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Things to do in Downtown San Diego, San Diego

Our most recommended things to do in Downtown San Diego, San Diego

San Diego: Harbor Cruise

1. San Diego: Harbor Cruise

See San Diego's best sights. Learn about the city and enjoy a cruise on the bay. Depending on the option booked, this tour takes you under the Coronado Bridge, past military ships, waterfront landmarks, and marine life for a look at San Diego's scenic beauty and fascinating history. This tour’s luxury ships offer three levels with comfortable indoor and outdoor seating, 360-degree views, and an on-board snack bar serving snacks, soda, beer, wine and cocktails (available for purchase). This is a great way to experience San Diego from the water.

San Diego: Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Trolley Tour

2. San Diego: Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Trolley Tour

Join the Hop-on Hop-Off Tour of Old Town San Diego at any of the tour's 12 boarding points and visit more than 100 interesting points in Coronado and San Diego at your own pace. You can begin at any time of the day and listen to the entertaining narration of the onboard conductors along the way. San Diego is known as America’s Finest City, and as you explore the sights of Old Town and the scenic coastline you’ll see why. Opt to begin your tour at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, where you’ll see original adobe homes and artifacts from the earliest Mexican settlements. At the Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, you’ll learn about the importance of the U.S. Navy's presence in San Diego. Then continue on to nearby Seaport Village, where you can stop for refreshments and enjoy shopping and entertainment. In the historic Gaslamp Quarter, you’ll find loads of shops and other interesting places located in Victorian-themed buildings. One particular house of interest is the William Heath Davis House. Built-in saltbox style, it is similar to the original home of Davis, who founded New Town San Diego. When you’re back on the trolley you’ll be entertained once again by the conductor’s narration. Continue on to the well-known Hotel del Coronado, one of America’s leading resorts. You may choose to take a stroll through nearby Balboa Park, along El Prado, the promenade lined with Spanish-style buildings. With more stops than any other tour, this hop-on hop-off trolley ride is guaranteed to deliver. In addition to sightseeing, enjoy free shuttle service to and from select area hotels, a map and day planner, and $70 in discount coupons to use at restaurants and area attractions. Hop on or hop off at 12 convenient stops: 1) 4002 Wallace St: Old Town State Historic Park 2) 1492 N Harbor Dr: Maritime Museum of San Diego/Star of India 3) 200 Marina Park Way: San Diego Embarcadero 4) 849 W Harbor Dr: Seaport Village 5) 333 W Harbor Dr: Marriott Marquis & Marina6) Gaslamp Quarter 7) 111 W Harbor Dr: Petco Park/San Diego Convention Center 8) Barrio Logan9) 1500 Orange Ave: Hotel Del Coronado10) Coronado/Orange Avenue 11) 1549 El Prado: Balboa Park and El Prado Museums 12) Little Italy

San Diego: Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

3. San Diego: Harbor Sightseeing Cruise

See the sights of San Diego Bay on a fully-narrated cruise. Pass by Seaport Village, Shelter Island, Coronado Island, Point Loma, and Cabrillo National Monument, among other notable points of interest, while taking in beautiful skyline views. Choose between a 1-hour cruise of either the North or South Harbor, or book the 2-hour cruise, which includes both. San Diego’s North Harbor cruise takes you past historic ships in the Maritime Museum, Harbor Island, North Island Naval Air Station, and Shelter Island. The South Harbor route includes sightings of the Coronado Bridge, the U.S.S. Midway Aircraft Carrier, the U.S. Navy Surface Fleet, and the Naval Amphibious Base Coronado. As you sail, keep a lookout for wildlife such as blue herons, sea lions, and pelicans Listen as your professional crew provides commentary about the rich local and military history, points of interest, and facts about San Diego Bay. This sightseeing cruise also showcases local environmental conservation efforts through video clips and onboard displays.

San Diego: Sightseeing Dinner Cruise with DJ Music

4. San Diego: Sightseeing Dinner Cruise with DJ Music

Enjoy a dinner cruise from San Diego that combines culinary excellence with unforgettable scenery and ambient DJ music. Look for local wildlife as you sail and admire views of the city skyline, the Coronado Bridge, and the Cabrillo National Monument.  Stroll the spacious decks and watch the sunset before dinner. Dinner is a seated meal with an elaborate wine list, upgrades and additions, and vegetarian options. Savor crisp salads, braised ribs, oven-roasted salmon entrees, and luscious desserts After dinner, listen to relaxing music, as you enjoy your dessert and coffee. Photos are taken at beginning of the cruise and they can be purchased at the end when you return to your meeting point. Sample Dinner Menu For The TableAssorted bread and butter (V) Starter (Choice of One)Beet and baby arugula salad (G*) (V)Feta cheese | cherry tomatoes | balsamic vinaigrette SIGNATURE SEAFOOD CHOWDER (G*)Signature seafood chowder (G*)Clams | flounder | potatoes | cream Main (Choice of One)Root vegetable fricassee (G*) (VG) (V)Butternut squash | cauliflower | zucchini | grape tomatoes | gremolata | cauliflower coconut cream sauce Broiled salmon filet with roasted tomato vinaigretteLemon orzo | farm-fresh seasonal vegetables Oven-roasted chicken breast with rosemary and thymeRoasted new red potato salad with scallions | haricot verts | creamy mushroom sauce Braised beef short ribs with Fresno pepper demi-glace (G*)Garlic mashed potatoes | baby carrots | broccoli Dessert (Choice of One)Signature chocolate cake (V)Creme Anglaise | raspberry coulis | candied pecans  Mixed fruit (G*) (VG) (V)Madagascar vanilla and orange cream New York-style cheesecake (V)Lemon mascarpone cream | blueberry compote (may contain nuts) *Menus subject to change

