When planning ahead for your vacation getaway to San Diego, you may begin to realize how rich the area is in natural attractions. There are several different natural attractions found only here that make for some great times outdoors. Here are some of the San Diego attractions we recommend visiting:
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Perhaps one of the most popular natural attractions in the area is no other than Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. The reserve itself is located at Torrey Pines State Beach, one of the most famous beaches we have in San Diego. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is over 1,700 acres in size, allowing indigenous wildlife to continue to thrive here. The views at the reserve include that of pine forests and beautiful sandstone canyons. The shore has breathtaking cliffs that plunge hundreds of feet to the ocean. The name of the reserve itself comes from Pinus torreyana, one of rarest pine trees that can be found in the country. Over 3,000 specimens of this pine tree can be found exclusively at Torrey Pines. This also gives the variety of waterfowl a place to nest and remain protected. The rest of the reserve also features great salt marshes that eventually stretch to the ocean. Outdoor adventurers will love the local trails; visit Guy Fleming Trail, Razor Point Trail, and Beach Trail for short and easy treks that takes you to all the sights at Torrey Pines. The reserve is only open during daylight hours and there is no place to purchase food or drink so make sure to bring your own. Have some cash on hand when arriving as the entrance fee ranges between $10-25 depending on which day you visit.
Sunset Cliffs Hidden Sea Cave
The San Diego shoreline is home to a variety of sea caves with many that can still be explored. The caves offer a view into the natural habitats for local wildlife. One of the most popular caverns to explore is Sunset Cliffs Hidden Sea Cave. This popular cavern can be located at Luscomb’s Point just past Monaco Street. As you climb down you will be given an in-depth view past the chain link fence that protects the rest of the cave from visitors. The cave was extremely popular back during the Prohibition Era to smuggle rum from Mexico to the inhabitants of San Diego. If there is one thing that keeps visitors coming back to Sunset Cliff’s Hidden Sea Cave is the beautiful sunset view found here.
Potato Chip Rock
One of the more unique natural attractions found in the San Diego area is Potato Chip Rock. This incredible natural attraction is a uniquely shaped rock that jets out from the cliff and is shaped just like a potato chip. This attraction can be found just outside of town near Poway Lake. This nearby lake may be small but features an abundance of great views. There is not much in the area for local wildlife and flora, but the trails are decorated with unique formations of rock. Most of these giant boulders are round with no jagged edges due to millions of years of rainfall. Potato Chip Rock can be found at the summit of Mt Woodson. The trail up to the summit is approximately 3 miles in length and can be moderately difficult. The summer heat can be hot so make sure to bring plenty of water. While the surrounding rock and boulders are round Potato Chip Rock is anything but. As mentioned, this rock jets out from the side of the mountain. Adventurous photo takers have taken advantage of its unique shape to get thrilling pics such as them hanging from the rock. Of course, we are not all thrill-seekers, so take caution when climbing up on this incredible attraction.
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park
If you wish to see the incredible desert terrain surrounding San Diego, look no further than Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. This vast park features a vast array of landscapes including rugged badlands, mud caves, slot canyons, and even hidden oases of palm trees. Colorful wildflowers surround the park and give jaw dropping sights to see in person. Local wildlife found in the area include kit foxes, golden eagles, roadrunners, bighorn sheep, and mule deer. There are plenty of reptiles out and about too, including iguanas, rattlesnakes, and chuckwallas, so make sure to watch your step on the trails. Similar to other state parks in California, there may be an entrance fee when visiting, so make sure to have cash on hand.
More to See Around San Diego
As you can see, there is so much to see when visiting San Diego when it comes to natural attractions. Make your trip the best it can be by reserving one of our vacation rentals that will keep you close to all the action.
When one thinks of San Diego, they probably think about all of the incredible attractions and activities they can access in the city. San Diego is a prime destination for all kinds of fun, but San Diego also has a rich history that can be fully explored depending on where you look during your upcoming vacation getaway. Here are a few San Diego attractions to show you the historical side of our area during your visit:
There is not a more famous historical site in all of San Diego than Balboa Park. This important San Diego site is where you can find the ever-popular San Diego Zoo, but Balboa Park is much more than that. The park is spread out on over 1,200 acres of beautiful San Diego terrain. Botanical gardens are found all across the park, giving visitors something to marvel at and take pictures. In addition to the zoo, Balboa Park also houses 15 museums, performing arts theaters, incredible restaurants, and some upscale shopping. Each of these locales are built in the eye-catching Spanish Moor architecture style for which San Diego is known. A visit to Balboa Park will probably take you all day, and that’s not a bad thing!
