5 Fun Activities in San Diego Everyone Will Love
From beaches and botanical gardens to the zoo and more, San Diego offers fun activites for everyone looking to experience true coastal living.
Do you dream of lying on sandy beaches, while your significant other considers exploring a historic city with a rich cultural background their ideal vacation? Or do you find it hard to plan activities for little ones while keeping it interesting for the adults on the trip? Sometimes it can be hard to compromise when it comes to vacations. Luckily, you can plan an enjoyable holiday away in San Diego! Indulge nature-lovers, history buffs, explorers, kids and kids-at-heart alike in this coastal city with fun activities everyone will love.
Botanical Gardens and Much More at Balboa Park
Balboa Park, a favorite destination amongst residents and tourists alike, is a true San Diego treasure. Often touted as a must-see for visitors, the park is teeming with natural wonders, brilliant performers, and fascinating exhibitions. This park is one of those rare places that has something that everyone will enjoy.
The state of California plays host to an incredibly wide and diverse set of botanical species. In Balboa Park alone, there are 19 different gardens representing some of the most captivating collections of plants and wildlife any outdoor enthusiast will enjoy. The California Native Plant Garden and the Botanical Building are two attractions of note, although a walk through any of these scenic plots is sure to please any visitor.
Another wonderful feature of Balboa Park is the performance artists. Each act must gain a permit to perform via a lottery drawn at the beginning of each month. The permits are limited and distributed this way to ensure fresh and exciting entertainment for patrons. Performers can include musicians, magicians, improv groups, ballonists, palm readers, clowns, portrait artists, and character impersonators. Each act is given a specific area to perform in that has been spaced throughout the park, giving visitors the chance to discover new entertainment around every corner!
The 1910 Balboa Park Carousel is not only a fun ride, but also an impressive relic. The carousel lies next door to the San Diego Zoo and features a collection of hand carved animals, hand painted murals encircling the higher level of the carousel, and musical military marches that play during the five minute ride. All of these attributes are original, save for two pairs of the hand carved animals. And if that weren't enough, this delightful carousel even offers the brass ring game for riders to participate in. This is a treat so rare only a handful of carousels offering this game are in existence today.
If it's recreation you're looking for, Balboa Park has several options to choose from. For golfers, the Balboa Park Golf Course is a city course featuring scenic greens and picturesque sights of downtown San Diego. Enjoy a full 18 holes or get in an executive 9 hole game, utilize the driving range and practice greens to better your long and short games, or relax in the coffee shop and halfway house.
If a game of tennis is more your speed, the Balboa Tennis Club offers a plethora of amenities for members and visitors alike. Regardless of your level of playing, relish in using the ongoing challenge court to find a match. The club also has a stadium court, 24 hard courts, pro shop, private lessons and clinics, and a cafe. Memberships as well as daily permits are offered.
Other recreational offerings of Balboa Park include a multi-purpose gym, hiking and biking trails, lawn bowling, a field sports complex, and dance clubs. And with three dog parks to choose from, the family pet can come along too. You can even rent sport, cruiser, or surrey bikes to explore all of the sights that the park has to offer.
If museums are more your speed, Balboa Park has an incredibly wide variety to choose from. Art, automotive, science, sports, history, and cultural museums feature captivating exhibitions and special events sure to quell your thirst for knowledge and culture. The San Diego Museum of Art is the area's oldest art museum boasting ever-growing collections that feature a superior curation of multi-century American, contemporary, and Latin American art, as well as European old masters. The museum also supports local educational and cultural programs and hosts significant art exhibitions touring from all over the world.
And of course, what would any attraction be without food? Take your pick from formal sit down restaurants, cafes, pubs, and snack carts. One spot of note is the Tea Pavillion located in the Japanese Friendship Garden. Here you'll find customary Japanese teas, including green, herbal, and specialty varieties on the menu. You can also sample their traditional fare of rice bowls, noodles, sushi, and more.
Just a handful of minutes from downtown, the address of Balboa Park is 1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101. Enjoy free admission to the Balboa Park grounds, open 24 hours a day. The Botanical Building and outdoor gardens are also free. While access to some attractions require a fee, a select number of sites are complimentary. Fees for attractions differ. More information including hours of operation for each of your interests can be found on the Balboa Park website, www.balboapark.org. You may also call (619) 239-0512 to reach the Balboa Park Visitors Center.
San Diego Zoo
According to Trip Advisor, the San Diego Zoo is the number one zoo in the world for 2015. What makes this Southern California attraction so great? Plenty, as it turns out. Founded in October of 1916, the San Diego Zoo currently has the most members of any zoological membership organization totaling roughly half a million members. This zoo is a not-for-profit association and has pledged in their mission statement to save endangered species worldwide. It lies on a 100 acre plot and houses over 3,500 species. Botanical reserves totaling more than 700,000 nonnative plants also call the San Diego Zoo home.
