This San Diego Attractions map includes all the cool things to do in San Diego. The best San Diego area attractions are beaches, cultural sites, and hiking spots.
San Diego is a destination for the adventurous traveler! If you love exploring tide pools, hunting for secret sea caves, or kayaking — you’ve come to the right place.
Table of Contents
Essential San Diego Attractions Map
San Diego also has its glamorous side. You can find unique art boutiques, stunning seaside restaurants, and vineyards.
San Diego is famous for its beautiful sunny days and relatively mild climate. You can expect temperatures to stay between 60-70 degrees all year!
This map includes all the San Diego California attractions that you won’t want to miss! You can save this map for offline use and use navigation for driving directions.
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San Diego Map of Attractions
In this map of San Diego attractions, green pins mark recommended restaurants. Blue pins notate places to see in San Diego. These things to do near San Diego include adventure parks, cultural sites, natural reserves & wineries.
View this top-rated San Diego highlights tour.
Yellow pins will help you find the best beaches. Pink pins will help you find dessert — mainly ice creameries or doughnut shops. Purple pins show recommended nightlife options.
Use our map of San Diego with attractions to plan your perfect trip!
San Diego Attractions
San Diego is also the perfect destination for couples, solo travelers, and families. Some of the top San Diego kid attractions include Sea World & the San Diego Zoo (which we have mapped for your convenience, but we will not discuss for ethical reasons).
San Diego must-see attractions for adults include Balboa Park, La Jolla Beach & Torrey Pines Nature Reserve.
San Diego beaches are some of America’s most sought-after beaches. They’re featured prominently on this San Diego tourist attractions map.
Experience whale watching off the coast of San Diego.
San Diego boasts over 70 miles of stunning shoreline that includes white sands, jagged cliffs & pristine habitats for wildlife. Beaches are also the ultimate free San Diego attractions!
Beaches are the best places to visit in San Diego because they offer unlimited entertainment opportunities! You can explore tide pools, watch a romantic sunset, or try out one of a multitude of water sports. Don’t forget about all the opportunities to spot seals! You’ll find many San Diego attractions on the beach.
Let’s discuss some of the best spots within our San Diego beaches map.
Sunset Cliffs is one of the best San Diego attractions at night. As the name may suggest, it’s one of the best places in California to watch the sunset! Bring a picnic blanket & your favorite date and nestle up in a cute spot.
Great places for sunset viewing include the Ladera Street area or Luscomb Point.
This may be one of the romantic things to do in San Diego, but there’s much more to do at Sunset Cliffs. Sunset Cliffs National Park is over 60 acres! The whole area is quite beautiful. It’s characterized by coastal bluffs, sea caves, and arches.
Sunset Cliffs is one of the cool places in San Diego because it’s the site of an easy-to-discover sea cave. This is a very instagrammable open ceiling sea cave. Make sure to bring your camera!
If you look up some instructions, it’s pretty simple to find this sea cave. Just make sure to go during low tide! Also, bring water shoes because you’ll have to walk through tide pools. Discovering sea caves is one of the most unique and adventurous things to do around San Diego.
Sunset Cliffs is also a great place to enjoy an easy hike! The Sunset Cliffs Park Trail is a 1.7-mile path along the bluffs that provides plenty of wildlife viewing opportunities.
La Jolla Shores & Cove
La Jolla is another one of the epic San Diego nature attractions. It’s one of the most beautiful places to visit in San Diego. The La Jolla area features sea cliffs, pristine white-sand beaches, and luxury commercial activities. There are so many fun things to do in la Jolla!
Book the legendary La Jolla sea caves kayaking tour.
La Jolla beaches are popular for swimming and surfing. La Jolla Bay is a favorite among San Diego family attractions because it’s protected. It’s great for snorkeling, scuba diving, and kayaking.
Explore all the best of La Jolla on an electric bike.
One of the best things to do in San Diego is a sea cave kayaking tour of La Jolla Cove. There are 7 sea caves in la Jolla! The best way to get to them is by kayak.
Each of La Jolla’s sea caves has a unique name and a unique history. It is known that these caves are over 70 million years old. Hundreds of years ago, they were also used by pirates looking to protect their loot.
One of the other fun things to do in la Jolla includes spotting seals and sea lions. They’re regulars at La Jolla Cove. Look for them at Seal Rock or the Children’s Pool. They’re a little smelly, but it’s worth it. 🙂
There’s plenty of other outdoorsy activities to do in this neighborhood, but some of the best things to do in la Jolla are dressier. La Jolla is a great place to go shopping & enjoy fine dining.
You’ll find all the best boutiques and some art galleries on Prospect Street in La Jolla. Have dinner with a view at George’s at the Cove — it’s been voted San Diego’s best restaurant!
One of the top things to do in San Diego is enjoying a meal with panoramic ocean views.
Let’s talk about Coronado beach San Diego. It’s famous for a few reasons. First of all, it’s been voted among America’s best beaches time and time again! It’s also the home of a historic beach resort & National Historic Landmark.
Hotel de Coronado was built in 1888. At that time, it was the largest resort hotel in the whole world! Visitors included US Presidents, celebrities, and royalty. Since then, it’s been the backdrop to several movies and books.
It stands today as one of the few surviving examples of American architecture. Its distinct wooden victorian style is often pictured in postcards of San Diego.
Tour the island on electric bikes.
Staying at the Hotel de Coronado is one of the unique things to do in San Diego. You won’t be disappointed! The hotel is as lavish today as it was 100 years ago. Enjoy a sunny day on Coronado Beach, and you can’t help but appreciate this stunning hotel.
Coronado Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in America because of it’s sparkly, white, sands. Due to certain mineral deposits, the sands truly glimmer in the light! This is one of the most unforgettable places to go in San Diego.
One of the fun things to do on Coronado Island is biking. Take advantage of the Bayshore Bikeway. This is one of the fun, active, and cheap San Diego attractions. It’s a 6-mile loop along the island that takes you by some of the most scenic spots. You’ll find plenty of bike rental shops near Coronado Beach.
Book your romantic room at the Hotel de Coronado.
Coronado is where you’ll also find many San Diego kids attractions. Including tide pools, a sunken ship, and water sport rentals. The SS Monte Carlo is one of the cool things to see in San diego’s Coronado Island. During low tides, you can easily spot it off the shores just south of the Hotel de Coronado.
Mention Mission Beach is one of the classic San Diego tourist attractions for families. It’s a traditional boardwalk beach— a 2-mile stretch lined with watersport rentals, funky surf shops, restaurants & bars.
Experience whale watching from San Diego’s Mission Bay.
Belmont Park is located on Mission Beach, and it’s one of the exciting San Diego kid-friendly attractions. Belmont Park is a part of San Diego’s history!
The park first opened in 1925, but it’s just as fun and lively today. Belmont Park is San Diego’s premier amusement park with rides, games, and entertainment for all ages. A true hot spot on our San Diego map!
Learn how to surf in San Diego.
Pacific Beach is another one of the cool places to go in San Diego. It’s adjacent to Mission Beach. The crowd here is young adults, college students, and surfers.
Pacific Beach is where you’ll find some of San Diego’s most lively nightlife scenes.
Make sure to walk the stretch of Ocean Boulevard that lines Pacific Beach. Check out the shops, hotels, and restaurants. It’s one of the must visit places in San Diego!
Not all of the best places to see in San Diego are beaches. The city offers a unique history and vivacious culture to experience.
San Diego is deeply rooted in Mexican-American history. In the 20th Century, it became an important city for the US Navy. San Diego has also been a historically progressive place, with an exceptionally LGBTQ friendly culture today.
Some of the top things to see in San Diego include museums, gardens, neighborhoods, and restaurants. Balboa Park is one of the most popular San Diego popular attractions that include all of the above.
San Diego exemplifies the southern California spirit with American flare & Mexican flavors. It’s the place to try California style wood-fired pizza, Mexican cuisine, and fresh seafood. Some of the best attractions in San Diego are restaurants. After all, food is culture.
Experiencing the food scene is one of the cool things to do in San Diego for couples.
Balboa Park is one of the top San Diego attractions and one of the most important places on this San Diego sites map. That’s because Balboa Park is a massive cultural complex with countless museums, leisure spaces, and activities.
Balboa Park is also one of the most beautiful & most instagrammable sites to see in San Diego! This is because of the unique architecture of the buildings.
Take a walking tour through Balboa Park.
Many of the buildings in Balboa Park were designed for the 1915 Panama California Exposition. You’ll find Italian-Renaissance and Spanish-Colonial styles (among others). There’s also a Moorish-style garden.
Some of the balboa park San Diego attractions include museums. Balboa Park boasts 17 Museums. Including favorites like the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man & the San Diego Natural History Museum. Also, new names like the Comic-Con Museum. See the full list.
Walking through the Alcazar Garden is one of the must dos in San Diego. Inspired by the Alcazar Castle gardens in Seville, this place is utterly lavish with turquoise blue fountains, Moorish tiles, and vibrant flowers.
Balboa Park is also the place to catch live events, workshops, local artisans & dance classes. You can find some of the most unusual things to do in San Diego at Balboa Park. This is perfect for tourists looking to a local experience.
You can also walk to the San Diego Zoo from Balboa Park. Find this on our San Diego visitors map.
Cabrillo National Monument
Cabrillo National Monument is one of the fun places in San Diego for nature lovers.
This is a historic site. It’s where Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped out of his boat in 1542 and became remembered as the first European to touch the west coast of the United States.
You can learn more about 16th Century exploration and navigation at the Visitors Center.
Visiting the Old Point Loma Lighthouse should be on everyone’s San Diego bucket list. It was built in the 19th Century and it steered ships to safety for over 30 years. Since then, it’s been beautifully refurbished. Guests can visit the lighthouse to learn more about the lightkeepers and their families. It’s one of the interesting nontouristy things to do in San Diego.
Whale watching is one of the other fun activities to do in San Diego. Check out the Whale Overlook just south of the lighthouse. You can spot whales from January through February.
Cabrillo National Monument is also where you’ll find one of San Diego’s secret sea caves! It’s another picturesque open-ceiling cave that you can find with directions.
Searching for sea caves is one of the fun San Diego attractions for couples & one of the best outdoor activities San Diego.
When we visited the Cabrillo Cave, we also saw some cute sea lions.
Gaslamp Quarter is the best place to find San Diego night attractions. It’s an urban district with many hotels, restaurants and rooftop bars. There’s also concert halls, art galleries, nightlife, and shopping.
Nearly 100 historic buildings sit in the 16 blocks of Gaslamp Quarter, so it can be a great place for San Diego sightseeing.
Experience Gaslamp Quarter through food.
Having a craft cocktail and a rooftop bar is one of the ultimate things to do in San Diego at night. Check out Upper East Bar at the Hotel Solamar. It’s one of the bustling, chic venues in Gaslamp Quarter.
Also, consider Level 9 at the Indigo Hotel. This place offers sweeping panoramic views of urban San Diego. Visit at sunset!
Dining is another one of the best things to do in downtown San Diego. You’ll find high-profile celebrity chefs and world-class gastronomic experiences in Gaslamp Quarter. Names like Juniper and Ivy or Searsucker.
Other San Diego major attractions that you’ll find in Gaslamp Quarter include traditional Trolley Tours and the Maritime Museum.
Old Town San Diego
Old Town is San Diego’s historic district, and it’s where you’ll find many San Diego attractions for adults. It’s roots go back to 1769! At that time, it was California’s first settlement.
So, you could say that Old Town San Diego is the birthplace of California.
Make sure to check out Old Town San Diego’s Historic Park. Walk around and learn about American and Mexican life in the early 19th Century. There are some cool restored buildings from 1820 – 1870.
Check out this legendary food tour of historic Old Town.
This is one of the best places to go in San Diego to try authentic Mexican food. We recommend Cafe Coyote! Having a margarita at Cafe Coyote is one of the top things to do in San Diego for adults.
You may also want to check out the Whaley House Museum. This is a world-renowned museum & one of the essential San Diego indoor attractions. It’s considered one of the most historically significant buildings in San Diego.
The Whaley House Museum was at one time the Whaley Family home, the County Courthouse & San Diego’s first commercial theatre. It’s also been a school, a polling place, a ballroom, and a general store. Crazy, right?