San Diego: Petco Park Stadium Tour - Home of the Padres

5. San Diego: Petco Park Stadium Tour - Home of the Padres

Visit Petco Park and experience a side of the ballpark that is usually reserved for the players and staff. Stops include Field Warning Track, Cutwater Coronado Club, Padres Hall of Fame Presented by Motorola, Press Box, Private Luxury Suite, and the Breitbard Hall of Fame. Meet your guide at Petco Park and get a behind-the-scenes look into the ballpark. See the press box, also known as writers’ row, and peek inside the Home Plate Club. During your visit, you’ll learn about the history of Petco Park and the San Diego Padres. Visit the Padres Hall of Fame presented by Motorola and learn about the history of baseball in San Diego. Afterward, head to the Breitbard Hall of Fame, which honors athletes in San Diego and native San Diegans who achieved athletic fame outside of San Diego.

San Diego: Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise

6. San Diego: Whale and Dolphin Watching Cruise

Embark on a marine life adventure on a dolphin and whale watching tour off the coast of San Diego. Keep a lookout for gray whales, blue whales, common dolphins, and more as you glide over the Pacific Ocean's dark blue waters. San Diego is one of the best locations to watch whales year-round. Gray Whales migrate winter-spring from feeding grounds in Alaskan waters to calving lagoons in Baja California and back. In summer, the legendary Blue Whales, the largest animals on Earth, commonly feed off-shore of the San Diego coast.  You may also spot Fin, Blue, Humpback, and Minke whales during the summer whale watching season. Additionally, you'll often see pods of Dolphins including Risso’s, Common, Pacific White-Sided, and Bottlenose Dolphins. Your captain will also highlight other wildlife such as Sea Lions, various fish like Mola Mola (Sunfish), and a variety of marine birds such as Herons, Terns, Pelicans, and Gulls.  View these extraordinary mammals in the wild on this spectacular cruise. The expert crew will help you locate these creatures and additional marine wildlife, such as dolphins and sea lions. Learn about marine life and local environmental efforts from professional captains and whalers who work at the San Diego Natural History Museum.  You may even spot a whale calf traveling with its mother as they return from the Arctic. This is a fantastic and exhilarating journey for all age groups. Guaranteed whale or dolphin sighting. If you don't sight some type of whale or dolphin during the cruise, you'll be issued a pass that's good for another San Diego whale watching or harbor cruise. San Diego is quickly becoming one of the world’s best whale watching locations. The city is home to whales, dolphins, and sea birds, and features one of the world's most beautiful coastlines.  Enjoy live educational narration from captains and trained naturalists employed by the Natural History Museum.  Watch blue whales and dolphins in comfort on a large, fast, and stable boat!

San Diego: Brothels, Bites and Booze Gaslamp Quarter Tour

7. San Diego: Brothels, Bites and Booze Gaslamp Quarter Tour

Join us on a tour of the Gaslamp Quarter and we’ll tell you about the infamous Stingaree District, once a center of scandal and debauchery. We’ll walk along streets that featured 120 brothels at one point, and served as one of Southern California’s major red light districts. On our Brothels, Bites, and Booze Tour you’ll hear tales from the past that are funny and some that are hard to believe! During our 2.5-hour excursion you’ll see how this area has been restored and is now home to San Diego’s main nightlife and dining destinations. The Gaslamp Quarter now features more than 100 restaurants and bars. We’ll take you to some of the best restaurants in the area so you can taste a variety of popular ethnic cuisines and some alcoholic beverages as well! Most guests find that the samples on the tour are quite filling and are at least as much food as a full meal. You might want to eat no more than a very light snack before the tour – or nothing at all!

