23 San Diego Attractions That Will Make You Mad

WARNING. This article will make you go through the 5 stages of grief.

Denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance are just some of the emotions visitors to San Diego go through. These San Diego attractions will make you reevaluate your life and question why you don’t already live here.

Annual Events

San Diego Comic-Con International: No doubt the biggest gathering of comic book fans this side of the multiverse, the San Diego Comic Con (SDCC) takes over the San Diego Convention Center every July. SDCC features hundreds of booths from local vendors, artists and fans showcasing their works and collection. Guest panels from television and movie’s biggest hits also come to promote their latest venture. Stars like Jennifer Lawrence, Matt Smith, Chris Hemsworth and the cast of Supernatural are just some of the big stars that will be doing Q & As for the lucky fans able to see their panels. By far my favorite part of SDCC is the cosplay that fans create from the bizarre to the jaw dropping, you will see your favorite character roaming the halls of the convention. Tip: Nowadays it’s pretty hard to get tickets, however those that have tickets this year will have priority registration next year, so ask around and you might just get lucky.

San Diego County Fair: Running from June to July, the SD Fair held at the Del Mar Race Tracks, marks the beginning of summer for most San Diegans. An upwards of 1.3 million people each year visit the menagerie of rides, sights, and food that can be seen at the fair. Twirl a whirls, ferris wheels and the sling shot are amongst the rides that will captivate all ages and sizes. At every turn you will discover a herd of farm animals, my favorite sights being the pig and turkey races. Speaking of turkeys, one of the main draws to the fair are the giant turkey legs that are roasted (think Flintstones). Fried food stalls line every corner with ingredients like cookie dough, pickles, and oreos deep fried to perfection. If you ever want to experience a different side to San Diego, I suggest going to the San Diego Fair. Tip: parking here can be a nightmare, be sure to scout out the free parking lots and just use the shuttles to come back and forth.

December Nights Balboa Park: Christmas wouldn’t be the same without going to December Nights. Located at Balboa Park in early December, the museums which include the Natural History Museum, and the San Diego Museum of Man open their doors for free to the public. Spreckles Organ Pavilion plays host to the Christmas choir, a popular attraction. Alongside the streets are booths hosted by the International Cottages showcasing food from every country. Last year I was able to taste my first Libyan baklava, and it was mind blowingly good.

San Diego Pride: Spanning the streets of Hillcrest to Balboa Park, San Diego pride formed over 40 years ago and is the 4th largest pride in the nation boasting 250,000 in attendance over the three day celebration. Floats line the streets that represent local community organizations such as the SD Pflag chapter and LGBT Military veterans. This year with the legalization of nationwide same sex marriage caused an extra case to celebrate. The route takes you to Balboa Park where a festival is held filled with local and guest dj’s, music from latin shake your hips music, to edm. One of the notable guest Djs this year is the dreamy Ruby Rose from Orange is the New Black. Overall the parade is fun and festive way to celebrate the diversity found in San Diego.

Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead is a celebrated Mexican holiday every November. What is it? It’s a day where everyone celebrates with their friends and family in honor of their loved ones that have passed. The keyword being celebrates, this event is ghoulish or morose and must not be confused with Halloween traditions. The whole community of Old Town San Diego comes together to pay tribute to the importance of this region in history. Here you will see a procession of family members with candles at hand leading the way to the El Campo Santo cemetery. Many come in costume and face paints, like the skull candy, these are symbols for the celebration of life and death. 

Miramar Air Show: From the Marines at Camp Pendleton to the Navy ships right off Coronado, San Diego has a large contingent of military presence. Every year as a salute to veterans and their families, the Marine Corps Air Station opens up to the public to display American air superiority. There’s nothing more badass than jets flying through the air as a sign of America’s skill and presence in the sky. This is an all ages event, but be warned as more often than not there will be levels of traffic and high heat during the day, come prepared.


