San Diego Sights

California’s entire coastline enchants, but the state’s southernmost region stands apart when it comes to sand, surf, and sea. Step out of the car and onto the beach to immediately savor its allure: smell the fresh salty air, feel the plush sand at your feet, hear waves breaking from the shore, and take in breathtaking vistas.

San Diego’s sandstone bluffs offer spectacular views

of the Pacific as a palette of blues and greens: there are distant indigo depths, emerald coves closer to shore, and finally, the mint-green swirls of the foamy surf.

San Diego’s beaches have a different vibe from their northern counterparts in Orange County and glitzy Los Angeles. San Diego is more laid-back and less of a scene. Cyclists whiz by as surfers saunter toward the waves and sunbathers relax in the sun, be it July or November.

Whether you’re seeking a safe place to take the kids or a hot spot to work on your tan, there’s a beach here that’s just right for you. La Jolla Shores and Mission Bay both have gentle waves and shallow waters that provide safer swimming for kids; whereas the high swells at Black’s and Swami’s attract surfers worldwide. If you’re looking for dramatic ocean views, Torrey Pines State Beach and Sunset Cliffs provide a desertlike chaparral backdrop, with craggy cliffs overlooking the ocean below. Beaches farther south in Coronado and Silver Strand have longer stretches of sand that are perfect for a contemplative stroll or a brisk jog. Then there are those secluded, sandy enclaves that you may happen upon on a scenic drive down Highway 101.

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Browse Sights

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Fodor's Choice

Area

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Balboa Park and San Diego Zoo 27

Point Loma and Coronado 17

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Coronado 7

Harbor Island 2

Ocean Beach 1

Point Loma 6

Shelter Island 1

La Jolla 15

Mission Bay, Beaches, and SeaWorld 12

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Mission Bay 9

Mission Beach 2

Pacific Beach 1

Old Town and Uptown 11

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Hillcrest 2

Mission Valley 1

Old Town 8

Downtown 10

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East Village 2

Embarcadero 5

Gaslamp Quarter 2

Little Italy 1

South Bay 2

Cardiff-by-the-Sea 1

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Category

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Amusement Park/ Water Park 2

Arts/ Performance Venue 3

Beach–Sight 19

Bridge/ Tunnel 2

Building/ Architectural Site 1

Canyon 1

Carousel 1

Cave 1

Cemetery 2

Educational Institution 2

Fountain 1

Garden/ Arboretum 4

Historic District/ Site 1

Hotel–Sight 1

House/ Mansion/ Villa 2

Island 2

Marina/ Pier/ Dock 1

Market/ Bazaar 1

Mountain–Sight 1

Museum/ Gallery 22

Nautical Site/ Lighthouse 2

Neighborhood/ Street 3

Park (National/ State/ Provincial) 3

Park/ Playground 3

Promenade/ Boardwalk 2

Religious Building/ Site/ Shrine 2

Sports Venue 1

Store/ Shop/ Mall 4

Transportation Site (Airport, Bus, Ferry, Train) 1

Viewpoint/ Scenic Overlook 3

Zoo/ Aquarium 2

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Best For

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Family 31

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San Diego Sights

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Chicano Park and Barrio Logan

  • Park/Playground

San Diego's Mexican-American community is centered in Barrio Logan, under the San Diego–Coronado Bay Bridge on the downtown side. Chicano...

Firehouse Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

Firefighting artifacts of all sorts fill this converted fire station, which at one time also served as the repair shop for all of San...

Gaslamp Museum at the William Heath Davis House

  • Historic District/Site

The oldest wooden house in San Diego houses the Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation, the district's curator. Before developer Alonzo...

Maritime Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

From sailing ships to submarines, the Maritime Museum is a must for anyone with an interest in nautical history. This collection of restored...

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD)

  • Museum/Gallery

At the Downtown branch of the city's contemporary art museum (the original is in La Jolla), explore the works of international and regional...

PETCO Park

  • Sports Venue

Opened in 2004, PETCO Park is a state-of-the-art major league ballpark and home to the San Diego Padres. Built at a cost of $450 million,...

Seaport Village

  • Store/Shop/Mall

You'll find some of the best views of the harbor at Seaport Village, three bustling shopping plazas designed to reflect the New England...

The New Children's Museum (NCM)

  • Museum/Gallery

The NCM blends contemporary art with unstructured play to create an environment that appeals to children as well as adults. The 50,000-square...

USS Midway Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

After 47 years of worldwide service, the retired USS Midway began a new tour of duty on the south side of the Navy pier in 2004. Launched...

Westfield Horton Plaza

  • Store/Shop/Mall

This downtown shopping, dining, and entertainment mecca fronts Broadway and G Street from 1st to 4th avenues and covers more than six...

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