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

San Diego Pre and Post Cruise Activites

How to spend your time before or after your cruise

From harbor excursions, America's Cup yacht tours and thrilling jet boat rides to soaring seaplane rides and more, unique and entertaining adventures on the bay await. Get information about cruises sailing out of San Diego's Big Bay.

An incomparable combination of convenient location, world-class attractions and activities and consistently warm sunny weather make San Diego an ideal cruise port. San Diego's two Cruise Ship Terminals are situated on beautiful San Diego Bay adjacent to downtown's exciting urban core and within easy walking distance of numerous museums, hotels and restaurants, making even the quickest port visit a pleasure. For passengers flying into the region, San Diego International Airport is located just two miles from the cruise terminals. With an average daily temperature of 70ºF, passengers can schedule a few days before or after a cruise to explore San Diego Bay and the vibrant downtown area anytime of the year.

What to See and Do

Popular sights and attractions along San Diego Bay and downtown allow visitors to commune with nature, relive history and experience the city's exciting urban culture, all just steps from the cruise ship terminals.

  • Old Town Trolley Tours offers a great way to see San Diego on an entertaining narrated tour of the city covering key points of interest including designated stops at the Cruise Ship Terminal, downtown's Gaslamp Quarter and Little Italy, Seaport Village, Coronado, Old Town, Balboa Park/San Diego Zoo and more. Visitors can stay on board for a continuous two-hour tour or enjoy "on-and-off privileges" at each stop.
  • The USS Midway Museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier docked at Navy Pier on the Embarcadero, is the most visited ship museum in the world. Celebrating its 10th anniversary, the Midway highlights San Diego's rich military history and provides visitors a glimpse into life aboard an aircraft carrier with dozens of historic aircraft on display and tours both above and below decks.
  • The Maritime Museum of San Diego on the Embarcadero comprises several historic ships and other vessels on which visitors can relive the early days of seafaring. They include the Star of India, the world's oldest active sailing ship (built in 1863), the Californian, the official tall ship of the State of California, the HMS Surprise from the Academy Award-winning film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World and two former Soviet and U.S. submarines.
  • The Port of San Diego commissioned a large collection of public art to enjoy along the bay called the Tidelands Collection. These playful sculptures and solemn memorials commemorate San Diego's international ties, cultural diversity, military significance and unique oceanfront environment.
  • San Diego's bayfront boasts 20 beautiful parks covering 250 acres along the shoreline. Park offerings vary and include features like landscaped walkways, playgrounds, bike trails and picnic facilities. San Diego's near-perfect weather allows cruise passengers to enjoy an afternoon in the park year-round.
  • A new 12-acre Waterfront Park located across the street from the Maritime Museum features playgrounds, sweeping views of San Diego Bay and a spectacular 830-foot long fountain with water jets.
  • The New Children's Museum downtown is a fun interactive arts destination for children and families. The museum encourages children to think, play and create with fun-filled exhibitions, participatory artworks by contemporary artists, hands-on art making activities, special artistic performances and educational experiences.
  • The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) consists of two downtown galleries, including one in the historic Santa Fe Depot baggage building, featuring rotating exhibitions of world-class art and works from the museum's permanent collection by promising emerging talent and major figures in the international contemporary art scene. MCASD offers free admission to guests 25 years and younger.
  • In downtown San Diego's historic 16.5-block Gaslamp Quarter, grand Victorian-era buildings house more than 150 restaurants, bars, nightclubs and lounges, as well as dozens of boutiques, art galleries and shops.
  • Petco Park, home of Major League Baseball's San Diego Padres, offers a guided behind-the-scenes tour of its downtown facility. Baseball fans can discover "writer's row" in the press box, explore the Padres' dugout and more. Baseball fans can also catch a Padres home game April through October.

San Diego boasts additional exciting attractions within a short cab ride from the Cruise Ship Terminals.

