Vacations are great, but sometimes time, money, and other considerations make it difficult to really get away. That doesn’t mean we don’t all deserve a break!
That’s where the idea of a San Diego staycation comes into play – a “getaway” in your very own backyard. See and do things you normally don’t get around to your hometown or local city. Some people even like to stay in a hotel to make it feel more like an adventure.
If you’re a San Diego area resident and are looking for some great Southern California staycation ideas, check out this post. We’ve put together our favorite hometown activities to enjoy, whether you’re a couple looking to get out more or a family hoping to entertain the kids with something new.
Our top staycation ideas include:
- San Diego Zoo
- USS Midway Museum
- Harbor Cruise
- San Diego Natural History Museum
- Balboa Park & Japanese Friendship Garden
- Bike Rides in La Jolla or Coronado
- PETCO Park Tour & Ball Game
- The New Children’s Museum
- Whaley House
- Coronado Museum of History & Art
Save on Admission
Looking to save on tickets to your favorite staycation ideas? Pick up a Go San Diego® Card to save up to 55% on top area museums, tours, activities, and more.
See all available attractions and prices – here.
San Diego Zoo
While everyone knows that the San Diego Zoo is a treasure, we’re all guilty of getting to the zoo less than we should, especially with the kids.
That’s why one of our favorite family staycation ideas is an afternoon spent at this amazing institution. They’ve got so many different animal exhibits, too, so it’s more than possible to visit multiple times without seeing the same things.
Of course, you’ll want to make sure you say hi to the adorable Giant Pandas each time!
Getting In: San Diego Zoo tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.
USS Midway Museum
Another major attraction you probably don’t take advantage of is the USS Midway Museum. It may even be something you’ve just never gotten around to, in which case a visit here is long overdue — especially since you have the advantage of being able to go when the tourists aren’t around.
You’ll see informative exhibits about life aboard the USS Midway and get to tour the ship herself. Kids will love the interactive aspects, and you’ll appreciate how educational the whole experience is.
Getting In: USS Midway Museum tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.
What better way to kick back and relax on a staycation than by embarking on a cruise? Of course, if you can’t afford to head to the Caribbean, then a San Diego harbor cruise can be a fun local substitute.
You’ll enjoy scenic waterfront views, bask in bright sun and cool harbor breezes, and learn things about your city you never knew before.
Getting In: Hornblower Cruises Harbor Cruise tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.
San Diego Natural History Museum
If you’re the museum type, then theNAT is a must-visit for you.
It’s filled with diverse exhibits that kids and adults alike will find fascinating, including objects and artifacts ranging from dinosaur bones to rare books.
They also host a number of special events, if you’re looking for something unique to do – the offerings are particularly attractive if you invest in becoming a member.
Getting In: San Diego Natural History Museum tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.
Balboa Park & Japanese Friendship Garden
For those of you looking for a serene staycation, the Japanese Friendship Garden promises peaceful mornings and relaxed afternoons.
Come here to see the carefully crafted natural scenes, including vibrant koi and striking water features, and enjoy the lilting music that floats throughout the garden.
When you’re done, spend some time strolling through Balboa Park. It’s a big draw for people around the country for a reason, so why not remind yourself of how awesome this urban cultural park really is?
Getting In: Balboa Park is free to explore; Japanese Friendship Garden tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.
Bike Rides in La Jolla or Coronado
Most of us don’t get outside as much as we’d like to. That’s where a fun bike ride comes in!
Even if you’re a cyclist for commuting or exercising purposes, there’s nothing like a leisurely sightseeing bike ride.
Head to La Jolla for some particularly striking views of the shoreline – views you may overlook in your daily life. Or, you can venture out to Coronado (more on that below) for some special historical sights.
Getting In: La Jolla Bike Rentals are included with the Go San Diego Card.
PETCO Park Tour & Ball Game
Take yourself out to the ball game! If it’s in season, there’s nothing quite like a leisurely afternoon spent enjoying a baseball game. The snacks, the beer, and the fun atmosphere – it’s all there.
If the Padres aren’t playing, then baseball fans may want to consider taking a tour of PETCO Park. It’s something unique to see the stadium behind the scenes and learn about the day to day operations of such a massive sporting business.
Getting In: PETCO Park Tour tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card. Baseball games are ticketed separately and are not included with the pass.
The New Children’s Museum
This is probably a staple among some of you moms out there, but for those of you who don’t get the chance to go out with the kids as much as you’d like, the New Children’s Museum is a must.
This interactive museum provides loads of opportunities for your kids to learn as they play, and their frequent special programming makes each visit unique.
Getting In: New Children’s Museum tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.
One of San Diego’s hidden gems is the Whaley House. This Old Town landmark is storied to be the most haunted house in America, in addition to being a really fun historic landmark.
Built in the mid-nineteenth century and used for a wide variety of purposes over the years, this historic home has a heck of a fascinating history that you’ll love to learn all about.
Getting In: Whaley House tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.
Coronado Museum of History & Art
Culture buffs have probably been to the big name art museums in town, but what about the small but mighty Coronado Museum of History & Art?
The exhibits here focus on local Coronado history and highlight many of the area’s most significant events and trends.
You’ll also find a bunch of unique artifacts like photographs, rare books, and ephemera. It’s a treasure trove for those who love to learn more about their hometowns.
Getting In: Coronado Museum of History and Art tickets are included with the Go San Diego Card.
Don’t Forget to Save
We hope these ideas help inspire you to craft the perfect family-friendly San Diego staycation for you and your family.