The Essential Guide: Choosing The Best San Diego Tours

San Diego is a city with plenty to offer visitors, from whale watching tours to kayaking in La Jolla, or just lounging on one of the many beaches nearby.

One of the most unique and exciting San Diego tours available is the San Diego Land and Sea tour by GoCar. Yes, you read that right, land and sea! This tour combines a GoCar rental and a speed boat rental, allowing you to experience the thrill of San Diego’s like never before! If you’re looking for a way to experience the city that’s both adventurous and memorable, this tour should definitely be high on your to do list.

In this blog post, we’ll highlight the best San Diego tour options, and share some of our all time favorites. Use this blog as a guide while planning your next tour in San Diego so you can make sure you see all of the sights on your list.

Considerations for Booking San Diego Tours

Two women enjoying one of the Best San Diego Tours

When it comes to choosing the best San Diego tour, there are plenty of options to choose from. Depending on your interests, you can find tours that focus on food, beer, history, beaches, or even just the city’s stunning architecture. 

Here are some of the most popular types of San Diego tours to consider:

Walking Tours

San Diego walking tours are a great way to see the city up close and personal. These tours usually cover a specific neighborhood or area, such as the Gaslamp Quarter or Balboa Park, and are led by knowledgeable guides who can share interesting facts and stories about the area. 

Food Tours

San Diego is known for its delicious food, so it’s no surprise that food tours are a popular option for visitors. These San Diego food tours often take you to some of the city’s top restaurants and local eateries, allowing you to sample a variety of different cuisines and flavors.

Brewery Tours

San Diego is also famous for its craft beer scene, with more than 150 breweries in the area. Brewery tours can be a fun way to sample some of the best beers San Diego has to offer while learning about the brewing process and the history of beer in the city.

Boat Tours

With its stunning coastline and abundant marine life, San Diego is the perfect place for a boat tour. You can choose from whale watching tours, harbor cruises, or even a speed boat adventure like the San Diego Land and Sea tour.

No matter which type of tour you choose, taking a tour is a great idea for first-time visitors to San Diego. With a knowledgeable guide (or the modern GPS activated tour guides) can help you see the city’s top attractions and learn about its history and culture in a fun and engaging way. 

Plus, many tours offer insider tips, recommendations and discounts for other tours during your trip, so you can make the most of your time in San Diego.

Where to Visit in San Diego

If you’re looking for things to do in San Diego, there’s no shortage of options. Here are some of the top attractions and neighborhoods to visit, along with recommended tours or activities:

Balboa Park: This 1,200-acre park is home to 17 museums (yes, you read that right!), beautiful gardens, and stunning architecture. Some of the must-see attractions include the San Diego Zoo, the Museum of Us, and the Botanical Building. You can take a guided tour of the park (every Tuesday and 2nd, 4th & 5th Friday of the month – meeting 11am at the Visitor Center) to learn more about its history and design, or you can explore on your own using a park map.

Gaslamp Quarter: One of San Diego’s most lively neighborhoods, it has more than 200 restaurants, bars, and shops. Well known for its historic architecture, nightlife, and cultural events, you can take a walking tour of the Gaslamp Quarter any time of the year and expert something special! Llearn about its history and architecture, or sample the neighborhood’s food and drink scene on a food tour – there is something for everyone.

La Jolla Cove: This picturesque beach community is known for its stunning ocean views, rocky cliffs, and abundant marine life. Swim, surf, or snorkel in the clear blue waters, or simply relax on the beach. There are also plenty of restaurants and shops in the area. For a unique experience, take a guided kayak tour of the La Jolla sea caves – it’s a must!

Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve: This protected area is home to a variety of rare plants and animals, as well as stunning ocean views and hiking trails. Take a guided hike with a naturalist to learn about the reserve’s flora and fauna, or explore on your own – it’s easy to spend a few hours hiking in this stunning part of SD!

The Harbor: There is so much to do and see at the San Diego Harbor. Take a stroll along the Embarcadero, a scenic waterfront walkway that spans over a mile and offers stunning views of the bay and skyline ad you visit the various museums, shops and restaurants. For a unique experience, get on the water with one of the many tours and explore the bay.

Coronado Island: Coronado Island is another popular destination in San Diego, offering beautiful beaches, a little bit of luxury, and a charming historic presense. Take a stroll along Coronado Beach, consistently ranked as one of the best beaches in the country, or rent an electric scooter and explore. Whatever your interests, Coronado Island offers a relaxing and enjoyable getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.

No matter where you choose to go in San Diego, there’s sure to be something to suit your interests. With so many great tours and activities available, you’re sure to have a fun and memorable trip. Here are some of the top  San Diego Tours:

Whale Watching Tours in San Diego

Whale watching is a highlight activity in San Diego, with the opportunity to see a variety of whales and dolphins throughout the year. Here’s what you need to know about the whale watching experience in San Diego:

What you can see: San Diego is home to a variety of whale species, including gray whales, blue whales, and humpback whales. Visitors may also spot dolphins, seals, and sea lions. 

