There are plenty of other things to do in San Diego besides the ones on this list. If you're looking for something else, or something different, start with the Best of the Rest. If you're very interested in a specific sight or activity and have plenty of information about it, don't skip it because of these recommendations. However, if you don't know much about it except that someone said it was a good thing to do in San Diego, check it out to be sure you spend your vacation time wisely.
Go to Sea WorldSea World San Diego is the California outpost of the ocean-themed chain of parks. Everyone knows who the main attraction is here: Shamu, the killer whale (orca) - or over the years, a succession of Shamus.
Shows are central to the Sea World Experience and there are many of them, but you'll also have opportunities to see marine creatures close up and in a few cases, you can touch and feed them. In recent years, Sea World has added a few rides and a kids' water play area. It takes a half day or longer to see everything and in summer, a good strategy is to arrive in early afternoon, staying until the fireworks display.
Despite repeated visits (every couple of years for more than a decade), we always have more fun at Sea World than we expect to. Upon reflection, we'd guess that everyone else's happy mood is contagious - and besides that, the place is clean, well run and the animals are interesting.
Sea World is north of downtown San Diego on Mission Bay. Driving is the easiest way to get there, but you'll find other options here.
Pros and ConsWhat we like best at Sea World are the indoor exhibits, where you can get closer views, but the shows are one of the few chances some of us will get to see larger ocean animals in the flesh.
On the downside, there's little shade and it gets so hot in the summer that you may feel like you're going to roast during a long wait for a show. If you're opposed to animals in captivity, this place is not for you.
More About Sea WorldIf you're convinced you want to go, buy Sea World San Diego tickets online
If you need more information, check the Complete Guide to Visiting Sea World. It will tell you about hours, how to get tickets, admission discounts, how to get there and the best time to go.
Take a photo tour of Sea World to see what it's like.