500 Things to Do in San Diego SanDiegan.com 52 Years

Coronado Bridge offers quick access to and from Downtown.

500 Things to Do in San Diego | 52 years SanDiegan.com: Attractions, Shopping, Coupons, Restaurants, Sightseeing, Travel, Tijuana, Mexico, Real Estate, Relocation, Weddings, Birthdays, Wineries

50 Maps & Walking Tours

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You’re one of 5.2 million newcomers, visitors, and residents a year, who follow Barry’s PERSONAL recommendations via his SanDiegan.com, San Diegan Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram, & LinkedIn. Our 52-years of showcasing the best of San Diego is based on an unbiased, personally, experienced, researched approach. Thus, we are the ultimate, trusted, award-winning, San Diego City, and Regional Guide. This 700-page website has so much reliable content that Google categorizes it as an authority site just like The New York Times. SAN DIEGAN is a trademarked Brand.

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The City of San Diego gave Barry a “Barry Berndes Day” on January 14th, 2018. This award was in recognition of Barry’s 50-year devotion to showing millions of people his city annually via the SAN DIEGAN and SanDiegan.com. You are in good hands with Publisher Barry Berndes because Barry Knows San Diego.

Best 1, 2, & 3 Day City Tours

Must-see attractions include seeing the panoramic view of San Diego Bay and beyond from the Cabrillo National Monument and a sunset dinner cruise on San Diego Bay. Beyond these two must-see attractions, the sky is the limit. Click on the headline to create your own custom city tour including awesome places to eat.

Best Restaurants in San Diego Personally Reviewed

Over the past 52 years, I have literally dined in 10,000 restaurants. I go unannounced, pay for my own meals, and I inspect the kitchen. Unlike a YELP review, I always order 3 meals at one sitting. I often recommend the best place to sit such as an ocean view. I have hundreds of page one rankings, including San Diego Banquets & Catering, and Eat FREE on Your Birthday.

Best 1,000 FREE Things to Do

There are literally 1,000’s of FREE things to do in San Diego. Click on the headline above. For example, admission to the San Diego Zoo and San Diego Safari Park are FREE on Founders’ Day (Oct. 2). Balboa Park offers FREE admission to residents on rotating Tuesdays. Old Town’s State Historic Park offers FREE admission and FREE parking. The Military gets FREE admission to major attractions and museums. Do a little preplanning and you’ll discover TONS of FREE things to do!

  1. 30 Parades Annually
  2. 30 Art Galleries in Spanish Village
  3. 50 Maps for Walking & Driving Tours
  4. 54 Miles of Beaches (La Jolla Shores is #1)
  5. 75 Places to eat offering kids eat FREE meals
  6. 75 Places to eat a FREE meal on your birthday
  7. 140 San Diego Festivals
  8. 200 Farmer’s Markets
  9. 250 Hiking Trails
  10. 340 City Parks for picnics & family outings

Best Travel Getaways

Virtually every year online travel magazines rank San Diego as the top Travel destination worldwide beckoning 36 million visitors here to relax and enjoy the moment. Here is a local and regional travel bucket list of must-experience travel destinations in your own backyard to take the edge off during the coronavirus, especially if you have cabin fever.

Best Casinos in San Diego

Our Las Vegas-style casinos offer top-notch gaming venues along with nationally acclaimed entertainment, and dining alternatives galore 24 hours a day. Five casinos even boast luxurious hotel accommodations. Thus, you no longer have to travel to Las Vegas to enjoy gaming at its best. Additional perks include day spas, golf courses, and one casino even has a factory outlet. They are fun 500 Things to do in San Diego travel getaways.

Cheap Hotels or Only the Best?

If you’re not staying in an oceanfront hotel like La Jolla Shores Hotel or a bay view hotel like Kona Kai Resort & Spa on Shelter Island, staying in a good hotel with excellent access to the rest of the city for a lot less money makes good sense. If you are staying in the central zone, then stay in Mission Valley. Back-in-the-day, it was where everyone stayed. That was before the downtown convention center was built. Mission Valley’s major appeal is its two major shopping centers, great restaurants, dozens of good hotels, and easy accessibility to all of the attractions. Two locally-owned favorite hotels with restaurants on their property are The Kings Inn ($72) night and the recently upgraded Town & Country Resort ($128) a night depending on your online search. Plus, military discounts are even lower with your military (ID).

Coupons, Deals & Discounts

You’ll enjoy the many discount coupons for fun things to do, like a sunset champagne dinner cruise aboard a Hornblower yacht on San Diego Bay. A tour of the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier and the awesome high-end factory outlet shops are absolute musts. Be sure to visit the information center at each mall for their many discount coupons. My 500 Things to do in San Diego include coupons, maps, city travel tours, and awesome places to eat.