San Diego: Bay Sights & Sips Sunset Cruise

8. San Diego: Bay Sights & Sips Sunset Cruise

Come aboard the only floating happy hour in San Diego. The Sights & Sips Sunset Cruise on San Diego Bay includes complimentary appetizers, a no-host bar featuring refreshing drink specials and a perfectly timed sunset every Friday and Saturday throughout the summer. Get ready to enjoy the sights and sounds of the magnificent San Diego Bay. The bay boasts some of America's most historic warships such as the USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Midway as well as playing host to the scenic sights of the Coronado Bay Bridge and Seaport Village. Take part in a cruise experience where the celebration begins the moment you come on-board. Start with cocktails on deck, then relax as our gracious crew transports you to a world of ease and luxury. You and your guests will feel pampered, privileged, relaxed and refreshed. Quench your happy hour thirst aboard the Sights & Sips Sunset Cruise.

San Diego: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 55+ Attractions

9. San Diego: Go City All-Inclusive Pass with 55+ Attractions

The San Diego All-Inclusive Pass is an all-access pass offering the ultimate in convenience and savings for visitors to the area. Simply choose between a 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, or 7-day pass and save up to 45% compared to the cost of buying separate attraction tickets. With one single pass, you can enjoy dozens of popular attractions and fun things to do in San Diego. Visit the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND, The U.S.S. Midway, take a sightseeing harbor cruise, rent a bike, stand-up paddleboard or kayak, and much more. With a total of over 55 attractions and tours included with your pass, there is something for everyone and you can visit as many attractions as you like per day. The San Diego All-Inclusive Pass also comes with a digital guide including helpful attraction information including how to get there and opening times. Activities, attractions, and tours included on the San Diego All-Inclusive Pass: Theme Parks and Zoos • San Diego Zoo • SeaWorld San Diego • San Diego Zoo Safari Park • Belmont Park • Knott's Berry Farm • LEGOLAND California • Sesame Place (coming soon) Outdoors • San Diego Speedboat Adventures • La Jolla: 90-min Tandem Kayak Rental • La Jolla: Full-Day Snorkel Adventure • La Jolla: All-Day Bike Rental • La Jolla: Surfboard Rental • La Jolla: Stand-Up Paddleboard (SUP) Rental • San Diego Harbor: 2-hr SUP • San Diego Harbor: 2-hr Kayak Rental • Coronado: 90-min Tandem Kayak Rental • Coronado: SUP Board Rental • Coronado: Full-Day Bike Rental • San Diego Pier Fishing Tours and Cruises • 1-hr San Diego Harbor Cruise by Hornblower Cruises • Whale Watching by Hornblower Cruises • Whale Watch & Dolphin Tour - Beautiful Newport Beach • San Diego Hiking Tour • San Diego Sightseeing Walking Tour • Catalina Flyer (ferry to Catalina Island) • One Way Coronado Ferry • Petco Park Tours - home of the San Diego Padres • GoCar San Diego 30-min tour • Dolby Theater Guided Tour Museums and Places of Interest • USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum • Japanese Friendship Garden • San Diego Air and Space Museum • San Diego Natural History Museum • The Fleet Science Center with IMAX • Birch Aquarium at Scripps • Museum of Us • San Diego Automotive Museum • San Diego Model Railroad Museum • San Diego Museum of Art • The New Children's Museum • The Whaley House Museum • Coronado Museum of History and Art • Museum of Photographic Arts • Museum of Contemporary Art (Downtown) • San Diego Art Institute • The Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House • Mingei International Museum • The Plunge San Diego • Living Coast Discovery Center • Museum of Making Music • Hollywood Museum • Richard Nixon Library • UTC Ice Sports Center • South Coast Shop & Dine Package

San Diego: Downtown & Balboa Park GPS Talking Car Tour

10. San Diego: Downtown & Balboa Park GPS Talking Car Tour

This is the essential San Diego tour. You will see almost all of the greatest sights San Diego has to offer, like the visually stunning Balboa park which is littered with Spanish Renaissance inspired architecture. Pass by over a dozen museums, colorful flower gardens, and world renowned outdoor organ pavilion all the way to the always happening Hillcrest, which has a great variety of shops and restaurants. Hillcrest is known to have some of the best food in the county. But best of all you will also get to see Downtown San Diego at its finest, from the Maritime Museum, to the Historic Gaslamp Quarter. Downtown San Diego is one of the best places in the world for its diversity, and visual appeal. Don’t miss the best places San Diego has to offer on this tour.

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Frequently asked questions about Downtown San Diego, San Diego

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What people are saying about Downtown San Diego, San Diego

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 1,720 reviews

There was free parking across from the trolley prick up point and that was pretty great! My mom and I enjoyed the tour very much. Our driver, Sherry, was extremely knowledgeable! The weather was perfect for December and I highly recommend that you take this tour, regardless of whether you’re a stranger to San Diego or a local.

Loved all the sights and history that was given. Freedom to hop off and explore and the jump back on. So much fun and the tour guides were terrific... thank you!!!

Totally worth the experience! Had a great time. Staff was super friendly. We went on the latest ride and we got to catch the sunset. Buy your picture afterwards!

Very relaxing. Clean decks. Spacious enough to enjoy family in comfort. highly recommend 2 hour cruise.

chilly wind dress for cooler weather. Max was a great host.