Ultimate San Diego Bucket List – 101 Things to Do in San Diego CA

Ultimate San Diego Bucket List – 101 Things to Do in San Diego CA

Can’t believe it’s already been 2 weeks since we moved to San Diego. We made a decent dent on our city bucket list for Las Vegas during our 15 month stay, but getting through our San Diego list will take a lot more strategic planning. Food is always high priority on our list, but we know not everyone travels for food, so all the food and breweries are listed towards the bottom.

This list will continue to change and evolve as we discover new and better things to eat, see, and do in San Diego.

101 Things to Do in San Diego // Local Adventurer #sandiego #california

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Last Updated: Jan 14, 2019.     Originally Created: May 25, 2015

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THE ULTIMATE SAN DIEGO BUCKET LIST - 101 Things to Do in San Diego

Tourist Attractions

  1. Balboa Park (Botanical Building)
  2. Gondola Ride at Loew’s (Coronado)
  3. Carlsbad Flower Fields
  4. Comic Con International
  5. Sunny Jim Cave

San Diego Hidden Attractions: The Sunny Jim Sea Cave La Jolla

  1. Belmont Park
  2. Horton Plaza & the Gaslamp Quarter – step into the world of Dr Seuss.
  3. Legoland California
  4. Hotel Del Coronado (Skating By the Sea in Dec) If the conditions are right, you can find the Sunken Ship nearby.
  5. Old Point Loma Lighthouse
  6. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
  7. San Diego Zoo – this is probably the most famous tourist attraction here.
  8. Caravan Safari through San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Wild Animal Park by locals)

Caravan Safari San Diego Wild Animal Park (101 Things to Do in San Diego).

  1. Birch Aquarium
  2. Whale Watching
  3. Beluga Whale Interaction at SeaWorld
  4. Keys Creek Lavender Farm
  5. Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
  6. Coronado Ferry
  7. Del Mar Fair Grounds

Outdoors + Urban Parks

  1. Hike up Cowles Mountain (highest peak in San Diego)
  2. Pacific Crest Trail Hike at Cleveland National Forest

Ever since reading Wild, I’ve been thinking if she can do it, maybe I can too! I’d love to check out portions of the hike this before attempting the full thing.

  1. Tide Pooling at Cabrillo National Monument (also explore the secret sea cave)
  2. Jet Skiing San Diego from Shelter Island to Coronado Bridge
  3. Learn to Surf with San Diego Surf School
  4. Indoor Rock Climbing at the Grotto – we’ve visited a lot of bouldering gyms, but we love the folks that run this gym, and they have a lot of creative routes too.

Cowles Mountain Hike (Ultimate San Diego Bucket List / 101 Things to Do in San Diego).

  1. Hike around Torrey Pines State Beach
  2. Imperial Beach Pier
  3. Mission Bay Beach
  4. Grunion Run at Pacific Beach or at Mission Beach)
  5. Kayaking through La Jolla Caves
  6. Stonewall Peak Hike
  7. Camp / Hike Mount Laguna
  8. Hike the Santa Margarita Trail
  9. Palomar Observatory Hike
  10. Los Penasquitos Canyon Hike
  11. Ho Chi Minh Trail Hike (our fave short hike)
  12. Cedar Creek Falls

Coronado Beach (Best Things to Do in San Diego).

Kayaking through La Jolla Caves (101 Things to Do in San Diego).

  1. Scripp’s Pier – for that perfect shot of the pier at sunset. Tons of engagement, wedding, family photographers shoot out here.
  2. Pacific Beach
  3. Solana Beach
  4. Windansea Beach

Carlsbad Beaches (101 Things to Do in San Diego).

  1. Silver Strand Beach (try land sailing)
  2. Oceanside Beach & Pier
  3. Moonlight Beach
  4. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park (You can jump off the arch at your own risk)
  5. Carlsbad Beaches
  6. Jump into the Devil’s Punchbowl (do it at your own risk)
  7. Hang Glide at Torrey Pines Gliderport
  8. Intertubing at La Jolla Indian Reservation
  9. Split Mountain Hike
  10. Hike Mission Trails
  11. Hike Cuymaca Peak
  12. Mt Woodson / Potato Chip Rock Hike – popular for the gram.

