San Diego, California Travel Guide & Trip Planner
With its mild year-round climate, varied terrain, beautiful harbor, and abundance of outdoor activities, San Diego is consistently a major, popular tourist destination. Attractions such as Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo, and the USS Midway draw visitors from around the world.
San Diego is also the site of the annual Holiday Bowl.
One of the most exciting and sophisticated metropolitan regions in the country, San Diego comprises more than 100 colorful and unique neighborhoods. Each of these communities has a style and personality of their own, and their dynamic medleys of outdoor activities, arts and culture, dining and shopping opportunities reflect the rich diversity of the San Diego region.
|Fishing boats and pleasure boats docked in San Diego|
From downtown's trendy East Village, to the laid-back community of Ocean Beach, to the luxury enclave of La Jolla, San Diego boasts dozens of fascinating neighborhoods.
Downtown San Diego is one of the most dynamic metropolitan areas in the country, drawing both visitors and residents to a sophisticated city center. Framed by inland mountains and a beautiful natural harbor, downtown San Diego's alluring cityscape is a testament to years of redevelopment and urban revitalization.
As the historic heart of downtown San Diego, the 16-block Gaslamp Quarter combines Victorian-charm with urban living to create a lively dining, entertainment and shopping district. Once home to San Diego's "red light" district in the late 1800s, the area once held three gambling halls run by Wyatt Earp. In recent decades, revitalization efforts have spurred the growth of more than 100 restaurants, 40 bars and nightclubs and 100 retail shops, as well as theaters and art galleries.
Once home to San Diego's flourishing tuna fishing industry and generations of Italian families who made their living on the sea, Little Italy in downtown San Diego is a quaint and lively neighborhood filled with outdoor patio cafes, restaurants, pubs, art galleries, boutique shops and the beautiful Amici Park.
|One of the most popular tourist destinations in San Diego ... Balboa Park|
With perpetual sun, swaying palms and sparkling surf, the funky neighborhood of Ocean Beach, referred to locally as O.B., is the epitome of Southern California beach culture. Newport Avenue, its main street, can be both laid-back and energized with boisterous bars, cafes, surf shops, tattoo parlors and a 1960s hippie attitude.
The treasures of this Mediterranean-style village make La Jolla one of the most sought-after vacation destinations in Southern California. With luxurious and historic hotels, fine dining and shopping, world-class arts and culture, unbeatable outdoor recreation and a strikingly beautiful setting, it's no wonder why La Jolla is nicknamed the "jewel" of San Diego
Hotels and Other Lodging in San Diego
Each year about 35 million visitors travel to San Diego. San Diego has approximately 549 hotel, motel, bed & breakfast and casino hotel properties, with over 61,000 rooms available to visitors.
San Diego Travel Information from TripAdvisor
The Homewood Suites at Liberty Station is one of our favorite hotels in San Diego... ample free parking, convenient to the airport, some suites overlook the water, and it is an easy drive to the waterfront and downtown!
Homewood Suites at Liberty Station
|Situated along the Pacific Ocean, the Hotel del Coronado is a reminder of the romantic hotels and lodging experiences of the past.
Hotel del Coronado at TripAdvisor ... Reviews, details, reservations
How to Get to San Diego
San Diego is located on Interstate Highways I-10, I-5 and I-15 in extreme southern California, adjacent to Tijuana, Mexico (see interactive San Diego map below on this page).
Numerous airlines fly nonstop to U.S. and international destinations from San Diego International Airport (TUS) located near downtown. Visit the website of San Diego International Airport for airline and flight details.
Several cruise lines offer stops in San Diego.
What to See and Do in San Diego
San Diego has literally hundreds of attractions and things to do for all ages, and interests, indoor and outdoor, year-round. Some of the more popular attractions include the following:
|A "must see" stop for visitors to San Diego ... The Zoo ... a world-famous 100-acre tropical garden that houses 4,000 animals of 800 rare and exotic species. It is conveniently located at Balboa Park.|
Coronado Bridge over San Diego BayIn 1964 the U.S. Navy agreed to support a bridge project across the bay if there was at least 200 feet (61 m) of clearance for ships which operate out of the nearby Naval Base San Diego to pass underneath it. To achieve this clearance with a reasonable grade, the bridge length was increased by taking a curved path, rather than a more direct path to Coronado. It is 11, 179 feet in length, and was opened in 1969.
|Casa de Balboa, featuring the Museum of Photographic Arts, Model Railroad Museum and the San Diego History Center|
The largest urban cultural park in the United States, Balboa Park includes a large concentration of cultural institutions. Its 1,200 lush acres are home to 15 museums, eight gardens, the San Diego Zoo, art galleries and renowned performing arts venues like the Old Globe theatre.
Originally built for the Panama-California Exposition of 1915-1916, the buildings along the Prado in Balboa Park and their Spanish-Colonial Revival architecture are considered attractions in themselves.
In addition, the Panama-California Exposition of 1935-1936 brought in architectural styles of the Aztecs, Southwest and Mexican pueblos to the park's buildings.
|Balboa Park in Southern California, home to the San Diego Zoo and the Balboa Park Railroad|
|The lush gardens at Balboa Park in San Diego|
San Diego Natural History Museum
The San Diego Natural History Museum, allows guests of every age to practice being paleontologists and explore San Diego's fossil history. The museum also features a rotation of excellent, family friendly educational films.
|Historic archways at Balboa Park|
|Studio 18 at Balboa Park|
The USS Midway Museum pays tribute to the hundreds of thousands of men who served their country aboard the ship and highlights San Diego's rich military history. The Midway, part of the Navy fleet for 47 years, was home to more than 200,000 sailors during the Vietnam and Persian Gulf Wars, as well as other conflicts and crises around the world.