Manna BBQ: Located in Convoy Street in Clairemont, it’s hard to choose from the many restaurants that offer Asian cuisine. If you’ve never had Korean BBQ before, I suggest you not eat beforehand in order to save your appetite. Manna BBQ is an interactive all you can eat experience. Once seated you are given kimchi and other accoutrements and in the middle of your table sits a grill where meat is heated by diners. Pace yourself. Try all the different types of meat on the menu, from pork belly to beef tongue. If you’re looking for an adventurous dining experience, Manna BBQ is your place to be.

Juniper and Ivy: If you’ve ever seen Top Chef you’ll no doubt recognize the name that heads this restaurant, Richard Blais. Famous for his wicked hair and winning Top Chef All Stars, Blais has created a polished and inviting restaurant in the heart of downtown San Diego. Going to Juniper and Ivy is an experience, Blais continues much of the perfectly crafted attention to detail and unexpected culinary surprises that we’ve seen in tv and has transported it into a feast for our stomachs. Foodie or not, Juniper and Ivy highlights the best high end dining experience San Diego has to offer.

Tita’s Kitchenette: Looking for home cooking? Tita’s Kitchenette (or Auntie’s Kitchen in English) transport you to that one time you got invited to a Filipino gathering. Lumpia, BBQ, pancit, this restaurant gives you a thorough crash course of Filipino cuisine. Served buffet line style, the family atmosphere captures the perfect dining experience to reflect the Filipino persona. Known for their whole roasted porks, don’t be afraid to try the different delicacies such as dinuguan (meat stewed within pig’s blood) or sisig (a meat ceviche like conconction).

Taste of the Himalayas: I’m a sucker for good Indian food. Bold flavors can be found here carried by their spices that transports your pallet to the food stalls of Mumbai. When seated you are served with a complimentary lentil soup, then there’s the naan which is an Indian flatbread of sorts (think tortilla). I’ll take their garlic naan over any Italian bread stick any day. Their entrees pack a punch but can be adjusted to customize your level of spiciness. You know when you nose starts running but you can’t stop eating the food? Yes this place will do that to you.

Las Cuatro Milpas: Be forewarned, there will be a line. But that won’t matter once you try the food. The word authentic is spoken about a lot but Las Cuatro Milpas really does bring it home when it comes to authentic Mexican food. Nestled in Barrio Logan, you’ll surely smell the home made tortillas way before you enter this joint. I think sometimes as San Diegans we take for granted the quality of Mexican food we have here, that is until we travel out of state and realize that the rest of the world (aside from mexico of course)…has no clue. If you’re from out of town and looking for those hole in the wall places they showcase on TV, well you’ve found it. Once you’ve tried Las Cuatro Milpas, you’ll be kicking yourself as to why you didn’t come sooner.

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Mt Woodson: You’ve no doubt seen profile pictures of people hanging off a thin ledge and and thought dear god why would they do that and where can I do the same thing. Mt. Woodson in Poway, CA is home to the famous Potato Chip Rock which can be found at the top of this hike. The trail starts next to the scenic Poway lake then it’s all uphill from there. Be sure to bring at least two bottles of water and to start off your journey early when it’s nice and cool. I would approximate that it would an average of 2 hours to go up and 2 hours to go down if you are stopping at the top. This hike is not to be taken lighthearted, it will push you if you haven’t hiked before or are not in great physical shape.

Cowles Mountain: A popular hike amongst San Diegans because of it’s proximity to SDSU. If you’re looking for a quick sweat away from the gym, Cowles is the perfect length to do just that. Here’s an insider trick, usually if you find yourself unable to find parking, just down the hill are residential areas that will have plenty of street parking. The hike is a modest one hour hike on average and will give you a 360 degree view of San Diego allowing to see the bay, and adjacent counties.