Curbside Takeaways/Deliveries

The NEW NORMAL is Curbside Takeaway and Delivery. I feature personally reviewed restaurants vs. a list of unknown places. I have always been a big supporter of curbside takeaway dining. Now that dining at home or in your hotel room has become the new NORMAL make it your own by adding candlelight, champagne, and music via Pandora.

Delicious Breakfasts & Brunches

All 73 breakfast and brunch restaurants have been personally reviewed. I went unannounced, paid for my own meals, and inspected the kitchens. Expect a delicious dining experience while discovering my 500 Things to do in San Diego. THINK MORE FOR LESS.

Eat FREE on Your Birthday

You may not live to be 100, but everybody should have 100 Birthdays. Eating in multiple restaurants for FREE during your birthday month is what local restaurant owners are encouraging you to do. Highly recommended is Barra Barra in the historic Old Town. They celebrate all of the birthdays for the month on the 5th day of each month. You’ll receive a FREE meal when you buy a frosty margarita. Other restaurants want you to go online and to get their FREE Coupon. Since you can’t get to all of these restaurants on the same day, most offers are month-long offers for a FREE meal during your birthday month.

Events Calendar

My 500 Things to Do in San Diego Events Calendar offers TONS of fun things to do! You’ll be spoiled with my many exhilarating FREE San Diego Things to Do. Virtually all of the communities showcase who they are with fun things to do like an annual street fair or parade.

FREE 1,000 things to do

Kids Eat FREE Places

Kid Friendly: 40 Fun Things to Do

Mexico Travel Adventures

Be one of my thousands of online followers that use my many chapters and maps to discover the Best of Baja California, Mexico. You should definitely discover the romantic seaport town of Ensenada and the nearby Valle de Guadalupe Wineries via a sleek highway that clings to the coast offering 67 miles of breathtaking ocean views. My personally researched information will enable you to stay in the best hotels, dine in gourmet restaurants, and discover the Best of Baja California, Mexico!

Museums & Attractions

Balboa Park is San Diego’s Cultural Center and is home to 32 museums. It’s a must-see on your list of San Diego things to do. The SanDiegan.com offers a wonderful walking tour with three easy-to-follow maps. Yet, Balboa Park is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to museums. There are historical museums galore including the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier. An absolute must is my museum walking tour of historic Old Town San Diego, where California’s history began. Admission to most of the museums is FREE. I’ll also show you where to enjoy a delicious Mexican meal with a frosty margarita, and be serenaded by strolling mariachi bands. Ole!

Real Estate, Resale, Builders, Apts.

For 52 years Sandiegan.com has been everyone’s choice for insider information for what each suburb has to offer. I also review the top builders and mega apartment complexes. My hands-on experience includes having actually lived in nine different suburbs in San Diego County. Plus, I grew up in San Diego. Reading the over 20 neighborhood chapters with walking and driving tours is a must.

San Diego Military Relocation

I served in the military in San Diego. So, I’ve been on every military base. I know the San Diego you want to know! Be sure to make full use of the Housing Referral Office for your branch of service. They are staffed with military wives, who are committed to your family having a smooth transfer. They are a big help. Also, review the 20 categories on the Navigational Bar.

San Diego Relocation

Access this page via the Navigational Bar above because as a newcomer you will be visiting this website an average of 11 to 48 times your first year of residency. Thus, getting to know all this 700-page website has to offer will be a great asset in getting you up to speed in your relocation. Be sure to read the Real Estate, Neighborhoods, Jobs, and Shopping chapters. If you’re in the military read the extensive Military chapter accessing it via the Navigational Bar as well. My 500 Things to do in San Diego include using the suburb maps with walking and driving tours to give you the lay of the land as each suburb is unique!

Shopping Attractions

San Diego has awesome factory outlet centers, where you can literally shop till you drop! I also showcase the major shopping centers, as they are glamorous major 500 things to do in San Diego destinations too! A must-see Christmas store boasting 40,000 sq. ft. of sheer wonderment is City Lights Collectibles. They offer free shipping & visitors pay no tax!

Shopping Online

At the forefront of online shopping are two of San Diego’s most popular shopping attractions. One is City Lights Collectibles offering 40,000 sq. ft. of collectibles for every holiday you can imagine. Christmas is their specialty, but they also do a rousing business for Halloween. They offer FREE shipping & visitors pay no tax! No less impressive is Canyon Pottery. Their storefront is literally a warehouse plus a half football sized yard filled with must-have pottery from around the world. Online shopping is their specialty as much of their clientele at both of these stores are national and international.

Tijuana Shopping & Restaurants

If you are a visitor, a day trip to Tijuana is just what you do. You’ll need to bring your passport to cross the international border. My Tijuana map and chapter will tell you how to get there, and where to park on this side of the border. Taking your car to Tijuana is not recommended because your insurance is not valid in Mexico. Secondarily, the wait time in line to return to the U.S. can be up to 10 hours. Instead, I highly recommend taking a round trip bus (buses cross quickly via a special border crossing lane). It will literally bring you back to where you parked your car. Everything is thoroughly covered in my 500 Things to do in the San Diego Tijuana Chapter excursion, including where to shop and dine in gourmet restaurants.

