There’s no doubt that San Diego has something for everyone. From a baseball game for the sports fans to a day at the beach for the outdoorsy folk, San Diego is a great place to vacation. With so much to do and see, it can be difficult to fit everything into one vacation. Instead of trying to pack in every site, make sure these 7 San Diego landmarks are on your itinerary for an unforgettable vacation.
Table of Contents
- San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park
- Cabrillo National Monument
- USS Midway Museum
- Balboa Park
- Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
- Gaslamp Quarter
- Old Town San Diego
1. San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park
When you visit San Diego, you have to go to the San Diego Zoo. As one of the top zoos in the world, it’s a rite of passage to visit this legendary attraction. From monkeys swinging from branch to branch, to towering giraffes and trumpeting elephants, the San Diego Zoo is home to more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals and counting. Plus, did you know the zoo is also a botanical garden with over 700,000 types of plants?
For the best San Diego Zoo experience, follow our expert tips:
Arrive as early as possible to get a phenomenal parking spot and see the animals being active. During the afternoon hours, most of the animals tend to rest.
Take advantage of the Bus Tour. The tour departments every half hour and provides one of the most thorough tours of the zoo. It’s a great way to see as many animals as possible during your day.
Check out this quick video guide to a day at the San Diego Zoo for more advice.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park is another treasure you don’t want to miss. The 1,800-acre park allows visitors to go on a safari adventure unlike any other. Between the behind-the-scenes experiences and seeing animals in their natural habitats, you’re sure to have a wild time at San Diego Zoo Safari Park.
To make your time at the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park a breeze, reserve your tickets ahead of time using Reserve San Diego.
2. Cabrillo National Monument
The San Diego landmarks on our list have their own story and the Cabrillo National Monument is no exception. The historic monument commemorates the story of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who arrived at San Diego Bay in September 1542. Upon discovery, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo actually called the area, “San Miguel”. It wasn’t until 60 years later that the area was named “San Diego” by explorer Sebastian Vizcaino.
3. USS Midway Museum
Climb aboard the USS Midway, an authentic U.S. Navy aircraft carrier, for an educational experience you’ll never forget. With 60+ exhibits, self-guided tours, 29 restored aircrafts, and outstanding ocean views, there’s something for everyone at the museum.
Among the most historical of San Diego landmarks, the USS Midway allows visitors to hear stories from Desert Storm pilots and experience life aboard the famous vessel. Plus, daredevils can hop into a flight simulator and “jet off” into the sky!
Skip the ticket lines and spend more time inside the aircraft carrier by purchasing your USS Midway Museum tickets in advance.
4. Balboa Park
Did you know Balboa Park is known as one of the best parks in the world? The park houses 15 museums, performing arts venues, botanical gardens, cultural and recreational attractions, and the San Diego Zoo.
With over 1,200 acres to explore, you can spend the majority of your San Diego vacation in Balboa Park and never get bored! As the nation’s largest urban cultural park, it’s easy to see why Balboa Park made our list of San Diego landmarks you can’t miss.
5. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
California is home to hundreds of beautiful national and state parks. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the 16 parks with reserve status. This means that everything in the reserve is exactly as it was before the entire city of San Diego was built. From the calming trails to the incredible beaches, this natural reserve is one of San Diego’s true treasures.
When you visit Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, follow all of the rules put in place by the California State Park System. The point of the reserve is to keep it safe from waste and harm while tourists visit the park.
6. Gaslamp Quarter
Located in the heart of the historic city, Gaslamp Quarter is known as San Diego’s entertainment district. With 16.5 blocks of Victorian architecture and stories of San Diego’s past, everything for a phenomenal vacation is at your fingertips.
As a result, you’ll find the following throughout the famous neighborhood:
- Art Galleries
- Award-Winning Restaurants
- Live Music and Bars
- Museums and Attractions
- Premier Shopping
- Luxury Hotels and Lodging
7. Old Town San Diego
Known as the birthplace of California, you need to visit Historic Old Town San Diego. In 1968, the State of California Department of Parks and Recreation announced the establishment of Old Town, therefore preserving the area’s rich history. Throughout the neighborhood, you can learn about San Diego’s past, visit local shops, or attend a festival.
With so much history and fun packed into one neighborhood, it’s no wonder why it made the list of top San Diego landmarks.
Reserve Your Vacation to See All 7 San Diego Landmarks Today
With so many San Diego landmarks to visit, it’s best to plan your trip ahead of time. From hotel reservations to travel tips, Reserve San Diego has everything you need to plan and book the San Diego vacation of a lifetime in one place.