There is so much to see and do in San Diego County, sometimes hiring a professional is the best way to get a taste of San Diego from a local's point of view. And, San Diego has so many different types of tour companies, there's sure to be one to meet your needs. Not only will they take care of everything from equipment to transportation, but depending upon the tour, you'll be accompanied by a trained instructor, certified naturalist or local San Diegan with an in-depth knowledge of the city.
With all that San Diego has to offer, it can be hard to pick what to do during a vacation. Whether visiting for a day or a whole week, a hop-on hop-off tour is a great way to explore some of the most popular spots. For over 25 years, Old Town Trolley Tours takes visitors through areas including Old Town, Gaslamp Quarter, Embarcadero, Balboa Park, Coronado and more. Stay on the trolley for the full two-hour tour to hear tons of fun and interesting facts about San Diego or get off at any one of the 11 stops and strike out on your own. When ready to head to the next location, just return to the stop and a trolley will swing by and pick you up.
With a glimpse of water at every turn, a visit to San Diego wouldn't be complete without a guided tour by means of the Pacific Ocean to take advantage of the breathtaking views. Excursions can happen via yacht, sail boat, former Navy SEAL RIB boat, catamaran, jet ski, kayak, snorkel, kayak/bike combo, and even on a stand-up paddle board. San Diego Harbor cruises combined with dinner or Sunday brunch are also a popular choice. Outings usually last between 1 and 3 hours and include all necessary equipment, as well as well-trained and knowledgeable guides. One activity locals and visitors truly enjoy is whale watching. If you're interested in a closer look at these majestic creatures, a host of sightseeing and tour companies in San Diego offer a variety of whale watching excursions.
Combine your sightseeing with a bit of exercise by taking a bike tour of San Diego. Choose from road bike rides through La Jolla, Mission Bay, Coronado and downtown San Diego or off-road mountain bike rides in San Diego's North County. The popular La Jolla "Plunge" or "Freefall" trip starts at the top of Mt. Soledad with the downhill ride into La Jolla and the surrounding coastline. Other options include electric bikes for those who want to take it a little easier and a bike/kayak combination for the more active-minded.
Zipping around a Segway through San Diego is definitely a fun way to experience the destination. San Diego companies offer a variety of tours including the Downtown Embarcadero, Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Coronado and La Jolla. You can learn to ride the Segway in just minutes and operators can accommodate groups, couples and families with teens.
To get an overview of a larger area, enjoy a fully narrated tour of San Diego, Coronado or Tijuana, Mexico, trolley or bus tours are a great option. The professional guides are well-versed in San Diego history and lore, and make the tours fun and entertaining. Some of these excursions also allow you to hop off and on at various stops along the route.
A treasure-trove of historic landmarks and settings, colorful neighborhoods, captivating natural beauty and outdoor art provide the walking enthusiast with a variety of exciting options just waiting to be discovered. Destinations include the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Coronado, Downtown San Diego and more. With excursion names like "Brothels, Bites and Booze in the Gaslamp Quarter" and "Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones in Old Town," you know you're in for something special. There are even tours with professional photographers who will help you take quality pictures home from your trip. Most walking tours are generally two to four hours with plenty of opportunities for photos.
Take a trip to Southern California's best wineries, enjoy a wine/food pairing jaunt around La Jolla or go on a brew hopping tour to get a behind-the-scenes look at how some of San Diego tastiest craft beers are brewed. Transportation options include by foot, bus, train or chauffeured limousine, which insures a safe and fun time for everyone.
For more hands-on action, try an all-inclusive weekend or weeklong adventure where you can fly with a water-powered jet pack, traverse a high ropes course, pilot a glider plane and drive a speedboat. Trips include food, accommodations and transportation between each activity. Enjoy the breathtaking views of San Diego's coastline and inland valleys via helicopter. Excursions range from 30 minutes to 3 ½ hours, with the option to combine a half-hour coastal tour with a 3-hour brunch or dinner cruise.
Can't make a scheduled tour or simply want to explore San Diego on your own? Self-guided narrated outings are available year-round in GPS-guided "storytelling" cars and aboard mini speedboats, which you captain and navigate yourself. Other self-guided tours can be accomplished by renting beach cruisers, surreys and electric bicycles. Also, San Diego is also a bird watcher's delight due to its year-round near-idyllic climate. Most days are sunny and warm with an average daily temperature of 70 degrees, which means visitors have an opportunity to view birds in a comfortable outdoor setting almost any day of the year.
For more information on San Diego guided tours, view one of the articles or visit one of the tour companies below.