This post contains everything about the best things to do in San Diego for adults.
San Diego offers a wide range of activities and attractions for adults to enjoy. Whether you’re interested in outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or nightlife, there’s something for everyone. Here’s a list of things to do in San Diego for adults:
Explore one of the world’s most famous zoos, home to a diverse collection of animals and beautiful botanical gardens. Zoo passes are relatively cheap and parking is completely free. The zoo is right next door to Balboa making this spot a two-for-one!
2. Go Wine Tasting in Temecula Valley
Take a day trip to the nearby Temecula Valley wine country to sample local wines and enjoy picturesque vineyard views. Many people associate wineries and vineyards with Central and Northern California, but San Diego has them just the same! Make a trip down to downtown Temecula during your visit and you won’t be disappointed.
3. Tour the USS Midway Museum
Explore the aircraft carrier USS Midway, which has been turned into a fascinating museum with exhibits and aircraft. This is one of my personal favorite spots in San Diego. I am a huge history buff. One of the best things about the USS Midway is that they have veterans who have actually served on the Midway
4. Visit the Gaslamp Quarter
Experience the nightlife, restaurants, bars, and entertainment in the historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego. If you’re interested in staying out late and dancing, Gaslamp has some of the best bars and clubs. Here are a few to get you started:
- Vin De Syrah
- Side Bar
- Altitude Sky Lounge
5. Enjoy Balboa Park
Stroll through the gardens, visit museums, and catch live performances in the beautiful Balboa Park. It wouldn’t be a trip if you didn’t make it to Balboa Park, so this one is a must. There are several other activities to do in Balboa Park such as:
- Japanese Friendship Garden
- Spreckles Organ Pavilion
- Botanical Gardens
6. Go Whale Watching
Take a whale-watching tour to see migrating gray whales or year-round sightings of dolphins and other marine life. You will almost ALWAYS see dolphins on one of these tours! If you’re lucky and go in the right season then you might just be able to catch a glimpse of a majestic whale.
Check out these companies for tickets:
7. Relax at the Beaches
San Diego boasts numerous beautiful beaches, including La Jolla Cove, Pacific Beach, and Coronado Beach, perfect for sunbathing and water activities. Don’t forget about the lesser-known spots such as Whispering Sands, Wind and Sea, and Torrey Pines State Park.
8. Explore Old Town San Diego State Historic Park
Discover the history of San Diego in this well-preserved area with historic buildings, shops, and restaurants. If you’re up for digging deep into the history, make a trip to the Whaley House and eat dinner at the Cosmopolitan Hotel. There are even late-night ghost tours offered if that’s your thing.
9. Take a Harbor Cruise
Enjoy a scenic harbor cruise to admire San Diego’s skyline and learn about its maritime history. While there are several scenic cruises offered, I recommend one that comes with dinner and drinks.
10. Visit Seaport Village
Explore this waterfront shopping and dining complex, offering unique boutiques and beautiful views. Grab a coffee and stroll along in Seaport Village. On weekends it isn’t uncommon to find an event such as cars and coffee.
11. Hike in Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve
Hike the trails in this reserve for stunning ocean views and unique coastal landscapes. Experience the rugged West Coast from the top of the reserve. It is a tough hike up, however, so be sure to bring good shoes!
12. Attend a Padres Game
Catch a baseball game at Petco Park and experience the excitement of a Major League Baseball game. Don’t worry the Padres are only getting better every year making the games more and more exciting. Don’t forget to grab some delicious food and beer also.
13. Go Surfing or Take Surf Lessons
San Diego is a surfer’s paradise, and you can try catching some waves or take lessons if you’re a beginner. If you’re just visiting, there are plenty of shops that offer rentals, so you don’t need to worry about purchasing one.
14. Explore Little Italy
Enjoy the vibrant atmosphere, authentic Italian cuisine, and art galleries in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. Some of the best cuisine in San Diego is right in Little Italy, so be sure to add this neighborhood to the itinerary. Don’t forget there’s also a farmers market on Saturdays and Wednesdays as well.