Mission Trails Regional Park: Once you’re done with Cowles, head over to the Mission Trails Regional Park which I consider the best place to explore in San Diego. This park is a host to many trails depending on your inclination for the day. You’ll find small streams perfect for the little ones to play in and giant boulders that will surely be a challenge to anyone who climbs them. Be aware, there is a strict 5 o clock parking lot closure, if you find your car stuck you will have to come back in the morning. 

Torrey Pines State ReserveWant a hike with a real payoff? None of the trails at Torrey Pines are real strenuous, in fact I think people sometimes use them just so they can just use the #hiking hashtag on Instagram. But if you want a stroll with some of the best views of the Pacific Ocean that San Diego has to offer, this is the place to be. As you can imagine for such a popular hiking destination the parking can be a real pain, if you can’t find free parking you will have to coff up $15 or for those are frequent visitors to state parks, you might find that buying an annual pass can save you in the long term.

3 Sisters Falls: This trail is for the adventure seekers. Thought of being Indiana Jones when you were little? This trail involves ropes, crawling, and sliding down and will challenge any avid hiker but damn is it worth it. At the top you will find a set of three waterfalls that you’re able to swim in as a reward. Be sure to rest up, because the climb back is the hardest part. Altogether be prepared to spend 4-5 hours to and fro. I would advice to bring added water or camelbak, proper hiking boots, no dogs and be in experienced with hiking. Tip: watch out for the poison oak


Coronado Beach: This beautiful white sandy beach that glistens with gold is home to the legendary hotel Del Coronado. If you think this scenery is right off a movie, that’s because it is. Many films have featured this backdrop, a famous notable being “Some Like It Hot” staring Marilyn Monroe. There’s plenty of real estate on this beach, so no worries of overcrowding. You also feel a sense of safety on this beach, this allows you to leave your belongings on the sand while you swim out in the water. Come here for a refreshing swim or even a casual stroll.

Black’s Beach: San Diego’s very own nude beach. If you feel inhibited by all the clothes you wear, this is your kind of beach. However, if you’re looking to creep up on strangers, locals usually will you a piece of their mind. Everyone here minds their own business and there’s absolutely no pressure to take off all your clothes. It requires a slight trek to get to this beach but as an added bonus is that you can sometimes see pods of dolphins and whales during their migration.

La Jolla Shores: Beautiful all year round. If you’re looking to set up a picnic or a bbq, why not incorporate this view to go with it. This beach contains great tide pool areas to teach the little ones about sea life to go along with the inquisitive sea lions, pelicans and fish that you’re sure to find. For the adventurous, be sure to rent a kayak or snorkel with the leopard sharks. Come early because most of the parking is street parking and is usually taken up by the afternoon.

Sunset Cliffs: Quite possibly the most romantic spot in San Diego to see the sunset, hence the name. This dog friendly beach is one of the most scenic locations in San Diego, perfect for a relaxing day under the sun. If you were to take visiting guests for a true San Diego experience, this is the quintessential California view that everyone imagines.

Hidden Gems

Whaley House Museum: If you’re looking for a San Diego Attraction that’s out of this world or even out of this astral plane, the Whaley House might just be the place. For only $6 you can take a self guided tour of the infamous Whaley House, considered one of the most haunted houses in the nation. However, for a guided tour you will have a chance to learn more about the history of this house and even some personal paranormal stories. If you’re looking for something off the beaten path, the Whaley House won’t disappoint.

Adobe Creek Falls: This multi-level waterfall is right across the freeway from SDSU. If you want to live dangerously, this site is owned by SDSU and is off limits to trespassers, and is one of the few secret locations the school has to offer. To get here, you have to go through a tunnel passing under the Interstate 8 freeway and keep walking downstream until you reach a more open location. Along the way you will find some incredible graffiti from past visitors.

25th Street Bridge Musical Instrument: On the railing of the bridge spanning the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway, A musical instrument can be played with nothing more than a pipe at hand, this carillon (a set of fixed chromatically tuned bells that is played in a sequence) was created by artist Roman de Salvo, plays an unsuspectingly melodic tune.

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