San Diego is an amazing city - and county - in Southern California with so much to see and do. From sunny weather to beautiful beaches, impressive restaurants and bars, and a wide range of attractions, “America’s Finest City” is a bustling hub of fun. We know how important it is that residents moving into Active 55+ and Independent Living communities are still able to stay connected to their city and community and enjoy sightseeing and all the attractions the area has to offer.
Pacifica Senior Living has several communities in the San Diego area including Alta Vista Senior Living, Pacifica Senior Living Bonita, Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Rancho Penasquitos, the Meridian at Lake San Marcos, Gardens at Escondido, Monte Vista Village, and Vista. Each of these communities is within driving distance of the many attractions and fun things San Diego has to offer. Whether you visit with family, go on scheduled excursions, plan a day trip, are looking to enjoy some nightlife, or simply take a drive around your local area, these communities allow you to get the best of both worlds - amazing care and accommodations, and a lively city to enjoy.
Here is our list of the top things to do in and around San Diego:
- Explore Downtown San Diego
Of course, downtown San Diego is full of life and culture. Enjoy amazing Italian food in quaint Little Italy, nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter, or oceanside views along the embarcadero of San Diego Bay and harbor.
There are tons of great wineries, breweries and craft beer houses, and restaurants of all kinds to enjoy. You can even take in a view of the Pacific Ocean as you eat in Seaport Village. It is a friendly, bustling city full of life, and so much to discover.
- Balboa Park
Balboa Park is a huge urban cultural park that includes a number of gardens, attractions, museums, and cultural centers. You can easily spend a full day - or few - exploring all there is to see in Balboa.
Check out the Museum of Us, San Diego Air & Space Museum, the San Diego Museum of Art and other art galleries, and the San Diego History Center. You can also enjoy the beauty of various gardens including the Japanese Friendship Gardens, Cactus and rose gardens, and lily pond. This park has a little bit of everything, and is a great option for seniors - it even has eateries and cafes! If you visit in the summer you can also enjoy live music performances at the Twilight in the Park Concert Series which features a range of musicians and bands.
- San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is world-renowned. It is also located within Balboa Park, and is home to over 12,000 animals and some 650 different species. It was one of the very first zoos in America to use open-air enclosures built in the style of natural habitats. Check out the impressive Polar Bear Plunge, various aviaries, all the big cat enclosures, and jungle gyms for chimps, orangutans and gorillas. This is a must-not-miss attraction that is fun for all ages.
And if you can’t get enough animals, you can also enjoy the San Diego Zoo Safari Park which features a number of African Safari animals. It is located north of the city in Escondido.
- Old Town San Diego
Old Town is the heart of Mexican heritage in San Diego. It is a replica-style town inspired by Mexico and early San Diegan culture. It includes boutiques, saloons, restaurants and shops. It is very popular with tourists and is a great place to pick up a souvenir or two. Enjoy some of the best authentic tacos (especially fish tacos) in the city at Cafe Coyote, visit the textile museum, or check out an old-time blacksmith demonstration.
- La Jolla
Just north of San Diego city is La Jolla. A marine haven, it is known for its sea life and beaches. The La Jolla Cove is a popular tourist destination as it offers great views of the ocean, cove and tide pools.
You can usually spot sealions basking in the sun or swimming in sea caves. Just up the coast are the beaches: Children’s Pool and La Jolla Shores, which offer great places to swim, go snorkeling, kayaking, watch the surfers, or simply relax in the sand.
- Cabrillo National Monument
If sightseeing is more your thing, this monument to Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo is a must. It sits atop a hill at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula. It was erected to commemorate the arrival of the first European expedition to land on the west coast of the United States. Not only is the statue impressive, but the hilltop offers great views of the city and sea.
- USS Midway Museum
The USS Midway is an aircraft carrier that was once part of the United States Navy. It was the largest ship up until 1955 and is an impressive sight. The midway now sits in the San Diego Harbor, and tours of the carrier are available. Take in the sights of the ship as well as a number of prominent USA military aircraft on board. This is a great attraction for older adults - especially those who have previously served, and who may remember the Midway in its active days.
