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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El Campo Santo cemetery

  • Cemetery

Now a peaceful stop for visitors to Old Town, the old adobe-wall cemetery established in 1849 was, until 1880, the burial place for many...

Fiesta de Reyes

  • Store/Shop/Mall

North of San Diego's Old Town Plaza lies the area's unofficial center, built to represent a colonial Mexican plaza. The collection of...

Heritage Park

  • Building/Architectural Site

A number of San Diego's important Victorian buildings are the focus of this 7.8-acre park on the Juan Street hill near Harney Street.

Junípero Serra Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

In 1929, department store magnate and philanthropist George Marston established Presidio Park and this Spanish Mission–style museum...

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

  • Neighborhood/Street

The six square blocks on the site of San Diego's original pueblo are the heart of Old Town. Most of the 20 historic buildings preserved...

Presidio Park

  • Park/Playground

The hillsides of the 50-acre green space overlooking Old Town from the north end of Taylor Street are popular with picnickers, and many...

San Diego Mormon Battalion Historic Site

  • Religious Building/Site/Shrine

Operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this engaging museum tells the story of the formation of the Mormon Battalion...

Thomas Whaley House Museum

  • Museum/Gallery

A New York entrepreneur, Thomas Whaley came to California during the gold rush. He wanted to provide his East Coast wife with all the...

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