15. Take a Hot Air Balloon Ride
Soar above the picturesque landscapes of Temecula or Del Mar in a hot air balloon for a unique perspective. San Diego is one of the best places to do this! You get the views of mountains to the east, as well as ocean views to the west.
16. Visit the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Explore marine life exhibits and learn about oceanography at this educational facility. Check out the hidden Pinpoint Cafe nearby to the aquarium also!
Tee off at this renowned golf course with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. There are not many golf courses where you can have this type of view, so you should take advantage of the opportunity. Another fantastic golf course is going to have to be the Balboa Course as well.
18. Discover the San Diego Museum of Art
Appreciate a diverse collection of artworks from various time periods and cultures. There are actually several different art museums located in San Diego, and most of them are in Balboa Park of course.
19. Attend a Live Theater Performance
Enjoy a night of theater at venues like the Old Globe Theatre or the La Jolla Playhouse. There is even the Balboa Theater in downtown or the San Diego Civic Theater also. Whether you enjoy seeing musicals or live music, there are several wonderful venues to check out!
20. Go Sailing
Charter a sailboat or take a sailing tour to enjoy San Diego’s beautiful coastline from the water. If you don’t want to be too fancy, look into renting a Duffy boat. They are also super easy to operate if you are inexperienced in boating!
21. Explore the La Jolla Caves
Take a guided kayak tour to explore the sea caves and marine life along the La Jolla coast. If you don’t want to get in the water, then check out the Cave Store in La Jolla Cove.
22. Enjoy Craft Beer Tasting
Visit San Diego’s many craft breweries to sample a wide variety of locally brewed beers. San Diego is pretty much the pioneer city when it comes to craft beer, so beer tasting should be a top priority!
23. Take a Day Trip to Julian
Explore the charming mountain town of Julian, known for its apple pies and historic Main Street. I recommend going on a weekday if you can because weekends tend to draw large crowds that the town can’t handle.
24. Experience the USS Midway Flight Deck
Attend special events and dinners hosted on the flight deck of the USS Midway. One of my favorite events to attend in San Diego is the Candlelight Concerts because it’s absolutely phenomenal.
25. Relax at a Spa
Treat yourself to a spa day at one of San Diego’s luxurious resorts for ultimate relaxation. If you’re coming to San Diego for vacation, then you deserve to treat yourself to something relaxing!
26. Go Horseback Riding in the Backcountry / beach
Explore the scenic countryside on horseback through guided tours in San Diego’s backcountry. Take advantage of San Diego’s versatility by participating in an activity such as horseback riding.
27. Attend a Music or Food Festival
Check the local events calendar for music festivals, food festivals, and cultural celebrations. Because San Diego is such a foodie paradise there are always food and drink festivals offered throughout the year.
28. Take a Food Tour
Join a culinary tour to sample the diverse and delicious cuisine San Diego has to offer. Since San Diego is such a big city, there are so many options when it comes to what type of food is available.
29. Play Casino Games
Visit one of the local casinos like Viejas Casino & Resort or Sycuan Casino for gaming and entertainment. There is also Barona Casino in Ramona if you’re up for some gambling.
30. Go Skydiving
Experience the thrill of skydiving with stunning aerial views of San Diego’s coastline. GoJump Oceanside is one of the best places to skydive because of the scenic views, although that’s probably not what you will be focused on!
31. Attend a Comedy Show
There are plenty of big venues that host comedy around San Diego. These venues also have comedians ranging from Ashley Gavin to Jerry Seinfeld. If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego for adults, this is the perfect kid-free activity.
Here are some of the venues to look for comedy shows:
- American Comedy Club
- Mad House Comedy Club
- The Laugh Factory
This one might just be a bit cheesy, but when else would you have this opportunity? Going on a hot tub cruise through the San Diego bay is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so you should take advantage.
33. Ghost hunt in old town
San Diego like most of the West Coast is not the first city you’d put on your list to discover history. San Diego does, however, have its fair share of history. Much of this can be experienced in Old Town.
Experience haunted hot spots such as the Whaley House and the Cosmopolitan Hotel. This is one of my favorites on the list of things to do in San Diego for adults because I love trying new and outlandish things!
