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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  • Fodor's Choice

Bahia Belle

  • Nautical Site/Lighthouse

At the dock of the Bahia Resort Hotel, on the eastern shores of West Mission Bay Drive, you can board this restored stern-wheeler for...

Belmont Park

  • Amusement Park/Water Park

The once-abandoned amusement park between the bay and Mission Beach Boardwalk is now a shopping, dining, and recreation complex. Twinkling...

Crystal Pier

  • Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

Stretching out into the ocean from the end of Garnet Avenue, Crystal Pier is Pacific Beach's landmark. A stroll to the end of the pier...

Fiesta Island

  • Park (National/State/Provincial)

The most undeveloped area of Mission Bay Park, this is popular with bird-watchers (there's a large protected nesting site for the California...

Hospitality Point

  • Viewpoint/Scenic Overlook

This pretty, secluded spot, with a view of sailboats and yachts entering the open sea, is a good place to enjoy a picnic lunch. At the...

Mission Bay Park

  • Park/Playground

San Diego's monument to sports and fitness, this 4,600-acre aquatic park has 27 miles of shoreline including 19 miles of sandy beaches.

Mission Beach

  • Beach–Sight

With a roller coaster, artifcial wave park, and hotdog stands, this 2-mile long beach has a carnival vibe and is the closest thing you'll...

Mission Beach Boardwalk

  • Promenade/Boardwalk

The cement pathway lining the sand from the southern end of Mission Beach north to Pacific Beach is always bustling with activity. Cyclists...

Pacific Beach/North Pacific Beach

  • Beach–Sight

This beach, known for attracting a young college-age crowd, runs from the northern end of Mission Beach to Crystal Pier. The scene here...

SeaWorld San Diego

  • Amusement Park/Water Park

One of the world's largest marine-life amusement parks, SeaWorld is spread over 189 tropically landscaped bay-front acres—and it seems...

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