Getting to San Diego
Most major airlines fly to San Diego. Southwest Airlines has its own terminal at San Diego Airport and often has lower fares than other airlines.
The Shrine Center is 11.8 miles from San Diego International Airport (3225 North Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA). Directions from Airport to Shrine Center (5440 Kearny Mesa Road): Get on I-5 S from Airport Terminal Rd; Take CA-163 N to Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Take exit 8 from CA-163 N; Take exit 8 for Clairemont Mesa Blvd; Continue on Clairemont Mesa Blvd. Drive to Kearny Mesa Rd. Visit our lodgings and transport page to find more details on transportation to and around San Diego.
The Shrine Center is 0.7 miles from the San Diego HRS Adoption Center (4807 Mercury Street Suite A, San Diego, tel # (858) 565-2869) This is a short walk or cab ride, or people can use Uber or Lyft.
Fun things to do or see while in San Diego
The 100-acre (40-hectare) Zoo is home to over 3,700 rare and endangered animals representing more than 668 species and subspecies, and a prominent botanical collection with more than 700,000 exotic plants. It is located just north of downtown San Diego in Balboa Park.
San Diego Safari Park (affiliated with the San Diego Zoo)
The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is an expansive wildlife sanctuary that is home to more than 3,500 animals representing more than 400 species. Its renowned botanical collection represents 3,500 species and 1.5 million specimens. Over half of the Park’s 1,800 acres (730 hectares) have been set aside as protected native species habitat. It is located 30 miles (48 kilometers) north of downtown San Diego in the San Pasqual Valley near Escondido, California.
Home to 15 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo, the Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, and classes—all in the beautiful and timeless setting of this must-see San Diego attraction.
Take a trip through American naval history with admission to the USS Midway Museum in San Diego. This enormous ship, known as the longest-serving aircraft carrier of the 20th century, now offers a range of interactive exhibits, a self-guided audio tour and numerous restored aircraft across its 4-acre (1.6-hectare) flight deck and sections below. It’s an essential piece of San Diego’s, and America’s, military history.
Explore some of the top highlights of San Diego with this one- or two-day pass for the city’s Hop-on, Hop-off Trolley Tour. Choose your own adventure as you get on and off the trolley at any of the 10 included stops, covering famous sights including the Gaslamp Quarter, the San Diego Zoo, USS Midway and the Cruise Ship Terminal, Little Italy, and many more. This San Diego trolley tour also features live commentary from on-board guide during your ride.
Get the most out of your visit to San Diego with the Go San Diego™ Card, granting you access to 43 top city attractions, tours and activities, plus a range of great shopping and dining discounts. Check out the San Diego Zoo, Knott’s Berry Farm and LEGOLAND® California, or try kayaking and snorkeling in La Jolla. You might also choose to take a city walking tour, or make a day trip up to Los Angeles to visit Hollywood. Whatever your interest, this infinitely-flexible pass lets you call the shots. You’ll also save 30% at included retailers and restaurants. Best of all, there’s no voucher redemption necessary. Just print your pass and start the fun.
Take a 2.5-hour cruise wining and dining aboard the ‘Spirit of San Diego,’ enjoying top-notch food and drink, plus sparkling skyline views during this San Diego dinner cruise. Dig into your included gourmet meal, accompanied by a complimentary cocktail and live on-board entertainment, as you cruise 25-miles worth of California’s beautiful coastline and gaze at the twinkling stars above. You can also upgrade your cruise to include an unlimited open bar for
an additional price.
Hornblower’s San Diego boat tours combine sightseeing and wildlife watching for a narrated, family-friendly, two-tours-in-one experience. View natural wildlife and world-renowned landmarks such as the Star of India, Midway and Cabrillo National Monument.
La Jolla Cove is a very small beach, tucked between sandstone cliffs. Because of its extraordinary beauty, La Jolla Cove is one of the most photographed beaches in Southern California. With small surf in the summer months, the north facing La Jolla Cove is ideal for swimmers, snorkelers and scuba divers. Water visibility at the Cove can sometimes exceed 30 feet.
La Jolla Cove lies within the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, which helps to ensure that marine life remains plentiful. Fishing and removal of objects from this area is prohibited, and possession of game is unlawful.
The Children’s Pool is a small beach partially protected by a seawall. The original intention was to create a fully protected swimming area, but in recent years sand has filled in much of the area inside the wall. This is a popular beach for scuba divers because of the reefs just offshore. These same reefs can create very strong currents and other hazards, particularly in high surf conditions.