Best time of year: The best time to go whale watching in San Diego is typically from December to April during the gray whale migration. However, other whale species can be seen throughout the year, so it’s always a good time to go. Here is a quick view summary of what to expect during the year:

  • January: Good for dolphin watching, and also possible to see gray and humpback whales.
  • February: Ideal for dolphin watching.
  • March: Good for gray whales and dolphins, with gray whales having distinctive white spot scars.
  • April: Still some chances to see gray whales with their young in protected lagoons in Baja.
  • May: Start of blue whale season.
  • June and July: Good for blue whales, fin whales, and humpback whales.
  • August: Final month for blue whale sightings.
  • September and October: More opportunities to see fin and humpback whales, as well as large dolphin pods.
  • November: Peak month for dolphin migration, and chance to see killer whales.
  • December: Good for dolphin watching during the gray whale migration.


Top San Diego Tours for Whale Watching

There are several tour companies in San Diego that offer whale watching tours. Here are a few of the best:

Hornblower Cruises: This whale and dolphin cruise tour offers daily excursions on a large, comfortable ship with indoor and outdoor seating. Best of all, if you don’t spot anything, you get a free pass to come again! 

San Diego Whale Watch: Legacy Whale Watch is a family-owned company that offers small group tours with a focus on education and conservation.  Naturalists are on board to provide information about the whales and other marine life.

Flagship Cruises: This company offers a variety of whale watching tours, including a sunset whale watching tour and a brunch whale watching tour. The boat is equipped with a 360-Degree Viewing Open-Air Observation Deck, dining area and restrooms.

No matter which tour company you choose, you’re sure to have a memorable experience watching these majestic creatures in their natural habitat.

La Jolla Kayaking Tours in San Diego

Kayaking in La Jolla Cove is definitely a “shore” thing when it comes to experiencing the wonders of San Diego’s marine life! With a wide variety of guided tours and rentals available, you’ll be up close and personal  with seals, sea lions, and dolphins!

La Jolla Cove, with its breathtaking views and rich marine life, is a must-visit destination for kayaking enthusiasts in San Diego.

Several tour companies offer kayaking tours in La Jolla, ranging from guided tours to equipment rentals. Everyday California and La Jolla Sea Cave Kayaks are two of the most popular and highly recommended companies for their knowledgeable guides, high-quality equipment, and commitment to safety.

To ensure a successful kayaking adventure, make sure you wear appropriate clothing and footwear,definitely bring sunscreen and water, and be prepared to get wet! It’s also important to follow all safety guidelines and regulations while on the water. 

So if you’re looking for an exciting way to explore San Diego’s natural beauty, a kayaking tour in La Jolla Cove is definitely worth adding to your itinerary.

San Diego Harbor Cruise Tours

San Diego is one of the most beautiful cities in the United States – with a stunning coastline and breathtaking landmarks. If you’re planning a trip to this sunny paradise, you simply can’t miss out on a harbor cruise tour. 

San Diego Harbor Cruise Tours

Definitely one of the most popular tours in San Diego, the harbor cruise tour is a must. This tour allows you to experience the stunning San Diego Bay and its iconic landmarks, such as the USS Midway and Coronado Bridge, from the water. You’ll also get an overview of the city’s history and culture from knowledgeable guides.

Looking for something different? There are several harbor cruise options available in San Diego, including narrated tours and dinner cruises. Narrated tours typically provide a comprehensive overview of the city’s history, architecture, and landmarks. Dinner cruises, on the other hand, offer a romantic setting and a delicious meal while cruising through the beautiful San Diego Bay.

Adrenaline junkie? There is also the adrenaline rush ride that is the San Diego Speed Boat Tour. If you’re yawning at the idea of slowly cruising past each and every sight, ditch the “tour bus” and book your very own ferrari on the water – trust us you won’t regret it!

Tips for a Memorable Harbor Tour

To make the most of your harbor cruise, it’s important to arrive early to allow time for parking and check-in. Dress appropriately for the weather, as it can get chilly on the water even on sunny days. Also, be sure to follow all safety guidelines and regulations while on the boat.

If you’re planning your trip, make sure you check out our post on how to pack.


San Diego Ghost Tours

Are you brave enough to delve into San Diego’s spooky past and explore its haunted locations? San Diego is home to many ghost stories and legends, making it the perfect destination for ghost tours. From walking tours to bus tours, there are many options available for those seeking a thrilling and spooky experience.

One of the most famous haunted locations in San Diego is the Whaley House, where visitors have reported seeing ghostly apparitions and experiencing unexplained phenomena. Another popular haunted spot is the Hotel del Coronado, which is said to be haunted by the ghost of a woman who tragically died there in the 19th century.

