San Diego is famous for its sandy beaches with terrific surfing conditions, laidback culture and focus on outdoor living, and for having some of the best year-round weather in the world. Travelers sailing away on cruises from San Diego, or those who have a day in port on a Pacific Coast cruise, are in for a treat, thanks to the delicious cuisine and incredible attractions located around the city.
Whether you’re dreaming of sunbathing on the beach or heading to one of San Diego’s epic museums or animal attractions, you’re in for a fantastic, unforgettable trip to this beloved destination nicknamed America’s Finest City.
For a quintessential beach experience in San Diego, head to Mission Beach. At this fun, eclectic spot, you’ll find a bustling boardwalk full of people strolling and rollerblading, surfers getting ready to hit the waves, and many other individuals that make for a fun day of people-watching. Mission Beach is home to that iconic landscape San Diego is known for: miles of wide, golden sand bordered by crashing blue waves. It’s adjacent to Belmont Park, a fun carnival-style amusement park with an old wooden roller coaster. There are also several surf shops and other souvenir shops next to Mission Beach.
For a more serene beach experience, head a bit farther north to Windansea Beach in La Jolla. Located in the laidback Bird Rock neighborhood of La Jolla, Windansea Beach is secluded by a myriad of large flat rocks that create little hideaways where you can lay your towel over the idyllic soft sand. Despite its seemingly worlds-away location, you’re only a couple blocks from coffee shops, cafés, and restaurants.
The San Diego Zoo is considered to be one of the best zoos in the world, thanks to its visitor experience, conservation efforts, and large and natural animal enclosures. A visit to this renowned zoo during a cruise to San Diego is often a must for families, though visitors of all ages will enjoy seeing the many different species and watching the live presentations that teach you more about the world’s wildlife. The San Diego Zoo is especially known for its panda exhibit, since it’s one of the few zoos outside of China where you can see these special creatures in person.
The USS Midway is an old naval aircraft carrier turned museum that’s permanently docked in the harbor of San Diego. Learn more about the area’s naval activity and history while you see where sailors slept on the ship, the control room, where fighter jets landed on the ship, and smaller aircraft housed on the enormous ship. Another fun sight to see while at the USS Midway is the huge statue of a sailor kissing a nurse, located in the small park area adjacent to the ship.
Old Town is a historic area located just north of downtown San Diego. The main street is lined by Mexican restaurants, cigar shops, and souvenir shops. Head beyond the main street and you’ll find a number of historic buildings you can tour, including Victorian-era homes, a one-room schoolhouse, and old adobe-style homes.
Another popular nautical attraction is the San Diego Maritime Museum, where you can walk around a Soviet-era submarine, see a British frigate replicate, and tour the Star of India, the oldest active sailing ship in the world.
Before boarding one of our cruises from San Diego, get out into the water and enjoy views of the city and the bay. There are sailing opportunities available for every type of traveler, from romantic catamarans that set sail during sunset, to brunch cruises and party boats that connect to resorts on opposite sides of the harbor.
Take a stroll around San Diego’s Balboa Park to soak in historic architecture, attractive landscaping, and 17 world-class museums. Some of the museums you can visit while in port or before you embark on one of the cruises from San Diego include theNat (a natural history museum), the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Air and Space Museum, the San Diego Railroad Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Man.
San Diego is considered one of the top beer cities in the world. With breweries located all over the city center and beyond, there is no shortage of breweries you can visit, even if you’re short on time. On a group tour, you’ll be driven to some of the area’s best breweries and learn about the history of the brews and the local scene here in San Diego.
If your ideal beach-going experience is less about sand and more about views, head to La Jolla Cove. This breathtaking piece of coastline curves magnificently around the Pacific Ocean, and along with steep cliffs and rocky tide pools, you’ll find sea lions, seagulls, and other sea birds frolicking in the surf and on the rocks. Walk along the sidewalk lining the cliffs of the cove, or picnic in the large grassy area nearby. The cove is next to La Jolla’s upscale shopping district, which is home to a number of fine restaurants and designer boutiques. Adventure enthusiasts can go sea kayaking through the caves or offshore snorkeling and scuba diving within the cove.
