Things to Do in San Diego for Adults During Your Vacation (Ideas for Couples & Groups of Friends)

San Diego is a delightful city for an adult-centric vacation. While the city is certainly well-known for its many family-friendly attractions, there are a ton of great attractions that adults will love without reservation.

Whether you’re searching for something romantic with a partner or something fun with friends, there’s an activity to suit every interest and style of travel.

If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego for adults, check out our list of the top activities that couples and groups of friends will enjoy, including…

  • Whale Watch or Harbor Cruises
  • San Diego Zoo
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • Hop-on Hop-off San Diego Trolley
  • San Diego Speedboat Ride
  • PETCO Park Tour
  • Coronado Island
  • The Gaslamp Quarter
  • and more!

Save on Admission to Popular Adult Attractions

Regular admission to a number of these attractions are included on the Go San Diego Card.

Choose as you go from dozens of San Diego activities and save up to 55% off combined admission vs paying at the gate.

See all available passes and San Diego based attractions – Learn more.

Cruises & Boat Tours

Whale-Watching-Winter-Horn-Blower-Cruises-1If you’re an active bunch, there’s nothing quite like getting out on the water in this wonderful temperate city.

The Pacific Ocean is full of marvels, big and small, so why not scope them out on an afternoon Whale Watch? See the great gray whales alongside tiny seabirds and go home with a collection of phenomenal photographs. (Please note this tour is only available in the winter.)

Looking for something more along the lines of a relaxing sightseeing cruise? Then check out a tour of the San Diego Harbor for a combination of informative narration and peaceful sailing.

You have two options for the Harbor Tour: North Bay (which highlights Harbor Island, the Maritime Museum, and the Point Loma Lighthouse, a favorite lounging spot for many sea lions) or South Bay (focusing on the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier, Seaport Village, and Coronado Island).

Getting In: Whale Watching San Diego admission and San Diego Hour Harbor Cruise admission are both included on the Go San Diego Card.

San Diego Animal Attractions

San-Diego-Zoo-Safari-Park-1Do you and your friends love Giant Pandas? Or do you simply adore sharks? Then San Diego is the perfect destination for you!

There are attractions to suit animal lovers of all stripes, from the amazing San Diego Zoo (and its world famous Giant Panda family) to their sister park, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park (maybe best known for its magnificent big cats).

If you prefer sea creatures to land mammals, another great option is SeaWorld San Diego. This amazing aquatic attraction combines the best parts of a theme park and an animal park all into one delightful package.

Getting In: San Diego Zoo admission  and San Diego Safari Park admission are both included on the Go San Diego Card.

Getting In: SeaWorld San Diego admission is included as an option on 3, 5, and 7-Day Go San Diego Cards.

San Diego Museums

san-diego-museum-of-art-san-diego-museumsIt’s nearly impossible to narrow down the list of San Diego Museums to a few top choices, so we’ll just have to settle for naming some of our favorites.

The USS Midway Museum is a definite must-see; as one of the most popular attractions in all of San Diego, it’s got a lot to offer fans of military history and naval culture.

Art lovers will also find much to enjoy about San Diego’s museum scene, which features everything from fine arts museums (like the San Diego Museum of Art) to those which focus on photography and contemporary offerings (like the Museum of Contemporary Art).

Of course, with nearly 20 museums and attractions to choose from in the Balboa Park area alone, you’ll never run out of things to explore.

Getting In: USS Midway Museum admissionSan Diego Museum of Art admission and Museum of Contemporary Art admission are all included on the Go San Diego Card.

Amusement Parks

Belmont-Park-5 (1)Feel like a kid again with a visit to Belmont Park, a delightfully retro amusement park featuring all your classic favorites like a giant roller coaster, arcade games, and cotton candy. Of course, there are plenty of modern rides, too, like the refreshing Beach Blaster or the fun Krazy Kars.

Spend an afternoon enjoying rides, slides, and strolls along their palm-lined boardwalk and we know you’ll have a wonderful time.

Getting In: Belmont Park admission are both included on the Go San Diego Card.

Sightseeing Tours

Old-Town-Trolley-Hop-on-Hop-off-2-Day-1-san-diego
Searching for a way to explore the city that isn’t just the same old bus tour?

Check out the revolutionary GoCar Tours – the world’s first GPS-guided storytelling car. Let it do the talking and navigating while you worry about nothing but enjoying the ride.

It’s an ideal way for adults to explore the city because it lets you go at your own pace, and stop and start the tour any time or place you want. Simply hop back in and the narration resumes.

Or, if you prefer something a little more charming and traditional, try a trolley tour of the city. This hop-on hop-off option gives you the flexibility to explore at your own pace and guided by your own interests.

