San Diego Attractions for Adults – 21 Amazing Activities to Try

Bricktacular theme parks, a world-famous zoo filled with cuddly companions, and plenty of saltwater sports. America’s Finest City may have made a name for itself as a family-friendly destination, but San Diego is rich with adult attractions.

Follow along to discover the best fun activities in San Diego for adults.

Embrace your outdoor warrior with a heart-pounding hike through Torrey Pines State Park, or channel your inner child with a roller coaster ride at Belmont Park.

Take to the high seas for a once-in-a-lifetime afternoon whale watch, or eat sample tons of tacos and tequila when you explore the local flavors of Old Town.

From classic sightseeing tours aboard an old-fashioned trolley to romantic Bay cruises with your paramour, the City in Motion is a mecca of adult adventure.

San Diego Hotels

Before we dive into all of the things to do in San Diego for adults this weekend, you’ll need to procure some premier lodgings. Lock down a stellar suite or recharge in a quaint oceanside inn, when you reserve any of our San Diego Hotels and Resorts.

Whether you are looking to stay close to the retail, restaurants, and nightlife of downtown San Diego or would prefer to splash around in an outdoor pool in Escondido, we offer accommodations for every traveler. As always, book stress-free knowing you’re guaranteed our lowest rates online.

a nighttime front view of the Westin Gaslamp Quarter 
photo credit: The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter via Facebook

Things to Do in San Diego for Adults

Groundbreaking Georgia O’Keefe exhibits, a mysterious Fossa, and stunning Victorian architecture come together to make America’s Finest City a veritable playground for the 18 and over set. Get your fill of fresh air or brush up on military history, when you visit any of the best San Diego sights for adults.

San Diego Museums

While San Diego County is blessed by 70 miles of pristine coastline, this beachy paradise doesn’t slack when it comes to educational entertainment.

Dive into East Asian Art or explore fossils and Foucault pendulum’s when you take an afternoon to meander through the city’s top museums.

  • San Diego Museum of Art – for almost a century the San Diego Museum of Art has sought to inspire and educate through many mediums. Today visitors can take in vibrant outdoor sculptures, watercolors from Iran, and special exhibitions featuring the works of Georgia O’Keefe and Henry Moore.
  • USS Midway Museum – pay your respects to the red, white, and blue, when you visit the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Outfitted with over 60 exhibits, guests can peek at vintage aircraft and experience a day in the life of a Midway sailor.
  • Maritime Museum of San Diego – from sailboats to submarines, the high seas bound will have their hands full as they tour San Diego’s historic fleet. Glimpse the world’s oldest active ship. Or see if you recognize the masterful recreation of the H.M.S Surprise, the 18th-century Royal Navy frigate that was featured in the hit film Master and Commander.
  • San Diego Natural History Museum – capture the curiosity of childhood when you uncover sparkling gems, Megalodons, and more, at the Natural History Museum. Learn all about the unique biodiversity of Southern Californians or figure out how the Earth is spinning thanks to the Foucault Pendulum.

Entrance to the USS Midway Museum in San Diego CaliforniaSpend a Day at the San Diego Zoo

Unleash your inner animal lover when you swing by one of the U.S.’s most beloved zoos. Located in Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo has been educating and entertaining visitors for over a century.

Spend a day traversing the park’s 100 acres as you spot great apes, Komodo dragons, penguins, and more. Hop on a guided bus tour, or take your exploration Down Under, when you ooh and ahh over the largest Koala colony outside of Australia.

Related Post: San Diego Zoo Discount – Ultimate Guide

Psst..on the hunt for some safari-themed thrills? Check out the Cheetah Run or enjoy an awesome aerial view of giraffes, zebras, and lions, when you combine your San Diego Tickets with a San Diego Zoo Safari Park stop.

Explore the Historic Gaslamp Quarter

Get your fill of the stunning history and culture of America’s Finest City, when you hop aboard a charming Trolley Tour. Put your sightseeing in the very capable hands of Old Town Trolley Tours San Diego: Hop-On Hop-Off.

