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.
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Last Updated: Jan 14, 2019 Originally Created: May 25, 2015
THE ULTIMATE SAN DIEGO BUCKET LIST (101 Things to Do in San Diego)
- Balboa Park (Botanical Building)
- Gondola Ride at Loew’s (Coronado)
- Carlsbad Flower Fields
- Comic Con International
- Sunny Jim Cave
- Belmont Park
- Horton Plaza & the Gaslamp Quarter – step into the world of Dr Seuss.
- Legoland California
- Hotel Del Coronado (Skating By the Sea in Dec) If the conditions are right, you can find the Sunken Ship nearby.
- Old Point Loma Lighthouse
- Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
- San Diego Zoo – this is probably the most famous tourist attraction here.
- Caravan Safari through San Diego Zoo Safari Park (Wild Animal Park by locals)
OUTDOORS + URBAN PARKS + BEACHES
- Hike up Cowles Mountain (highest peak in San Diego)
- 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.
- Tide Pooling at Cabrillo National Monument (also explore the secret sea cave)
- Jet Skiing San Diego from Shelter Island to Coronado Bridge
- Learn to Surf with San Diego Surf School
- 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.
- Hike around Torrey Pines State Beach
- Imperial Beach Pier
- Mission Bay Beach
- Grunion Run at Pacific Beach or at Mission Beach)
- Kayaking through La Jolla Caves
- Stonewall Peak Hike
- Camp / Hike Mount Laguna
- Hike the Santa Margarita Trail
- Palomar Observatory Hike
- Los Penasquitos Canyon Hike
- Ho Chi Minh Trail Hike (our fave short hike)
- Cedar Creek Falls
- Scripp’s Pier – for that perfect shot of the pier at sunset. Tons of engagement, wedding, family photographers shoot out here.
- Pacific Beach
- Solana Beach
- Windansea Beach
- Silver Strand Beach (try land sailing)
- Oceanside Beach & Pier
- Moonlight Beach
- Sunset Cliffs Natural Park (You can jump off the arch at your own risk)
- Carlsbad Beaches
- Jump into the Devil’s Punchbowl (do it at your own risk)
- Hang Glide at Torrey Pines Gliderport
- Intertubing at La Jolla Indian Reservation
- Split Mountain Hike
- Hike Mission Trails
- Hike Cuymaca Peak
- Mt Woodson / Potato Chip Rock Hike – popular for the gram.
Food + Drink
- The Cat Cafe
- Oscar’s Mexican Seafood
- WhisknLadle (La Jolla)
- San Diego Harbor & Hops on the Harbor Dinner Cruises
- Little Italy Farmer’s Market
- Hillcrest Farmer’s Market – try the fresh uni
- La Jolla Open Air Farmer’s Market
- Shopping / Dining at Seaport Village
- 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. :)
- The Pork Belly App at Carnitas Snack Shack (North Park)
- Phil’s BBQ
- T-Deli (local fave lunch spot in Hillcrest)
- Coop’s West Texas BBQ
- Noble Experiment
- South Beach Bar and Grille
- Juniper and Ivy
- Extraordinary Desserts
- 32 Flavor Ice Cream Flight at Hammond’s Gourmet Ice Cream (North Park)
- Brunch at Catania (La Jolla)
- Lucha Libre
- Cucina Urbana
- Carne Asada Fries at Lolitas
- Prep Kitchen
- Great Maple
- Soda and Swine
- Puesto (La Jolla and Seaport Village)
- Tacos el Gordo (Chula Vista)
- Donut Bar
- Park & Rec (University Heights)
- Stone Brewing
- Societe Brewing Company
- Ballast Point Brewing & Spirits
- Green Flash Brewing Company
- Duckfoot Brewing Co – gluten free beer that actually tastes good!
- St Archer Brewery
- 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)
Best Places to Stay
- To Do
- To Do
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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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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust