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The Best Things to See and Do in San Diego

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For a perfect visit to America’s Finest City, visit the beaches, well-known sights like the San Diego Zoo, and creative hubs filled with art galleries, restaurants, and breweries.
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Balboa Park, San Diego, CA, USA
A 1,200-acre green space filled with museums, theaters, and gardens, Balboa Park is the center of art and culture in San Diego. It’s also one of the city’s most historic sites, built for the Panama–California exhibition in 1915....
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1 Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008, USA
Perhaps you have a kid who’d traverse the globe for Ninjago World. Or maybe your child could spend a whole weekend creating his or her own Lego kingdom. Either way, a family trip to Legoland California is fun for all. With the water cannons...
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2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
At the world-famous San Diego Zoo, you’ll essentially take a journey around the world as you explore 100 acres of habitats that resemble everything from the Australian Outback to the South African coastline. In fact, this institution cares...
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In and of itself, kayaking is a perfectly lovely way to spend a morning or afternoon. But when you factor in caves, sea lions, dolphins, sea turtles, gray whales, a famous fault line, and masses of docile leopard sharks, “perfectly...
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The nation’s oldest continuously family-owned and -operated bookstore is Warwick’s in La Jolla. That’s thanks to one William T. Warwick, who entered the book business in 1896 in Iowa. Life soon led him to this dreamy stretch of...
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1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA 92106, USA
One of California’s most significant historical landmarks, this statue marks the spot where Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo became the first European to set foot on the west coast of the United States. Every year at the end of September,...
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121 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
Commissioned by sugar magnate John D. Spreckels, this historic theater hosted elaborate productions in its heyday. Thanks to large double doors on either side of the stage, it even held a horse-drawn-chariot race in 1923. Today, however,...
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10818 San Diego Mission Rd, San Diego, CA 92108, USA
An active parish of the Roman Catholic Diocese of San Diego, Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá remains a tranquil place of worship and reflection. Regardless of your religious beliefs, the first of California’s 21 missions is...
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Mount Woodson Trail, Poway, CA 92064, USA
This steep hike is about eight miles out and back, but many are willing to make the trek because of the photo opportunity that waits near the summit. Potato Chip Rock is a sliver of granite that protrudes from a boulder. Since it’s sturdy...
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San Diego, CA 92113, USA
Located beneath the San Diego–Coronado Bridge, this public space might not be green and tranquil, but it tells a story of perseverance. In 1970, residents of the predominantly Latino Barrio Logan neighborhood staged a nonviolent takeover...
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2070 Logan Ave, San Diego, CA 92113, USA
Run by two of San Diego’s most noteworthy creatives, this contemporary art gallery in burgeoning Barrio Logan tackles the tough subjects. It’s hosted exhibitions on everything from consumerism in the modern age to the junk-food...
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Perched above Old Town and visible from many places in the city, this mission-style building is a notable landmark. Few seem to realize, however, that it’s also a museum. Founded by Franciscan monk Junípero Serra in the 18th century,...
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1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
As part of one of the world’s 35 biodiversity hot spots, San Diego and its environs are home to more species than many regions of similar size. To learn more, head to the Natural History Museum’s permanent Coast to Cactus in Southern...
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Plaza de Panama, Balboa Park, 1439 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
Devoted to folk art from around the world, the Mingei International Museum is home to some of San Diego’s most intriguing works. Depending on when you visit, you might see an exhibition on Indonesian shadow puppets made from water buffalo...
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15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA 92027, USA
While tourists flock to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, its Safari Park—located 30 miles away in the San Pasqual Valley—is equally interesting. Spread over 1,800 acres, it’s home to more than 3,500 animals and 260...
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1600 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
San Diego’s newest public space, the 12-acre Waterfront Park offers a large playground, wide expanses of green grass, jets of water for splashing, and great views of the skyline. Bring an umbrella—there isn’t a lot of shade...
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San Diego, CA 92129, USA
Covering more than 2,300 acres, Black Mountain Open Space Park features some 20 miles of trails just 45 minutes from downtown. Take the 2.5-mile hike up to the peak for spectacular views of downtown San Diego, Point Loma, Torrey Pines, and even...
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312 Pier View Way, Oceanside, CA 92054, USA
In 2017 California designated Oceanside one of 14 recognized Arts and Cultural Districts in the state. The community in north San Diego County is home to an active mix of artists, art galleries, and museums. The California Surf Museum,...
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2688 East Mission Bay Drive, San Diego, CA 92109, USA
At 4,235 acres, Mission Bay Park is the largest man-made aquatic park in the U.S. Here, water-sports enthusiasts can enjoy everything from kayaking, windsurfing, and wakeboarding to snorkeling, scuba diving, and fishing, while landlubbers can take...