Top 5 Things to Do in San Diego

Surfing at Ocean Beach

San Diego is the kind of city that likes to have fun. Whether that’s partying into the wee hours of the night in the downtown Gaslamp District, surfing the waves in Ocean Beach or strolling through the 1,200-acre Balboa Park — the kind of fun you want to have is up to you. During our quick trip we had a chance to enjoy some of the best things this sunny city has to offer, so read on to find out just what to include on your next vacation.

The Botanical Building in Balboa Park.

1. Stroll Through Balboa Park
Be sure to carve out at least a few hours of your trip to visit Balboa Park. As the country’s largest urban cultural park, you could easily spend days exploring all of the 15 museums, listening to concerts, watching plays or simply enjoying the landscape. We popped into the San Diego Museum of Art, which happens to be the area’s oldest and largest art museum and contains everything from European to 20th century American pieces. After you’ve got your museum-fill, it’s worth your time to explore some of the gardens, including the Botanical Building, full of beautiful flower displays.

A Giant Panda cub at the San Diego Zoo.

2. Visit the Zoo
Located within Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is one of the world’s most renowned zoos and contains more than 4,000 animals including the giant panda. You could spend all day walking around the grounds, visiting animals from around the globe. There’s a unique polar bear plunge, where you can view the bears from underwater; an elephant area that let’s you get an up-close view of the gorgeous creates, as well as a large glass-enclosed ape exhibit. Pretty much any animal you could want to see is here. While the zoo is definitely dominated by families, it’s still fun for those without young ones.

3. Dine on Mexican Food
You can’t leave San Diego without indulging in some authentic Mexican cuisine, ideally washed down with a beer (or our preference, a margarita). The great thing about this meal is some of the best in town is super affordable. Downtown try Lolita’s. Steps from PETCO Park, the ambiance casual, the portion’s huge and the local favourite is the Carnitas Plate. If you need to have a margarita with your Mexican meal, La Fiesta is a main street option that lets you sit outside and people-watch while you eat your fajitas. Their margaritas are amazing, so enjoy!

4. Take a Surf Class
Dying to hit the waves? This is where you’ll want to do it. Novice or pro, San Diego is the perfect destination to get your feet wet. Aspiring surfers should consider taking a class, like the San Diego Surfing School, found in the Mission Beach area, where the lower waves area ideal for beginners. Semi-private or private, there are tons of class options and if you want to keep practicing for the day, you can rent a board too.

Ocean Beach

5. Explore Ocean Beach
Going to Ocean Beach is like taking a step back in time. Beach bums, surfers, hippies — they’re all wandering around the neighbourhood and unlike the tourist-y Gaslamp District, it’s a nice change of pace. There are one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques to be found, tons of antique shops, dive bars, cafes and restaurants. Take a walk down the pier for some photo ops and then take off your shoes while you stroll the beach.

All photography courtesy Kyle Edward Wilson.