  • Located five minutes by taxi from the Cruise Ship Terminals, Balboa Park is the cultural heart of San Diego. Visitors can easily spend an entire day exploring the park's offerings. Encompassing 1,200 acres, Balboa Park is home to 15 museums ranging from anthropology to science and from classic to contemporary art; performing arts venues like the Tony Award®-winning Old Globe Theater; lush gardens, and the San Diego Zoo.
  • Cruise ship passengers can take a walk on the wild side at the San Diego Zoo, a 100-acre tropical oasis located in Balboa Park. Home to more than 4,000 animals representing more than 800 rare and exotic species, the zoo is world-renowned for its naturalistic, bio-climatic exhibits like the new Australian Outback.
  • Cabrillo National Monument at nearby Point Loma is named after Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, the European explorer who discovered California. From its cliffs, guests enjoy bird's-eye views of the bustling harbor and magnificent downtown skyline. The park's tide pools are also one of the last and best-preserved rocky intertidal areas open to the public in Southern California.
  • Old Town San Diego marks the site of the first Spanish settlement on the U.S. West Coast and represents San Diego's Hispanic heritage from 1821 to 1872. Easily accessible from the Cruise Ship Terminals by taxi or the San Diego Trolley, the six-block park features 12 acres of Mexican lore and historical sites presented in popular shops, restaurants, museums, a theater, and several carefully preserved or restored historic adobe and wooden buildings.
  • SeaWorld San Diego, located a short drive north of downtown San Diego on Mission Bay, offers close encounters of the animal kind in an aquatic setting. Experience the new Explorer's Reef and dozens of fascinating exhibits containing marine life from around the globe, amazing animal shows and rides like the new Manta roller coaster.

Where to Dine

Along San Diego's bayfront, cruise ship passengers can enjoy amazing meals against a backdrop of crimson sunsets, the sparkling harbor and dynamic downtown skyline. There are more than 70 restaurants located along the bay, sure to satisfy any craving.

  • More than two dozen restaurants can be found near the Cruise Ship Terminals along the Embarcadero, with seafood standouts including The Fish Market, Sally's Fish House & Bar and Roy's San Diego Waterfront.
  • Harbor Island, conveniently located across the street from San Diego International Airport, features nine terrific dining spots, including the popular Boathouse, Tom Ham's Lighthouse - celebrating 50 years on the island - and Island Prime/C-Level lounge.
  • The marina resort oasis of Shelter Island features six sensational restaurants including the new Vessel Restaurant in the Kona Kai Resort, tiki-inspired Bali Hai and Humphrey's Restaurant. At the adjacent America's Cup Harbor, six bayside restaurants include the popular Point Loma Seafoods, Galley at H&M Landing and Mitch's Seafood.

Where to Shop

Shopping enthusiasts can find an abundance of retail shops along the bayfront and downtown. The following are some popular shopping spots where cruise ship passengers can find trendy and fashionable apparel or that one-of-a-kind memento.

  • Housed in the iconic former headquarters of the San Diego Police Department, the chic, new The Headquarters at Seaport is home to an exclusive collection of specialty shops and restaurants, including world-renowned surf photographer Aaron Chang's Ocean Art Gallery, Kitson, Puesto Mexican restaurant and more.
  • Seaport Village, a 14-acre bayfront shopping and dining complex, recreates a California harbor setting of a century ago. Amid cobblestone pathways, ponds, fountains and lush landscaping, Seaport Village offers themed shops, restaurants and cafes.
  • Horton Plaza, a multi-level, outdoor shopping and entertainment center, offers 130 specialty shops, restaurants, a movie theatre and performing arts theatre. Well-known for its whimsical and vibrantly colored design, Horton Plaza was created to resemble a European marketplace.
  • Across the bay on Coronado Island, easily accessible via the Coronado Ferry, the Coronado Ferry Landing is a retail complex featuring a charming collection of one-of-a-kind shops, art galleries and waterfront dining surrounded by tree-lined walkways, swaying palms and sparkling ponds.
  • Little Italy is a quaint and lively downtown neighborhood filled with art galleries and shops, patio cafes, restaurants and pubs, particularly along India Street, Fir Street with its colorful cottages housing stylish boutiques and Kettner Blvd. with an array of art and design and home décor stores.

