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Image of San Diego skyline from Coronado

Local’s Guide To San Diego

With its beautiful beaches, perfect weather and warm California personality, San Diego is an ideal vacation destination. While most visitors know the main attractions and touristy things to do in town, getting an insider’s perspective is always helpful. Learn more about local favorites in San Diego, including sightseeing tours, unique attractions, beaches and roller coasters.

Watch as sharks and lobsters eat

At the Birch Aquarium in San Diego, you can see all kinds of unique and interesting marine animals in their natural habitats. This oceanographic institute provides a fascinating, entertaining and educational experience for kids and adults. At Birch, you get an up close view of Pacific marine life including sharks, seahorses and living coral reefs in 60 habitats. There are interactive, hands-on exhibits, living tide pools, a 13,000-gallon shark tank that is home to a variety of shark species, rays and other animals and much more.

Two hang gliders soaring high above the Pacific Ocean in Torrey Pines, San Diego

Jump off a cliff

If you’ve ever wondered or dreamed about what it would be like to fly, here’s your chance. A local favorite, Torrey Pines Glider Port is the place to go for the thrill of a lifetime. You can glide above the magnificent ocean with the wind in your hair alongside an experienced pilot. Well known as one of the top places to learn how to hang glide, there are locals here nearly every day of the year experiencing the exhilaration of flight. Of course, if you’re not into flying, just watching these people is a thrill. Bring a picnic, find a good spot to sit and enjoy the spectacle.

Smiling patrons leaning over the side of a floating San Diego Seal vehicle observing sea lions basking in the sun up close

Take a ride on the SEAL

The San Diego SEAL tour is one of the most unique and fun ways to see the sights. Half the fun is riding aboard the SEAL, an amphibious vehicle that goes from land to water and back again. The unique San Diego tour takes you past many significant places on the streets of the city, then plunges into the harbor like a James Bond vessel. You’ll learn all about the rich military history and see the Maritime Museum, Seaport Village and much more. Fun for kids and adults!

Image of rocks in La Jolla cove

Hit the beach

You simply cannot visit San Diego without spending some time at one of the gorgeous beaches. There are so many to choose from and each has its own personality. For a truly authentic, local experience, head to Mission Beach, La Jolla Shores or Ocean Beach and have your own beach party complete with bonfire and smores. These beaches actually have fire rings set up on the beach; but you should scope one out early or you may have to share. There’s nothing quite like watching the sun go down as the tide rolls in. A bonfire on the beach just makes it even better.

An Old Town Trolley stopped in front of the Belmont Park Rollercoaster with the coaster itself in a high-speed turn

Ride a beach roller coaster

Mission Beach is not only home to beautiful white sand and shimmering seas, it’s also home to Belmont Park, a historic beachfront amusement park that has been around nearly 100 years. If you love a good roller coaster or any sort of amusement park rides, you’ll have a blast at Belmont. From the Giant Dipper and Beach Blaster to the Control Freak and Octotron, there’s something for everyone. Of course, Belmont also has bumper cars, the Tilt-A-Whirl, Vertical Plunge and a carousel.