This has also become a popular viewing area for harbor seals. Seals and occasionally seal lions haul out on the beach to rest year-round. The Children’s Pool Beach is closed to public access during harbor seal pupping season, Dec. 15 through May 15, yearly.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is located within San Diego city limits and yet remains one of the wildest stretches of land on our Southern California coast! Because of the efforts and foresight of the people in this area, 1,300 acres of land are as they were before San Diego was developed — including the maritime chaparral, the rare Torrey pine, miles of unspoiled beaches, and a lagoon that is vital to migrating seabirds. One can imagine what California must have looked like to the early settlers, or to the Spanish explorers, or even to the first California residents here, the Kumeyaay people.
Climbing out of his boat and onto shore in 1542, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped into history as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States. In addition to telling the story of 16th century exploration, the park is home to a wealth of cultural and natural resources. Join us and embark on your own Voyage of Discovery.
Dedicated in 1983, Sunset Cliffs Natural Park is a 68-acre resource-based park stretching along the Pacific Ocean bordering the western edge of Point Loma. The park’s topography includes intricately carved coastal bluffs, arches and sea caves. It affords inspiring panoramic ocean views. From the cliffs, California gray whales often can be seen migrating annually from the Bering Sea to Baja California and back.
A historic landmark in honor of veterans who proudly served our country. The mission of the Mt. Soledad Memorial Association is to create and maintain a monument that pays homage to veterans who have honorably served our country and to educate the public on the contributions of military personnel throughout our nation’s history. Shimmering black granite stories tell a tale of honor and sacrifice for the greater good upon Mt. Soledad.
The Torrey Pines Gliderport, is the most historic aviation site in North America, with nearly 100 years of flying history. It is Southern California’s premiere location for paragliding, hang gliding, remote control models and sailplanes. The Gliderport provides a world class flying site, flight lessons, certifications, tandem flights, equipment sales, and repair services. We seek to promote all forms of flight and to make Southern California a destination for flight enthusiasts from around the world.
The Maritime Museum of San Diego enjoys a worldwide reputation for excellence in restoring, maintaining and operating historic vessels. The museum has one of the world’s finest collections of historic ships, including the world’s oldest active ship Star of India. Our collection of ships and exhibits are available for daily public tours.
Old Town San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California. San Diego is the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in California. It was here in 1769, that Father Junipero Serra came to establish the very first mission in a chain of 21 missions that were to be the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Father Serra’s mission and Presidio were built on a hillside overlooking what is currently known as Old Town San Diego. At the base of the hill in 1820’s, a small Mexican community of adobe buildings was formed and by 1835 had attained the status of El Pueblo de San Diego.
Spanning just over a mile in length, Mission Beach is at the center of the Golden Strand, between South Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. One of the most popular beach areas in the City of San Diego, Mission Beach draws large crowds in the summer to its oceanfront and adjacent Belmont Park.
Mission Bay Park is the largest aquatic park of its kind in the country. It consists of over 4,600 acres in roughly equal parts land and water. Mission Bay boasts 27 miles of shoreline, 19 of which are sandy beaches with eight locations designated as official swimming areas. At the west end is a network of channels and islands – a perfect spot for everyone from windsurfers to water- skiers. You can swim, enjoy the sun or rent a boat to explore the thousands of acres of waterways. Mission Bay Park offers boat docks and launching facilities, sailboat and motor rentals, bike and walk paths, basketball courts and playgrounds for children. It is one of San Diego’s most fun-filled spots to visit. Many people prefer to stay on shore and spend their leisure picnicking, riding a bike along the paths, playing volleyball, or flying a kite. There are close to 14 miles of bike paths along Mission Bay.
Fiesta Island, a large peninsular park located within Mission Bay, is a popular location for charity walks and runs, bicycle races, time trials and other special events. The Fiesta Island Youth Camp and the Aquatic Center are on the island. There are bonfire rings around the shore of the island and dogs are allowed off leash.
The Mission Beach – Pacific Beach Boardwalk, also known as Oceanfront Boardwalk, is a concrete walkway that spans about 3 1/2 miles, from North Pacific Beach to South Mission Beach. Walking, biking, bicycling, and related activities are permitted on the boardwalk.