Where to Stay

Waterfront hotels with a wide range of amenities, atmosphere and price options offer cruise passengers unparalleled convenience when overnighting in San Diego. The following are a few of the great hotels located along San Diego Bay.

  • Positioned directly across from the Cruise Ship Terminal, the new Wyndham San Diego Bayside, featuring 600 guestrooms with balconies, offers casual convenience with panoramic bay views, full amenities and reasonable rates.
  • Located across the street from the Headquarters at Seaport District, Embassy Suites Hotel San Diego Bay - Downtown offers 337 spacious suites where guests can enjoy a complimentary cooked-to-order breakfast and evening reception, as well as hotel amenities including a swimming pool, on-site seafood restaurant and popular donut shop.
  • The luxurious Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina's two curved, glass-sheathed towers lend their distinctive features to the San Diego skyline. Located on the bayfront and conveniently situated adjacent to the Gaslamp Quarter, the hotel offers resort-style relaxation in 1,360 guestrooms offering breathtaking views of the downtown skyline and San Diego Bay.
  • Also located bayside near the Gaslamp Quarter, the double-towered, 1,628-room Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego showcases two pools, a full service spa and a selection of restaurants and lounges, including Top of the Hyatt on the 40th floor offering panoramic views of San Diego Bay, the ocean and downtown.
  • The 1,190-room Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel offers a sophisticated resort atmosphere. Located across from Petco Park, the 30-story hotel features San Diego's first saltwater hotel pool, a spa and fitness center, collection of local artwork, several bar and restaurant options and a 4.3-acre waterfront public park.
  • Located on San Diego Bay adjacent to San Diego International Airport, Harbor Island is incredibly convenient for cruise ship passengers. Here, the Sheraton San Diego Hotel & Marina and Hilton San Diego Airport - Harbor Island allow visitors to take advantage of full resort amenities within moments of arriving in San Diego.
  • Also situated on the bay, Shelter Island offers four scenic hotels that hug the water's edge: the Kona Kai Resort & Spa, Bay Club Hotel & Marina, Best Western Plus Island Palms Hotel & Marina and the tropical Humphreys Half Moon Inn.

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

Event Planners

10% OFF IRISH 4 A DAY, ST PATRICK'S DAY PARTY

Gaslamp Event Management (GEM) - Club VIP SD - Downtown Dolls
Valid: Mar 13 - Mar 17, 2020

GET 10% OFF to the Annual IRISH 4 A DAY ~ San Diego's St. Patrick's Day Party Hop on Friday, March 13, Saturday, March 14, Tuesday March 17, 2020! Promo Code: SDTA20 Irish4aDay.NightOut.com Join us...

Accommodation

Exclusive Savings for AAA Members

The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter
Valid: Jan 18 - ongoing

Let your AAA member benefits help you save on your next escape! At The Westin San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, AAA members will be rewarded with your choice of three special rates:  Discounted...

Bars

Top of the Hyatt Secret Menu

Top of the Hyatt - Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego
Valid: Jan 16 - ongoing

Unlock Top of the Hyatt's secret menu, including $2 off any craft cocktail and 50% off select bottles of wine. Take your thirst for sipping in style to the next level, 40 stories above San Diego Bay.

Events to check out

Event

San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl

Dec 27, 2019

Don't miss America's Finest Bowl Experience! This signature San Diego event annually showcases a thrilling game between some of college football’s most competitive conferences, the Big Ten and...

Event

San Diego Bay Parade of Lights

Dec 8 - Dec 15, 2019

The San Diego Bay Parade of Lights is a time-honored holiday tradition with more than 80 boats lavishly decorated sailing by the shores for all to see.

Event

San Diego International Auto Show

Jan 1 - Jan 5, 2020

Where the cars are the stars! The San Diego International Auto Show features the widest variety of new vehicles under one roof.

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

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China FlagChinaGermany FlagGermanyGreat Britain FlagGreat BritainJapan FlagJapanMexico FlagMexicoKorea FlagKoreaSwitzerland FlagSwitzerlandBrazil FlagBrazilFrance FlagFranceAustralia FlagAustraliaCanada FlagCanada USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Español Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician 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 Welsh Yiddish