When it comes to the food to try during your cruise to San Diego, you can’t miss authentic Mexican cuisine and fresh seafood. San Diego is particularly known for its Baja fish tacos, which are made with pieces of fish (often cod or mahi-mahi) that are fried up in tasty batter and placed on a corn tortilla, then topped with a tangy white sauce and a big heaping of cabbage. It may sound simple, but try it and you’ll soon realize why fish tacos are such a delicacy in San Diego and sold on practically every corner.
Another iconic San Diego dish to try is the California burrito, which stuffed with carne asada, french fries, guacamole, and cheese. The burgers here are fantastic, with the battle for best burger usually being between Hodad’s in OB (Ocean Beach) and Rocky’s in PB (Pacific Beach). If you’re in the mood for seafood, try some fresh fish or locally caught spiny lobster (if it’s in season) at one of the many oceanfront restaurants. Point Loma, the Gaslamp Quarter, and La Jolla are good bets for upscale seafood restaurants.
When it comes to craft beer, the drink to try is the West Coast IPA, made particularly famous by Stone Brewery, an iconic brewery in San Diego. If you’re short on time during San Diego cruises, head to the location at Liberty Station in the Point Loma area. Another fun place to try local beer is at Barrel Republic in Pacific Beach, where you can purchase a tasting card and try one of its many on-tap brews.
The first known inhabitants of the area that is now San Diego were the Kumeyaay people. Later, San Diego became known as the birthplace of California since it was the first site visited by Europeans on the West Coast. It was claimed for Spain by explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo in 1542. San Diego is known for being laid back, and its surf and beach culture take front and center when it comes to things to do. San Diego County is a prominent area for companies in the biomedical, golf, and advertising industries. Those who call San Diego home are quick to adopt a work-play philosophy, dividing their time between their job and the great outdoors.
Cruises from San Diego depart from the modern B Street Cruise Terminal and Broadway Pier. This is also generally where cruises to San Diego pull into port. The terminal has many customer service representatives as well as souvenir shops and a beautiful park where visitors can sit along the water.
If you’re embarking on one of our cruises from San Diego, you’ll find ample off-street parking with shuttles connecting to the cruise terminal, as well as easy access via taxi or public transportation from the airport or downtown area.
San Diego offers a variety of ways to get around before your cruise from San Diego. You can take the Coaster train north and south to visit some of the coastal suburbs and their charming downtown areas. You can also use the Sprinter, a light rail line which connects the western coast with some of the more inland areas, such as San Marcos and Escondido, which is convenient if you want to visit some of the outlying breweries. The Sprinter and Coaster both connect in Oceanside. The San Diego Trolley is a quintessential way to travel around the city. It connects the Gaslamp Quarter with Old Town San Diego and some of the outer edges of the city limits. You’ll also find many taxi ranks around downtown San Diego and in the popular beach areas, including by the Port of San Diego. There’s an extensive bus system here, though it’s generally not the fastest mode of transportation.
The mecca of all malls in the city is Fashion Valley, located in Mission Valley. Fashion Valley is home to several department stores, brand names, and luxury brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, and Balenciaga. Soak in some of the Southern California sunshine as you walk between stores at this open-air mall.
For funky boutiques and eclectic shops, including San Diego’s most famous hat store, head to the uptown neighborhood of Hillcrest. The Gaslamp Quarter, which is located within walking distance from the San Diego Harbor, is also home to a number of popular shops and locally owned boutiques.
San Diego uses the U.S. dollar, and credit cards are widely accepted. However, be sure to double check before getting into a cab if you can use your credit card since some drivers only take cash. In addition, smaller food stands may only accept cash so it’s good to double check before ordering if you don’t see a sign clearly stating what is accepted. If you need cash, ATMs are located all over the city.
Tipping in San Diego is similar to the rest of the United States -- 15% to 20% of the total bill, with 20% quickly becoming the most common tipping amount for good service.