Chinese Historic District
While Los Angeles might be better known for its sprawling Chinatown neighborhood, San Diego’s is nothing to pass up. San Diego’s Chinatown neighborhood, also known as the San Diego Asian Pacific Historic District, is a sight to see. This neighborhood originated in the 1860s and was eventually settled by abalone fishermen. Unfortunately, most of the Asian population was not allowed to live anywhere else in the San Diego city boundaries. Luckily, that changed when the Chinese Exclusion Act was repealed in 1943 and allowed the Asian population to live anywhere in the city. Since 1987, the Chinese Historic District has been a designated historical district. The best way to learn and experience the history of the Chinese Historic District is by visiting the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. The museum houses historical artifacts and explores Chinese culture and arts. The museum features three separate buildings and is always rotating its exhibits.
Gaslamp Quarter District
Another well-known neighborhood in San Diego is the Gaslamp Quarter. This lively district is especially known for a dazzling nightlife and some delicious restaurants. The Gaslamp Quarter District stretches out over 16 blocks and is officially on the National Register of Historic Places. The neighborhood became popular early on as many business owners made deals in the area. Alonzo Horton, a famous real estate developer from the 19th century and namesake of San Diego’s Horton Plaza, previously lived in the neighborhood too. Walking around the Gaslamp Quarter District will provide you with all kinds of historical sites and plenty of fun activities!
USS Midway Aircraft Carrier
When you take a look out onto the water off the coast of San Diego, you may catch a glimpse of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. The USS Midway was the longest-serving aircraft carrier, after serving a total of 47 years for the Navy and having over 225,000 service members total. It saw many battles, specifically from the end of World War II up to Operation Desert Storm. While learning about a historical vessel is fun and all, it is much more exciting to see up close in person! You can do just that with a tour of the USS Midway found in the Port of San Diego. Visitors to the USS Midway can enjoy a self-guided tour when they purchase a ticket. You will be given headphones that will play an audio tour you can enjoy at your convenience. Sit in an actual helicopter, check out the flight simulators and so much more when you take a tour of the USS Midway. Grab a unique gift to take home from the gift shop. Regardless of how you spend your time at the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, you will remember it for years to come!
Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade
One of the most important historical figures in US history is Martin Luther King, Jr. This civil rights leader is honored with the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade featured in San Diego. This historical monument features beautiful sculptures, fountains, and a maze of hedges. The promenade is the host of the annual MLK Day Celebration and features an abundance of activities including food and music. Come experience this historical site the next time you visit San Diego.
More History in San Diego
Experiencing all these of historical sites and attractions can make for an exciting visit to San Diego. Get ready for your historical journey by reserving a vacation rental in the area. Our properties include luxury amenities and spacious layouts where you can relax. Call today and get ready for your San Diego journey!
If you’re gearing up for a trip to San Diego, California, get ready for an awesome time! This travel guide will introduce you to the exciting places you’ll want to visit in San Diego. You won’t want to waste a minute deciding what to do next when there are so many options and you probably have a limited amount of time although, it’s not necessarily a bad thing to find yourself lost in this beautiful city, since you never know what you will stumble upon! San Diego has a plethora of beautiful beaches to relax on and many places to explore alongside exciting activities to engage in on virtually every avenue. Enjoy your time in this coastal paradise, but don’t worry if you’re not able to fulfill all the items on your trip itinerary. You can always come back to explore more soon enough!
Beaches & Coastal Regions
The San Diego coastline is littered with pristine sandy beaches and vibrant beach-towns that makes it a world-class tourist destination. There are many beaches within the city limits of San Diego, California, each with their own unique characteristics. Mission Beach is a popular stop with a two-mile-long boardwalk and fun attractions, including a boardwalk amusement park (Belmont Park), the Wave House, and more. Mission Beach is fun place to go for all ages attracting a diverse crowd of visitors all throughout the year. The location is also popular among the adult crowd during the evenings, featuring several bars and an exciting nightlife scene.
