Balboa Park (And Six Other Must-Visit San Diego Sights)

Balboa Park (And Six Other Must-Visit San Diego Sights)

San Diego offers so many attractions that it might be challenging for anyone to choose between them. Luckily, we’ve compiled a list of the sights you absolutely shouldn’t miss.

With the exciting place that San Diego takes in Californian history and the natural beauties of the region, it’s a given there’s plenty to see in the city area. It doesn’t matter whether you’re interested in some amazing sights or want to see the impressive USS Midway and go back in history – you can find it all in San Diego. 

Nature, culture, architecture, cuisine, and more await among the city’s streets. And out of all of the things to see in San Diego, here are seven that’s not to be missed in the colorful, easy-going city.

Balboa Park

San Diego Balboa Park

Balboa Park is an expansive city location that features historical buildings, museums, and an abundance of greenery. Built over a century ago for the purposes of the Panama-California Exhibition event, the park kept the authentic buildings that bear the mark of the mid-1910s. The structures that got retained from the exhibition are low-rise and built in the Spanish style.

The many fascinating museums in Balboa Park cover subjects like art, natural history, and human development. Besides seeing those exhibits, you can also marvel at the natural world represented in the botanical garden, lily pond, and, of course, the renowned zoo. 

The best thing about Balboa Park is that you’ll have a great time even if you choose not to enter a single building.


San Diego Embarcadero

You won’t find a better view of the San Diego harbor than what you get as you walk down the Embarcadero. The walkway follows the water, offering an amazing view of Coronado Island across the bay as well as other attractions.

While you’re enjoying the walk in the gorgeous surroundings, you’ll also notice the shops and eateries peppered along the Embarcadero. There are also other events held here that will likely grab your attention the most, regardless of the season. 

In the summer months, you can go to the Waterfront Park and relish the fun. During the evening, you could catch the city’s symphony orchestra during Bayside Summer Nights. On the other hand, November is the time for those looking for great tastes, as the Embarcadero houses the Wine & Food Festival.

San Diego Zoo

San Diego San Diego Zoo

Returning to Balboa Park, you may not want to miss out on visiting the highly-rated San Diego Zoo. But don’t expect to spend less than a full day here as the zoo counts among the largest in the U.S. and welcomes thousands of visitors – kids and adults alike. 

That’s why if you’re looking for things to see in San Diego, you can’t go wrong with the zoo.

Undoubtedly, the giant pandas are among the most popular attractions, but there are many other exotic species housed in enclosures that recreate their natural habitats. Besides the koalas, bonobos, rhinos, and other animals, the zoo has a large collection of plants from the whole world. Unsurprising, really, as the botanical section itself is located along a breathtaking canyon.

Torrey Pines Natural Reserve

San Diego Torrey Pines Natural Reserve

This natural reserve is very close to San Diego yet represents a perfect natural escape. The area’s beautiful and ready to be explored through the hiking trails where you can see the eponymous Torrey Pines, the rare tree species that decorate the landscape. 

Starting from the mesa, you can come down to the shore where the sea meets the fascinating cliffs. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a haven of the protected biosphere as well as untouched natural landscapes that will make you forget the close proximity of the city.

Finally, you can visit the historic lodge that’s built almost a century ago. The authentic structure perfectly fits the surrounding nature and contributes to further immersion in a quieter, gorgeous world of the reserve.

USS Midway Museum

San Diego USS Midway Museum

If you wish to travel back to the more tumultuous period of human history, visiting the USS Midway presents a perfect opportunity to do just that. This aircraft carrier served the U.S. Navy from 1945 to 1992. It’s the namesake and the only surviving member of its class, as well as the longest-serving carrier in the world. 

The giant ship was active in the Vietnam War, then participated in the Desert Storm operation before finally becoming a museum. 

There are tens of aircraft in the exhibition, including jet planes, helicopters, and propeller planes. You can also explore the crew quarters, ready rooms, and various parts of the vessel. Additionally, there are simulators and cockpits you can enter and documentary films to see aboard the USS Midway.

Gaslamp Quarter

San Diego Gaslamp Quarter

The epicenter of San Diego’s nightlife, the Gaslamp Quarter consists of a vast number of restored Victorian buildings. There are shops, restaurants, galleries, and various other venues that will make the evening go by too quickly.

It’s easy to traverse the district on foot. But if you don’t feel like walking, there are bike taxis that can take you around the Gaslamp Quarter’s 16 blocks. When it comes to shows, there’s not much lacking in this area – you can enjoy hilarious comedy routines, amazing theater shows, or feel the bliss of live jazz music.

Those looking for high-end hotels and fine dining will find everything they’re looking for in this central city location.

Heritage Park

San Diego Heritage Park

While not as well-known as some other San Diego attractions, Heritage County Park is a must-see for everyone who appreciates Victorian architecture. Among the things to see in San Diego, this park represents an experience on its own. The houses there represent excellently-preserved examples of historical buildings, with the youngest house dating back to 1896.

That youngest building is the Senlis Cottage, done in the vernacular style. If you want to see the classic American Stick style, there’s the Sherman-Gilbert and McConaughy house that was built in 1887. Meanwhile, the Bushyhead house represents the Italianate style, while the Christian house is a great example of the Queen Anne variety. 

Temple Beth Israel is another outstanding feature. The classic revival synagogue, the first in San Diego, houses two playable organs.

All of the buildings in Heritage Park are museums showcasing late 19th century exhibits. Although it spans eight acres, Heritage Park isn’t as expansive as some other reserves. However, it offers a unique view into the architectural history in natural surroundings.

Explore the Amazing Landscapes of San Diego

There are many exciting sights in San Diego to satisfy every craving. If you’re looking for cultural, historical, or natural sites, the city won’t disappoint and will leave you wanting more. 

You’ll be eager to come back once you start exploring San Diego.

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Balboa Park (And Six Other Must-Visit San Diego Sights)