Beautiful places to visit in San Diego, California

Top things to do in San Diego, California and beautiful places to visit in San Diego County, including Balboa Park, La Jolla and San Clemente.


There are many wonderful places to visit in San Diego. It’s a destination that I was looking forward to explore, after hearing from just about everyone who’s been there how beautiful it is.

I visited San Diego on a private tour with Tierra Marina Tours. It was my first time in California, and with local tour guides who know what to see in San Diego and where to go for attractions and great views, we got to visit some of the most beautiful gems in the San Diego area.

Balboa park in san diego

One of the top things to do in San Diego is visiting Balboa Park.

It’s much more than just an ordinary urban park…

With gorgeous gardens, museums and galleries, theatres, street performers, art studios and cultural activities, you can easily spend an entire day there.

Balboa Park
Balboa Park (Get a print here)

Most of the attractions and museums in the park are free to enter. I especially enjoyed The Museum of Photographic Arts (MOPA).

Balboa Park
Balboa Park (Get a print here)

I also loved the Spanish Village Art Center. It has a pretty amazing range of art studios, where local artists and artisans work and sell their crafts.

 The Spanish Village Art Center
The Spanish Village Art Center

The colourful tiles make this place very Instgrammable ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you have little time in the city and want to make a shortlist of places to visit in San Diego, I think Balboa Park is a place not to be missed.

San diego seaport village

We took a ferry boat from Coronado Island to San Diego’s Seaport Village.

It’s a short ferry ride with great views in any direction you look.

Seaport Village a charming place to visit in downtown San Diego, right on the waterfront.

With its cute shops, restaurants and chilled atmosphere, this place should definitely be on your San Diego sightseeing list.

Some of the shops are quite unique, like Kite Flite, a cool kite shop by the water, and the Village Hat Shop, where we had a lovely time trying on all sorts of quirky hats.

Kite shop in Seaport Village
Kite shop in Seaport Village

When you’re done browsing the shops, head back to the waterfront to take in the view.

You get a splendid view of the water, Coronado Island, Coronado Bridge and the fancy marina boats.

San Diego Seaport Village
San Diego Seaport Village

All the shops around Seaport Village have a colourful brochure that you can pick up.

It lists all the things to do in San Diego Seaport Village, plus a handy map of the shops and restaurants and a live music schedule.

If you continue walking along the water you’ll reach the USS Midway. It’s a retired aircraft carrier that is now a museum well worth visiting.

San clemente pier

On the way to the city of San Diego, we made some stops at a few other points of interest.

The first one was San Clemente, in Orange County, just before you reach San Diego County.

It’s a delightfully sunny Californian beach city, where you definitely want to visit the pier.

  San Clemente Pier
San Clemente Pier (get a poster)

From the pier, the view of the water, the waves and the beaches is a real joy ๐Ÿ™‚

   San Clemente beach
San Clemente beach (get a poster)

You can also go underneath the pier for a different experience. Have a look at this photo taken by our tour guide:

La jolla – the jewel of san diego

Not far from San Clemente is another pretty Californian beach city called La Jolla (The Jewel).

It’s one of the most charming places to see in San Diego County and unsurprisingly, it attracts a lot of tourists.

The jetty in La Jolla is especially popular and gives you a good viewing point from which you can see harbour seals on the beach.

Seals in La Jolla San Diego
Seals in La Jolla San Diego

There are some excellent art galleries on the main street that we enjoyed.

The National Geographic Gallery and Ian Ely Gallery both feature some amazing nature and travel photography.

We passed by the jetty one last time before sunset to head to our next stop: Torrey Pines Gliderport.

La Jolla jetty
La Jolla jetty

Paragliding at sunset: torrey pines gliderport

Torrey Pines Gliderport is one of the most spectacular places to go in San Diego, especially at sunset.

The view of the Pacific Ocean is dazzling and as you go closer to the water it becomes even more so.

I’ve never tried paragliding, though I’d love to do it one day.

Torrey Pines Gliderport is a great spot for paragliding and watching paragliders soaring above the ocean.

Sunset paragliding in Torrey Pines Gliderport  San Diego
Sunset paragliding in Torrey Pines Gliderport, San Diego (Get a poster)

It’s a very relaxing place to spend some time in, take a leisurely walk, watch birds and people flying above your head and take some sunset photos.

San diego boat tour

Some of the best San Diego activities are on the water. Everywhere you look, you’ll see sailboats, cruise boats, speed boats and even a vehicle that transitions from a bus into a boat.

View from the boat tour in San Diego
View from the boat tour in San Diego

We took a very pleasant boat tour with Flagship Cruises on a large, spacious boat that took us to see all the highlights.

You can do either a one hour tour (selecting between a North Bay or South Bay trip) or a two hour tour.

We took the longer tour, which was nice and relaxing.

View from the San Diego boat tour
View from the San Diego boat tour

It’s a great introduction to the city, with great views of the water, the San Diego skyline, Coronado Bridge and other San Diego attractions.

Where is it? san diego county map

About tierra marina tours

This trip I took to California had a unique concept. Me and a fellow blogger and Instagrammer, Gili Elad, went on the trip together with a brand new tour company called Tierra Marina Tours, specialising in destinations in California and Mexico.

It’s a private tour with an optimised itinerary where everything is pre-booked, though there was some flexibility in our schedule of course.

We had two wonderful tour guides who took us everywhere in a super comfortable van and shared their local knowledge with us.

One of the highlights of this trip was the accommodation. We stayed at gorgeous, luxurious houses in LA and San Diego.

The house in San Diego was on top of a hill with an amazing view from the patio.

Find out more

For more information check out the Tierra Marina Tours website.

Learn more about San Diego on the official San Diego Tourist Authority website.

Read more about my trip to California.

save this san diego travel guide on pinterest

I was invited on the tour by Tierra Marina Tours. All opinions are my own.



I never been to San Diego but always dreamed of visiting and this post made me want to go even more. Paragliding at sunset sounds awesome, next time you should try ๐Ÿ™‚

Wow, wow and wow!
What an awesome post! If this post is “intended” to be an appetizer or introduction to California, then it has achieved the goal!
Until now I used to sing “California Dreaming”, now I am dreaming of California…
A very very beautiful post, every place is “killing”, and San Clemente Pier seems to me like entering heaven on earth!
Thank you for this experience.

I have actually been to San Diego but it seems like such a distant memory now! I did the usual Sea World visit and some beaches which I cannot remember the name of but I remember loving the vibe and just watching the surfers ride the waves! The Spanish Village Art Centre looks pretty cool and I’d also love to visit Balboa Park if I make it back to San Diego someday!

I’m so sad I missed San Diego on my last tour of the west coast. San Clemente Pier looks so scenic, I’m missing some serious sunshine at the moment!

Iโ€™ve only been to San Diego once and the only place I made it to your list was La Jolla. Sounds like I need to go back to see the rest and enjoy the great weather!

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