Top Rated San Diego Attractions

Known as the oldest town in California, San Diego is the gem of SoCal, and with Planetware’s curated list of the top-rated tourist attractions in the city, you’ll never find yourself in the least bit bored.

Located not too far off from the Mexican Border in Southern California, the City of San Diego holds within its limits a combination of natural beauty, mild Mediterranean climate, an abundance of sunshine, and a wide selection of unforgettable metropolitan attractions. Ideal for outdoor adventures sprinkled throughout your trips to the various museums and gardens that the city has to offer, you’ll never be without an exciting adventure. Of course, be sure to check local CDC recommendations, travel advisories, and local city mandates to ensure that your time in San Diego is spent as efficiently and safely as possible.

Set your sights on Balboa Park’s Spanish Colonial-style architecture, the Midway Aircraft Museum, or the world famous San Diego Zoo. If you’re looking for sunshine, San Diego houses several beaches with over 68 miles of coastline in and around the city limits, making it perfect for sunning, swimming, and even surfing.

San Diego Zoo

This zoo is famous, as it is one of the largest and most notable zoos to be found in the United States. Get ready to plan an entire day here, as you’ll be dying to get the most out of your visit once admitted. Visitors of the zoo are given a wide selection of exotic animals to observe, though the San Diego Zoo’s most famed residents are the giant pandasthat have been successfully bred in the zoo. Outside of the pandas, zoo attendees have the opportunity to see amazing habitats that enclose grizzly bears, koalas, gorillas, leopards, bonobos, polar bears, rhinos, and sloths, just to name a few favorites.

If you’re interested in spending more time with your favorite furry friends, the San Diego Zoo offers an upgraded experience that includes behind-the-scenes, close-up experiences with the animals. The grounds themselves are spread out along a landscaped canyon that houses an expansive botanical collection of over 700,000 plants from around the globe. Though, if your feet begin to get sore, you can always hop on the Kangaroo Express Bus to speed up your ground traversal or you can glide over exhibits from above in the Skyfari Aerial Tram.

The nonprofit San Diego Zoo Global operates the zoo itself as well as conservation organizations, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, which is located about 40 minutes north of downtown San Diego. The Safari Park offers more of an observation experience similar to that found on an African Safari with free-roaming animals on a large acreage of land, making San Diego’s entire zoo experience a truly memorable one!

Balboa Park

Tourists and locals have a lot to love with the 1,400-acre Balboa Park and its encompassing historical buildings,numerous museums and bountiful gardens. The Panama California Exhibition of 1915-1916 caused the creation of the park, and the buildings have remained ever since with their predominantly Spanish-style architecture and low-rise buildings that blend in with the natural surroundings. This disguising blend of architecture and nature make it almost seem as though lush vegetation has overtaken this palace.

Besides the sheer sight of the park itself are the botanical gardens, lily pond, Museum of Man, Museum of Natural History, the San Diego Museum of Art, and the Fleet Science Center; all of which are can’t miss experiences housed in the park. If you ever make it out of Balboa Park, feel free to visit the other top rated attractions from Planet Ware during your visit.

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A Guide to the Perfect Weekend Getaway in San Diego

Also known as “America’s Finest City”, San Diego is the perfect place to head to if you’re looking for perfect year-round weather, beaches, and plenty of outdoor activities. If you’re looking to plan a quick weekend getaway, San Diego is the perfect place where you can pack a lot into a few days.

If you end up flying into the San Diego International Airport, there are tons of handy ways to get to wherever you’re staying (we recommend staying downtown!). Grab a taxi, hop on the City Bus, or rideshare and head downtown. Within ten minutes, you’ll find yourself surrounded by restaurants, beautiful hotels, boutique shops, plenty of people, and a salty sea breeze. If you want a view of the sea from your hotel room, theManchester Grand Hyatt is the hotel for you. Plus, you’ll still be close to downtown!

Once you’ve checked in and gotten ready, head to Seaport Village in San Diego. Here you can get a great view of The Big Bay and stop by Margarita’s Kitchen or Marion’s Fish Marketfor a delicious lunch. Not that hungry? Grab a snack from Wetzel’s Pretzels, Ben & Jerry’s, or Frost Me Gourmet Cupcakes.

Then wander down to the U.S.S. Midway, an old United States Navy aircraft carrier that you can explore, either by yourself or on a tour. Next, check out Tuna Harbor Park, where you’ll see statues like Bob Hope entertaining the military or the infamous celebratory kiss of a sailor and nurse at the end of World War II.

Before dinner, head back to your hotel for a nap and to freshen up. Head to Rustic Rootand choose from an array of seafood, pasta, meat, or a vegan entree with a salad, side, or appetizer. After dinner, take in the crisp ocean air and downtown hustle before heading to your hotel for the night.

Start out your second day in San Diego with a delicious breakfast from Richard Walker’s Pancake House. Make sure to fill up because the day ahead includes a visit to Balboa Park, a 1,200 acre paradise, and urban park with 17 museums, and the zoo.

Balboa Parkis only about a mile downtown, which you can walk or bike. Make sure to stop at the Visitor’s Center and grab a map to plan out your day, then stop in at Prado Perk or Daniel’s Coffeefor some much-needed energy. Choose to stroll through the Japanese Friendship Garden or ride the vintage Balboa Park Carousel, or pick a couple of museums to wander through (perfect for those rare rainy days or hot summer ones). Overwhelmed with options? Download the Balboa Park app to help guide you.

After lunch at The Prado, it’s time to head to the San Diego Zoo(which is conveniently located in Balboa Park)! Here you’ll find 3,700 animals in their natural habits and climates. You can take a 35 minute guided bus tour for an overview if you’re interested!

After the Zoo, head back to your hotel for a little downtime before heading to Little Italy for dinner. For authentic Italian cuisine, head to Barbusa or Herb and Wood and eat your weight in pasta. After dinner, head back to your hotel, rest your legs and get ready for a final day on the beach.

End your weekend getaway with a short trip to La Jolla, about a 20-minute drive north. Relax at the “Children’s Pool” and watch the seals and sea lions as they sleep on the beach and swim. Next, find your way to La Jolla Shores and stroll along the mile-long beach and take a dip or two!

The next beach you’re going to head to in San Diego is Mission Beach. There, you’ll find a boardwalk, bike path, jump into the ocean, or opt for the calmer waters of Mission Bay. Play some carnival games at Belmont Park or play more traditional games like mini golf, bumper cars, or take a ride on the vintage (but totally safe!) 1925 Giant Dipper Roller Coaster.

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