Tips: for FASTER Web Access

(1) The arrow in the little black box in the right corner will return you to the top of any page. (2) Click on the Barry Icon to return to the home page from any page. (3) The double-decker Navigational Bar offers access to 20 categories. (4) On the Navigational Bar is an internal search box.

Top 10 Best Burger Joints

An American passion is a constant search for the best hamburger. Here are my Top 10 Best Burger Joints in San Diego. Plus, I’ve added 20 more honorable mentions with a useful map. I dined in each burger joint, and I sampled multiple burgers at one sitting to find their Best burger! All are well worth discovering in my 500 things to do in San Diego.

Tour World-Class Breweries

San Diego is the Micro-Brewery Capital of the World. Included on my 500 Things to do in San Diego brewery tour includes visiting three of the top microbreweries in America. They are Stone Brewery, Ballast Point Brewing Company & Coronado Brewery. My tour shows you four neighborhoods in a few hours and great places to eat.

Travel to San Diego By Air

San Diego is a happy 10 airport county with the San Diego International Airport at Lindbergh Field being the busiest air travel destination. It’s just 2 miles from downtown San Diego. The second busiest airline destination is North County’s McClellan–Palomar Airport. The third major airport (while technically not in the U.S.A) is Mexico’s Tijuana’s International Airport. Travelers can actually get to the airport from the U.S. to Mexico and back via a short walking bridge. Not reviewed in this list of airports are two large military airports.

Travel to San Diego By Car

YOU DEFINITELY NEED A CAR. Preplan getting a car (if you didn’t arrive by car) at the airport or train station. A cheaper way is via Dirt Cheap Car Rental. They rent slightly used cars mostly to foreign exchange students and savvy visitors, who don’t need a brand new car to impress people they don’t even know. My 50 city and suburb map tours will quickly introduce you to my 500 Things to do in San Diego.

Travel to San Diego By Ship

Dozens of cruise ships make scheduled stops in San Diego at the beautiful downtown San Diego Cruise Ship Terminal. Their stopovers enable you to discover a great deal of the Downtown area of San Diego.

Travel to San Diego By Train AMTRAK

Rail travel is fast becoming in vogue again. One reason is that the fares are so reasonable. For example, one-way fare from Los Angeles to San Diego is a mere ($36). California’s picturesque coastline when seen by train is incredible.

Weddings, Rehearsal Dinners, Parties, Banquets & Catering

Is there a wedding or special event in your future? Then do what thousands of locals do, visit these pages. Since there are multiple categories access the individual categories from the Navigational Bar above for Wedding Venue (200), Restaurant venues (100), banquets & Catering (200) venues. My recommendations include impressive wineries, elite golf courses, classy yacht clubs, prestigious hotels, as well as awesome restaurants with breathtaking ocean views. I am page 1 ranked for all of these venues.

Winery Tours of San Diego

There are literally 115 wineries in San Diego County. Many wineries are freeway close. San Diego wines have also been served at the White House. Also impressive is the fact that the first wine grapes grown in California were grown right here in San Diego by the Franciscan Fathers at the Mission San Diego de Alcala in Mission Valley. There are two viticultural areas (AVAs) in San Diego County. The oldest is in the freeway close San Pasqual Valley near Escondido. It’s home to the Orfila Vineyards and Winery, which is the most celebrated winery in San Diego County, with the most-blue ribbon awards. Here too is the promising Rancho Guejito Vineyard. Both wineries are definitely worth visiting. The other wine-growing region is in Ramona, boasting 30 wineries. All are well worth discovering in my 500 things to do in San Diego.

Winery Tour to Temecula

Freeway close Temecula is a famous wine-growing region in Southern California. What put this once little-known wine-growing region on everybody’s list of must-visit places was when then-President Reagan served the Queen of England a (second glass at her request) of Temecula’s Calloway 1974 White Riesling wine. The rest, as they say, is history. While there are 40 wineries in the Temecula Valley, I have chosen 17 for you to visit with 4 being must-visit wineries. I also suggest superb wine country restaurants (I have personally dined in) and two excellent places to stay. One is a French chateau. Plus, the map is excellent!

Winery tour: Valle de Guadalupe

Another winery day-trip getaway by car or a bus tour is to Mexico’s Valle de Guadalupe near the romantic seaport town of Ensenada. Ensenada is home to one of the top 5 French Restaurants in the world. Wine tasting in Mexico means dining in gourmet restaurants while sampling their’s wines against the backdrop of sweeping vineyard views. It’s an amazing experience. All are well worth discovering in my 500 things to do in San Diego.

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