- Maritime Museum of San Diego
The Maritime Museum of San Diego was named one of the top three maritime museums in the world! It is home to a collection of impressive ships and exhibits including the world’s oldest active ship, the beautiful Star of India. Tour tall ships, check out exhibits, and learn all there is to know about sailing the sees at this impressive exhibit that is perfect for all generations and age ranges.
- Petco Park
Fans of baseball will love visiting Petco Park. Catch a San Diego Padres game or take a guided tour of this lovely open air stadium. It is conveniently located right in the heart of downtown, so it is easy to get to and from. The stadium even offers lawn seats where you can take in the game in a more casual way, or grab a snack and drink and enjoy America’s favorite game.
Torrey Pines golf course is one of the most prestigious courses in the world and is certainly a draw in itself. Take a swing at this difficult course, or try your hand at the Balboa Golf Course, Bonita Golf Course, Mission Bay, the Loma Club or the Riverwalk golf courses. There are so many in the area to choose from!
- Whale Watching
If Marine life is your thing, consider a whale-watching tour. Whale watching is a great activity for older adults - all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the ride. Because of San Diego's southern location, you can see whales almost any time of the year. In the Winter and Spring, Gray whales migrate through. If you are hoping to see blue whales, Summer and Fall are best. Dolphins can almost always be seen, and love to see what the boats are up to in the area.
- Seaworld and Scripps Aquarium
More of San Diego's Marine life can be seen on display in both the Birch Aquarium at Scripps and Sea World. The Aquarium is a great destination for a day trip. Get up close with all sorts of marine life. More than 60 different aquarium-style habitats and over 5,000 different fish call the aquarium home. It is also highly accessible, so it is easy to get around - no matter what your mobility level is. Learn about all the latest research and conservation programs from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Sea World also offers a chance to see some marine animals up close. Watch seals and belugas, orcas and walruses perform tricks and shows for your viewing pleasure. It is a great option for visitors of all ages.
- Coronado Island
Coronado is one of the most beautiful and best beaches in the state. The sand on Coronado island has flakes of gold, giving it a gorgeous shining quality. Relax in the sun, swim in the waves, or check out some of the sights in the area like the famous Hotel del Coronado. It is a gorgeous place to stay, enjoy fine dining, or simply just take a picture as the architecture of the building is stunning and dates back to 1888. Even the Coronado bridge is iconic. Drive across, or take in its majesty from the ferry which runs from downtown.
- Mission Beach
There are a number of other great San Diego beaches within a short drive from the city. One of these is Mission Beach. This area is full of fun attractions for the whole family to enjoy. Ride a wooden roller coaster in Belmont Park amusement park, enjoy the golden sand, stroll the boardwalk, or spend time in any of the many shops, restaurants and bars along the way. Whether you are bayside or beachside, this is a popular spot - there is always something going on here.
- Farmer’s Markets
Farmer’s markets are a lovely way to experience the local neighborhood. San Diego has a wide variety of markets to enjoy - each with its own feel and style. Enjoy a bustling market of fresh produce, artisan crafts and lots of snacks in Little Italy, or explore the Farmer’s Market in Hillcrest, Ocean Beach, or Pacific Beach.
- Hiking and Natural Reserves
These areas are a great way to take in the natural beauty of San Diego. Many visitors come to Torrey Pines state natural reserve to walk, explore nature, or enjoy the many hiking trails. They have a wide range of trails to choose from, from beginner to more moderate, depending on your experience level. Even if you’re not up for hiking the park is a great place to relax and enjoy some time in the outdoors.
Another lovely outdoor space is Sunset Cliffs Natural Park which is a popular destination located between Point Loma and Ocean Beach. It is perfect for watching gorgeous sunsets and grabbing a rooftop meal with a view. Or you can check out the many flower fields near Carlsbad.
Whichever community you choose, there are so many places to visit and so many fun things to do in the area. Come visit one of our communities and see the difference for yourself! We hope to welcome you to San Diego soon!