San Diego is a popular starting point for cruises to Mexico, Hawaii, and the Panama Canal. From a quick weekend getaway in Baja Mexico to a full 15-days in the Hawaiian paradise, cruises from San Diego are very popular among vacationers.
With San Diego as your departure point, the fun starts before the cruise has even begun! Famous for sun, surf, friendly people and great food, there are lots of fun things to do in San Diego. Here are a few great ways to spend your time before or after your cruise vacation.
1. Visit Balboa Park
Before you step aboard or when the cruise activities are over, make a visit to San Diego’s favorite gathering place (other than the beach, of course) Balboa Park. The park itself is massive, dotted with gardens, fountains, playgrounds, dancing classes, Spanish colonial architecture, great dining, and more than 17 museums! For outdoor exploration, shopping, or local culture, Balboa Park truly has it all. The central location makes this green space easy to visit during your time in sunny San Diego.
2. Local Zoo and Safari Park
Possibly Balboa Park’s most famous installation is the local zoo and safari park! The zoo is world famous for its wide variety of over 3,700 animals of more than 650 species. Discover the animals of Africa, Asia, and Australia and see native California creatures as well. The zoo offers many VIP experiences, tours and interactive displays to make this an unforgettable visit for the whole family.
3. Sunset Cliffs
When traveling to San Diego, you absolutely have to take in a sparkling sunset or two. With dramatic cliffs and cave formations along the coastline, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is the perfect place to do that. It’s well located in the city’s Point Loma area, with plenty of panoramic views overlooking the ocean. You can stop by after lunch or bring a picnic. There are several great spots to catch the sunset, so you shouldn’t have trouble finding a seat for Mother Nature’s show. And if you can’t make it for sunset – don’t worry! Sunset Cliffs is a magical place, any time of day.
4. Coronado Island
Although it’s just across the bridge, Coronado Island feels like a world away! Just across the bay from San Diego, the award-winning Coronado Beach is definitely worth a visit. While here, you can admire the architecture of the island’s most famous hotel built in 1888, stroll along the beach or rent a bike and take a ride. Aside from numerous seaside activities from sailing to paddle boarding and surfing, you can just sit back, relax, and enjoy the lovely weather. This is a great spot for people watching!
5. La Jolla Cove
When you’re searching for what to do in San Diego, the charming, tucked away La Jolla Cove may quickly make it to the top of your list! The small but iconic beach is known for its fancy surrounding neighborhood, sunbathing sea lions, and seaside restaurants. But did you know you can also snorkel, kayak and swim here? The La Jolla Cove area is home to an ecological reserve where you can choose your own adventure: swim with majestic sea turtles or test your bravery among the sharks. Although the leopard sharks here are harmless, they’ll get your adrenaline pumping! Or just enjoy the sandy beach, have a swim, and take a look at the nearby shops. A day in La Jolla Cove is sure to be a fun-filled one!
6. An Aircraft Carrier Museum
Located at San Diego’s Navy Pier, the United States Navy’s longest-serving aircraft carrier is now a museum and maritime experience for visitors from around the world. The gallery of real aircraft aboard the ship is truly something to behold. But that’s not all – you’ll learn about life at sea throughout the Cold War, the famous Battle of Midway, and much more. While just being on the ship is an experience in itself, the folks at this museum will make sure you leave impressed, through multimedia exhibits, informative guidance and multiple well-curated exhibits.
7. Have a Taco
Much like in other California cities, the coastal-inspired taco scene in San Diego is alive and well! Excellent seafood, meat, and vegetarian varieties can be found from street trucks to fine dining environments. If you like seafood, we suggest a beer-battered fish or juicy shrimp taco to top off your seaside vacation.
8. Historic Roller Coaster at Mission Beach
The beach at Mission Boulevard and West Mission Bay Drive is surely one of the city’s sweetest spots, and arguably, one of the U.S.’s best boardwalks. The famous vintage Mission Beach roller coaster has a long history. One of the original oceanfront roller coasters, this wooden carnival coaster was originally built in 1924. A ride on it will take you back to earlier times and will test your sense of adventure. Get ready to raise your arms and scream! If you’re not one for amusement park thrills, skip the coaster and head straight for the waves.
No matter where your cruise takes you, don’t forget to take advantage of your starting or end destination. San Diego is the ideal place to enjoy the warm climate, pretty views, and California’s good vibes. If that’s not enough, in celebration of Carnival Miracle® sailing from San Diego in 2019, consider participating in our CHOOSE FUN Carnival Airship Sweepstakes for your chance to win a cruise for 2 among other fun prizes. So what are you waiting for? Start planning a memorable cruise vacation from San Diego today!
Note: Onboard activities, shore excursions, and dining options may vary by ship and destination.