What To See in San Diego USA in One Day

What To See in San Diego in One Day - Lucy Williams Global

San Diego was one of the ports of call on the Coastal Californian cruise. On a cruise, you usually only have one day in port. Here are a few suggestions on what to do with your port day in San Diego, California.

What to See in San Diego

San Diego is not short on attractions, but too many to fit into one day. There is; the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, Sea World, USS Midway Museum, Safari Park, Coronado, Torrey Pines State Reserve, Maritime Museum and the list goes on.

It is also a great city to just walk around, do a spot of shopping and stop for lunch or take a beach day. San Diego has it all city life and beach life.

The cruise ship terminal is very close to downtown within walking distance. The Maritime Museum and USS Midway Museum are in walking distance of the cruise ship terminal too.   

Cruise Ship and city of San Diego - Lucy Williams Global
Can you see the cruise ship?

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What To See in San Diego in One Day - Lucy Williams Global

How to Spend One Day in San Diego

I was in San Diego on the Californian Coastal Cruise and we had just one day to enjoy the sights and this is what I managed to pack into one day.

I am very lucky to have a friend who lives in this fantastic city so she drove, which does make it easier to get around. If only I could take my car on the cruise! We went to San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park and Coronado.  

You can take shore excursions from the cruise line to all of these places or book a private tour with an outside company.

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo is huge and takes all day to see if you would like to see all the animals. We spent the morning there to beat the crowds and see as many animals as we could.

It is best to plan what animals you would like to see to plan your route around the zoo. The zoo is in the city centre and next to Balboa Park, which makes it easy to visit the park after the zoo.

What Animals are at San Diego Zoo?

There are a lot of different species of animals at the zoo including tigers, elephants, pandas, polar bears, penguins, giraffes, flamingos, seals, koalas, lions, leopards, rhinos and zebras just to name a few. Click here to see the whole list from the zoo, as I will be here all day otherwise!

The zoo sections are quite spread out and there is a lot of walking or you can take the zoo bus tour around the zoo for an extra charge. My favourite animals were the penguins, pandas, flamingos and giraffes. 

Balboa Park

I loved Balboa Park as it was open, bright, colourful and huge. This park is not your regular park with grass, trees flowers and a few park benches.

There are restaurants, museums, a theatre, a botanical garden, a pond full of water lilies, beautiful flowers in the many gardens, a water fountain, beautiful old buildings, the Spanish Art Centre and many places to just sit and take it all in.

Every corner you look at is beautiful and there is so much to see, I could have stayed there all day. We had a yummy lunch at The Prado, a lovely restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating we sat outside to enjoy the ambience.

My favourite part of the park was the Spanish Art Centre, as it was very colourful. The walkway was painted all different colours of the rainbow and I loved all the art there. The botanical garden was stunning with lots of different exotic flowers.


Coronado is a very nice place, beautifully manicured, beside a big sandy beach that goes on for miles. Coronado is famous for the Hotel del Coronado which dates back to Victorian times when it opened in 1888.

The hotel is right on the beachfront and would be a lovely hotel to stay in. It has that old and modern feel and it is a perfect location. We had a walk around the hotel grounds and had a peek inside.

San Diego Round-Up

The great thing about San Diego is you have the best of both worlds; city life and the beach. There is a lot to do in San Diego which makes it such a fun city to explore. One day is not enough to see everything, but it gives you a taste of the city and that is what cruising is all about.

I hope you enjoyed reading what to see in San Diego in one day. Please share on Facebook and Twitter so your friends and family can read it too or pin it for later on Pinterest.

Happy Travels

What To See in San Diego in One Day - Lucy Williams Global


  1. January 8, 2019 / 6:08 pm

    Great post! I have been to California but not to San Diego. I have heard so much about the Zoo and Balboa Park. If I have 1 day next time I visit I will use your itinerary. Thanks!

    • January 8, 2019 / 6:35 pm

      Thank you so much Alex! San Diego is a fantastic city to visit, I highly recommend it.

  2. amaixico
    January 10, 2019 / 8:23 pm

    I have traveled in California several times and never had the opportunity to visit San Diego. I’m sure I’ll do it soon. Balboa Park looks fantastic and of course the famous Coronado hotel.

    • January 10, 2019 / 8:48 pm

      I hope you get to visit San Diego soon, it is a lovely city to explore. Highly recommend Balboa Park & Coronado.

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