7 Amazing Places for Sightseeing in San Diego

7 Amazing Places for Sightseeing in San Diego

Beautiful sights to remember your San Diego trip by.

Located on the Pacific coast in the beautiful southern California area, San Diego is popular vacation hotspot with many wonderful things to see. Below are 7 places you don’t want to miss when taking in this unique and striking place.

1. The Historic Balboa Theatre

Named by CNN as one of the world’s most spectacular theatres, the historic Balboa Theatre was built in 1924 and was fully renovated and restored to its former glory in 2002. A must see for any music enthusiasts or organ players, the theatre houses a rare Wonder Morton organ (only one of four in the world).

The inside décor reflects the original Spanish revival style, including ornamental niches aside the proscenium arch which features waterfall mountain scenes complete with real falling water. The theatre is currently a venue for plays, concerts and other live performances.

The Balboa Theatre
868 Fourth Avenue
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 570-1100

2. Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a community green space located in the downtown area of San Diego. While showcasing examples of traditional Spanish colonial architecture (including buildings from the 1915–16 Panama–California Exposition and the 1935–36 California Pacific International Exposition), the park is also home to fifteen different museums, including the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Photographic Arts. The park’s Botanical Building with its lily pond and lagoon is one of San Diego’s most photographed scenes.

In addition to its beautiful architecture, Balboa Park also hosts many beautiful gardens and trails. The park itself contains 350 species of plants and over 1,000 trees. Some notable gardens include the Alcazar Gardens, the Cactus Garden, the Casa del Rey Moro Garden and the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden.

Balboa Park
1549 El Prado
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 239-0512

3. The Japanese Friendship Garden

Also located in Balboa Park is the Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego. The Japanese Friendship Garden was built as an expression of the camaraderie between San Diego and her sister city Yokohama, Japan. The garden is a peaceful and reflective place filled with bonsai trees, arbors, cherry blossoms, wisteria and rock arrangements. At the central point of the garden is a beautiful Koi pond with a waterfall that is home for a priceless Koi collection. In addition to providing a place of beauty for Balboa Park the garden frequently houses seminars, classes and workshops as well as accredited horticultural classes. The Japanese Friendship Garden also regularly hosts many exhibits about Japan’s creative and cultural heritage.

Japanese Friendship Garden of San Diego
2215 Pan American Way E
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 232-2721

4. The Marston House Garden

The Marston House Garden is a proper English garden with a hint of romanticism updated for the southern California atmosphere. The formal garden was designed in 1927 to complement the picturesque house of George White Marston and his wife, Anna Gunn Marston.

Architecture enthusiasts and art students may want to note the house was built during the Arts and Crafts movement by famous architects William Sterling Hebbard and Irving Gill. The garden itself spans over five acres and showcases different trees, shrubs, vines and flowers. Some noted flora includes dahlias, Queen Elizabeth roses, wild lilac, “cup of gold” vines, geraniums and Australian tea trees.

Marston House Garden
3525 Seventh Ave.
San Diego, CA 92103
(619) 297-9327

5. Maritime Museum of San Diego

The Maritime Museum of San Diego transports visitors to the past with one of the finest collections of historic ships in the world. The floating museum includes visually stunning historic ships and two submarines. Vessels include the USS Dolphin, the deepest diving submarine in the world, and the steam-powered Berkeley ferry and Medea yacht.

The museum is also home to the Californian, which is the official tall ship of the State of California. Visitors may recognize the HMS Surprise from the academy award winning film, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. The ship was also featured in the fourth Pirates of the Caribbean.

Museum goers allowed to board the vessel may enjoy familiar sights from the movies as well as the attention to detail put in by the filmmakers. The highlight of the ship collection is the Star of India, which has the distinction of being the world's oldest active sailing ship.

Maritime Museum of San Diego
1492 N Harbor Dr
San Diego, CA 92101
(619) 234-9153

6. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve

For those who wish to see some of the natural beauty found around the San Diego area, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the best places to go. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is one of the few remaining salt marshes and waterfowl sanctuaries in the California area.

The reserve also protects the rare Pinus Torreyana pine tree, which grows only there and on Santa Rosa Island. The natural reserve has approximately 1700 acres of uninterrupted natural beauty to photograph and explore.

The Razor Point Trail offers striking views of ravines and badlands and ends at an ocean lookout. The Guy Fleming Trail takes walkers by the famous torrey pines and the scenic Peñasquitos Marsh, while also featuring views of La Jolla to the south, San Clemente to the north and the Santa Catalina Islands on a clear day.

Hikers can also spy wildflowers in the spring and possible sightings of migrating whales along the coast. Popular picnic spot Torrey Pines State Beach offers beach views. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a day-use park only, also be sure to check with a park ranger for trail and safety information before embarking on any hikes.

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
12600 North Torrey Pines Road,
San Diego CA 92037
(858) 755-2063

7. Whale Watching Aboard the America

Whale watching tours are available throughout San Diego, but one of the most luxurious tours would have to be aboard the beautiful schooner “America”, a replica of the 1851 famed yacht of the same name.

The 139-foot “America” is modeled after the low black schooner famous for winning the historic Royal Yacht Squadron's race around the Isle of Wight. The trophy was donated to the New York Yacht Club and became known thereafter as “the America's Cup”. The “America” is the largest sailing charter vessel on the U.S. Pacific coast and has the distinction of being selected as the ambassador for the America’s Cup Tour.

With enough room for 76 guests, the vessel is large enough to be one of the most stable and comfortable San Diego whale watching yachts while still offering patrons beautiful and individual views.

The ship also boasts a 99.8% whale sighting success rate, knowing how to take advantage of San Diego’s unique location on the gray whale migration route. Other marine life that may be seen on tour include blue, finback, minke, humpback, orca and pilot whales as well as dolphins, turtles, sharks and sea lions.

The Yacht America
1492 North Harbor Drive
San Diego, CA 92101
(800) 644-3454

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