10 Interesting And Beautiful Places To Visit In San Diego, CA

As I sit here weathering winter in New York, I try to warm myself up by reminiscing about the month I recently spent in San Diego.

Stunning beaches, delectable bites, beautiful people, and an all around fun town, San Diego is in many ways a utopia. 

Who wouldn’t want sunny skies and warm temperatures virtually all year-round? It’s a good thing the weather is nice all year because there are a lot of things to see and do.

Set in sunny southern California, I was amazed by how many incredible natural landscapes there are to explore here. This city is also home to probably one of the best food scenes in the country. I still dream of the fish tacos and breakfast burritos I gorged myself with there.

Overall, San Diego is a great place to be as a young adult with buzzing nightlife all around, but there’s also plenty to do for families here with amazing parks, museums, and constant events happening.

Enough hyping it up already, here are some beautiful and interesting places to visit in San Diego, California.

Balboa Park

A sprawling oasis adjacent to downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is home to a number of the city’s top attractions, including 17 museums and numerous beautiful gardens and stunning architecture to explore.

If you’re feeling like a relaxing, zen day in the sun, head to the Japanese Friendship Garden or the Botanical Building and its lily pond.

If you’re looking for museums, the San Diego Museum of Natural History and the San Diego Air and Space museum are just two incredible choices.

Looking for a personal recommendation? One of my favorite sections was the colorful Spanish Village, where you can grab a cappuccino and peruse the local artist workshops.

Regardless of what you decide to do though, Balboa Park is one of the essential places to visit in San Diego for any visitor.

Balboa Park

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Torrey Pines National Reserve

Named after the rare pine species that resides throughout the reserve, Torrey Pines National Reserve is another one of the most beautiful places to visit in San Diego.

An oceanfront comprising 1,750 acres of undisturbed natural beauty, it’s a haven for those who enjoy hiking, swimming, and other sorts of outdoor recreation. 

The Torrey Pine is one of the rarest native plants in the United States, which adds to the incredibly unique beauty this reserve offers.

Additionally, the views from the extensive trail network of the oceanfront below meeting the fascinating sandy cliffs are some of the best California has to offer.

Torrey Pines is absolutely one of the most beautiful places to visit in San Diego, so be sure to put it on your list!

Torrey Pines

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

La Jolla

Pronounced ‘La Hoya,’ La Jolla is a beautiful, bougie neighborhood in northern San Diego right on the beach.

La Jolla Cove is the main attraction here, with crystal clear water crashing into the pristine sand. It’s a wonderful place to enjoy the coastal beauty California has to offer as well as the wildlife, particularly the seals that are always there to greet you. 

Along with the natural beauty, La Jolla has incredible shopping and some amazing restaurants.

While you can easily find some lovely fine dining, I recommend hitting up one of the local taco stands for some world-class fish tacos or breakfast burritos!

La Jolla is an idyllic neighborhood with a lot of history, some amazing homes, and lots to do, and a visit here is one of THE quintessential places to go while visiting San Diego.

La Jolla

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

USS Midway Museum

One of San Diego’s most popular attractions is the USS Midway Museum. I know, some of you may have just rolled your eyes at the thought of going to a military museum in San Diego. However, it’s one of the most popular attractions for a reason.

The museum is on an actual aircraft carrier and If you’ve never been on an actual aircraft carrier, it’s extremely impressive. It’s so large that it’s often referred to as a ‘floating city at sea.’

The nature of this museum makes it extremely immersive, with tours given by soldiers who actually served on the ship itself, movies about life on deck, and flight simulators. You can even climb in and out of vintage restored aircrafts.

Certainly something that everyone would enjoy, a visit to the USS Midway Museum is an awesome family experience where you can put yourself in the shoes of one of the 4,500 soldiers who served on the massive ship at once.

USS Midway

Photo by Jeremy Huang on Unsplash

Sunset Cliffs Natural Park

Along Point Loma peninsula’s coastal shoreline, is a 68-acre majesty known as Sunset Cliffs Natural Park.

