San Diego California has an abundance of amazing things to do and places to go. The Pacific Ocean spans the entire coast of California, and San Diego offers 17 miles of unsurpassed coastal beauty and scenic views. Whether you are visiting, moving to, or going to college in San Diego, exploring a new big city is always exciting and fun. After all, there are plenty of fun things to do in San Diego in 2023 – and beyond.
There is so much in San Diego to do, although it can be confusing how to choose what to do and when to do it. Below see the top 10 fun things to do in San Diego in 2023 plus more ideas to look into and learn about. There is no doubt you will have an amazing time with your partner, family and friends in San Diego in 2023.
10 Fun Things to Do in San Diego in 2023
San Diego is known for having some of the best weather in the country. Average temperatures in San Diego hover around 72° F, never getting much above 84° F or below 44° F. With balmy weather like this and so many days of sun, much of San Diego living is enjoyed outdoors.
So grab some sunscreen, and let’s hit the sights!
1. The San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is a 100-acre wildlife park and home to over 12,000 animals. Located just north of downtown in Balboa Park, the Zoo is also an accredited botanical garden. A great day trip for those who live in San Diego or a fun stop for those on vacation, The San Diego Zoo is regarded as one of the top zoos in the USA.
With over 2,500 animals of all species, you can see elephants, giraffes, gorillas and so much more. There’s a fantastic children’s interactive area as well. The zoo is a must for anyone enjoying fun things to do in San Diego.
2. USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum
San Diego is known around the world as “Navy Town, USA”, and the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum brings this moniker to life. Commissioned in 1945 and active until 1994, the USS Midway is a 64,000-ton aircraft carrier that has been turned into a museum. There are exhibits in every part of the ship showing all the jobs sailors would do to make it seaworthy, safe and ready for action. It’s a fantastic time for history buffs and those who want to learn more about the history of the United States Navy. The USS Midway is a must for those visiting San Diego.
Located on the waterfront in downtown San Diego Bay, the USS Midway was America’s longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century. Visitors can explore a giant “floating city” as the Navy called it. The enormous flight deck and its 29 restored jet fighters, helicopters and planes are included. Visiting the Midway Museum is high on the list of most fun things to do in San Diego.
3. Balboa Park
The best place for the arts in San Diego, Balboa park is full of museums, art galleries, beautiful architecture and so much more. Going to San Diego without visiting Balboa Park would be like visiting New York City without visiting Central Park. The immense Balboa Park is a large part of the history in San Diego, dating back to the in 1915. The Park offers art, architecture, crafts, and entertainment with many gardens and areas to visit and enjoy.
Maybe you want to take the family to a museum. Or are looking to relax and look at some art at San Diego Museum of Art, the Mingei International Museum, or the Japanese Friendship Garden. Perhaps you want to take your dog on a walk or to the doggie playground. Balboa Park has everything for art lovers, history buffs, naturalists and more. (The San Diego Zoo is located here too.)
4. La Jolla Cove
Personally, my favorite beach spot in all of San Diego is La Jolla Cove, which is a wildlife sanctuary. Here the sealife has become more comfortable with people, so it is an incredible diving and snorkeling spot. All but one of its seven major caves are only reachable from the water. These caves date back some 75 million years to the Cretaceous Period.
You can see sea lions, sea bass, leopard sharks (not dangerous) and sea turtles. Plus there are scores of bright orange Garibaldi, the California state fish. The tidepools here are also fantastic. A great place to take a date or a friend, La Jolla Cove is an ideal swimming and snorkeling spot for anyone over 12.
5. Birch Aquarium
A great option in case of bad weather instead of the outdoor San Diego Zoo, the Birch Aquarium is full of sealife. Ocean-loving adults and kids will have a great time seeing the colorful exhibitions here. With animals like blue penguins, sea turtles, tropical fish, anemones, urchins, starfish and so much. Twenty minutes north of downtown San Diego, you will find Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography on the cliffs of La Jolla adjacent to UC San Diego. Birch Aquarium’s wonderful exhibits explore the latest in oceanographic discoveries, while also hosting a variety of amazing creatures.
In the Hall of Fishes, guests come face to face with a Giant Pacific Octopus, rescued Loggerhead Sea Turtle, Moon Jelly Fish and sharks of many sizes and shapes. Out on Tide Pool Plaza, you will take in scenic ocean views while viewing the local tide pool animals. Here visitors are allowed to touch some of the sea life with supervised assistance. They also have Seadragons & Seahorses in one of the largest exhibits in the world.
