With 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. San Diego has so many different types of tour companies, there's sure to be one to one that’s right for you. Not only will these guides take care of everything from equipment to transportation, but depending upon the tour, you'll be accompanied by a local expert, whether a trained instructor, certified naturalist or San Diegan with an in-depth knowledge of the city.
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 during your vacation. For more than 25 years, Old Town Trolley Tours has taken visitors through the city, exploring Old Town, Gaslamp Quarter, Embarcadero, Balboa Park, Coronado and more. Stay on the trolley for the full two-hour tour and learn 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 on the Pacific Ocean for breathtaking views of the city and sea. 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 as are the Mississippi style sternwheeler boat tours on Mission Bay. 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” American’s Finest City.”. 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 routes. 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 Scavenger Hunts similar to the Amazing Race format and even tours with professional photographers who will help you take quality pictures home from your trip. 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 ensures 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. Use your cell phone to embark on an Amazing Race-style scavenger hunt. Other self-guided tours can be accomplished by renting beach cruisers, surreys and electric bicycles.
For more information on San Diego guided tours, view one of the articles or visit one of the tour companies below.
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