Getting In: Hop-on Hop-off San Diego Trolley admission is available as a premium attraction option with the 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go San Diego Cards.

Getting In: San Diego GoCar admission is included on the Go San Diego Card.

Speed Boat Rides

San-Diego-Speed-Boat-Adventures-2
Do you love the water, but want something more exciting than a leisurely cruise? San Diego has several options for you to choose from.

Our favorite is San Diego Speed Boat Adventure – an attraction that gives you the wheel of your very own exhilarating speed boat.

Opt to cruise along a leisurely pace, or rev up your engines to high speeds. It’s a fun activity for adults who love thrills and being chill alike.

Getting In: San Diego Speedboat admission is available as a premium attraction option with the 3-, 5-, and 7-Day Go San Diego Cards.

San Diego Sports

petco-park-toursHead down to PETCO Park for a Padres game any time in season, or if they’re out of town, take a tour of PETCO Park. This gorgeous downtown stadium is one of Major League Baseball’s finest, and it’s more than worth your time to at least stop by.

If you’re a real sports buff, then you have more options depending on the time of year. Torrey Pines has a well-regarded golf course, and there are several college options.

Getting In: PETCO Park Tour admission is included on the Go San Diego Card.

Being Outdoorsy

Active couples and groups of friends will love the chance to get out and explore the beautiful weather and scenery of the San Diego area.

Bike rides are a perfect boardwalk activity for you and your friends, allowing you the freedom to the roam the beaches while getting a little exercise.

Or, if you prefer to enjoy the beautiful waters of the coves and harbors in the region, try a kayak tour or rental. There’s even stand-up paddle boarding for the even more adventurous!

Getting In: San Diego bike rentals and kayak tour admission are included with the Go San Diego Card.

Coronado Island

By U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Nick Sherrouse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

By U.S. Navy photo by Lt. Nick Sherrouse [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

This lovely island community is a must-see part of San Diego that visitors often overlook. It’s part beachy delights, part historic heritage, and all wonderful.

Explore the historic Hotel Del Coronado — today the home of many weddings and high-end parties — bike the beaches, and visit museums. It’s just a quick ferry ride from downtown San Diego!

You could also spend a little time in the Coronado Museum of History and Art, which features informative and interesting exhibits about this charming island.

Getting In: Coronado Museum of History and Art admission is included with the Go San Diego Card.

Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese-Friendship-Garden-of-San-Diego-San-Kei-En-3After indulging in all this exciting fun, you may want to unwind a little and reconnect with the slower side of things.

While you may not be able to squeeze in a yoga class while traveling, you can pay a visit to the lovely Japanese Friendship Garden in Balboa Park. (For more things to do in Balboa Park, see below.)

This serene garden is a haven from the hustle and bustle of the outside world, featuring a koi pond, a sand and stone garden, and many other beautiful plants within a cultivated gardenscape.

Getting In: Japanese Friendship Garden admission is included with the Go San Diego Card.

The Gaslamp Quarter

By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

By Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 or GFDL], via Wikimedia Commons

There are so many wonderful neighborhoods in San Diego that it can be hard to pinpoint the must-visits, but the historic Gaslamp Quarter is definitely on that list.

Combining Victorian architecture and modern buildings into one beautiful, striking neighborhood, the Gaslamp Quarter is home to both historic attractions like the William Heath Davis House and modern nightlife / dining.

Head here for a wide variety of options that span the gamut from dance clubs to fine dining establishments.

Getting In: William Heath Davis House admission is included with the Go San Diego Card.

Balboa Park

Image Credit: balboapark.org

Image Credit: balboapark.org

There’s nothing in the world quite like the magnificent Balboa Park. It’s the country’s largest urban cultural park, and is filled to the brim with top museums, gardens, concert venues, and so much more.

Explore this beautiful expanse to relax and unwind with a picnic or leisurely walk, or, opt to explore with a visit to a couple of their many world-renowned institutions.

Be sure to have your camera at the ready — between the lush gardens and historic architecture, you’ll be wanting to snap a photo every few feet!

Save on Attraction Admission

That should do it! Our list of some of the most fun things to do in San Diego for adults during your vacation. These ideas are great for couples or if you are traveling with a group of friends.

So whether you’re the get-out-and-go type of friends who can’t wait for those long bike rides on the beach, or the casual meandering couple that wants to soak up all the culture they can, San Diego has several delightful attractions to help you craft that perfect vacation.

Remember, many of these great activities are included on the Go San Diego Card, where you can save up to 55% on combined admission vs paying at the gate.

Consider adding a few of these fun options to your kid-free vacation itinerary. Enjoy!

Go San Diego Card

The information contained in this post, to the best of the author's knowledge, was accurate at time of publishing. We do our best to ensure and maintain the accuracy of this information.

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