6. Coronado Island
A beautiful island right across the bridge from downtown San Diego, Coronado Island is a favorite of tourists and locals alike. With historic architecture and some of the best restaurants San Diego has to offer, exploring this little island is a fantastic day trip idea for the whole family. You should take time to visit the Coronado beaches, take a bike tour, paddleboard on the bay, or play a round of golf.
On Coronado Island you will experience pristine beaches, crystal waters and friendly and walkable beach town vibe. It’s here that the historic Hotel Del Coronado has been popular for celebrities and guests since 1888. For those with an affinity for the beach, the ocean, fine food and eclectic shops this is one of the most fun things to do in San Diego.
7. Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial
Perched on a beautiful mountaintop, any army veteran or history fan will love paying their respects at this memorial for our fallen veterans. You can read many of their stories and learn about these men and women, as well as the incredible past of our country’s military. If you or a loved one are a veteran or currently serving, Mt. Soledad National Veterans Memorial is a great place to stop by for an hour or two.
Views from the top of Mt. Soledad go on for miles on a clear day, unobstructed by anything. Visitors can take in 360-degree views that stretch down to Mexico and north to Oceanside and beyond.
8. San Diego County Fair
Running from June 7th – July 4th of 2023, the San Diego County Fair is a tradition for many families that live in the greater San Diego Area. With rides, games, and the craziest food you have ever seen, this fair is a blast. Arts and photography exhibitions, floral and garden design, gems and minerals and other interesting collections are all on display. This is one of the most fun things to do in San Diego, and you can easily spend a whole day here without getting bored.
With ranch animal exhibits, crazy rides, fried anything-on-a-stick food choices, live music and entertainment, it will be a summer day in San Diego to remember. (Make sure you bring sunscreen and stay hydrated!)
9. Torrey Pines Gliderport
Torrey Pines Gliderport is a fantastic time for thrill seekers and those looking to get out of their comfort zone. The Gliderport offers paragliding and hangliding experiences where experience riders can go solo and others can ride tandem with a guide. Gliding the beaches and cliffs of Torrey Pines State Park provides astounding views of what makes San Diego so special.
If you or your friends and family are up to it, this is one of the most fun things to do in San Diego. Just make sure you do it right, with proper gear and a licensed professional present. Special bonus: San Diego’s famous Blacks Beach is just below the Gliderport. After your breezy experience, head down to the sand for a little sun, surf and relaxation.
10. See A World-Class Stage Production
The San Diego Civic Center has a large selection of musical theater that comes touring straight from Broadway companies. The Old Globe and La Jolla Playhouse also produce revivals and original musicals at a Broadway level. Many of these start in San Diego and go onto New York City’s Broadway. Musicals such as Jersey Boys, Memphis, Bonnie & Clyde and so many more have come from playhouses in San Diego.
The San Diego Civic Center has musicals such as Frozen, Mean Girls, 1776, and Beetlejuice coming in 2023. The La Jolla Playhouse has shows such as The Outsiders coming in 2023, and The Old Globe has Crime and Punishment, Twelfth Night, and more coming in 2023. This gives you a plethora of options to go see a musical or play in San Diego in 2023. I strongly recommend that if you love musicals and plays, or have never even seen one, to go see a show in San Diego in 2023. With world-class stage productions here, you will be seeing the finest of performances.
More Fun Things to Do in San Diego
If those top 10 fun things to do in San Diego in 2023 is not enough, here are some additional ideas:
- Petco Park for a San Diego Padres baseball games and other fun events.
- Ocean Beach for San Diego’s most famous pier, local surfing fun and bohemian vibe.
- Belmont Park in Mission Beach for roller coaster rides and other amusements.
- Mission Bay for water sports.
- Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach for biking, skating, frisbee games and people watching.
- Old Town San Diego for historic Mexican culture, delicious food and a real haunted house.
- Historic Gaslamp Quarter for restaurants, bars and nightclub hopping.
- Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve for hiking, beaches and dolphin sightings.
- Seaworld San Diego for rides and animal exhibits.
- Maritime Museum of San Diego for historic boats on the Bay.
- Fleet Science Center for interactive exhibits, planetarium and IMAX theater.
- Cabrillo National Monument and Old Point Loma Lighthouse.
And for even more ideas, visit the San Diego Tourism Authority website. They offer tons of great information and fun things to do in San Diego.