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One Day in San Diego

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Welcome to San Diego! Some of the recommendations in this one-day itinerary could make for a fulfilling all-day visit on their own, or combined according to your interests. Let this list serve as more of a starting point for coming up with your own ideal day in sunny San Diego.

Good for
  • History Buff
  • Shopping Fanatic
  • Nightlife Seeker
  • Nature Lover
  • Peace and Quiet Seeker
  • Beach Goer
  • Thrifty Traveller
  • Like a Local

10 Places

3 City Tips

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Map

10 Places

Balboa Park

Playgrounds, Gardens, Parks

San Diego Zoo

Zoos

Gaslamp Quarter

Gift & Speciality Shops

Seaport Village

Piers & Boardwalks, Shopping Malls, Points of Interest & Landmarks

USS Midway Museum

Speciality Museums

Maritime Museum of San Diego

Ships, Speciality Museums

Harbor and Shelter Islands

Islands, Beach & Pool Clubs

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

State Parks, Historic Walking Areas

SeaWorld San Diego

Theme Parks, Aquariums

La Jolla Cove

Beaches, Parks

Chris O's City Tips

  • Coming from a less sunny clime? Don’t underestimate the power of the southern California sun. Grab your hat, sunscreen, and bottle of water.
  • Don’t leave town without trying a fish taco. Ask a local for their favorite taqueria; or ask two locals at the same time for a ferociously heated debate.
  • You’ll most likely need your own car to make the most of your time in San Diego. However, the San Diego Commute website is a great resource for public transportation options.
  • Balboa Park
    Playgrounds, Gardens, Parks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This is the green and leafy heart of the city where a multitude of activities and nearby attractions await. But if you just want to soak up some rays, go for a quiet walk, or have a nap in the shade of a tree in this park, that’s okay, too.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Must See
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Many of San Diego’s top attractions, including the world famous San Diego Zoo, are situated within or very close to Balboa Park.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #3 of 400 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Always something to do here! 25/05/2019
    • So Much to See!! 22/05/2019
    • Balboa Park
    Address:
    1549 El Prado
    San Diego, CA 92101-1660
    Phone:
    +1 619-239-0512
    Price range:
    USD 46 - USD 46
    Other:
  • San Diego Zoo
    Zoos
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    The San Diego Zoo, home to 650 species of animals, is one of the largest in the world. Needless to say, it makes for an excellent family fun-day (or half day) out, and is a must-see for animal lovers.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • Located within Balboa Park.
    • The Zoo is massive and extremely popular, so plot your route before heading over and prioritize what you most want to see.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #4 of 400 things to do in San Diego
    • Disappointed 25/05/2019
    • Avoid until 2021 24/05/2019
    • San Diego Zoo
    Address:
    2929 Zoo Drive
    Balboa Park
    San Diego, CA 92101
    Phone:
    +1 619-231-0249
    Price range:
    USD 52 - USD 52
    Other:
  • Gaslamp Quarter
    Gift & Speciality Shops
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    History and fun are rolled into one in this evocative part of town, chock full of great restaurants, bars and boutique shops.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • Yes, there really are authentic gas lit streetlights here.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #7 of 146 Shopping in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Fun vibe. 23/05/2019
    • Restaurants and Pubs 18/05/2019
    • Gaslamp Quarter
    Address:
    Fourth Avenue between Broadway and Market
    San Diego, CA 92101
    Phone:
    +1 619-237-1492
    Hours:
    Mon - Fri
    8:30 am - 5:30 pm
    Other:
  • Seaport Village
    Piers & Boardwalks, Shopping Malls, Points of Interest & Landmarks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Nestled between the bay and downtown, Seaport Village is a great place to shop, enjoy a meal, and admire the ocean views.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Nightlife Seeker
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • The Village is a smart destination for seaside walks without have to rough it or even get sand in your shoes.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #64 of 400 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Nice area for walking around 23/05/2019
    • Beautiful day stroll. 18/05/2019
    • Seaport Village
    Address:
    849 W Harbor Dr
    Downtown
    San Diego, CA 92101-7744
    Phone:
    +1 619-235-4014
    Hours:
    Sun
    10:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Mon - Sat
    10:00 am - 9:00 pm
    Other:
  • USS Midway Museum
    Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    With nearly 30 restored aircraft to view, flight simulators to try, and the opportunity to learn about life at sea upon this ginormous decommissioned aircraft carrier, a visit to the USS Midway Museum is an all-ages treat.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    Tips
    • The museum is open 10am to 5pm daily, except Thanksgiving and Christmas.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 400 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Good self tour 23/05/2019
    • Mom and grown up kids tour! 23/05/2019
    • USS Midway Museum
    Address:
    910 N Harbor Drive
    San Diego, CA 92101-5811
    Phone:
    +1 619-544-9600
    Price range:
    USD 23 - USD 23
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego
    Ships, Speciality Museums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Home to one of the to one of the world’s greatest fleets of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India, the Maritime Museum of San Diego is a must-see destination.