See photos from the ultimate food & ghost culture tour.
According to the Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted the Whaley House is America’s most haunted house! Searing for ghosts at the Whaley House is one of the must-do things in San Diego.
Some visitors of the Whaley House report seeing Thomas Whaley himself!
Learn more about this haunted history.
Old Town’s shops are some of the other epic places to visit near San Diego. They fit the old-timey vibe and character. Shop for homemade taffy or make your own candles! These are some of the lesser-known fun activities in San Diego.
You may notice a lot of nature preserves & parks on this map of San Diego area attractions. That’s because hiking is one of the adventurous things to do in San Diego.
San Diego is situated on a picture-perfect piece of land. There are beaches, coastal bluffs, desert ecosystems and, even, mountains in San Diego County!
There are deep canyons, sea caves, and valleys. There’s also a rock formation that looks like a potato chip! Seriously. It’s one of the most unique places in San Diego.
If you’ve rented a car, and you’re not as interested in beaches, there are many more amazing hikes in San Diego county. Although, these hikes below are some of the San Diego top ten attractions. You’ll find them all on our San Diego location map.
One of the San Diego main attractions is Torrey Pines Nature Reserve. It’s been described as ‘one of the wildest stretches of land in Southern California.’ There are sandstone canyons and hiking dirt trails.
Torry Pines is known for its untouched beaches. It’s also a sanctuary for migrating birds. However, it’s most remarkable features are the namesake Torry Pine trees that grow here. It is the rarest species of pine trees native to the United States. It’s a legendary species because of its strength and persistence.
The Torrey Pines live in unimaginably harsh conditions. They cling to sea cliffs where they are blasted by sand, at the mercy of storms, and experience frequent drought. Learning more about this incredible species is one of the important things to do in Torrey pines nature reserve.
Hiking at Torrey Pines is another one of the fun things to do in San Diego for adults. The Guy Fleming trail takes you to 2 dramatic lookouts. It’s a short loop less than 1 mile total. The Broken Hill trail is recommended for visitors who desire a more intense workout.
Make sure to hike to the beach at Torrey Pines! It’s one of the must-see places in San Diego.
Some visitors may want to visit the Torrey Pines Golf Course.
The golf course isn’t only one of the best San Diego attractions, but it also helps to protect the nature preserve! It’s been called one of “America’s Best Municipal Courses.” Certainly, golfing here is one of the ultimate things to do in San Diego area.
Potato Chip Rock
Potato Chip Rock is one of the most popular places on this map of San Diego tourist attractions. It’s a challenging hike that’s 7 miles out and back. The hike takes you up 2,000 feet and it will take 3-4 hours to complete.
There’s a small parking fee, so it’s not exactly one of the San Diego free attractions. Although, it’s budget-friendly. 😃
This place has become Instagram famous in recent years, and it’s known to be one of the cute places in San Diego to take pictures.
To get to Potato Chip Rock, you’ll drive 30 minutes outside of San Diego. The hike starts at Lake Poway Park. This is where you’ll park!
Here’s a great photo from the Potato Chip Rock hike.
It’s best to arrive as early as possible. Since this is one of the fun things to do in San Diego, it’s also one of the places that can get crowded.
There are a few ways to access Potatoe Chip Rock, but the Lake Poway route is preferred. This will ensure you’ll pass the most scenic viewpoints along your way.
It’s a tough hike, but well worth it! This is one of the unforgettable things to do in San Diego.
Mission Trails Regional Park
The Mission Trails Regional Park is one of the best San Diego attractions for families. There are plenty of easy trails with excellent viewpoints. Highlights also include Fiesta Island and Sunset Point.
Another one of the popular San Diego tourist attractions is SeaWorld. This is also located within Mission Park.
The Cowles Mountain Backside Loop is one of the top-rated trails in Mission Park. Cowles Mountain is one of the most beautiful places to see near San Diego.
The Cowles Mountain trail is a 2.3 mile out and back. It’s quite steep and gains almost 800 ft in elevation.
Among hikers, Mission Park is one of the popular places in San Diego and one of the must-see San Diego attractions.
Find out how you can spend one day in San Diego.
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