California Cruise Highlights: Spending a Day in San Diego

by Marcia Frost

You'll find plenty to do in San Diego on your coastal California cruise.
The San Diego skyline.

When you think of San Diego, you probably think of warm, dreamy weather. But beyond its near-perfect elements, this seaside city offers visitors a lot of options that are worth exploring. The city's mixture of natural wildlife and beautiful vistas make it a must-see on any California cruise. Here's are some reasons why San Diego is worth the trip:

You'll Be One with Nature.

The San Diego Zoo is one of the largest in the country and has been a community icon for nearly 100 years. With roughly 4,000 animals and 700,000 species of plants spread out over 100 acres, there's a lot to explore. While in port, take an excursion to the zoo and hop on a guided bus tour. For a bird's eye view, check out the Skyfari tram, which will give you a view of the lush tree tops and open-air exhibits.

For a different view of exotic animals, take an excursion to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a wildlife sanctuary that spans 1,800 acres. Here you can see animals roam free from a guided tram tour, or you can tour at your own pace by walking the stretch.

Another major attraction to visit when you're in San Diego is Sea World Adventure Park. On an excursion here, you can easily spend a full day taking in shows, marveling at polar bears, penguins, and sharks, and feeding bottlenose dolphins. You'll also want to pay a visit to the Shamu stadium before you leave the park.

You'll Experience a Mixture of Cultures.

It's easy to enjoy spending a day in San Diego, exploring the culture and history the city has to offer. Begin in Old Town; this site of California's first Spanish settlement (established in 1769) is filled with live entertainment, shopping for handmade souvenirs, and plenty of authentic Mexican food and drinks.

On an excursion, you can take a trolley to Old Town. Along the way, enjoy a tour of San Diego with a guide who will tell you about the history of San Diego, starting as far back as the sixteenth century when the area was claimed for Spain by Juan Cabrillo. The trolley ride will also take you along Seaport Village and to the Gaslamp Quarter, which boasts a combination of Victorian-era history, restaurants, and night spots.

Your tour will take you to Coronado Island via the bridge originally completed for US Navy ships to pass through. There you'll see the famous Hotel del Coronado — and a view you won't soon forget!

You'll Enjoy the Views.

For a beautiful view of San Diego, consider taking a harbor cruise excursion. On a harbor cruise, you'll see Coronado Island, naval vessels, and maybe even some whales or dolphins. Afterward, you'll have plenty of time left in your day on shore to explore more of San Diego on your own.

Or, spend your day on an excursion to Balboa Park, where you won't have to worry about transportation and will have the freedom to decide which museums and sites you'd like to visit. If you prefer, just stroll the beautiful gardens at your leisure.

Another option is visiting La Jolla on a guided city drive excursion, where you can learn more about the highlights of historic San Diego, and bask in La Jolla's gorgeous ocean views.

Ready to plan your visit to San Diego? Discover the California cruise that's perfect for you.