Related Post: Your Expert Guide to Exploring the Gaslamp Quarter

Together with your intrepid group, you’ll spend 2 hours trekking through San Diego’s most popular attractions. Snap azure-hued selfies in front of the Big Bay and scope out the city skyline from atop the Coronado Bridge.

Embrace the past in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, and get a glimpse at Southern California’s own Little Italy. Your fully narrated tour even includes a stop at the world-famous Hotel del Coronado.

Feeling amorous? Inject your evening with an air of romance when you treat your partner to some after-dark tourism. Savor jaw-dropping panoramas, sparkling city lights, and a stop at Coronado’s Ferry Landing, when you reserve a San Diego City Lights Night Tour.

historic heart of San Diego sign in the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California, USA
photo credit: Kirk K via Flickr

Visit Belmont Park

Bumper cars, Tilt-a-Whirls, and Dole Soft Serve, oh my! Nothing hits the spot quite like a sun-soaked day at the boardwalk. Considered one of San Diego’s most historic amusement parks, Belmont Park has been serving up smiles and splashtastic good times for nearly 100 years.

Related Post: Hidden Gems in San Diego: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Secret Spots

Hold on to your stomach as you tackle the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster, or cool off with a refreshing dip in the Plunge San Diego pool. Looking for a more refined theme park experience? Ditch the arcade games and snag a seat at the oceanfront Cannonball to dine on bespoke cocktails, inventive sushi, and Californian cuisine.

Whale Watching Cruise

Have you dreamed about hearing Free Willy sing? Let an experienced naturalist unveil the mysteries of this marine paradise when you take part in Captain Dave’s Dolphin & Whale Safari. Your year-round ticket to getting up close to whales, dolphins, sea lions, and sharks, this 2.5-hour eco-adventure features Capt.

Dave’s exclusive Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods. Embrace the wonders of the ocean as you ‘feel’ what it’s like to swim alongside these massive mammals without sustaining a single splash. Your sturdy vessel also contains a hydrophone, letting you listen in on the hauntingly beautiful music of both dolphin and whale vocalizations.

End your sea sojourn with a delicious triple fudge brownie courtesy of Mrs. Captain Dave.

white whale watch touring boat full of people sailing at sunset with orange sky in background
Photo Credit: San Diego Whale Watch via Facebook

See the Hotel del Coronado

Dripping in nostalgia, the Hotel del Coronado’s cheery red roofs and Victorian-style architecture have made it a go-to for everyone from U.S. presidents to Marilyn Monroe. Indeed, many film buffs will recognize the hotel’s sprawling estate as the backdrop for Some Like It Hot.

A designated California Historical Landmark, a stay at the Coronado makes for some unforgettable memories. In the market for a more casual Coronado visit?

Related Post: Coronado Island Restaurants – Your In-Depth Guide to the Best Options

Stick your toes in the sand and enjoy an ice-cold Corona and snack at the Beach + Taco Shack. Or, sip a craft cocktail by the cozy fire pit on the Sun Deck as you watch the sky come alive with the colors of a San Diego sunset.

San Diego Activities for Adults

Cruise San Diego Bay

Salt-tinged Bay air, the quaint scenery of Seaport Village, and live narration are married together in perfect harmony on a San Diego Harbor Cruise by Flagship. Witness the beauty of the San Diego skyline, Point Loma, and the Cabrillo National Monument when you take part in this thrilling harbor experience.

Choose from a North, South, or full harbor tour as you savor quality time aboard a modern yacht facility. In the market to mix your sightseeing with some supper? Reserve a Classic Harbor Dinner Cruise and toast to an unforgettable three-course meal enjoyed underneath the SoCal stars.