34. Hike Mission Regional Trails
Mission Regional Trails is located in a suburb of San Diego and offers gorgeous hiking trails. There are five peaks in the Mission Regional Trails, so you can pick any number of them to hike. There’s a challenge to hike all five in one day which is about 16 miles! Here are the five peaks:
- Cowels Mountain
- North Fortuna
- South Fortuna
- Pyles Peak
- Kwaay Paay
Each of these trails is quite challenging, so make sure you know what you’re getting into. Avoid going during the summer months and bring lots of water and proper equipment.
35. Bike Along Silver Strand
Everyone knows about Coronado when visiting, but the Silver Strand is often overlooked. Silver Strand is a 7-mile stretch that links Coronado to Imperial Beach. You can rent bikes in Coronado and ride the 7-miles to the estuary and come back.
36. Have Drinks on Coronado Beach
San Diego, like most cities, is very strict about drinking in public. You will get a ticket if a cop finds you with alcohol on a public beach. There are, however, beach bars in Coronado by the Hotel Del. You can grab a drink like a margarita and have a seat in the sand. It’s a perfect way to enjoy a beautiful San Diego sunset.
The Lafayette is a stunning historic hotel that was recently restored to its former glory. The new interior design is impeccable. The Lafayette has several bars, a bowling alley, a pool club, and a 24-hour diner. Don’t sleep on this spot because you will be very impressed if you visit.
Longplay feels like a super exclusive listening bar that not many people know about. I say that because I think not many people know about it. Japanese-inspired listening bars are popping up all over the city and I have to say this is one of the best ones. Here are some other Japanese-inspired listening bars to try:
- Part-Time Lover
- Convoy Music Bar
39. Night Out in Convoy
If you’ve never been to San Diego then you must visit Convoy. This is the part of the county where you can find some of the best Asian cuisine. Any cuisine you want you will be able to find in Convoy.
The streets are super busy and jam-packed with restaurant after restaurant and people on the weekends. Be sure to check which restaurant you want to try and whether or not they take reservations.
40. Find the hidden speakeasies
There are SO many speakeasies hidden throughout San Diego. While most of them are relatively easy to find, some are truly hidden and you might only find them by chance. Many of these speakeasies require a reservation in advance, so make sure to take that into account. Here are some of my favorites:
41. Do Brunch Like the Locals
San Diego is known for being a brunch city. On the weekend mornings, the streets are surging with people out and about ready to get their brunch fix! Try a place with bottomless mimosas and/or a killer bloody mary. Some of the best brunch spots include:
- Morning Glory
- Breakfast Republic
- Great Maple
42. Paraglide in Torrey Pines
Enjoy a beautiful, scenic paragliding experience off the cliffs at Torrey Pines. You literally go right off the cliffside! This spot is one you should add to your list if you’re somewhat of an adrenaline junkie. There aren’t many places where you get to paraglide with incredible ocean views.
43. Play Games at coin-op
Coin-Op is one of the few barcades in San Diego. There are two locations, one in Downtown near the Gaslamp Quarter and one in North Park. Both locations are in close proximity to other bars and restaurants. There’s also no need to worry about bringing cash or quarters because they have an ATM and quarter machine available in each spot.
Going out and barhopping is definitely one of our top recommendations for things to do in San Diego for adults.
44. Attend a free yoga class
If there’s one thing that San Diegans love, it’s exercise. Because the weather is so nice all year round people are constantly outdoors doing activities. There are several free yoga classes offered in various parks and beaches throughout the county.
45. Visit the Maritime museum
The Maritime Museum is one of my favorite spots along the Embarcadero. They host a unique and large collection of various ships. One of their ships was even a prop for Pirates of the Caribbean. Something else they offer is sailing lessons!
If you’ve never been on a submarine before, then the Maritime Museum is your perfect opportunity to do so.
There is an abundance of activities and things to do in San Diego for adults, ensuring an enjoyable and memorable visit to this vibrant city. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, culture, or nightlife, there’s no shortage of things to do in San Diego for adults, that cater to your interests.
For more comprehensive San Diego guides check out the following posts!