If you’re interested in exploring these haunted locations and learning about San Diego’s spooky history, there are several tour companies that offer ghost tours. San Diego Ghosts and Haunted San Diego Ghost Tours are two popular options that offer walking and bus tours, respectively. 

To have a successful and spooky ghost tour experience, it’s important to come prepared. Just be sure to bring a camera to “capture” any otherworldly sightings, and keep your wits about you. 

So, if you’re feeling brave and up for some eerie adventure,  a ghost tour in San Diego is a must! Who knows, you might just have a “spirited” encounter with a famous figure or two. 

Looking for more unconventional San Diego secret spots to add to your itinerary? Look no further than “10 Unconventional Places to Visit in San Diego.”


Food Tours in San Diego

San Diego’s food scene is so good, it’ll make your taste buds do a happy dance! And what better way to explore it than on a food tour? Whether you prefer walking tours or brewery tours, there’s something for everyone.

For those with a hankering for Italian cuisine, Little Italy is the place to be. With its cozy coffee shops and authentic restaurants, you’ll feel like you’ve been transported to the streets of Rome. And for those who love international cuisine and craft beer, North Park is the perfect destination. You’ll be able to indulge in flavors from all over the world and wash it down with some local brews.

When it comes to food tour companies, Bite San Diego and So Diego Tours are top-notch. They offer a variety of tours, from taco crawls to dessert samplings, so you can find the perfect one to satisfy your cravings.

But before you embark on your culinary adventure, here are some tips to make the most of your SD food tour

  • First, come hungry and pace yourself, because you’ll be indulging in some seriously delicious eats. 
  • Second, don’t be afraid to try something new and adventurous – you might just discover your new favorite dish! 
  • And lastly, ask your tour guide for recommendations – they’re experts on all things food in San Diego and might just surprise you with some hidden gems.

Now go forth and eat your heart out – after all, calories don’t count on vacation, right?

San Diego Brewery and Winery Tours

San Diego is a hoppy place, with an abundance of craft breweries and wineries scattered throughout the city. Whether you’re a beer connoisseur or a wine aficionado, there are plenty of tours available to explore San Diego’s boozy scene.

You can take a walking tour or hop on a bus to visit some of the most popular breweries and wineries in the area, such as AleSmith Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing, and Bernardo Winery. For a memorable experience, we recommend Brewery Tours of San Diego and San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours.

Now, before you start sipping, here are a few tips to ensure a fun and safe brewery or winery tour:

  • Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! Drink plenty of water to stay refreshed and avoid a nasty hangover.
  • Eat before and during the tour to keep your stomach lined and avoid getting too tipsy too quickly.
  • And most importantly, don’t drink and drive! Use a designated driver or public transportation to get you to and from the tour safely. Remember, getting buzzed is great, but getting arrested (or worse – causing an accident) is not!


Day Trips from San Diego

San Diego is a great base for exploring nearby attractions, including Tijuana, Temecula Wine Country, and Joshua Tree National Park.


Tijuana, Mexico, is just a short drive from San Diego and offers a unique cultural experience with its vibrant art scene, lively music and dance performances, and delicious street food. Popular attractions include the Tijuana Cultural Center and the Mercado Hidalgo, a bustling open-air market. Recommended tour companies include Five Star Tours and Baja California Tours.

Temecula Wine Country

Temecula Wine Country, located about an hour northeast of San Diego, is home to nearly 50 wineries and offers scenic views of rolling hills and vineyards. Visitors can enjoy wine tastings, guided tours, and dining at winery restaurants. Recommended tour companies include Grapeline Wine Tours and Temecula Valley Wine Tasting Tours.

Joshua Tree National Park:

Joshua Tree National Park, located about 2.5 hours east of San Diego, is known for its otherworldly landscape and rock formations. Visitors can hike, rock climb, and stargaze in the park. Recommended tour companies include Red Jeep Tours  and Adventure Hummer Tours.

For more suggestions on day trips and weekends away from San Diego, check out our blog post “Best Day Trips and Weekend Getaways from San Diego”


Explore more with San Diego Tours!

Are you ready to explore the best of San Diego? From watching majestic whales to kayaking in beautiful waters, from savoring delicious cuisine to sipping on local craft beer and wine, San Diego has it all! Taking a tour or participating in an activity is the perfect way to fully experience all that this beautiful city has to offer.

So, whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, a nature lover, or a beer enthusiast, there’s a tour for everyone. Don’t miss out on the opportunity to make unforgettable memories and discover the hidden gems of San Diego.

Remember, there’s no better way to explore San Diego than with a knowledgeable guide or instructor. So, book your next tour or activity and get ready to have some fun! San Diego is waiting for you!