What are the best attractions in San Diego?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Julia Weiler

Theme parks, rolling surf, and sun-drenched strands of sand are classic San Diego attractions.  At Belmont Park in Mission Beach, families can enjoy all three.  The historic seaside amusement park offers fun for all ages with a collection of midway-style games, shopping and dining venues, and classic thrill rides. 

Go for a jaunt on the vintage Giant Dipper roller coaster and experience quick curves, steep peaks and exhilarating drops, or board the Beach Blaster and get launched 60 feet in the air for an electrifying swing ride with jaw-dropping ocean views.

For aquatic adventures visit Wave House where you can get wet while testing your surfing skills on simulated ocean breaks.  Dry off for a round of laser tag and video games at Rush then navigate the rope and rock wall courses at Sky Ropes and Sky Climb.

Refuel at the food court with snacks like pizza, burgers and ice cream then grab some beachy souvenirs such as sunglasses and seashells from the Belmont shopping kiosks.  Parking and general admittance to the park is free.  Rides are ticketed, other attractions are charged per experience or by the hour.

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This sun-drenched city by the bay has so much to offer that it’s difficult to decide which attractions to put on your must-see list.  Even so, there is one standout that should not be missed.  Located on the North Embarcadero in downtown San Diego, the Maritime Museum of San Diego harbors one of the world’s greatest gatherings of carefully restored and meticulously maintained historic ships, many of which still operate today. 

The prized collection includes The Star of India, a steel-hulled wooden sailing vessel.  Built in 1863, this National Historic Landmark spans an impressive sparred length of 280 feet and has a 35-foot beam.  During its lifetime, the Star of India circumnavigated the globe 21 times, weathered a cyclone, survived a collision and experienced a mutiny.  Museum guests may step aboard and explore this amazing vessel, which is the oldest active sailing ship in the world.  

Along with several other sailing ships, the maritime menagerie includes fine examples of steam-powered boats like the Berkeley, an 1898 steam ferryboat from San Francisco, and submarines such as the USS Dolphin, which is the deepest diving submarine in the world.  People can explore these and other fascinating historic vessels during their visit to the museum.

Other highlights include permanent and temporary exhibits on maritime history, commerce and exploration.  The venue also hosts occasional public events such as Pirate Days and the wildly popular Festival of Sail. For further information including museum hours, ticket sales and scheduled events please visit The Maritime Museum of San Diego.

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Whether it's Spring Break or Summer Vacation, families flock to San Diego County’s wide array of kid-friendly amusement parks.  Whether your clan is looking to get wet, commune with marine life, befriend zoo critters or get lost amidst life-sized LEGOS, there’s something fun for everyone in sunny San Diego.

• Located in the North County town of Carlsbad, LEGOLAND California is the building block of every LEGO-lovers' dream come true.  The theme park is home to an exciting mix of rides, alluring shows and electrifying attractions geared towards kids aged 2-12.  Featured attractions include a wet and wild "Water Park", the medieval charms of "Castle Hills", swarthy fun at "Pirate Shores" and the intriguing "Land of Adventure".

• SeaWorld San Diego makes a big splash with families wishing to peruse and play with marvelous marine life.  Spectacular shows like “Shamu Rocks” and “Sea Lions LIVE” feature performances by superstars of the sea while interactive exhibits such as “Shark Encounter” and “Turtle Reef” offer up-close interactions with  incredible creatures of the deep.  Exciting rides such as the “Manta Ray” roller coaster and “Journey to Atlantis” round out the rollicking fun.

• The San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park are two separate but related attractions which house impressive animals from around the world.  Visit the Zoo and immerse yourself in the “Lost Forest” for exotic jungle encounters with monkeys, apes and hippos in a tropical environment or embark on a grand expedition along the open plains of the Safari Park and feel at one with lions, Wildebeests, giraffes and zebras.

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