San Diego Area Attractions

San Diego offers a rich variety of local attractions.  The following list summarizes some of the most popular ones and provides directions on how to reach them from the Sheraton San Diego Hotel and Marina.  This page includes sightseeing information – if you’re looking for information on restaurants and bars, click here.

About the directions

All of the following San Diego Metropolitan Transit trips start at the #992 bus stop in front of the Airport Terminal 1, which can be reached walking from the Sheraton Hotel and Marina in about 5-10 minutes, or using the free hotel airport shuttle.

Big Bay Shuttle trips start in front of the Sheraton’s Marina tower.  The shuttle stop is located to your right as you exit the main lobby.

Refer to this page for information on transit.

Cabrillo National Monument (Open Weekdays only) / Point Loma / Ocean Beach (No service on Sundays)

There are lots of different activities to do at the Cabrillo National Monument, including a two mile hiking trail that runs next to San Diego Bay, tidepooling, military history displays, etc.  See their website for more information.

Directions: Take the bus 923 from the North side of Harbor Drive at the intersection of Harbor Island, at approximately every 30 minutes weekdays (every hour on Saturday, no service on Sundays) until 6:53PM. This will take you through Point Loma and Ocean Beach. For the Cabrillo National Monument, transfer to the #28 bus at Rosecrans and Nimitz, and then transfer at Scott and Shelter Island to the #84 bus displaying “Cabrillo Monument”. The #84 bus does not run on weekends.

Coronado (No service from downtown on Sundays)

Coronado is a beach town just across the bay from San Diego.  It boasts highly-rated sandy beaches, watersports, a number of resorts and restaurants, and a mile-long pedestrian main street.  Coronado boasts miles of flat paved trails that are excellent for skating, biking, and jogging.  There is also an 18-hole golf course.  Click here for more information.

Directions: Take the #992 bus downtown and exit at Third and Broadway. From State and Broadway, transfer to the #910 every 20 to 30 minutes, until 1:20AM. Service and routes are very limited on Sundays.

The Gaslamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter is a hotbed of restaurants, stores, bars, and nightclubs.  It is easily reachable from the hotel.

Directions: Take the Big Bay Shuttle to the stop closest to your destination; probably the San Diego Marriott Marquis Hotel & Marina stop.  If you don’t mind a 3 mile trek, it is possible to walk to the Gaslamp Quarter from the Sheraton.  However, you should make sure you are in a group and that you walk along the waterfront path.  If you venture into the city it’s very easy to end up in areas that are unsafe.

Harbor Tours and Coronado Ferry

Harbor Tours offers several different sightseeing tours.  Sights include the North Island Naval Air Station, the Naval Submarine Base, Maritime Museum vessels, the Coronado Bay Bridge, and various naval ships, among others.  One and two hour tours are available.  Prices start at $22 for an adult.  See their website for details.

Directions: Take the Big Bay Shuttle to the Broadway Pier stop.


The Hillcrest neighborhood is located northwest of Balboa Park and features loads of locally-owned businesses, including restaurants, cafes, bars, clubs, and retail stores. The area is known for tolerance and diversity.

Directions: Take the #992 bus downtown and exit at Fifth and Broadway. Cross to the other side of Broadway and transfer to the #3 bus. Every 15 to 30 minutes until 11:55PM.

La Jolla

La Jolla is an historic neighborhood located 15 minutes from downtown San Diego that boasts sandy beaches and fine restaurants.  It is home to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the Stephen Birch Aquarium & Museum.

Directions: Take the #992 bus to One American Plaza and board the Blue Line North, exit at Old Town. Transfer to the #30 bus. Monday through Friday, every 15 minutes at peak time, and every 30 minutes at non-peak time until midnight. Saturday every 30 minutes, Sunday every hour until 11:29PM.


Legoland is a theme park located approximately 30 miles from San Diego in Carlsbad. It has numerous rides, a water park, restaurants, and Lego retail stores.  Adult tickets are fairly pricy, starting around $60.  Tickets are cheaper if purchased in advance, so you might want to plan ahead for this one.

Directions: The best way to reach Legoland is by car, since bus trips are estimated to take nearly 3 hours.  See Legoland’s website for directions and information.

Maritime Museum of San Diego

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is home to numerous historic vessels, including including sailing ships, steam-powered boats and submarines.  General Admission tickets for adults are $15.  Note that from 8/31/2012-9/3/2012, the Festival of Sail will be taking place.  More than twenty tall ships from around the world will be visiting during the festival.   Note: If you visit during the Festival of Sail (FOS), you must buy a Festival of Sail Ticket.  General Admission tickets will not be accepted during the festival.  The cost for an adult FOS ticket is $15.

