Tourist Attractions in San Diego
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9 Tourist Attractions in San Diego Even Locals Rave About

Doesn’t it seem as though locals tend to avoid tourist attractions in their city at all costs? For instance, you don’t often see an Orlando resident riding roller coasters week after week. However, certain attractions have the potential to captivate locals and tourists alike.

In San Diego, locals rave about several area attractions. And when the locals love something, it must be great! For entertainment backed by local love, check out these 9 tourist attractions in San Diego during your next trip.

Koala mother and joey at the San Diego Zoo, one of the best tourist attractions in San Diego

1. San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo is a California staple for a reason. Everyone loves it! From residents to international tourists, visitors can’t get enough of this legendary zoo.

The more than 100-acre zoo features 4,000+ rare and endangered animals across 650 different species and focuses their efforts on education and conservation. While at the zoo, visitors can hop on bus tours, watch interactive shows, expand their education of the animal kingdom, and participate in animal encounters.

San Diego locals love the zoo for the outstanding conservation efforts and bounty of educational opportunities. And, who doesn’t love seeing baby animals!

Family feeds a giraffe at San Diego Zoo Safari Park

2. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Take your animal encounters to the next level at San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The park hosts a variety of hands-on safari excursions at their 1,800-acre reserve. You’ll watch as animals roam in their natural habitats across the park, even right next to your caravan!

Keep your eyes peeled for everything from cheetahs to lions, and rhinos to elephants.

On top of wild safaris, San Diego Zoo Safari Park also offers captivating shows, engaging play areas for the little ones, and a sky-high Balloon Safari.

San Diego residents rave about the park for its interactive nature and abundance of fun. Plus, if you have young children or teenagers, they’ll love learning more about their favorite wild animal.

Tourist Attractions in San Diego

3. SeaWorld San Diego

Among the largest tourist attractions in San Diego, SeaWorld San Diego is not to be missed. The aquatic theme park has something for everyone in your family, from towering roller coasters to informative tours about rehabilitation and conservation. Guests can put their courage to the test on the double-launch coaster, Manta, or see gleeful bottlenose dolphins at Dolphin Point.

Don’t miss the exciting shows either!

As one of the most popular tourist attractions in San Diego, the theme park does get crowded during the peak season. With this in mind, it is imperative that you read up on SeaWorld San Diego tips before you go!

San Diego families enjoy going to SeaWorld for the variety of rides attractions for all ages, from young toddlers to adults.

Little children standing next to costumed mini-figure characters at LEGOLAND California

4. LEGOLAND California Resort

What child doesn’t dream of going to LEGOLAND California? I know I did when I was little!

LEGOLAND California Resort brings the iconic mini-figures and building blocks to life with thrilling rides, attractions, and brick-tastic fun throughout the theme park. While kids love the never-ending entertainment at their fingertips, parents appreciate the wealth of family-friendly amenities the park has to offer.

While at the park, families can also discover themed lands such as Dino Island, Castle Hill, Imagination Zone, Miniland USA, and DUPLO® Village. And, for added convenience, the resort also boasts an on-site hotel and waterpark.

It’s not hard to see why San Diego kids rave about LEGOLAND. After all, it’s LEGOLAND!

The exterior of the USS Midway Museum in San Diego, CA

5. USS Midway Museum

Continuing our list of beloved tourist attractions in San Diego is the USS Midway Museum. As the longest-serving U.S. Navy aircraft carrier of the 20th century, the USS Midway is filled to the brim with history. Visitors embark on an audio tour with 60+ stops throughout the carrier to learn more about the famed vessel. Tourists also have the ability to participate in hands-on activities for all ages, including conversations with docents—many of whom served on the ship!

If planning to tour the USS Midway Museum, keep this advice in mind: plan to spend up to three hours discovering all the ship has to offer. It’s far more than an audio tour!

San Diego residents recommend touring the USS Midway for its grand history and myriad of educational experiences.

The Star of India ship at the Maritime Museum of San Diego

6. Maritime Museum of San Diego

Make sure you also visit the Maritime Museum of San Diego during your trip. The museum is considered to be one of the top collections of historic ships from across the globe. Offering engaging exhibits, daily tours, events, and educational experiences, the museum is ideal for all ages, especially those interested in sailing and ships. While you’re there, you’ll also have the opportunity to see the world’s oldest active ship, the Star of India.

Plan to spend a great deal of time at this museum. With so many boats to explore, you’ll be captivated for quite some time!

Locals enjoy visiting the museum for its engaging history and vast collection of historic ships.

The Catholic Church with a palm tree in Old Town San Diego

7. Old Town San Diego

You can’t take a trip to San Diego without seeing Old Town San Diego. Known as the birthplace of California, Old Town San Diego is teeming with authentic Mexican cuisine, history, and culture. From interactive walking tours to historic landmarks, you’ll be immersed in California’s past from the moment you walk in.

Some of the top things to do in Old Town San Diego include the Whaley House, Heritage Park, Casa de Estudillo, and Fiesta de Reyes. With so much to do and see in Old Town, you’ll never want to leave.

Locals recommend experiencing Old Town San Diego due to the immersive nature and of course, delicious food!

Orange and green Old Town Trolley outside of Old Town Market in San Diego

8. Old Town Trolley Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing Tour

Speaking of Old Town… One of the best ways to see the sights in the area is on the Old Town Trolley Hop-on Hop-off Sightseeing tour. Get your ticket for the trolley and explore the greater Old Town district at your leisure. Considered one of the most convenient tourist attractions in San Diego, the trolley tour travels through iconic areas such as Gaslamp Quarter and the Coronado Bridge for easy sightseeing.

While you can hop-off and back on at any of the 10 different stops, you can also ride the trolley for the duration of the tour. Along the way, you’ll learn about San Diego’s historic sites, notable events, and more.

Residents suggest riding the trolley for the convenience and wealth of information you’ll learn about the city along the way.

Balboa Park at sunset with water fountain feature surrounded by museums and palm trees

9. Balboa Park

If you’re interested in seeing several of the tourist attractions in San Diego in one day, go to Balboa Park. Home to 15+ museums, walking trails, outdoor art installations, tours, events, and much more, Balboa Park is the epicenter of “edutainment” in San Diego. Top attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Japanese Friendship Center, and Fleet Science Center are also located here.

Those traveling to San Diego with young children will love the park’s multitude of activities and entertainment. Choose from various museums or enjoy the outdoor trails and play areas—it’s up to you!

San Diego residents recommend Balboa Park for the abundance of things to do and see. You can spend several days at the park and still not experience it all!

Tourist Attractions in San Diego: Endless Fun for Locals and Tourists Alike

Travel Tip: When visiting a new city, go to the attractions the locals love!

Include these tourist attractions in San Diego in your vacation itinerary for a memorable trip.

Do you have a favorite tourist attraction or activities in San Diego? Share it in the comments below.

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