    Good for
    • Must See
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    Tips
    • Labor Day weekend is an especially great time to visit. That’s when the Festival of Sail is on!
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #21 of 400 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Sail the Californian! 19/05/2019
    • Take a stroll by this one 12/05/2019
    • Maritime Museum of San Diego
    Address:
    1492 N Harbor Dr
    San Diego, CA 92101-3309
    Phone:
    +1 619-234-9153
    Hours:
    Sun - Sat
    9:00 am - 8:00 pm
    Other:
  • Harbor and Shelter Islands
    Islands, Beach & Pool Clubs
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    These two man-made islands in San Diego Bay are fun places to visit. Plus, fans of midcentury modern architecture and tiki bars will love a drive along Shelter Island in particular.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Hidden Gems
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • A variety of hotels and destination restaurants make this area an ideal alternative to staying downtown.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #32 of 400 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Harbor Island 08/05/2019
    • Very upscale area 03/05/2019
    • Harbor and Shelter Islands
    Address:
    Point Loma
    SanDiego
    San Diego, CA
    Other:
  • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
    State Parks, Historic Walking Areas
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    This was the site of the first Spanish settlement in 1769, making it the 'birthplace of California.' Within the park, you'll have a chance to see a number of original and reconstructed historic buildings, visit shops, and learn all about the origins of the place.

    Good for
    • Foodie
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • History Buff
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Shopping Fanatic
    • Family
    • Art and Architecture Lover
    • Nightlife Seeker
    Tips
    • The history’s great, of course, but this part of town is also a smart choice for some of the city’s best dining and nightlife.
    Plan to stay:
    1-2 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #50 of 400 things to do in San Diego
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Well worth a visit 24/05/2019
    • Excellent Interesting Tour! 23/05/2019
    • Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
    Address:
    4002 Wallace St
    San Diego, CA 92110
    Phone:
    +1 619-220-5422
    Hours:
    Mon - Thu
    10:00 am - 4:00 pm
    Fri - Sun
    10:00 am - 5:00 pm
    Other:
  • SeaWorld San Diego
    Theme Parks, Aquariums
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    Maybe you’ve heard of this place and the major splash it makes with its many guests? This is one of three SeaWorld parks in the U.S. (the others are in Florida and Texas), and a visit here is always a spectacular adventure, in which you can learn all about marine life and watch a variety of impressive animal shows.

    Good for
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • It’s worth digging around online for voucher codes and discounts to this popular – and expensive – attraction.
    • If you’re visiting more than just SeaWorld, a City Pass may be an option for reducing entrance costs.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #59 of 400 things to do in San Diego
    • We love SeaWorld, but we were disappointed with the amount of attractions closed. 20/05/2019
    • Family Fun 18/05/2019
    • SeaWorld San Diego
    Address:
    500 Sea World Drive
    San Diego, CA 92109-7904
    Phone:
    +1 619-222-4732
    Price range:
    USD 55 - USD 55
    Hours:
    Mon - Thu
    10:30 am - 5:00 pm
    Fri
    10:30 am - 6:00 pm
    Sat - Sun
    10:00 am - 9:00 pm
    Other:
  • La Jolla Cove
    Beaches, Parks
    See more photos
    Chris O Says:

    If there was an image next to the word 'picturesque' in the dictionary, it might well be a photo of this pretty little cove. Only got time for one seaside excursion? La Jolla Cove makes for a fine choice.

    Good for
    • Peace and Quiet Seeker
    • Beach Goer
    • Like a Local
    • Solo
    • Friends
    • Couples
    • Senior
    • Family
    • Nature Lover
    Tips
    • As picture perfect as this place is, the waves can be brutal. Swim with caution and take any warnings seriously.
    Plan to stay:
    2-3 hours
    From the community
    Ranked #1 of 53 things to do in La Jolla
    Certificate of Excellence 2014
    • Don't pass this up when you're in San Diego! 25/05/2019
    • Visits 24/05/2019
    • La Jolla Cove
    Address:
    1100 Coast Blvd
    La Jolla, San Diego, CA 92037-3600
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