arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter tiktok youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

San Diego, an Undiscovered Arts & Culture Hub

The inside scoop on San Diego’s artsy hotspots

When planning a trip to San Diego, sun, surf, and sand may be top of mind. Take note, though: The city’s multicultural history and vibrant art scene are waiting to be discovered.

Balboa Park at Night in San Diego CA

Balboa Park

Visitors to San Diego’s Balboa Park—the country’s largest urban cultural park—will find no shortage of places to explore. The famed San Diego Zoo is located here, as well as a 106-year-old carousel, a functioning miniature railroad, 65 miles of trails to wander, and a dozen gardens. But the park, home to The Old Globe Theatre and 17 museums, is also a hub for fans of the arts.

The San Diego Museum of Art is the largest and oldest art museum in the region and includes a mix of 19th- and 20th-century European and American works. Peruse the collection, then stop at Panama 66 for a bite and a local craft beer. For art in a more intimate setting, head toward the much-photographed lily pond to find the Timken Museum of Art. The mid-century modern building houses a small but prestigious collection of celebrated European, American, and Russian works.

Chicano Park

The Coronado Bridge, which stretches for two miles between San Diego and Coronado, might seem like an unlikely spot for art enthusiasts, but an eye-catching collection of murals is located underneath the bridge’s east side. Chicano Park is a colorful tribute to the vibrant Mexican-American culture that has shaped San Diego for generations. The first murals were painted in the mid-1970s, and Chicano artists have maintained the park since then. Clear your camera roll before you go: The site, recently designated a National Historic Landmark, is home to 70 powerful paintings.

@Staceykeck

San Diego Central Library

San Diego has taken its local library to the next level—nine levels, to be exact. The nine floors of the San Diego Central Library, one of the city’s newest and most dynamic attractions, house more than a million books and an auditorium. Residents and tourists alike flock to the library for special events, a cup of coffee at an outdoor café, or quiet time with a good book under the building’s architectural masterpiece, a three-story metal dome.

One of the library’s most enticing elements is its free art gallery, On View. Rotating exhibits feature everything from paintings and sculptures to sound installations and costumes.

ArtworkCostume Design by Robert Morgan, Moth, a Faerie from A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Old Globe, 1985). Installation View from First Folio! The Book That Gave Us Shakespeare, 2016.

@Rdamnicole

Murals of La Jolla

With views of towering Pacific cliffs, tranquil tide pools, and sunbathing sea lions, a stroll through San Diego’s La Jolla neighborhood is scenic in itself. However, Murals of La Jolla, a collaboration between contemporary artists and community leaders, adds extra charm to a corner of the city already bursting with character.

Billboard-size murals by local and internationally renowned artists adorn the sides of La Jolla buildings, creating an outdoor exhibition best enjoyed via a self-guided walking tour. Explore the 16 pieces currently on display and look out for new works scheduled for completion in 2017.

ArtworkKelsey Brookes, One Pointed Attention, 2014

@Adrianadelmar

North Park

Shop, sample local fare, and snap colorful selfies in San Diego’s North Park, an artistic neighborhood dotted with unique boutiques, cafes, and outdoor murals. Here, the city’s creative community comes together to host street fairs, festivals, and live performances for guests and visitors. The second Saturday of each month, North Park puts on Ray at Night, an art walk event that includes live music and food trucks.

ArtworkPangeaseed, Lauren YS, @lolo.ys

Philipp Scholz Rittermann

The Stuart Collection

Picture this: a talking tree, a house perched precariously on the edge of a building, and a slate footpath in the shape of a serpent. These are a few of the eye-catching installations that comprise the Stuart Collection, an assortment of contemporary works at University of California, San Diego. Students, visitors, and San Diego natives are invited to explore the pieces that dot the college campus.  

ArtworkDo Ho Suh, Fallen Star, 2012, Stuart Collection, UC San Diego

@Egaal

La Jolla Playhouse

Iconic stars from the stage and screen light up La Jolla Playhouse, a world-class theater known for staging shows that get sent on to Broadway. The venue produces some of the country’s best performances, featuring famous playwrights and Hollywood actors.

La Jolla Playhouse also hosts a biannual theater festival, Without Walls (WoW). This innovative and immersive experience includes live performances that take place off the stage and in the San Diego community—sometimes on the sand or in the surf. Festivalgoers can expect to interact with actors and participate in the theatrics.

ArtworkBasil Twist renowned puppetry artists, SEAFOAM SLEEPWALK , 2013, Created for La Jolla Playhouse’s inaugural Without Walls Festival.

© 2017 Time Inc.

Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation

Take a short trolley ride from downtown San Diego and hop off to visit the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, a local organization focused on celebrating diversity and infusing Southeastern San Diego with arts and culture. Here, visitors will find live music performances, dance demonstrations, and family-friendly poetry and jazz festivals throughout the year.

© 2017 Time Inc.

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

Related Articles and Features

Deals just for you

Accommodation

Hotel del Coronado Room Package

Discover Coronado
Valid: Apr 15 - May 11, 2024

DIAMOND VIP ROOM PACKAGE INCLUDES:   -TWO-NIGHT STAY at one of four stunning island resort hotels checking in Friday, May 10th through Sunday, May 12th. -TWO INVITATIONS to a private VIP...

Activities

Summer is Calling!

So Diego
Valid: Mar 22 - ongoing

Summer is near, and while you're planning your trip to San Diego, we'd like to offer you a 10% off of one of our daily food and drink tasting tours.  They are a great way to get to know our...

Galleries & Museums

Save up to $3 on admission to The Nat

San Diego Natural History Museum
Valid: Dec 4, 2023 - ongoing

Save $3 on Adult Admission and $2 off other admission categories at the San Diego Natural History Museum. Admission includes access to 3D films. 

Events to check out

Event

Gator By The Bay-Zydeco, Blues & Crawfish Festival

Bon Temps Social Club of San Diego
May 9 - May 12, 2024

The spirit, sounds and flavors of southwest Louisiana come alive at the largest and most-authentic Louisiana-themed music and food festival this side of the bayou. With everything from A to Zydeco,...

Event

Wonderfront Music & Arts Festival

May 10 - May 12, 2024

A highly-anticipated 7+ stage, 80+ bands, 3-day music, culinary and arts festival will descend upon the stunning waterfront of downtown San Diego all along the Embarcadero. The festival offers diverse...

Event

Haydn Voyages: Music at the Maritime

Maritime Museum of San Diego
May 19, 2024

Concerts at Maritime Museum of San Diego Offer a Unique Mix of Music on the Water The Hausmann Quartet and Maritime Museum of San Diego are excited to partner to present the ninth...

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China
Germany
Great Britain
Japan
Mexico
Korea
Switzerland
Brazil
France
Australia
Canada
USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans
Albanian
Arabic
Belarusian
Bulgarian
Croatian
Danish
Deutsch
Español
Estonian
Filipino
Finnish
Francais
Georgian
Greek
Haitian-Creole
Hebrew
Hindi
Hungarian
Icelandic
Indonesian
Irish
Italian
Japanese
Korean
Latvian
Lithuanian
Macedonian
Malay
Maltese
Nederlands
Norwegian
Persian
Polish
Portuguese
Romanian
Russian
Serbian
Slovak
Slovenian
Swahili
Swedish
Telugu
Thai
Turkish
Ukranian
Vietnamese
Yiddish