Home Travel

Planning Your Perfect Getaway to San Diego: Top Must-Visit Places

Interesting spots for a family vacation in San Diego

1) The Pacific Beach

There are many amazing vacation spots spread around the entire city of San Diego, but one of the most unmissable spots for vacation is no other but Pacific Beach. The beach is one of the most exciting areas in San Diego, known for its sandy shores, surf culture, and a plethora of outdoor entertainment events to enjoy. Let’s look at some of the best attractions Pacific Beach has to offer.

Fun Things to Do in Pacific Beach

1. Have Some Family Time on The North Pacific Beach

While many visitors and locals love Central Pacific Beach for its party and thrill, vacationing families prefer the wide stretches of sand and gentle surf of the North Pacific Beach located north of the Crystal Pier at the Pacific Beach and south of Tourmaline Beach. The gorgeous sand and calm waves of the beach make a perfect spot for relaxation with family and having a good time.

2. Stop By Crystal Pier to See the Sunset or Catch Some Fish

The Crystal Pier is privately owned in the Pacific Beach and is open for daytime visitors. It is a perfect spot to whale-watch, watch the sunset, or catch a fish for fun. Before visiting this place make sure to have all the essentials to fully enjoy your time. Not only having quality polarized sunglasses will help you with the protection of your eyes but also seeing fish in the shore break will be much easier. Didn’t make plans for fishing? No worries, Crystal Pier has a bait shop, plus no fishing license is required.

3. Surfing

What better place to show your surfing skills than the Pacific Beach? The calm water and steady waves make a perfect avenue for surfing. And if you’re not surfed before, San Diego Surf School, although located a few blocks from the beach, has its surfing lessons and camps on the Pacific Beach, where they offer a variety of surfing programs, including private and group training, surf camps for kids and adults, and more.

4. Enjoy The Best Cuisine at The Beach

Satisfy your cravings with a menu full of steaks, fresh seafood platters, sushi, etc., with a view of the Pacific Beach. You can see the sushi chefs cook up these delicacies behind their glass stations, which you’ll find many people do for fun, too.

2) Gaslamp Quarter

The historic neighborhood of San Diego, or Gaslamp Quarter, as people love to call it, is somewhere people would consider unmissable whenever they find themselves vacationing in San Diego, even if it’s just to take the family on a walk on 5th Avenue, the heart of the historic Gaslamp Quarter.

It is called Gaslamp quarters due to the gas lamps that lit up the streets of San Diego over 150 years ago. Today, the place is a bustling center with a mix of entertainment, restaurants, and history. The best part? There are tons of family-friendly activities to engage in while at Gaslamp Quarters. Let’s take a look at some of them.

Fun Things to Do in Gaslamp Quarter

1. San Diego Harbor Cruise

Take an hour or two with your family to experience the best views in San Diego, all from the calm waters right off San Diego. The cruise features spacious outdoor seating areas for the family and a professionally narrated tour of the beautiful views and stunning landmarks such as Downtown San Diego, Coronado Bridge, the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, and many others. There are a variety of options to choose from on the cruise, all of which are nothing short of bundles of fun and excitement.

2. Visit The Gaslamp Museum at The Davis-Horton House

Who said Downtown San Diego is all about partying and nightlife? The Gaslamp Museum is located in the historic Davis-Horton House, intersecting the Fourth and Island Avenues. This building is the oldest in the Gaslamp Quarter, preserved to showcase historical pieces and artifacts representing the city’s architectural development and cultural heritage. The museum serves as the perfect spot to learn a thing or two about the city without compromising your fun.

3. Visit The USS Midway Museum to Learn About the Vintage Navy Aircraft

Don’t leave Gaslamp Quarter without paying a visit to what used to be the biggest ship in the United States before 1995. The USS Midway is known as the first American carrier to venture into the sub-Artic region and is widely renowned for its pivotal role in the Cold War. Today, the magnificent aircraft is now a museum for tourists to explore the several components of this historical masterpiece.

With over 30 airplanes and helicopters, the USS Midway is yet another attraction for children and adults alike, with people wandering the hollow halls and embarking on self-guarded tours as they listen to the USS Midway pilots talk about their experiences while piloting over 20 aircraft on the flight deck.

Things to do in San Diego at night

San Diego is one of the most exciting places in the day, but how well do you know San Diego at night? The city is well known to light up pretty well after dark. This means there are lots of fun activities ranging from outdoor adventures to romantic beach walks, harbor cruises, and magic shows, to spice up your night in San Diego.

  • Enjoy Your Evening at The Balboa Park

Balboa Park is known as the cultural heart of San Diego. This is no ordinary park, as it is considered one of the best entertainment hubs in the city. Whether you’re looking to enjoy a nice picnic, bike ride downtown San Diego, or stroll through the park’s gardens and inhale the appealing scent of the flowers, Balboa Park is all that and more.

  • Watch Fireworks Display at SeaWorld.

If you’re traveling with your family during summer, you wouldn’t want to miss the view of the fireworks that light up the sky at night. People come out just to see the beauty of the night in its full glory, with the fireworks illuminating the sky.

  • Visit The Nighttime Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is home to over 3,700 animals, making it one of the largest zoos in the United States. During the summer, the zoo stays open at night till 9 pm for visitors to see some of the nocturnal animals’ interactions, live music, and interesting talks from the zoo keepers.

Cheap Things to Do in San Diego

Some of the best experiences in San Diego don’t require you to spend a lot of money. There are lots of exciting things to fill your itinerary, especially when you’re on a slim budget that costs little or absolutely free. Some of these activities include:

  1. San Diego’s beaches are constantly rated as one of the highest in the country. You can swim, surf, or just enjoy the view from the shores. The sight of kids building a sandcastle or you just reading a book or soaking up the sun’s warmth is of the best free things to enjoy in the city.
  2. Watching the sunset over the water at La Jolla Cove could be one of the best sights in the world.
  3. Taking a walk along the Embarcadero either in the morning or at sunset is simply unbeatable. The area is rich with side attractions, including restaurants, bars, and breathtaking scenery, including the USS Midway, Seaport Village, or having a good time at the waterfront park, with the pleasant sights of yachts entering and leaving the Marina.
  4. Mission Bay Park is an excellent place to have family picnics, with spacious areas for kids to play. Located just north of downtown San Diego are miles of waterfront that can be reached through various stunning walking trails, with wetlands, docks, and beaches to relax along the way.
  5. The Seaport Village marks the end of the Embarcadero and is rich with waterfront restaurants, bars, and a scene for nightlife. During the day, the street performers entertain the audience while the local entertainers keep people wowed with several displays and tricks, such as floating through the air. At night, the whole place gets lit up, making it one of the best spots for a romantic date.


A family vacation to San Diego can be a wonderful opportunity to create memories that will last a lifetime. Regardless of your budget, there’s always more than one thing to enjoy on your family trip to this wonderful city. As a final note, ensure proper prior preparations are made, such as discussed in this article, to ensure you’re not leaving anything important to chance before starting your vacation.