Directions: To get to the museum, take the Big Bay Shuttle to the Maritime Museum of San Diego stop.

Mission Beach/Pacific Beach

Mission Beach and Pacific beach cater to outdoor activities including hiking, surfing, skating, and beach volleyball.  The Belmont Park theme park is located at Mission beach and features the historic Giant Dipper roller coaster.  Rollerblades are available for rental.  Belmont Park also features an arcade, laser tag, and simulated wave riding at The Wave House.  Tickets for individual rides are available, or you can purchase a one-day adult pass for $26.95.

Directions: Take the Bus 992 downtown to One American Plaza Trolley station. From there board the Blue Line North and exit at the Old Town Trolley stop. From Old Town you will take the #8 or #9 approximately every 30 minutes, until 12:15 AM (on Sundays until 7:30PM).

Old Town / Fashion Valley / Mission Valley

Old Town features numerous restaurants, shops, and museums.  On Saturdays, the Old Town Saturday Market takes place from 9AM to 4PM and includes hundreds of local vendors.

Fashion Valley is a large open-air mall with around 200 stores.  If you need to get your shop on, it’s the place to go.

Mission Valley is home to Presidio park, which is a 40 acre preserve that has sweeping views of the city, the San Diego River valley, and the Pacific Ocean.  The area also boasts loads of restaurants, entertainments, and retail stores.

Directions: Take the #992 bus to One American Plaza and board the Blue Line trolley North to Old Town. Transfer to the Green Line trolley heading east and continue on to Fashion Valley and Mision Valley Malls.

San Diego Zoo / Balboa Park

The San Diego Zoo is a large zoo located in Balboa Park.  It is home to over 3500 animals.  Almost all exhibits are open air, and many of the exhibits are focused on a particular habit and feature different species interacting.   Attractions include some of the largest free-flight aviaries in the world, a reptile house, and rain forest exhibit.  The San Diego Zoo is one of only a handful of facilities to have Giant Pandas.  Adult tickets for the Zoo start at $42 for a one-day ticket.

Balboa Park is on the National Register of Historical Places and contains numerous natural spaces, green belts, and gardens.  Favorite attractions also include a large carousel and miniature railroad.  In addition, Balboa Park is home to too many museums to fully list here, but including:

  • San Diego Air & Space Museum
  • San Diego Museum of Art
  • San Diego Automotive Museum
  • San Diego Model Railroad Museum
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • Museum of Photographic Arts

Directions: Take the #992 downtown to the corner of Broadway and Third to transfer to the #7 bus. Runs every 20 to 30 minutes until 12:41AM. On Sundays take the #992 all the way to 11th and Broadway to the #7 every 30 minutes until 11:14PM.

San Diego State University (SDSU)

San Diego State University is a large university with over 30,000 students and is known for its research programs and its diversity.

Directions: Take the #992 bus to One American Plaza and transfer to the Blue Line North. Exit at Old Town and transfer to the Green Line heading to SDSU.

Sea World

Sea World is a large marine mammal park, oceanarium, and animal theme park.  It features theme park rides including Journey to Atlantis and Shipwreck Rapids.   Expect to get wet if you ride these rides.  Sea World is home to a large selection of marine wildlife, including killer whales, dolphins, sea turtles, beluga whales, penguins, sharks, polar bears, and otters.  In addition, there are exhibits with tropical birds including parrots and flamingos.

Single-day admission for adults is $73 at the gate, but $63 if purchased in advance.

Directions: Take the #992 bus downtown to One American Plaza and board the Blue Line North, exit at Old Town. Transfer to the #9 bus every 15 minutes peak time and every 30 minutes non-peak time, until 10:30PM.

USS Midway Museum

The USS Midway is a decommissioned  military aircraft carrier that now serves as a museum.  Much of the ship is open for exploration of dining areas, crew quarters, and the flight deck.  There are approximately 25 restored aircraft on board, including the A-4 Skyhawk, the F9F Panther, F/A-18 Hornet, and the E-2 Hawkeye.  Free self-directed audio tours are available. There are also several flight simulators that allow visitors to try their hand at combat, navigation, dogfights, and Top Gun exercises.

General admission for adults is $18; or $17 if tickets are purchased online. Prices for flight simulators range from $8 to $25 depending on the specific simulation and the number of occupants.

Directions: Take the Big Bay Shuttle to the Broadway Pier stop.  It is also possible to walk from the hotel along the waterfront; distance is approximately 2 miles.