Across the way eastward, you’ll find Mission Bay has calmer waters, less crowds, sandy beaches, and even SeaWorld! Around Mission Bay, you’ll find beachgoers engaging in popular water sports such as sailing, paddle boarding, jet skiing and more!
Just north of Mission Beach and Mission Bay, you’ll find San Diego’s Pacific Beach. Similar to Mission Beach, Pacific Beach is an all around fun place to experience San Diego’s sandy shores. If you are an experienced surfer, or just want to give the sport a try, the Tourmaline Surfing Park is a designated surfers-only beach where you’ll find beginner and expert surfers alike conquering these SoCal waves; check the weather or call ahead first to check surf conditions.
Ocean Beach is another fantastic beach in San Diego with a great surf scene and a leisurely pace. The pier extending from Ocean Beach is a great place to fish, and you can do so without a California fishing license as well. Dog Beach at the northern end of Ocean Beach is a pet friendly SD beach where your dogs are free to run wild and swim until they’re exhausted—but please, bring a doggy bag.
Head to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve Park for a unique and wild beach experience. This beach’s terrain is the most diverse in the San Diego area. With cliffs towering over the shoreline, you can participate in casual beach relaxation or soar over it in a hang glider; you can even golf cliff-side at the Torrey Pines Golf Course! From a clifftop parking lot, you can hike down to Black Beach, a popular nudist beach within Torrey Pines State Park that is only accessible by hike.
Across the San Diego Bay is the city of Coronado, and although it’s a separate entity from the city of San Diego, this upscale tombolo is often frequented by tourists. They flock to the gorgeous sands of Coronado Beach, which often is listed in top spots on travel lists of America’s top beaches.
Aside from the aforementioned coastal regions, San Diego is bordered by dozens of notable beaches, cliff-sides, and tourist spots that are well worth a visit along the coast, such as: Point Loma, Del Mar, Imperial Beach, La Jolla, Oceanside, Leucadia, Black’s Beach, and plenty more. Unless you’ve lived here for an extensive period, you won’t run out of new places to explore on the western edge of San Diego.
Southeast of the San Diego International Airport, San Diego’s downtown area is composed of several districts replete with restaurants, shopping centers, attractions, hotels, and nightclubs. The Gaslamp Quarter in central downtown is the most well-known district in downtown San Diego, famous for its Victorian era architecture, nightlife scene, shopping, and attractions. The Gaslamp Quarter is a must-see for all visitors.
Gaslamp District is home to the Westfield Horton Plaza, a 5-level shopping mall with tastefully offbeat architecture. It is also home to many notable live music and theater venues. The Quarter is also known for its annual festivities including ShamRock, Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp, Street Scene Music Festival, and the St. Patrick’s Day Pub-Crawl. No matter what time of day it is, you’ll find the streets of the Gaslamp District alive with San Diego culture. From here, head east to East Village, where you’ll find Petco Park, and over 700 businesses, including many restaurants and unique art galleries of many flavors. The East Village has been undergoing a cultural rebirth since the construction of the Petco Park Stadium in 2004.
A short trolley ride north of downtown is Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. The 1,200 acres of Balboa Park has earned it the reputation as “the nation’s largest urban cultural park,” with 15 museums and many gardens, artistic venues, and attractions. A trip to San Diego is not complete without visiting the cultural edifices within Balboa Park.
On the opposite end of downtown, to the south, is another distinct cultural district that has flown under the radar of mainstream tourism. Barrio Logan is an upcoming cultural district that exhibits the conflation of Mexican-American cultures. Taste authentic Mexican food in local restaurants and tour the germane art galleries that bring life to Barrio Logan. This is a great San Diego district for travelers interested in experiencing true Mexican-American culture at its roots.