Just as the name suggests, this is one of the best places to catch a sunset in California.

While many visitors are content sitting atop the cliffs taking in the view, there are many ways to enjoy this park. For instance, visitors can hike, explore tide pools, and do some great wildlife viewing such as bird watching or try to spot a whale out in the water.

As one of the most beautiful places in San Diego, Sunset Cliffs certainly deserves to be on your list of places to visit in San Diego.

sunset cliffs

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Cabrillo National Monument

Further down Point Loma peninsula to its most southern tip, you’ll find another awesome San Diego attraction – the Cabrillo National Monument.

The monument boasts gorgeous views of the ocean, where you can see all the way to Tijuana, Mexico.

There are several points of interest here, including tide pools, bunkers, and the Old Point Loma Lighthouse. You can spend the day here, never get bored, and find it’s one of the perfect places to visit in San Diego for an incredible California sunset.


Photo by April Vasquez on UnSplash

Potato Chip Rock

For all you hikers reading this post, here’s one for you.

You might not have heard of Potato Chip Rock, but amongst the locals, it’s a very popular hike and viewpoint.

You can make this hike a couple different lengths, depending on your ambition.

The way with the best views starts in Poway and is also the longest route at approximately 7.5 miles out and back. However, you can get closer by parking along rt. 67 near Fry-Koegel trailhead.

As you traverse up Mt. Woodson, you’ll notice what looks like a giant potato chip jutting out from the mountain peak. That’s Potato Chip Rock, obviously and once you arrive you’ll no doubt see people taking fun photos and enjoying the incredible view.

This beautiful hike is well worth it, but be sure to plan your trip for off-peak times whenever possible, as it can get busy here!

potato rock

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

This one is a little more of a trek out of town, but makes for an awesome day trip from San Diego in my opinion.

Get an early start on the day and head out to Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It’s a sprawling, and I mean sprawling, desert park with miles upon miles of trails, historical sites, towns, and even Palm groves!

Some of the main attractions are hiking, off-roading, and stargazing. Our favorite hike was to the aforementioned Palm Groves, which felt like walking into a mirage.

It’s best to head here with at least a 4WD vehicle, especially to be able to check out Font’s Point. The point looks out over a sweeping badlands that is truly stunning to witness. The park is also famous for its super dark skies at night and Galleta Meadow Sculptures, which are random steel sculptures that dot the landscape.

Of course, being a desert, be careful about when you visit. If you have to visit in the summer, go early or late, as temperatures can get out of hand.

While it’s about 1.5-2 hours to get to certain Anza-Borrego attractions from San Diego, it’s well worth it as one of the most stunning places to visit near San Diego.

Anza Borrego

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial

Overlooking La Jolla, Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial was built in 1954 to honor those who served this country from the Revolutionary war to present day.

It’s an incredibly beautiful site with walls holding granite plaques etched with the names of past soldiers and their accomplishments.

Visitors come to this memorial to check out the memorial itself, but also the stunning surrounding views.

Perched at the top of Mt. Soledad, you have amazing views of the Pacific Ocean to the west, the mountains to the west, and the La Jolla neighborhoods below. This memorial is definitely worth the visit when in San Diego, so be sure to add it to your list of places to visit!

Mt Soledad

Photo by Daniel Hayes (IG: indecisive_travels)

Old Town

Widely referred to as the “birthplace of California,” Old Town takes you back in time, and more than earns its status as one of the essential places to visit in San Diego.

Here you’ll find preserved and restored buildings and streets from the first days of European settlement in California. There are museums, shops, restaurants, parks and gardens, and often events held here.

One fascinating place to visit is the Casa de Estudillo, built in 1820 and one of the oldest surviving Mexican-Spanish-style structures of its type in the state. 

Old Town

Photo by Kara Peak on UnSplash

Did we miss any of your favorite places in San Diego, California?

Let us know in the comments if there are anymore places in San Diego, California you’d like to see on our list!

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