The Truth about the Potato Chip Rock Hike

Museums

  1.  San Diego Air and Space Museum
  2. SD Museum of Art
  3.  San Diego Museum of Man
  4. USS Midway Museum
  5. Maritime Museum of San Diego
  6. Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcala
  7. Reuben H Fleet Science Center

Shows + Events

  1. Padres Game at Petco Park
  2. Old Globe Theater
  3. San Diego Derby Dolls

Food + Drink

  1. The Cat Cafe
  2. Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
  3. WhisknLadle (La Jolla)
  4. San Diego Harbor & Hops on the Harbor Dinner Cruises
  5. Little Italy Farmer’s Market
  6. Hillcrest Farmer’s Market – try the fresh uni
  7. La Jolla Open Air Farmer’s Market
  8. Shopping / Dining at Seaport Village

Whisknladle La Jolla (101 Things to Do in San Diego)

  1. Doner Kebab at the Kebab Shop (6 Locations) – The doner box is on a lot of lists, but when we went Jacob got the doner box and I got the doner kebab, and we both think the kebab is much better. :)
  2. The Pork Belly App at Carnitas Snack Shack (North Park)
  3. Phil’s BBQ
  4. T-Deli (local fave lunch spot in Hillcrest)
  5. Coop’s West Texas BBQ
  6. Noble Experiment
  7. South Beach Bar and Grille
  8. Juniper and Ivy
  9. Extraordinary Desserts
  10. 32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream (North Park)

32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammonds Gourmet Ice Cream North Park San Diego.

  1. Brunch at Catania (La Jolla)
  2. Lucha Libre
  3. Cucina Urbana
  4. Carne Asada Fries at Lolitas
  5. Prep Kitchen
  6. Great Maple
  7. Soda and Swine
  8. Puesto (La Jolla and Seaport Village)
  9. Tacos el Gordo (Chula Vista)
  10. Donut Bar
  11. Park & Rec (University Heights)
  12. Stone Brewing
  13. Societe Brewing Company
  14. Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
  15. Green Flash Brewing Company

Green Flash Brewing Company (Ultimate San Diego Bucket List).

  1. AleSmith
  2. Duckfoot Brewing Co – gluten free beer that actually tastes good!
  3. St Archer Brewery
  4. White Labs Brewery – try a flight with the same beer but different yeast strains. It’s crazy how just changing the yeast strain makes the beer taste totally different.

Taken Off the List + Honorable Mentions

  • Alforon (Mediterranean / Lebanese food in Rolando) – this was on yelp’s 2014 top 100 places to eat in the US. Maybe we overhyped it, but we were underwhelmed.
  • Nomad Donuts (Other people seem to love it, but I don’t love cakey donuts as much)

Reader's Favorites

101 THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO Map

Anything I’m missing that you feel belongs here? What would be at the top of your Ultimate San Diego Bucket List?

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San Diego Bucket List Challenge - Click through to see 101 Things to Do in San Diego California // Local Adventurer
The Ultimate San Diego Bucket List - 101 Things to Do in San Diego // localadventurer.com
San Diego Bucket List Challenge - Click through for 101 Things to Do // Local Adventurer #bucketlist #sandiego
Ultimate San Diego Bucket List / 101 Things to Do in San Diego.
101 Things to Do in San Diego // Local Adventurer #sandiego #california
101 Things to Do in San Diego California - the Ultimate San Diego Bucket List - from the popular spots everyone has to do at least once to the spots a little more off the beaten path. // localadventurer.com

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in NYC.

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This Post Has 12 Comments

  1. Love this! Could this be downloaded and printed via PDF?

    1. We have a printable version Are you signed up for our newsletter?

  2. One of the best traveling blogs out there! I am currently trying to plan my trip to San Diego and this has helped SO much… Thank you so much!

    1. Thank you, Katie! Let us know if you need any more specific recommendations. :)

  3. Disc golf at Morley Field in Balboa Park.
    Score and smoke a bowl with a stranger and new friend on hole 12 at Morley Field.
    Visit Tijuana for a day is always a San Diego thing to do (bring back fireworks if ur feeling ballsey).
    Watch a movie at one of the few drive-ins still existing (Imperial Beach).
    Laugh at the dogs at Dog park in ocean beach.
    Buy something @ Kobeys swapmeet at the sports arena.
    Find the red rock “lips” bordering lemon Grove and La Mesa near the Lemon Grove exit off the 94.
    Find the reverse gravity spot on Dictionary hill in Spring Valley and watch a ball roll uphill.
    Have an apple pie in Julian.
    Mansion gawking at La Jolla farms near UCSD.

  4. thank you

    we are going to travel to this great place, and we were searching for the top things to do in San Diego when we found your blog , It’s really so useful

  5. Ive Legit Done Just about everything on here crying because i wish there was more to do in my home city..

    1. haha but luckily in socal you have so much within driving distance! If you wanna deal with the traffic LA always has a ton to do. My fave place to escape to is Joshua Tree since it’s only a couple of hours. :)

  6. I was searching for the top things to do in San Diego and came across your blog. What a great list, especially of the eateries! I’m glad food’s a high priority for you. We already have lots in common haha!

    Anyhow, I recently started a food tour company called Wild Foodie Tours. We conduct food tours primarily in Tijuana. Come back to San Diego and check us out! Definitely must have a food tour on your list :)

    1. Thank you, Albert! The best kinds of people are the ones that know how to enjoy their food ;) I would love to visit!

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