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Exploring San Diego

Beyond the Beach in the Pursuit of Happiness

San Diego has emerged as a youthful, energetic city filled with an outdoor-loving population, pursuing their own happiness and hoping you'll come along for a visit.

Discover San Diego By Land and By Sea

Topping many "It Lists" of late, San Diego has shed its beach bum reputation in favor of a more active outdoor lifestyle, where non-stop sunshine makes it easy to access 70 miles of coastal waters, inland valleys and mountains, desert landscapes, eclectic neighborhoods and so much more. It’s a slice of utopia that’s just waiting for you.

You always have a friend with a boat in San Diego


While lying on the beach may be good enough for some, we've got a few other ways to enjoy the coast. Consider sailing along the stunning coast until the sun sinks on one of the many charter sailboats around Shelter Island. Or find out why San Diego was named No. 1 sportfishing city in America by booking a sportfishing excursion that can take you through the Coronado Islands or even into Baja.

La Jolla

Experience the magic of the water in a kayak off La Jolla's rugged coastline. Enjoy close encounters with sea lions, explore sea caves, or be humbled by a glimpse of a giant gray whale.

Mission Bay

Looking for your favorite new sport? Explore the calm waters of Mission Bay on a stand-up paddle board. Glide across the water standing on a huge surfboard, paddle in hand. Lessons are fun and affordable.

Whale Watching

Witness the majesty of the 10,000+ whales that migrate past San Diego in the Winter (Grey Whales) and Summer (Blue Whales) aboard a daily whale watching cruise. Popular cruise operators include Flagship Cruises & Events and Hornblower Cruises & Events.

Happiness is a pair of sneakers

Marathons & More

With mountains, valleys, deserts and lagoons, it's no wonder San Diego is one of the top marathon cities in the country and the birthplace of the famous Rock-n-Roll marathon.

> Discover the best places to run in San Diego


For water views and coastal eco-culture, you can't beat Torrey Pines Reserve State Park with its rare pines, other worldly sandstone formations, canopied trails, lagoons and million dollar ocean views. Spanning over 2,000 acres, it preserves its namesake, the Torrey Pine tree, and other indigenous wildlife in its native environment. Among the eight miles of trails, guests can encounter native chaparral plants, wildflowers, birds, reptiles and butterflies. The reserve also includes a visitor center and hosts guided nature walks on weekends and holidays to view points overlooking Peñasquitos Lagoon and the Pacific Ocean.

Aptly named Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach is another local gem with 68 acres of bluffs and walking paths high above the Pacific Ocean. A large sandy beach also offers surfing, swimming, volleyball and other recreational activities, perfect for getting your heart pumping while surrounded by panoramic ocean views.

Looking for something completely different? Head two hours east to the dramatic desert landscape and brilliant wildflowers of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Anza-Borrego is the largest state park in California with over 500 miles of dirt roads, 12 wilderness areas and numerous hiking trails. Amid the untouched wilderness, you'll encounter soothing warm desert breezes and a beautiful barren land teeming with wildlife like roadrunners, golden eagles, kit foxes and bighorn sheep.

> Explore San Diego on a Hike

Find your Zip-a-dee-doo-dah

Sure we ride waves, but San Diegans are also very attached to their bikes. Whether on a mountain bike or a beach cruiser, a bike tour is a great way to experience this city - from La Jolla to Mission Bay to Coronado Island.

Want another way to explore the eclectic neighborhoods and burrows of the city? Hop on a segway and zoom along for a guided tour. Or grab a helmet and rent a bright yellow GoCar for a custom-narrated, GPS-guided tour of the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Little Italy or even the world-famous San Diego Zoo.

Urban Explorers: A Spotlight on 7 Neighborhoods in San Diego

Little Italy

 A charming waterfront area with fantastic Italian restaurants and delis, authentic gelatarias, upscale boutiques, a Saturday farmers market and a lively dinner scene.

North Park

This up-and-coming hipster neighborhood bustles with independent boutiques, imaginative restaurants, cozy coffee shops, sophisticated beer bars and local watering holes.

La Jolla & Del Mar

Two seaside enclaves boasting beautiful parks and walkable, waterfront downtowns with upscale shopping, galleries and fashionable eateries.

Balboa Park

The original site of the 1915 Panama-California Exhibition, this beautiful urban park is considered the cultural heart of the city and packed with Spanish architecture, fountains, gardens, over a dozen museums and the Old Globe theatre.

Hillcrest & University Heights

Considered particularly gay-friendly, these adjoining neighborhoods have quaint breakfast spots, independent movie theaters, unpretentious wine bars, and good secondhand and vintage shopping.

Find a place to stay

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

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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.

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