Top Attractions in San Diego

Attractions in San Diego, California

The San Diego area has a long-standing reputation as a popular tourist destination, with numerous attractions to delight visitors of all ages.

The acclaimed San Diego Zoo, located downtown in Balboa Park, is home to some of the world’s rarest wildlife, including its beloved giant pandas. The new Absolutely Apes exhibit features orangutans and siamangs from Indonesia in a state-of-the-art tropical habitat. Tigers and other wildlife prowl the Tiger River exhibit, which is filled with the flora and fauna of an Asian rain forest. Exotic birds fly freely through two spectacular aviaries.

SeaWorld, has delighted more than 100 million visitors since opening on Mission Bay in 1964. Its extensive exhibits offer up-close glimpses of sharks, interactive tide pools, the snowy Penguin Encounter, a virtual trip to an Arctic research station and much more. SeaWorld is one of only three locations outside Florida where visitors can view the endangered manatee.

LegoLand, 30 miles north of San Diego in Carlsbad, delights visitors of all ages with rides, hands-on exhibits and an endless array of life-sized (and larger) creations built entirely from Legos.

Rancho Penasquitos’ Spring Fiesta de los Penasquitos attracts thousands of people each year.

Outdoor Activities in San Diego

A near-ideal climate and an extensive parks system make San Diego the perfect location for outdoor activities. Prevailing winds off the Pacific Ocean keep temperatures cooler in summer and warmer in winter, and a seasonal rainfall of about 10 inches ensures that almost every day is perfect for outdoor pursuits. Bicycling is especially popular in the San Diego thanks to an extensive system of well-maintained trails.

Los Penasquitos Canyon Preserve, located between I-5 and I-15, consists of two large coastal canyons that support rare flora and fauna. When restoration of its river habitat is complete, this resource-based park will cover 4,000 acres.

Other noteworthy San Diego parks include Black Mountain Regional Park in Rancho Penasquitos and Miramar Lake’s Chollas Lake Community Park, which features a fishing lake reserved for children.

The San Diego Park and Recreation Department operates three recreation centers for residents. The Carmel Mountain Ranch/Sabre Springs Recreation Center and the Scripps Ranch Recreation Center offer basketball courts, softball fields and picnic areas. The Mira Mesa Recreation Center has outdoor athletic fields and basketball courts, picnic areas and a gazebo. All three centers offer a variety of classes and programs for all ages.

For golf enthusiasts, the Parks Department maintains two excellent courses — the award-winning Torrey Pines and Balboa Park, the oldest course in the city.

Careful planning has preserved San Diego’s beautiful open spaces for residents’ enjoyment. Some 337 parks sprawl over more than 36,000 acres citywide, including more than two dozen shoreline parks. Facilities include public pools, tennis courts and other amenities.

Downtown San Diego offers residents recreation opportunities at the renowned Balboa Park — home to the world-class San Diego Zoo, museums, historic buildings, art centers and gardens. Other attractions include rugged Mission Trails Regional Park (which offers a glimpse of the way this area looked centuries ago) and Mission Bay Park, the largest aquatic park on the West Coast.

San Diego’s waterfront is in a class by itself. Residents and visitors alike flock here to swim, surf, snorkel and soak up the sun. The three-mile boardwalk from Mission Beach to Pacific Beach offers lovely ocean views, and is a great place to cycle, walk, jog or skate.