Activities & Attractions
Sightseeing in San Diego could take a lot of planning to do sufficiently, so one practical option would be to take a San Diego tour with one of the numerous San Diego touring agencies. However, getting around San Diego on your own is fairly easy, even without a vehicle. The San Diego Trolley is a very popular and convenient option to get around town for tourists. San Diego’s most popular tourist spots include the many renowned museums, Sea World, Balboa Park, Petco Park, downtown districts, Old Town, San Diego Zoo, Belmont Park, Seaport Village, Birch Aquarium, and its many beautiful beaches. LEGOLAND California is very popular theme-park and waterpark situated north of San Diego in Carlsbad, CA.
Typical SD beach activities like swimming, surfing, parasailing, wakeboarding, beach cruising, volleyball, paragliding, water jetpacking, boating, tanning, and sandcastle building are only a few of the ways to enjoy San Diego, CA. If you still have time after shopping and dining at the finest establishments in downtown San Diego, you can try your hand at ocean fishing with a local fishing charter or even fish right off the pier.
Inland, Mission Trails Regional Park has several hiking trails for the more rugged travelers looking for adventure, but the most scenic coastal hiking is found on trails throughout the Torrey Pines State Reserve.
With the San Diego International Airport being only a hop away from the cruise ship terminal, San Diego is a premier port city for cruise ships. If you are looking for a new and romantic dining experience, there are a number of San Diego dinner cruises that depart from the terminal and take you around the bay while the sun sets over the Pacific Ocean. There are also regular San Diego Bay tours available for you and your family’s sightseeing pleasure.
Sometimes floating on the ocean isn’t enough excitement for everyone. If that’s the case, there are plenty of scuba diving excursions to choose from that will get you beneath the surface and up close to pacific marine life.
Stay in Style
Whichever way you choose to spend your vacation in San Diego, you are sure to have a blast! San Diego is a world-class tourist destination year-round with so many world-class beaches and attractions to explore, you’ll wish you could stay forever. Although you probably won’t be able to stay forever, it will be nice to stay in comfort. 710 Beach Rentals offers the best vacation rentals in and around San Diego, California. Their vast portfolio of beach homes, condos, apartments, villas, and vacation homes is sure to include the perfect rental suited for your travel needs. Experience the best of California here in sunny San Diego!
- “Park Information.” Park Information | Balboa Park. Accessed March 08, 2017. http://www.balboapark.org/info.
- “The Official Travel Resource for the San Diego Region.” The Official Travel Resource for the San Diego Region. Accessed March 08, 2017. https://www.sandiego.org/.
The Gaslamp District has been the heart of San Diego’s nightlife for many years. But not only that, it is also an amazing place to spend afternoons eating, shopping or simply wandering around the charming streets. This historical neighborhood spans just over 16 blocks of some of San Diego’s most exciting property.
One of the most exciting events that highlight the calendar of events here is Mardi Gras in the Gaslamp District. During this massive block party on a Saturday, you will feel like you are nowhere else than New Orleans, with just a bit of San Diego energy in the mix. You can also find one awesome party for virtually every holiday from St. Patrick’s Day to Memorial Day Weekend. But that is not all; as they offer exciting events regardless of the season. Enjoy an amazing celebration of food with The Taste of Gaslamp festival. Take in a day of family fun with the dog parade or the Children’s Historic Street Fair. Or enjoy some of the most exciting movies at the San Diego Film Festival.
Throughout the 16 blocks that make up this district, you can find over 200 restaurants. These establishments range from greasy spoons to eateries offering some of the most sought after five-star dining experiences in the whole city. One of the most popular restaurants in the area is Searsucker, which offers new-age twists to American classics. Any list of San Diego restaurants would not complete without a delicious Mexican food option and that is exactly what you get with La Puerta. This joint is renowned for its amazing street tacos and 100% blue agave tequilas. There is so much more to see and most importantly, eat here, so get out and experience it for yourself.
Among the charm of the Victorian buildings and the modern skyscrapers that stand side-by-side, you can find some of the most exciting nightlife anywhere. There are endless options in how you spend your time, from a casual drink at a bar to a high-energy nightclub and anything in between. Numerous musical venues and theatres also offer recreational options on a nightly basis. There is never a dull moment in a Gaslamp evening.
Here you are very close to the bay, to PETCO Park, and the San Diego Convention Center and the best part is that you don’t even need a car to get around the excitement of these 16 blocks. Couple all of these amazing opportunities with the phenomenal vacation properties that are available and you have one awesome place to take a vacation.