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10 Things to tick off the bucket list in San Diego in 2024

San Diego coastline

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San Diego, California

When you visit California, most head straight to Los Angeles, but for me, I head down south to sunny San Diego, where there are many things to do. Here are 20 things to tick off the San Diego, California bucket list.

Things to know before you go

Visa

If you are not a US citizen, you must apply for a USA ESTA. You can do that by merely checking out the ivisa website and using it online. It is as easy as that!

Insurance

SafetyWing is the world’s first International Travel Medical Insurance developed to meet the needs of entrepreneurs and remote workers travelling or living abroad worldwide. I can not recommend travel medical insurance enough! For those who are going to be away for long periods, live and work abroad or are nomad travellers.

Weather in San Diego

The weather is great all year-round. Summer (Jun–Aug) is warm and is the peak travel period. Winter (Dec–Feb) is mild, ranging from 10-19c degrees.

Legoland

Car Hire

Hiring a car in California is easy, and I highly recommend Discover Cars. We drove from Los Angeles down to San Diego, which gave us the luxury of making day trips from San Diego and allowing us to go to Las Vegas. 

Go San Diego Card

I highly recommend the Go San Diego Card because some of the benefits are there are 34+ attractions to choose from, as well as one premium attraction of your choice. In some attractions, you can skip the line or get early entry, discounts on eateries and free audio tours on offer. 

San Diego sunset

Hotel recommendation in San Diego

Budget

Courtyard by Marriott San Diego Mission Valley/Hotel Circle

The Courtyard by Marriott San Diego is an excellent location at an affordable price. This location is best suited for those who have chosen to drive. Because it has car parking facilities (at a cost though) and is a little far from major site-seeing locations. The rooms are clean, the staff are friendly, and it is suitable for families and small children.

Splurge

Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina

The Marriott Marquis San Diego Marina is an ideal location for those who want a great view with a little bit of luxury. Additionally, you will not need a car at this location as most site seeing places are close (some within walking distance).

San Diego Marina

10 Things To Do Bucket List in San Diego

1 Visit the USS Midway museum

The USS Midway Museum is a fun day with children or alone. There is so much to do at this fun-filled museum. Check out the calendar before you arrive, as there are many yearly events worth booking to see. Otherwise, there are permanent exhibitions all year round so you won’t be disappointed.

2 Be a kid for the day at San Diego Zoo

The San Diego Zoo has been right up there on our bucket list. We love zoos, and this zoo didn’t disappoint. It is currently home to over 3,700 animals from more than 650 species, where you will find cage-less exhibits that ensure a lovely time for all. So why not upgrade your experience and choose from one of the many tours on hand at the zoo?

San Diego zoo

3 Go on a behind-the-scenes tour of San Diego Zoo Safari Park

San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park) is a great day out for all ages. Get that little more in-depth knowledge of your favourite animals with these great behind the scene tours. Choose from seven different types of packages with different animals to choose from; this is a fun-filled day for anyone that loves animals as we do.

4 Check out Seaworld San Diego

Watch the many live shows that you can find at Seaworld San Diego. Whether you enjoy one of the many shows, visit the exhibitions or jump on the many thrilling rides. SeaWorld will keep you busy all day long.

SeaWorld San Diego

5 Visit Lego Land with the kids

Be warned that lego land is fun but make sure you bring the kids with you. Although we had a lot of fun at Legoland, the kids felt they were a little old for many of the rides that cater to the smaller kids. Make sure you bring your swimmers along and pay the extra to visit the Water park; it is a much-welcome relief during the summer months.

6 Go back in time and visit Old Town 

Visit Old town San Diego where you will feel like you have stepped back in time. This part of California is so rich in history, being the first settlement by Europeans, initially named San Miguel. Then 60 years later given its name San Diego for the Spanish Franciscan lay brother Didacus of Alcala (more commonly known as San Diego).

Old town

7 Enjoy an afternoon at Seaport Village

Enjoy the vibes at Seaport Village with live music and great eateries. Sit back, relax and watch the plethora of buskers in and around this area. Whether you are checking this area out for the weekend markets or to ride the carousel with little kids, this is a great day out for all the family.

8 Enjoy a meal at the Gas Lamp Quarter

Gas Lamp quarter is full of entertainment when the sun goes down; enjoy a meal or an evening cocktail while listening to live music. The Gas Lamp district is also an excellent location for shopping.

9 Spend the day at Laguna Beach

Although there are many beautiful beaches along the coast of California, there is nothing prettier than Laguna Beach. Spend the day in the water, by the sea or visit the many gorgeous boutiques in this great little town. Laguna Beach is known for its arty vibe, so ensure you look ahead of time and attend some world-class art events.

Laguna Beach

10 Cross the border from San Diego into Mexico for the day

Enjoy a full-day tour and cross the border to Tijuana, Mexico, with a reputable tour company. I would strongly advise you not to try and cross the border yourself but to hop on a tour bus and enjoy the day learning about Tijuana and Mexico’s history.

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10 things to tick off the bucket list in San Diego

Thanks for taking the time to read the blog. I hope this post has given you the necessary information you need. If you have any recommendations, tips or travel advice, I would love for you to share them in the comment section below!

Other things you need to know

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Author

  • Paula Barreca Barnes

    So 17 years ago, my husband and I set off with our little family in tow, embarking on a short-term assignment in Taiwan. Although without any knowledge of expat life or the Taiwanese culture, we took the chance and decided this would be an exciting little adventure; little did we know it changed the direction of our lives forever.

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