Dining, shops, bikes, kayaks, water taxi, San Diego Bay Ferry (between Coronado and Broadway Pier/downtown San Diego)
See more than 5,000 fish in 60+ habitats plus a museum featuring cutting edge research from Scripps Institution of Oceanography, UC San Diego. Take in spectacular panoramic ocean views, get hands on with interactive activities, see a tank feeding, and dive deeper into the world under, in, and above the oceans.
Once home to San Diego’s flourishing tuna fishing industry and generations of Italian families who made their living on the sea, Little Italy is now a lively neighborhood filled with patio cafés, packed restaurants, craft brew stops, urban wineries, art galleries, sophisticated shops, boutique hotels and the beautiful Amici Park. Today, San Diego’s most dynamic food and drink scene is centered in Little Italy. It’s a place where the past meets the present, where Top Chef alums have set up shop next to old-school eateries that remain treasured landmarks.
Waterfront Park (adjacent to Little Italy)
Have a splash! Welcoming residents and visitors alike, the newly constructed Waterfront Park is the most significant waterfront open space in downtown San Diego. The existing historic landscape and landmark County building form the park’s center, while an interactive splash fountain extends from the building and into the park defining a large civic green. Kids enjoy having a splash, while cooling off on warm days. The park also features intimate garden rooms with distinct themes, a vibrant children’s play zone, and several picnic areas.
San Diego de Alcalá, the first of the twenty-one great California Missions, marks the birthplace of Christianity in the west coast of the United States. It is California’s first Mission Church. This remarkable and significant historical shrine provides an understanding and appreciation of the beginning of Catholicism in this corner of the world, so remote from the Mother Country of Spain and yet so similar. Today the Mission, which was founded in 1769, serves as an active parish church and cultural center for people of all faiths who are welcome to visit and relive the grandeur and excitement of more than two centuries of California history and tradition.
Located adjacent to Downtown San Diego along the Big Bay, San Diego’s Embarcadero is a testament to the region’s colorful maritime history complete with historic ships, museums and harbor tours, as well as a working fishing harbor, cruise ship terminal and plenty of hotels, restaurants and shops.
On your next trip to San Diego you can be assured of two things: the weather will be amazing and you’ll discover lots to do at Seaport Village. Come explore 50-plus diverse shops, 17 unique eateries and outdoor entertainment.
If the photograph of raising the American flag on Iwo Jima is the quintessential World War II icon for triumph in a just war, then “Unconditional Surrender” is the icon for the just rewards of victory. Who doesn’t love that image of a sailor in Times Square on V-J (Victory over Japan) Day grabbing the nearest gal — a nurse — and trading anonymous spit? The 25-ft. tall “monstrosity” has been criticized as a gaudy and lame imitation of the photo, and an eyesore for the community. Locals, however, love the statue. And right next to it is the Bob Hope memorial plaza, chock full of even more sappy sculptures to irk the critics.
Black’s Beach is a famous clothing-optional beach below the gliderport parking area on Torrey Pines Mesa. Blacks is a combo of Torrey Pines City Beach and Torrey Pines State Beach. It’s a long beach that stretches from Torrey Pines State Beach below the famous Torrey Pines Golf Course at the north end to Scripps Beach at the UCSD Oceanography Campus at the south end. The access route down from the large glider port parking area is quite steep and slippery in places. If you are carrying stuff and/or need help descending steep trails then consider a different beach or a different route. There is another access further south at the intersection of Blackgold and La Jolla Farms Roads where a long paved path leads down to an area known as South Blacks Beach.
Mission Trails Regional Park encompasses 7,220 acres of both natural and developed recreational areas. Its rugged hills, valleys and open areas represent a San Diego prior to the landing of Cabrillo in San Diego Bay in 1542. Centrally located and only eight miles northeast of downtown San Diego, Mission Trails Regional Park provides a quick, natural escape from the urban hustle and bustle.
Cowles Mountain (part of the Mission Trails Regional Park)
By far, Cowles Mtn. (pronounced “ Coals”)* with its outstanding views at 1,591’ above sea level, is arguably the most popular (and populated) trail in San Diego County. This for many reasons: With its 933′ vertical ascent, it has become a fitness playground for the very, very young to the very, very old. Its popularity is regularly substantiated by the high number of hikers/joggers/runners on the trail at any time. On weekends, during the period 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset, upwards of 800 “discoverers” of Cowles Mountain have been counted while enjoying this difficult and scenic hike.