The San Diego Zoo offers what they call Experiences. Special Experiences, like backstage passes allowing you to meet their animal ambassadors, spending two hours with the pandas before the zoo opens, and Inside Tours that get you behind the scenes VIP treatment are just some of the premium offerings you can add to your day to make it extra memorable.
A few other fun activities for you and your family to partake in at this world-class zoo is taking a ride on the Skyfari to view the amazing landscape from a bird's eye view. There are also quite a few animal encounters that can get you up close and personal with some of the world's most amazing species. At the Elephant Odyssey, you can visit the elephant care center, allowing you to see keepers in husbandry training and their hands-on care with individual elephants. If the elephants are at another location, you may be asked in to get a closer look at the facilities and listen to stories from the elephant keepers themselves.
If you visit the zoo on a Saturday or Sunday, you can participate in a giraffe feeding in the Urban Jungle. Additional tickets are required for the feeding and they are in limited numbers. Your ticket comes with three biscuits and grants you access to feed the giraffes for $10. This is a wonderful experience for both adults and children.
At the Discovery Outpost location, especially good for little ones, you can visit the Petting Paddock to pet sheep and goats, or take a self-guided tour of the zoo gardens. Additionally, you can enjoy a break at the Discovery Playground at the Discovery Outpost, the Koala Klimber in the Australian Outback, the Elephant Play Yard in the Elephant Odyssey, and the Polar Play area in the Northern Fronteir areas.
Because the zoo is so big, it can be difficult to squeeze everything into one trip. One tip is to take the guided bus tour and make a list of the animal exhibits you'd like to see up close. This is especially helpful for families travelling with small children and can make the day more enjoyable for everyone.
The San Diego Zoo is just north of downtown, right next to Balboa Park and north of downtown. The address is: 2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA 92101 where you can enjoy free parking. You may call (619) 231-1515 for general details. Please be aware that most Experiences incur additional fees separate from the cost of admission. The San Diego Zoo is open 365 days a year, counting all holidays. For more information, please visit: www.sandiegozoo.org.
Ocean Beach Pier
There are many wonderful things in this world and the Ocean Beach Pier is certainly one of them. Ocean Beach is burrowed between the Point Loma hills and the San Diego River. Everyone from sunbathers and surfers to locals and visitors alike easily fall in love with Ocean Beach and its vintage, laid back Southern Californian style. And the pier is a well-known and loved beacon of that vibe.
A must-see in San Diego is the Ocean Beach Pier. Jutting out roughly half a mile into the sea, it's the longest boardwalk on the West Coast. This makes for a naturally good fishing spot. Another one of the wonderful things about the Ocean Beach Pier is there's no fishing license requirement. There are no fees or costs either. You're still accountable for knowing the fishing limits, like catch and size, but typically you can find help either from other fishermen or at the tackle shop located about midway along the pier. There are also fish cleaning stations located intermittedly along the boardwalk.
The pier is open 24 hours a day with a free dedicated parking lot on Newport Avenue in Ocean Beach. Nighttime fishing is allowed and there are lights on the boardwalk. Other amenities include a concession stand, restrooms, and benches.
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography is home to the Birch Aquarium, a staple in the San Diego community. Located in La Jolla, the aquarium is a true treat for visitors. More than 60 tanks hold dazzling exhibits of vibrant multicolored marine creatures, daring sharks, living coral reefs, and wonderous jellyfish. An interactive museum and three outdoor tide pools that house multiple ecosystems affords visitors a plethora of hands-on learning opportunities.
Other offerings of Birch Aquarium at Scripps include year-round field expeditions like whale watching and grunion runs, a seahorse exhibition, and a live kelp forest in a 70,000 gallon tank. Daily feeding presentations is also a note of interest.
The location of the aquarium is 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92093. Parking is free for three hours. You may also call (858) 534-FISH or visit www.aquarium.ucsd.edu for more information.
Legos have played a big part in many people's childhoods. Whether you have kids of your own or you just want to cater to the kid in you, LegoLand offers up the perfect opportunity to indulge in pure fun. Keep the whole family happy with an unforgettable trip to a land inspired by blocks.
Located in Carlsbad, LegoLand features more than 60 attractions including rides and shows, more than 22,000 models, and a Star Wars-themed mini land. You can choose your own ship at Pirate Reef and shoot water canons. LegoLand's water park features a myriad of slides to travel down and boasts a lazy river. Newly remodeled, LegoLand has also expanded the Sea Life Carlsbad Aquarium to include interactive finding zones as well as aquatic life, like sharks and stingrays.
LegoLand's address is: One LEGOLAND Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008. For more information, please visit their website at www.california.legoland.com. You may also call (760) 918-5346.
Whatever your vacation dynamic may be, whether it's family oriented, a romantic getaway, or a solo trip, these five hotspots are sure to keep you entertained for the duration. With its vibrant and dynamic history, ever-changing attractions, and friendly residents, San Diego has tons to offer the first time visitor, seasoned tourist, and even the settled in local.
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