History buffs and outdoor enthusiasts alike will enjoy scoping the scenery at this monument to the first European to set foot on the West Coast. Sweeping San Diego views, a historic lighthouse, and tide pools full of sea life await visitors in Point Loma. ($5)
2. Belmont Park
Channel your inner child— or please your existing offspring—and spend an afternoon enjoying old school arcade games, a carousel, a vintage wooden roller coaster, and other attractions right on the ocean in Mission Beach. (Rides are $3–$6.)
3. Free outdoor concerts
Grab friends, a picnic, and some sunblock, and let the music move you at free concerts around the city. Those with an ear for classical will enjoy concerts at Balboa Park’s Spreckles Organ Pavilion. Both La Jolla Cove and Seaport Village offer an ever-changing array of music on Sundays from blues to zydeco.
Do you dream of buzzing the tower in your own Top Gun moment? Get up close with 50+ Marine aircraft at this free outdoor museum at Miramar. Summer brings Open Cockpit Days when guests are allowed inside many of the airplanes. Make sure “Danger Zone” is loaded on your iPod. (Free, donations accepted.)
5. Enjoy a burrito on the beach
Killer burritos are readily available for under $5 in San Diego. We recommend the local specialty, a California Burrito: carne asada with a few french fries thrown in. Here are a few favorite beach and burrito combos:
• Taco Surf, Pacific Beach
• La Playa Taco Shop, Mission Beach
• Nico’s Mexican Food, Ocean Beach
6. Build a bonfire
Sticky s’mores and toes buried in the sand is the perfect way to end a day of fun in the sun. Fire pits dot many of San Diego’s beaches, making this simple pleasure readily available. Light your fire on Mission Beach, Ocean Beach, or Mission Bay.
7. Play beach volleyball
Sand, sun, and sweat come together at the volleyball nets that stud south Mission Beach where athletic San Diegans gather for regular games. Grab your sunblock and join in a match or just enjoy the eye candy if you’re not feeling particularly sporty.
8. Scan the sand for souvenirs
It’s hard to look away from the stunning scenery, but the three mile walk along the sand between Pacific Beach and Mission Beach offers more than great ocean views. Keep your eyes peeled for perfectly intact sand dollars and other treasures.
9. Savor a sunset stroll
Sunset Cliffs didn‘t get its name on accident. Miles of scenic cliffs meet the ocean in a prime location to watch the day fade. Keep your eye on the horizon and you might be lucky enough to catch the green flash.
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