The Prado - San Diego - Balboa Park - California

The Ultimate San Diego Bucket List

The Ultimate San Diego Bucket List

If you’ve never been to San Diego, pack your bags and go tomorrow. Seriously! I fell in love with the city my first time visiting in 2011, and moved there within a year. WC fell in love with it his first time visiting me.

Whether you’re moving to San Diego, already live there, or just love to visit, we’ve put together a bucket list (in no particular order) of 100 things for you to do in San Diego (and San Diego County). Many of these ideas are from my experience living there, others are activities WC enjoyed during his many visits to see me! And a few are ideas we didn’t get around to yet, but hope to do on future trips to SD.

On a budget? Check out our post on free things to do in San Diego.

Balboa Park - San Diego - California

San Diego (and San Diego County) Bucket List

✔ 1.) Take in the view from La Jolla Cove

San Diego - California - La Jolla Cove

2.) Climb the California Tower at the Museum of Man

✔ 3.) Geek out at San Diego Comic-Con

San Diego Comic Con

4.) Tour the U.S.S. Midway

✔ 5.) Visit the San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo - San Diego - California

✔ 6.) Explore the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

✔ 7.) Watch a baseball game at Petco Park

Petco Park - San Diego - California

8.) Attend opening day at the Del Mar Racetrak

✔ 9.) Hike to the top of Cowles Mountain

✔ 10.) Indulge at Extraordinary Desserts

11.) Drink tea in the Japanese Friendship Garden at Balboa Park

✔ 12.) Visit the Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial Mt Soledad - Nighttime - San Diego California

✔ 13.) Spend an afternoon at the Hotel Del Coronado

✔ 14.) Eat pho at OB Noodle House in Ocean Beach

15.) Stand-up paddleboard on Mission Bay

16.) Watch the hand-gliders at the Torrey Pines Gliderport (or try it, if you’re brave!)

✔ 17.) Visit the seals at La Jolla Children’s Pool

Childrens Pool - La Jolla - San Diego - California

✔ 18.) Sip a Mai Tai at Bali Hai

19.) See a concert at Belly Up in Solana Beach

20.) See a performance at The Old Globe Theatre

✔ 21.) Attend the Pride Festival in Hillcrest

Hillcrest Pride - San Diego - California

22.) Pick apples in Julian

✔ 23.) Stroll through the Farmer’s Market in Little Italy

✔ 24.) Walk the Boardwalk from Mission Beach to Pacific Beach

✔ 25.) Stroll through The Prado at Balboa Park

The Prado - San Diego - Balboa Park - California

26.) Rent bicycles on Coronado Island

27.) Take a whale watching cruise

28.) Visit Cabrillo National Monument

29.) Check out the Old Point Loma Lighthouse

✔ 30.) Go tidepooling

✔ 31.) Have a giant breakfast at Hash House A Go Go

✔ 32.) Walk or jog along the Embarcadero

Embarcadero - San Diego - California

33.) Strike a pose in front of the Unconditional Surrender “Kissing Sailor” statue

✔ 34.) Visit the San Museum of Art in Balboa Park

✔ 35.) Watch the Big Bay Boom on July 4

✔ 36.) Take your photo on Potato Chip Rock

Potato Chip Rock - San Diego - California

37.) See a show at La Jolla Playhouse

38.) Catch a college basketball game at SDSU or USD

39.) Attend the Miramar Air Show

✔ 40.) Watch the sunset at Sunset Cliffs

Sunset Cliffs - San Diego - California

41.) Ride the roller coaster at Belmont Park

✔ 42.) Drink a beer at Ballast Point

43.) Go wine tasting in Temecula

✔ 44.) Climb down the embankment at Sunset Cliffs to the beach (Be careful!)

Sunset Cliffs - San Diego California

45.) Kayak through the caves in La Jolla

46.) Splash around in the fountains at Waterfront Park

✔ 47.) Eat a burger at Hodad’s

✔ 48.) Experience December Nights at Balboa Park

✔ 49.) Go on “safari” at the San Diego Safari Park

Safari Park - San Diego - California

50.) See the Apollo 9 Command Module spacecraft & more at the San Diego Air & Space Museum

✔ 51.) Eat tacos at Taqueria Revolucion and TJ Oyster Bar

✔ 52.) Check out the botanical garden at Balboa Park

Botanical Garden Balboa Park - San Diego - California

53.) Dine or shop in Seaport Village

✔ 54.) Visit the Gaslamp District

55.) Learn to surf at the Wave House

56.) Go stargazing at Palomar Observatory

✔ 57.) Explore Old Town

Old Town - San Diego - California

✔ 58.) Eat pasta in Little Italy

✔ 59.) Hear a concert at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion

60.) Make a bonfire on the beach

✔ 61.) Explore the exhibits & see an IMAX film at the Fleet Science Center

62.) Visit the Birch Aquarium

✔ 63.) Snap photos with the sculptures in Balboa Park

Alligator Sculpture - Balboa Park - San Diego - California

64.) Go skiing at Mount Laguna

65.) Visit the Carlsbad flower fields

66.) Drink a beer at Stone Brewing Co.

✔ 67.) Watch the evening fireworks from Sea World

68.) Explore the San Diego Natural History Museum

69.) Spend the day at Mission Trails Regional Park

✔ 70.) Stop and smell the roses in the Rose Garden at Balboa Park

Rose Garden - Balboa Park - San Diego - California

71.) Get a tan in the buff at Black’s Beach (also for the brave!)

✔ 72.) Hang out at Liberty Station

73.) Pay respects at Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery

74.) Take a cruise on the Hornblower in San Diego Bay

✔ 75.) Get a coffee and cupcakes at Babycakes in Hillcrest

76.) Drink a beer at Green Flash Brewing Company

✔ 77.) Experience the San Diego County Fair

78.) Go lawn bowling in Balboa Park

79.) Staycation in a cottage on Crystal Pier

80.) Walk over the Spruce Street suspension footbridge above Kate Sessions Canyon

✔ 81.) Enjoy the view from the rooftop at Mister A’s restaurant

Mister As - San Diego - California

✔ 82.) Eat the sliders at Waterfront Bar & Grill

83.) Tour the Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista

✔ 84.) See a variety of cacti and succulents in Balboa Park’s Desert Garden

85.) Hit the trails in Cuyamaca Rancho State Park

86.) Ice skate at the Hotel Del Coronado (late November to early January)

87.) Experience the Grunion Run

✔ 88.) Spend the day at SeaWorld

89.) Try your luck at Viejas or Sycuan casino

90.) Visit Anza-Borrego Desert State Park in Borrego Springs


Outside San Diego County

These ideas are not in San Diego County, but only require a day trip or weekend getaway!

91.) Go camping in Joshua Tree National Park

✔ 92.) Hike to see the Hollywood Sign

Hollywood Sign - Los Angeles - California

93.) Relax in Palm Springs

94.) Attend the Rose Bowl Game

95.) Ride the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner up the coast

✔ 96.) Hang out with Mickey at Disneyland

Disneyland - Anaheim - California

97.) Ride the ferry to Catalina Island from Dana Point

98.) Attend a live show taping in Los Angeles

99.) Take a cruise to Mexico, Hawaii, the Panama Canal, or Alaska

✔ 100.) Have a weekend getaway in Rosarito, Mexico

Rosarito Mexico

How many of these have you done? Have other ideas to add to the list? Leave us a comment!

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The Ultimate San Diego Bucket List: 100 Things to Do in San Diego