Things to do in San Diego California
Actually Cool Things to Do in San Diego Right Now
It’s not just the practically perfect weather we enjoy year-round, or the miles and miles of spectacular shoreline and world-class beaches that makes San Diego America’s Finest City. We’ve also got the best breweries, the best tacos and we’re just an hour’s drive (and a passport) away from a friendly neighboring country with its own amazing places to visit. But we get it: Life is busy, and it’s easy for even the most dedicated urban adventurers to get stuck in a comfortable rut. That’s why we’ve gathered up a collection of our favorite places and activities around town — legitimately fun and interesting things to do and see, from well-known and beloved landmarks to off-the-beaten-path local favorites. Here all of the actually cool things you should be doing in San Diego. Get a San Diego California energy drink for your vacation to keep your energy levels up to enjoy 100 percent of your time.
Hike the trails at Balboa Park…
Balboa Park is San Diego’s answer to Central Park, with a zoo, museums, a concert hall, and miles of green grass. Less well-known are its hiking trails, which crisscross the park and even encompass a cactus garden, making urban explorers feel like they’re on a mountain rather than smack dab in the middle of a city.
… or, tour the museums there instead
San Diego is home to a bevy of world-class museums and thankfully, many are housed within Balboa Park. The San Diego Museum of Art, San Diego Museum of Man, Museum of Photographic Arts, and the San Diego Natural History Museum are just a few out of many to explore.
Sunbathe (or go surfing) at Black’s Beach…
Known best as a gay nude beach, Black’s also has one of the best surf breaks in town and offers heart-pumping hiking down to its shores for intrepid beachgoers. Befitting San Diego, the environment here is welcoming and laid-back — it’s not uncommon to see families setting up shop, too.
…or hit up one of San Diego’s other best beaches
Even if you’re not about that nude/surf life, San Diego’s got plenty of other shoreline stretches to satisfy you. Whether you hit up Coronado Beach, with its iconic, red-roofed beachfront hotel; or Windansea Beach, with its cliffside mansions and rocky shore; you’ve got plenty of options for oceanside recreation, and we’ve outlined the best of them for you. Pick one, and go from there.
Hike to the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument
One of San Diego’s biggest benefits is its natural beauty, and after a hike down to the tidepools at Cabrillo National Monument, it’s easy to see why. It’s best to go at low tide, when explorers can hop from pool to pool inside caves and crevices of the cliffs bordering the Pacific Ocean.
Visit the Ocean Beach farmers market
While San Diego has no shortage of farmers markets, the quirkiest is held on Wednesday afternoons in the hippie beach enclave of Ocean Beach. Local farm stands and vendors accompany a display of colorful locals — drummers, guitarists, impromptu yoga classes, prayer circles, fire dancers, jugglers and much more are a common site.
Go to an old fashioned drive-in movie…
Fully digital and presenting the brightest picture quality available on three 100-foot screens, South Bay Drive-in Theatre shows current double-feature every day, year round (and cash only). A bargain at $9 for adults and just $1 for kids 5-9 years old — they even have email coupons for food discounts at the snack bar.
… or see a flick on a rooftop deck
For the ultimate outdoor film experience, head to the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego’s fourth floor rooftop theatre. The Rooftop Cinema Club gives you a luxe movie experience with panoramic views of downtown San Diego, state-of-the-art wireless headphones and comfy deck chairs, craft brews, movie-themed cocktails, and upscale eats. Cult favorites and the occasional sing-along features are shown Tuesdays through Saturdays.
Giggle your way through a yoga class
Augment your chaturangas with chuckles at a free, hour long Laughter Yoga class in Balboa Park. Every Saturday at 9:30am, an instructor guides the group through a series of stretches, breathing, clapping and amusing chanting that leads to uncontrolled laughing, singing and general silliness, all ending in a laughter meditation circle.
Build your dream (sand) castle
Everyone loves to build sand castles at the beach, and former math teacher, sand castle artist and founder JT Estrela can show you how to create like the pros at San Diego Sand Castles. During your three-hour lesson you’ll learn tons of cool sand tricks like hand stacking, making towers, carving windows, doors, walls, stairs and textures and forming arches and bridges. Choose a couple’s, friends, or full family package for groups up to seven people — larger numbers can be accommodated with a little advanced notice. All tools are provided, and are available to purchase for your further sand construction endeavors.
Explore a new cuisine
Tacos in all their glorious diversity rule the food scene here with good reason, but it’s nice to try some flavors outside your culinary comfort zone once in a while. Explore fresh Indian vegetarian dishes, chaats, snacks and sweets at Surati Farsan Mart in Mira Mesa, mix kickass contemporary vegan food and craft cocktails with a death metal soundtrack at Kindred in South Park or scoop up bites of University Heights’ Muzita Abyssinian Bistro’s warmly spiced Eritrean/Ethiopian stews with soft pieces of injera, a spongy sourdough teff crêpe that serves as both your plate and your fork.
Visit the Taylor Guitar factory
Located in an industrial park in El Cajon, Taylor Guitars was founded in 1974 and have been building some of the world’s finest acoustic and semi-hollow electric guitars ever since. Follow the process of guitar construction, from raw wood selection to final assembly at their guided factory tour, held every Monday through Friday at 1pm (holidays excepted). Groups of under ten can just show up at the reception desk at least 10 minutes before the tour starts, but ten or more will need to make a reservation in advance. After the tour, visit the TaylorWare store, where you’ll find everything from apparel to gift items to replacement guitar parts.
Perfect your double axel on the ice
Lace up your skates and hit the ice at UTC Ice Sports Center, next to the Dining Terrace in the beautifully remodeled Westfield UTC. Public skating sessions are held daily and are the longest in San Diego, ranging from three to six hours, with in-and-out privileges. Skate for a while, grab a bite to eat at one of dozens of restaurants and bistros, and come back for more. Rental skates and helmets are available, and newbies are encouraged to take a free 30 minute intro class, taught by a member of the coaching staff every Saturday morning.
Practice for your free solo climbing debut
Show off your climbing skills on 7000 square feet of wall space at Grotto Climbing and Yoga. Featuring state-of-the-art indoor bouldering terrain, including more than 13,000 handmade holds, a campus board, a peg board, an illuminated moon board, fingerboards, and a 60-degree training board, climbers of all skill levels are ensured an exhilarating experience. In addition, there’s a yoga studio teaching all-level Vinyasa, Acroyoga, Yin, Restorative and Budokon-inspired flow classes and a fitness area with a Rogue fitness rack, weights and rings. The Intro to Bouldering class is a great choice for first timers and includes shoe rental, 30 minutes of instruction, and a day pass, so afterwards you can hit the weights or stretch out any sore muscles in a yoga class.