Sailboat in Ocean with San Diego Skyline in Background - San Diego, California, USA
photo credit: Annette Russo Gregory via Facebook

See a San Diego Padre Game at Petco Park

Take me out to the ballgame! Load up on peanuts and cracker jacks! Even for the non-baseball obsessed, a ticket to Petco Park is quite the coup. Home of the San Diego Padres, this architectural marvel is located in downtown San Diego. And boasts state-of-the-art amenities and sublime Bay views.

Score tickets to a game, or dive deeper into the history of America’s #1 ballpark with a guided tour.

Feast on a Food Tour

Ready to discover the gastronomic delight of America’s Finest City? Munch, sip and sample your way through luscious creations. Ranging from fruity sangria to authentic Mexican tacos topped with Pico de Gallo when you try any of our top food tours.

  • Brothels, Bites, and Booze Food Tour – Stingaree District history plus incredible microbrews come together to make an intoxicating 2.5-hour tour. Unveil the darker side of San Diego as you learn all about life post-Gold Rush era and sample morsels from 4- 8 restaurants.
  • Pizza, Pasta, and Piazzas – mama mia! Prime yourself for the carb-fest of your dreams when you spend almost 3 hours filling up on the best eats of Little Italy. From homemade pasta and pizza to juicy burgers and glasses of full-bodied red this tour provides endless palate possibilities.
  • Secret Food Tours San Diego – a melting pot of cultures and cuisine. In recent years the San Diego food scene has exploded in popularity. Indulge your taste buds with the fresh seasonal flavors of SoCal and the globe, when you chow down on fresh fish tacos, Beef Mulita, and the creamiest locally made ice cream.
  • Tequila, Tacos, and Tombstones Tour – spine-tingling chills plus tequila make for an arresting evening. Travel back in time to the days of early Spanish settlements when you walk among the tombstones and eat your weight in fresh tortillas.

A man and a woman in sun glasses eating pizza on the Brothels, Bites, and Booze Food Tour in San Diego, California, USAEmbrace Nature

Dazzling hikes blessed by ocean views, plus tide pools crawling with crustaceans. Nowhere is the bounty of SoCal more evident than the great outdoors.

Slap on some sunscreen because some of our top San Diego activities involve fresh air.

  • Ocean Beach – feeling deficient in Vitamin Sea? Make a beeline for Ocean Beach for days overflowing with surfing, fishing, and sunbathing. Just North of Point Loma, this beach boasts a vintage feel that attracts locals and visitors alike. Bring along a skateboard, or make it a fur-friendly date when you explore the Dog Beach.
  • La Jolla Cove – this small coastal inlet is best known for its barking and basking sea lions. However, sharks and minnows of all ages will adore the snorkeling, diving, and swimming provided by the protected marine reserve.
  • Torrey Pines State Beach – work on that tan as you bask in the rays at Torrey Pines State Beach. Or up that step count when you hit up the National Park for an advanced trail hike through a coastal wilderness of pine forests and sandstone canyon.
sunset at the Ellen Browning Scripps Memorial Pier near San Diego, California, USA
resized image

Beachy bohemian with a colorful history, it’s no wonder that millions of tourists visit San Diego each year.

California Dreamin’ must have had San Diego in mind. Nothing conjures up the SoCal spirit more than a day of surfing, skating, or swimming.

Related Post: San Diego at Night: 18 Best Nightlife Activities

In addition to snorkeling or seeking out slippery pinnipeds at La Jolla, this metropolis of sand and sea is ripe with attractions for adults.

Attempt to catch a foul ball when you take in a Padres game at Petco Park. Or, show off your Italian when you say ‘Ciao’ to carbonara and margarita Pizza in Little Italy.

Grab a beach cruiser and bike around Hotel Coronado. Or hole up on the Babcock & Story outdoor patio for a Some Like It Haute! cocktail and live music.

Brush up on your post-Gold Rush and Red Light District history. Or visit America’s Most Haunted House located in Old Town.

Can’t wait for your adults-only San Diego adventure? Don’t hesitate! Book your San Diego escape today!

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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...

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