Berthed at Navy Pier along San Diego Bay in downtown, highlights include flight simulator rides, story-telling docents (many of whom are Midway veterans), a self-guided tour with headphones and access to the ship's mess desk, berthing spaces, flight deck and more.
San Diego is home to one of the world's most beautiful natural harbors, San Diego Bay. Bustling with activity day and night, it serves as the homeport for Navy ships, a large sportfishing fleet, thousands of pleasure craft and an increasing number of cruise ships.
Surrounding the Bay are 16 public parks, and their 250 bayfront acres and miles of landscaped promenades provide ideal vantage points to view the ever-changing seascape and gleaming San Diego skyline. Public art can also be seen everywhere, with popular displays ranging from sculptures and murals to mosaics and pottery works.
|On deck at the USS Midway Museum, with the San Diego skyline in the background|
|Walk ways and public areas along the San Diego waterfront, as seen from the USS Midway
|The famous "Unconditional Surrender" statue seen near the USS Midway (May, 2015)|
|National Salute to Bob Hope & the Military ... sculpture series in San Diego, with the USS Midway in the background|
|Boats along the waterfront, San Diego harbor|
San Diego Harbor, one of the world's most spectacular natural wonders, is part of San Diego Bay, a bustling waterway plied by ferryboats, cruise ships, sailboats, yachts, fishing vessels and the U.S. Navy's armada of warships and aircraft carriers.
One of the best ways to see San Diego is from the waters of the Bay aboard a harbor tour, dinner cruise or wintertime whale-watching expedition. Families are amazed by the unique views of active U.S. Navy ships, water wildlife, San Diego's beautiful skyline and the magnificent San Diego-Coronado Bridge.
|The "Adventure Hornblower" tour boat in the San Diego harbor|
|"Spirit of San Diego" touring the harbor
The San Diego area is rich in bays, waterways and beaches, offering endless outdoor fun and activities.
|Welcome to Mission Bay Park|
Mission Bay, a 4,600-acre aquatic playground, is the largest facility of its kind in the world featuring separate, designated areas for sailing, power boating, fishing, swimming and water skiing.
Meandering around the beautiful bay's shorelines are 20 miles of paths for runners, bikers and in-line skaters. A favorite spot for families is Tecolote Shores, an open grassy park popular for flying colorful kites, playing Frisbee and having leisurely picnics.
Coronado Beach is an aquatic wonderland recognized annually by the Travel Channel as the best family beach in North America and Best Beach in the United States by Dr. Beach. A vast expanse of white sand greets families toting umbrellas, sand toys, beach towels and picnic coolers for an all-day stay. Recreational activities abound with paddleball, sandcastle building, kite flying and volleyball.
La Jolla Shores boasts a spacious beach that slopes gently into turquoise waves. One of the most family friendly beaches in San Diego County, the mile-long sandy shore is paralleled by a wide cement boardwalk that separates the beach from a large grassy park ideal for picnicking and volleyball games.
|Mission Beach, San Diego, California|
La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is a world-famous dive site located in the La Jolla Ecological Preserve where marine life flourishes and guests are guaranteed to see an array of colorful crustaceans and fish throughout the year.
An excellent place for adventure for divers of all skill levels, the Cove is used for both day and night diving.
Other Attractions and Points of Interest Around San Diego
Cabrillo National Monument
Tranquil and protected, the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma is among the rarest habitats in the world. A diversity of plants and animals live freely on 160 acres sheltered by the Pacific Ocean on the west and San Diego Bay on the east.
Here, visitors can enjoy beautiful coastal views and over 200 species of birds and marine plants. As winter approaches, guests can also catch glimpses of California Grey Whales as they migrate south toward Mexico for warm water breeding.
The Marina district is home to the Embarcadero, Seaport Village and the bayside San Diego Convention Center (left) with its unique architecture and sail-roofed pavilion.
The Maritime Museum of San Diego in downtown San Diego along San Diego Bay offers one of the world's finest collections of historic ships, including the famous Star of India, the world's oldest active tall ship.
|The ferry "Silvergate" docking at the landing at Coronado near Centennial Park|
|Downtown San Diego seen from a waterfront restaurant on Coronado|
San Diego Air and Space Museum
The San Diego Air & Space Museum, California's Official Air & Space Museum and a Smithsonian Affiliate, offers one-of-a-kind displays of historic aircraft and spacecraft.
|One of the most popular destinations in San Diego ... the old Point Loma Lighthouse|
|The hills and houses of San Diego|
Originally a refuge for Mexican residents fleeing the revolution in the early 20th century, Barrio Logan today is both the epicenter of San Diego's Hispanic community and a welcoming neighborhood where young urbanites and artists are spurring a creative renaissance.
SeaWorld San Diego
Located on Mission Bay, SeaWorld San Diego is a 189-acre park featuring six major shows, fascinating attractions and dozens of exhibits containing marine life from around the globe.
|La Jolla is home to the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, an oceanographic museum with more than 3,000 fish on exhibit.|
|Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial|
Old Town San Diego
Visitors can witness the living legacy of California's birthplace at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, San Diego's "first downtown". Old Town marks the site of the first Spanish settlement on the U.S. West Coast.
The six-block park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in shops, restaurants, museums and several carefully preserved or restored adobe and wooden buildings.
Interactive Map of the San Diego Area
Other Travel Destinations in California