Every year, San Diego attracts more than 35 million visitors, amassing some $10.8 billion in tourism. We take a look at some of the attractions that make San Diego one of America’s top travel destinations for visitors from all over the US and beyond.
San Diego’s climate
San Diego’s temperate climate is a major draw. Summer temperatures peak at around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, while winter temperatures cool off to around 50 degrees at night. San Diego boasts 300 days of sunshine per year on average, making it the perfect spot for a beach vacation.
San Diego’s attractions
From water parks to art exhibits, San Diego has attractions to suit all tastes and ages.
Not far from Downtown San Diego is Balboa Park, which encompasses 1,200 acres of botanical gardens, 17 major museums, and arts venues, as well as the world-famous San Diego Zoo. The award-winning zoo features some of the world’s most endangered and rare animals, including giant pandas, koalas, and polar bears.
Visitors to the zoo can dine in the tranquil surroundings of Albert’s Restaurant, enjoy the exhibits from the comfort of a guided double-decker bus tour, or gain an aerial view from the zoo’s Skyfari aerial tram.
For those interested in aquatic wildlife, SeaWorld provides a number of day and overnight camps for children in peak season, providing programs and activities that allow campers to interact with animals and get a unique, behind-the-scenes perspective on animal care and training. Sleepovers allow residents to spend a night under the stars in the same environment as penguins, beluga whales, and polar bears.
Families looking for some excitement can head over to Legoland California, home to more than 60 rides to keep the children entertained.
Military history buffs can head to the USS Midway Museum, an unforgettable opportunity to see what life was like onboard the longest-serving US aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Built in 1945, the USS Midway played a key role in the Cold War and Vietnam conflicts, as well as several large-scale humanitarian missions.
San Diego’s areas of outstanding natural beauty
San Diego’s 59-mile Scenic Drive is the perfect way to take in the region’s natural wonders. From panoramic views of the coastline and shimmering yacht-dotted bay, all the way down to Mexico and the surrounding mountains, follow Scenic Drive’s blue-and-yellow seagull signs for some of the best sights San Diego has to offer.
Coronado Island, located just across the bay from San Diego, is frequently voted one of the finest beaches in the United States. Home to elegant gardens, quaint shops, and old-world mansions, Coronado also boasts a selection of world-class restaurants—the perfect place to enjoy spectacular sunset views with seafood fresh from the ocean.
For hikers, the Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve, steeped in natural beauty, claims a rich Native American history stretching back over 7,000 years. Rich in natural resources, the area has attracted settlers for millennia, with a biodiversity of more than 175 types of birds, as well as mammals, amphibians, and reptiles, many of which are rare or endangered. The area is home to the bobcat, raccoon, egret, and blue heron, as well as tree frogs and largemouth bass.
San Diego’s nightlife
From buzzing nightclubs to sedate craft cocktail bars, a number of San Diego venues open their doors after the sun goes down.
The Gaslamp Quarter comprises 16 walkable blocks of more than 50 bars, 180 restaurants, and 10 nightclubs.
Downtown San Diego’s Rooftop Cinema Club is the ultimate outdoor experience for movie aficionados. Perched on top of the Manchester Grand Hyatt’s fourth-floor rooftop, guests can enjoy cult classics against a backdrop of stars and panoramic views of the city skyline.
Not to be missed, San Diego Zoo’s Safari Park offers Roar & Snore Safari, a sleepover event strictly for adults. Visitors enjoy guided hikes, plenty of animal viewing, campfire chats, dinner, and breakfast. Unlike the children’s version, adult Roar & Snore includes a bar serving wine and beer. Accommodation options vary, from basic five-sleeper tents to deluxe options with queen-sized beds, linen, pillows, and electrical outlets.
San Diego’s year-round events calendar
San Diego offers a comprehensive catalog of annual events. Listings scheduled for 2019 include the following:
- The great gray whale migration, running throughout winter and spring
- Museum Month throughout the month of February, when visitors benefit from a 50 percent reduction in admission fees to San Diego’s 40+ museums
- Gator by the Bay, the springtime zydeco, blues, and crawfish festival, held May 9-12
- Big Bay Boom!, a Fourth of July bayside fireworks bonanza
- Comic-Con International San Diego, staged from July 18-21
- The ANOC World Beach Games, held at Mission Bay from October 9-15
- San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, from November 17-24