11 Incredible Attractions and Experiences in San Diego

One of my significant bucket list items is to visit all of the worlds Disney parks. In truth, this encompasses Universal Studios and other similar theme parks. Having “only” visited Walt Disney World, Florida and Disneyland Paris up to now I have my work cut out for me.  I have, of course, looked into the Asian Disney’s and California – the original Disneyland.

For us, the main blocker on these trips is the expense. Right now, I couldn’t afford to visit Disney if it was located in my garden, let alone the other side of the world.  But just looking at California is so exciting! There is clearly so much more to see them just Anaheim. When I get the opportunity to fly all that way, I intend to see a lot of California: Hollywood, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego… The list goes on.

So if I won the lottery tomorrow, I think I’d start my Californian Adventure in San Diego.  My accommodation would be sorted (instead of my usual cheapest roof-over-my-head hotels) these luxury beach rentals in San Diego look absolutely stunning. Man, I can feel the sand between my feet already. Honestly check them out you will have serious wanderlust.  I’d only then have to worry about our flights – I’m not a great flyer, and no-one needs to be on the same plane as my son Beanie for that long. Myself included!

Since I wouldn’t have to worry about money, here is a list of things I would love to do in San Diego.

1. Old habits die hard! Even though money is no object, I start off with a couple of freebies! San Diego is known for its 30+ beaches and over 70 miles of coastline. Beaches are a holiday staple and usually, there are plenty of things to do locally if you get bored of sunbathing, paddling, building sandcastles and soaking up the beautiful scenery (unlikely!).

2. In an effort to convince myself that I’m fitter than I am, I would love to attempt the 5 Peaks Challenge at Mountain Trails Regional Park. This involves hiking five established trails up five mountains – North Fortuna Mountain, South Fortuna Mountain, Pyles Peak, Kwaay Paast, and Cowled Mountain. You do not have to complete them in one day of course, but they will still probably require a level of fitness which exceeds my own. Each hike ranges from 1.2 miles to 2.7 miles from bottom to top (but you must factor in the round trip), and the tallest mountain stands at 1499 feet. This would be a good way of seeing San Diego from different perspectives, probably ones that aren’t seen so often.

3. Scenic drives – I love driving (and being driven). Riding in a beautiful Red Camaro like we drove in Florida 2014, I would love to drive the historic scenic highways. Historic Route 101 is a 25-mile route along the coastline while Highway 94 (which was recently declared historic route) is 50 miles but runs through the backcountry winding up a tree-lined mountain. Get a road trip soundtrack on, and bliss!

4. American films from my adolescence always seem to have at least one scene in a funfair amusement park. Therefore I feel it would be remiss of me to not have at least one day out to take a trip to Belmont Park. With roller coasters, arcades, laser tag and mini golf, I can see a lovely relaxed afternoon of fun straight out of the movies. And maybe even a corn dog or two, yum!

5. Now, we start getting expensive. While this may be a controversial addition to my list, SeaWorld San Diego would still definitely feature. The rights and wrongs of SeaWorld would warrant a whole other blog post in itself, if not a whole series of them, so I don’t feel like this is the forum for that discussion.

While in Orlando 4 years ago I was lucky enough to take part in the Beluga Interaction Program. This was definitely one of the highlights of my trip and one that I would repeat it any opportunity. This is also available in San Diego along with a killer whales up close tour which I would love to take part in.

SeaWorld also has water parks called Aquatica. If San Diego’s version is a fraction as good as Orlando’s, then this would definitely be a whole day visit and one that is not wasted.

6. Particularly now we have Beanie, LEGOLAND California would definitely be worth a visit for us. After visiting LEGOLAND Windsor a few years ago, we have been hoping to take a return trip soon.  A trip to LEGOLAND California would also tick a bucket list box for me. With a waterpark and a SeaLife Aquarium there too, there’s plenty to keep all ages entertained.

7. No tourism-fest would be complete without a trip to the zoo. With San Diego Zoo being voted the number one zoo in the world recently on TripAdvisor, I would be very excited to visit here. Excitingly, they not only have a zoo but also a Safari Park. Guided tours are available at the safari park, and from my experience at Safari Parks in the past, these are generally worth the money, offering knowledge and viewpoints that you just wouldn’t get self-guided.

Photo courtesy of https://www.midway.org

8. The USS Midway, the longest-serving American aircraft carrier of the 20th century is now a highly rated museum. The museum boasts many family-orientated activities such as aircraft cockpits you can climb in, helicopters that you can walk through and flight simulators. While Beans is probably too young for most of these activities, my little vehicle nut would have an absolute blast here.

9. Balboa Park which local to downtown San Diego is ranked as one of the best parks in the whole world. With various gardens, a railroad and carousel, performing arts theatres and 17 museums we could probably holiday at Balboa Park alone. Notable mentions go to the Japanese Friendship Garden, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, The Natural History Museum and the Museum of Man.

10. A visit to an aquarium is always on the cards for us too. They are just perfect for a calm day out of the sun. Birch Aquarium at Scripps comes highly recommended. Showcasing research discoveries by Scripps Oceanography scientists this aquarium is more of a living museum than just a standard aquarium.

11. And just in case I haven’t had enough animals in my trip to San Deigo, the Living Coast Discovery Centre at San Diego Bay is a non-profit zoo and aquarium. In case you hadn’t realised from this list I am a massive fan of edutainment, and the Living Coast Discovery Centre certainly fits the bill. They also offer “Adventures” such as the Sweetwater safari which is a guided trail walk, with binoculars and ID sheets.

Of course, this list is by no means exhaustive. These are just things that I know I want to do before I get there. Now you can see why a trip to California would need serious planning when this is just San Diego. I haven’t even got to Disney and Universal yet!  One day, when I’m super rich (think positive) I’m going to do a US road trip, and just visit everywhere!

Would any of these attractions take your fancy? Have I missed anywhere that you’d like to go?  Let me know in the comments below.

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One thought on “11 Incredible Attractions and Experiences in San Diego

  1. These pictures are fabulous! Looks like you’ve got an amazing round up of places to visit. And, I have to admit. I love Sea World and am not sure how I feel about the controversy but my kids loooooove aquariums so that’s a fab option too.

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