From its miles of sandy beaches to its almost-perfect weather, San Diego is the perfect place to relax and enjoy the warm California sun. And while the landscape is undeniably beautiful, that’s not all this West Coast paradise has to offer. It’s brimming with art, history, and great food around every corner. Here are ten must-see San Diego landmarks that showcase the beauty and personality of “America’s Finest City.”
1. Balboa Park
Balboa Park is 1,200 acres of trails, gardens, and historic sites. It’s home to the San Diego Zoo and the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theatre. Art lovers will enjoy the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Photographic Arts, conveniently located inside the park.
2. San Diego Zoo
With 3,500 rare or endangered animals, daily animal shows, and educational tours, the San Diego Zoo is one of the most popular zoos in the world. Thirty miles north of the Zoo, visitors can tour the Safari Park for a glimpse into the African plains. There are several safari tours to choose from, including a zip line and a traditional caravan that brings guests up close and personal with the animals.
3. Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter stretches for 16 blocks, lined with Victorian buildings and quaint, cobblestone streets. It’s known for its trendy nightlife, with some of San Diego’s best restaurants and rooftop bars.
4. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
In Old Town San Diego, visitors step back in time to experience the “Birthplace of California.” This mile-long strip of restored businesses and homes show what life was like during the Spanish exploration of California, as well as the famed Gold Rush. The Whaley House is a famous Old Town landmark, served as a granary and courthouse in 1857.
5. La Jolla
La Jolla is a famous oceanside village just outside of San Diego. Visit La Jolla Children’s Pool to see harbor seals and sea lions and from the Cave Store, descend a century-old bootlegger’s tunnel through the sandstone cliffs of La Jolla Cove into the historic Sunny Jim Sea Cave.
6. Cabrillo National Monument
Point Loma features tide pools, lighthouses, and beautiful views of downtown San Diego and Coronado. The Cabrillo National Monument, on the southern tip of Point Loma, commemorates the first European to explore the California coast.
7. Lucha Libre Taco Shop
Lucha Libre Taco Shop is a fast-casual Mexican restaurant that celebrates the Lucha Libre culture of Mexican professional wrestling. Locals and visitors alike love the shop for its bright decor and world-famous tacos.
8. Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
This 68-acre park is a favorite for local surfers. Set against a backdrop of natural vegetation and huge sandstone cliffs, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park offers some of the best sunset views in the state.
9. Mission Beach
Mission Beach is a popular sunbathing, surfing, and swimming spot for California locals. It features a bustling boardwalk with a wooden rollercoaster and dozens of beachside eateries.
10. “Unconditional Surrender” Statue
The USS Midway Museum is a historic aircraft carrier-turned-museum that is home to over 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircraft. Just outside stands the famed “Unconditional Surrender” statue, recreating the iconic “V-J (Victory over Japan) Day in Times Square” photo.