Planning that perfect San Diego Spring Break? Then you’re probably looking for a few ideas beyond “find great Mexican” or “locate cheap beer.”
After all, you only have so many days in town and you want to see something beyond the back of a taco truck.
So if you’re trying to piece together a great spring break trip to San Diego that combines local flavor with some great attractions, this post is for you!
Great attractions included in this itinerary include:
- The San Diego Zoo
- The Air & Space Museum
- Knotts Berry Farm
- Kayaking in La Jolla
- Padres Baseball
- and more!
Choose as you go from dozens of top San Diego attractions and save up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate. Or, build your own pass and save up to 20% off.
See all available passes, attractions & prices – Learn more.
In Town for Three Days:
Day 1: Explore Balboa Park
During the Day:
If you have any appreciation for culture at all, then you’ll want to spend a little time exploring Balboa Park. It’s the nation’s largest cultural park and it appeals to so many different interests that we’re sure you’ll find something cool to explore.
Love animals? Then a must-see is the world famous Zoo (lucky for you our pass includes San Diego Zoo tickets – one of the best zoos in the country and only one of four zoos with the adorable Giant Pandas.
You’ll need a few hours here, so if you do choose to go to the zoo plan on it being at least half of your day.
Insider Tip: go when it first opens to see the animals at their most active, or save it for the evening during feeding time when they’ll be lively again.
Dreamed of being an astronaut when you were a little kid?
Head to the Air & Space Museum for some amazingly cool historic aircraft and a fascinating history of flight in San Diego.
An aspiring artist, or just a fan of art?
Be sure to stop by the San Diego Museum of Art to see their awesome holdings, particularly featuring European paintings from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, a fine collection of South Asian art, and some nineteenth and twentieth century American art.
Or perhaps your version of culture is a little bit more mainstream, and you’d love to check out some sports stats or retired jerseys. We’ve got you covered – the San Diego Sports Museum is your prime destination.
Choose two or three of these to visit your first day and you’ve got a full day of enjoyable explorations ahead of you.
For lunch, you can either dine at one of the many restaurants within and around the park, or bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy in the warm weather.
Be sure to stop by The Prado, a fantastic historic building, even if you don’t eat there.
Before you leave, be sure to take an evening stroll through Balboa Park to appreciate the lovely nighttime lighting and the serene atmosphere.
If you’re searching for some dinner options, head nearby Cambridge Square for some highly rated choices, from sushi to pizza to dessert.
Then, head down to the Gaslamp Quarter for some nightlife options. You’ll find everything from dance clubs to hole-in-the-wall pubs.
Day 2: Take a Break with Some Beach Time
During the Day:
San Diego was your top choice for spring break for a few reasons, one of which was La Jolla.
This stunning locale is the perfect setting for swimming, sunbathing, hiking, biking, kayaking, snorkeling…you name it, you can enjoy it in La Jolla.
Spend the morning sunbathing and napping off your adventures from last night, then rent some kayaks or go snorkeling for a fun afternoon in the sun.
If you’d prefer something a little more off the beaten path, head to Mission Bay Park for some beautiful waterways and fewer crowds.
You can even take a quick drive down to Point Loma to see a cool historic lighthouse and some amazing ocean vistas.
Along the way, be sure to snap photos of the really neat tide pools in the area – they’re perfect for that charming Instagram, and there’s no filter required.
Or, if you’re looking for a little more tree action, then Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a must-see. It’s a natural park with tons of trails for hiking or running and a vast swathe of the natural world to explore.
Don’t leave La Jolla before the sunset – you will not want to miss the stunning natural beauty of this one-of-a-kind view. (Yet another ‘gram for you.)
Now is your opportunity for some excellent locale cuisine. There are tons of great restaurants in La Jolla, and they run the gamut from the high-end seafood jaunts to delicious Mexican-inspired noms (Puesto Mexican Street Food is our favorite in that category).
If you’re the kind of group that loves to try new and different beers – and San Diego is a great city for that – then check out the Karl Strauss Brewing Company.
Day 3: Go Crazy on Theme Park Rides
During the Day:
Let’s face it. You fell in love with San Diego for more than just the beaches and temperate weather.
You really wanted to indulge in some good old-fashioned high-speed, screaming fun.
These two parks have everything from terrifying roller coasters to those cool little spinny things you loved as a kid.
Filled with amazing rides, slides, and other great attractions, you can spend an entire day at one or both. Don’t forget to pick up some of their souvenir jam for Mom!
Another fun option is the beachfront Belmont Park, which offers a more boardwalk-esque feel if you’re going for that real beach vacation vibe.
Take advantage of the unlimited ride wristband for some serious fun. Just remember to watch how much cotton candy you eat – trust us on that one.
If this is your last night in San Diego, you want to make sure you’ve found that perfect dining spot if you haven’t already.
Some neighborhoods to roam in search of great cuisine include Banker’s Hill, Downtown, and Del Mar.
Head back to the Gaslamp Quarter to try out that place you saw last night after dinner, or try something new around Hillcrest or Little Italy.
If You’re in Town for Five Days:
Day 4: Hop Aboard a Whale Watch
During the Day:
While this won’t take all day, a whale watch is a nice relaxing option to slow down a bit after the hectic pace of the last few days.
It’s also the perfect opportunity to commune with nature, spend a little time appreciating the beauty of the ocean, and catch a few glimpses of some of the world’s most fascinating giant creatures.
After your morning whale watch, snag cheap tickets to a Padres Game (assuming you’re in town after early April) and enjoy the sight of America’s greatest game in a really cool stadium.
Or, if you’re looking for something a little more historical, swing by Old Town San Diego to scope out beautiful old buildings and significant sites.
The Padres game will run into the evening, but afterwards feel free to pop out and explore more bars, shops, and restaurants in the adjacent Gaslamp Quarter. For example, the Mission Brewery is right by Petco Park.
Day 5: Explore the City
During the Day:
If you’ve had your fill of fabulous activities and attractions, it’s time for some sightseeing, old school.
Try wandering around Seaport Village for some distracting window-shopping, tasty lunch options, and the chance to enjoy the city like the locals do without paying for it.
By this point, you should have hit up the Gaslamp Quarter in the evening for some great bars or night cubs, but have you seen it in the daylight?
Pop down there for a chance to snap photos of the charming historic sites and beautifully preserved Victorian architecture.
If your last day falls on a Sunday, then head back to Balboa Park for a fun, free organ concert at Spreckels Organ Pavilion, featuring one of the world’s largest outdoor pipe organs (trust us, it’s really cool).
Be super cultural by taking in a show at the Old Globe Theatre in Balboa Park.
The timing of this may vary depending on when your trip falls, but they regularly perform both classic Shakespeare and modern theatrical performances nightly.
You could also opt for something more musical, with a trip to the Symphony or a local concert hall. If you keep an eye out you can often get discounted ticket prices (especially with a student ID).
Save on Admission
Remember, a lot of the popular attractions listed here are included on the Go San Diego® Card.
It provides admission to tons of museums, amusement parks, cultural institutions, and more, plus it offers additional discounts on some dining and shopping options.