Things to do in
Little Italy, San Diego

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Little Italy, San Diego: Our most recommended tours and activities

Skip-the-Line: USS Midway Museum Entry Ticket

1. Skip-the-Line: USS Midway Museum Entry Ticket

Take a self-guided audio tour onboard the world’s longest-serving aircraft carrier, the historic USS Midway. See the carrier’s 25 restored aircraft from the days of WWII to Operation Desert Storm. Visit areas throughout the Midway, from the crew's sleeping quarters to the pilots' ready rooms. Docents are available throughout the carrier and are eager to share their stories, anecdotes, and statistics, creating a picture of just how important the USS Midway was to the U.S. Navy. Most guests spend 3 to 4 hours exploring this historic aircraft carrier and learning its history. The included audio guide, available in 6 languages, will help you explore the dozens of highlighted areas across the massive ship.  There are family-oriented activities throughout the Museum. Included are 3 types of flight simulators, music videos, short films, climb-aboard aircraft and cockpits, and more. The Museum is located at the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego.

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San Diego: Harbor Cruise

2. 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.

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San Diego: Whale Watching Tours

3. San Diego: Whale Watching Tours

Marvel at the amazing views of San Diego Bay as you look out for sightings of marine wildlife including dolphins, sea lions, gray whales, and more. Your tour will be led by ocean experts as you get a deeper understanding of the ocean ecosystem and the sea creatures that live in it. Discover the San Diego coast on a two-story whale watching yacht, featuring 360-degree views from the main level and upper sundeck, multiple restrooms, and free guest WiFi. You will follow the whale migration path to bring you up close for the best sighting spots, which change every day. Early in the season, whales swim closer to the coast, so the maximum distance is about 3-5 miles. On their return trip, northbound whales swim further out, up to 9-12 miles off the coast. Make sure to wear layers as it can get pretty cool on the bay and don't forget to wear your sunscreen and hat while on this excursion. Bring your camera to capture all the memories you'll make on this exciting adventure.

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San Diego Zoo: 1-Day Admission Ticket

4. San Diego Zoo: 1-Day Admission Ticket

Visit the world-famous San Diego Zoo, home to over 4,500 rare and endangered animals, and experience their worlds at the Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, and other areas. The 100-acre San Diego Zoo is known for its naturalistic habitats and unique animal encounters. An urban paradise for all ages, the San Diego Zoo is a must-see in Southern California. Winding paths through the tropical oasis of a botanical garden bring you to the zoo‘s rare and fascinating animals, including koalas, Galápagos tortoises, tigers, eagles, flamingos, great apes, and more. Other exotic animals you may encounter include Sichuan takins, Buerger’s tree-kangaroos, arctic foxes, pangolin, and Visayan warty pigs. Explore Africa Rocks to discover penguins, baboons, the mysterious fossa, weaver birds, and other unique creatures. The festive, lively atmosphere makes the San Diego Zoo a great place for family fun and gathering friends. Discover the wonders of wildlife with animal encounters, interactive experiences, and exciting animal presentations and shows. The Zoo’s 17 Galápagos tortoises are now at home at the Fetter Family Galápagos Tortoise Exhibit. When keepers are present, you can pet and occasionally feed the tortoises over a short rock barrier. At the Conrad Prebys Polar Bear Plunge, you can get closer to polar bears than ever before. Climb aboard an Arctic research helicopter, crawl into a bear den, or measure yourself against the size of a polar bear. The Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey is a 7.5-acre habitat and a first-of-its-kind experience. This area combines the fun of a zoo with the experience of a museum by creating an untamed landscape of animals from the past and present. A leader in animal care and conservation, the San Diego Zoo is at the heart of the San Diego experience.

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Old Town San Diego: Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Tour

5. Old Town San Diego: Hop-on Hop-off Narrated Tour

Join the Hop-on Hop-Off Tour of Old Town San Diego at any of the tour's 11 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 on-board 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 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 11 convenient stops: • Old Town State Historic Park • Maritime Museum of San Diego/Star of India • San Diego Embarcadero • Seaport Village • Marriott Marquis & Marina • Gaslamp Quarter • Petco Park/San Diego Convention Center • Barrio Logan • Coronado/Orange Avenue • Balboa Park and El Prado Museums • Little Italy Gold Pass includes: • Old Town Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour • Admission to the Whaley House Museum Platinum Pass includes: • Old Town Trolley Hop-On Hop-Off Tour• Admission to the Whaley House Museum • Admission to the San Diego Maritime Museum/Star of India • Discounts on the Maritime Museum Harbor Tours

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San Diego: Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride

6. San Diego: Patriot Jet Boat Thrill Ride

Embark on a thrilling adventure on the San Diego bay as you zip and zoom past military ships, along the downtown skyline, and under the iconic Coronado Bridge. With rock music pumping, feel the wind and the refreshing spray of the San Diego bay as the Patriot carves 360-degree turns and reaches speeds upwards of 50 miles per hour. There's no experience like it. Enjoy gorgeous views on a 30-minute tour on an open-air jet boat. No two Patriot trips are the same, but this is not just a random joy ride through the bay. You will be taken past San Diego's most beautiful waterfront sights including: USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, North Island Naval Air Station, Coronado Bridge, Star of India and the iconic ships of the Maritime Museum, as well as the San Diego skyline. You may get wet, but ponchos are provided.

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GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Balboa Park

7. GPS Talking Tour Cars: Downtown & Balboa Park

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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Brothels, Bites and Booze: San Diego Gaslamp Walking Tour

8. Brothels, Bites and Booze: San Diego Gaslamp Walking 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!

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Sights & Sips 2-hour Sunset Cruise on San Diego Bay

9. Sights & Sips 2-hour Sunset Cruise on San Diego Bay

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.

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Urban Adventure Quest: 3-Hour Interactive Tour in San Diego

10. Urban Adventure Quest: 3-Hour Interactive Tour in San Diego

If you’re looking for a way to turn San Diego into a giant board game, try the Urban Adventure Quest. This is an interactive scavenger hunt that combines the fun of the Amazing Race with a 3-hour sightseeing tour of San Diego. Guided from any smartphone, groups make their way among well-known and overlooked gems of the city, solving clues and completing challenges while learning about local history. The adventure begins at the Waterfront Park and takes you on a well-designed course through Little Italy, the waterfront, and down to the war memorials. The tour involves approximately 2.5 miles of walking and uses the downtown transit system at one point in the game. Using a smart phone as your guide means that you can begin when you like and determine your own pace of play. Stop for a stroll in the park or gelato in Little Italy. The Quest is offered at a fixed price per group rather than per person, making this city tour/game great value for those on a budget. Points of Interest on Your Quest: • Little Italy • Maritime Museum • USS Midway • Bob Hope Memorial • "Kissing the War Goodbye" Statue

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Other Sightseeing Options in Little Italy, San Diego

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What people are saying about Little Italy, San Diego

Overall rating

4.7 / 5

based on 2,169 reviews

We really enjoyed the harbor cruise while visiting San Diego for a few days. We toured both the north and south harbors and got to see beautiful views from the water and picked up fun tidbits of information from our tour guide.

Very nice to see sooo much for a low price. Excellent information from all drivers. The two day option would have been even better had we had time to take advantage of it, there was so much to see and do.

Fun and informative commentary. We had to turn back due to weather, but got a voucher to use for another time that won’t expire.

Good drinks and nice atmosphere it was very educational I enjoyed myself

Stephen was a great guide. Definitely will book this tour again.