; full: POI Image Update

    San Diego History Center

    San Diego

    The San Diego Historical Society operates this center, with permanent and temporary exhibitions on city history. Previous exhibitions have included the…

  • The US Grant Hotel of San Diego at night
Building Exterior, City Life, Lighting Equipment, Color Image, Sculpture, Famous Place, Business, Architecture, Urban Scene, San Diego - California, California, Palm Tree, Tree, Plant, Night, Hotel, Street, Fountain, Built Structure, City, Business, Travel Locations, Architecture And Buildings

    US Grant Hotel

    San Diego

    No hotel in the region can compare to the Hotel del Coronado for history, but US Grant, built in 1910, comes close. It’s on the National Register of…

  • San Diego, California, USA - October 3, 2021: Tower of Junipero Serra Museum white building against blue sky on its hill and green foliage up front

    Junípero Serra Museum

    San Diego

    This museum stands atop Presidio Hill, the site of California's first settlement and its first mission, known as Mission San Diego de Alcalá, founded here…

  • San Diego, JUN 27: Timken Museum of Art in the beautiful and historical Balboa Park on JUN 27, 2018 at San Diego, California; Shutterstock ID 1133465582; GL: 65050; netsuite: Online editorial; full: POI updates: San Diego; name: Ann Douglas Lott

    Timken Museum of Art

    San Diego

    Don’t skip the Timken, home to a small but impressive collection of American and European paintings, including works by Rembrandt, Rubens, El Greco,…

  • Outside the San Diego Air and Space Museum in Balboa Park with a Lockheed A12 Oxcart and Convair YF2Y-1 on either side of the entrance

    San Diego Air & Space Museum

    San Diego

    An ode to flight, the circular museum houses an extensive display of historical aircraft and spacecraft (originals, replicas and models), including a hot…

  • E3MYC0 RICHARD AVEDON photographs on display in the SAN DIEGO MUSEUM OF ART is located in BALBOA PARK - SAN DIEGO, CALIFORNIA
Museum of Photographic Arts

    Museum of Photographic Arts

    San Diego

    Tracing the history of photography, the museum offers special exhibits from crowd-pleasing animal themes to landscapes by Ansel Adams and avant-garde cell…