If you’re looking for whale watching near Dana Point, we guarantee you’ve never experienced anything like this. Our exclusive underwater glass viewing pods put you face to face with some of the largest creatures on earth! Book your seat today!
Whale Watching Season San Diego
“Any trip to San Diego is shore to please the soul.” ~ Unknown
Did you know that Captain Dave’s Whale Watching offers whale watching tours for San Diego residents? Are you looking for more environmentally friendly activities than paying for tickets to see whales inside a tank at SeaWorld? If you’re looking for a fun day out with friends, vacationing with family, or planning a school field trip, whale watching season in San Diego happens all year long, and with Captain Dave’s you’ll have an experience you won’t soon forget! In San Diego, whale-watching is available on the entire stretch of coastline located near Dana Point, CA, the Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World®.
Whale Watching with Captain Dave’s Offers Several Tour Options:
- Dana Point Whale Watching Tour
- Zodiac-Style Dolphin & Whale Watching
- Private Dana Point Tours with Captain Provided!
All of Captain Dave’s tours are never crowded and offer comfortable seating.
Whale-watching near San Diego is simple to book online with Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari. We invite you to skip the lines at SeaWorld, take a ride with us on one of our six vessels, and let us show you the wonderment of the secret lives of whales and dolphins. Close your eyes and imagine the sound of the ocean rushing past you as you swiftly move through the velvety waves of the sea. As you glide through the water, you feel a sense of calm as you are whale watching near San Diego. You begin to feel the rhythm of the ocean. Now imagine that while you are San Diego whale watching, you see a pod of dolphins swimming underwater, who all appear to be smiling as if to welcome you to swim within their pod and in the wild.
“The sea is as near as we come to another world.” ~ Unknown
Whale Watching Tours in San Diego at Dana Point
When it comes to whale watching season in San Diego, every day is a great day to see whales, and Captain Dave’s 2 ½ hour ocean cruises are the best in Southern California! Scheduled every day of the week on our spacious catamaran sailboat Manute’a, we provide two exclusive Eye-to-Eye Underwater Viewing Pods that allow close-up viewing of undersea fish and ocean mammals. You’ll quickly see why this is our most popular tour!
Zodiac-Style Dolphin & Whale Watching
On our high-speed Zodiac-style boat, you can get within arm’s reach of the most amazing ocean wildlife on Earth! If you’ve previously avoided whale watching tours because of concerns about seasickness, our boats’ heavily padded seats and low profile will make you feel very comfortable.
Private Dana Point Harbor Tours with Captain Provided!
If you’re searching for a private whale watching in San Diego tour, Captain Dave’s wide variety of boats that can be rented along with a Coast Guard-certified Captain. Choose from motor yachts, Zodiac-style boats, a catamaran sailboat with exclusive eye-to-eye underwater viewing pods, and more!
Why Choose Captain Dave’s for Whale Watching Season in San Diego?
The Dolphin and Whale Watching Capital of the World® is at Dana Point, and when you book your trip with Captain Dave’s, whale and dolphin sightings are guaranteed! Contact us today to reserve your tickets and get ready for the adventure of a lifetime!
If you’re looking for whale watching near Dana Point, we guarantee you’ve never experienced anything like this. Our exclusive underwater glass viewing pods put you face to face with some of the largest creatures on earth! Book your seat today!
Need a place to rest your fatigued flukes during your San Diego whale watching adventure? On the hunt for a tasty treat to feed the whole pod?
Here are some ideas to help your migration while whale watching in San Diego.
San Diego whale watching trips MUST include a trip into Old Town San Diego, the birthplace of California and the oldest settled town in San Diego. Here you can fill your heart and soul with the authentic sounds of Mexican music, colorful fanfare, and delicious traditional Mexican flavors. Visit a local farmer’s market, try your hand at candle dipping and watch as the smell of house-made tortillas on fire grills fill the streets.
Old Town is a neighborhood within San Diego and the first-ever European-settled town in present-day California. Containing over 230 acres bounded by Interstate 8 north and Interstate 5 on the west with Mission Hills and Bankers Hill to the east and south, Old Town has just as much history as it does fun things to do and great places to eat. San Diego whale watching is even more fun with a stopover in Old Town.
San Diego State Park, established in 1968, is open from 10a-5p daily. Commemorating the early days of San Diego, both parks are registered on the National Register of Historic Places, and are a couple of the most visited parks in San Diego. The historic buildings inside the park were built from 1820 to 1870. While you are there, check out the Mormon battalion earning much of the credit for creating most of San Diego, CA. Three hours at this park before or after your San Diego whale watching adventure will fill your historical knowledge and is the perfect time to enjoy this park.
4002 Wallace St, San Diego, CA, 92110
Presidio Park commemorates the historical site where the San Diego Presidio and the San Diego Mission, the first European settlements in what is now the Western United States, were founded in 1769. A few short years later, in 1773, the mission moved a few miles upriver while the fort remained on Presidio Hill. The main attraction of the park is the Junipero Serra Museum. The park is filled with large grassy areas to stop and enjoy a picnic in this park’s historical setting. You can enjoy this outdoor hotspot any time during your San Diego whale watching vacation. Open all day, every day, from sunrise to 10 pm. Admission is by a requested donation only to continue to be able to bring historical knowledge to visitors like you who go to San Diego whale watching from all over the world. If you have your furry friends in tow, it’s no problem at this park; just keep them on their leash.
2811 Jackson St, San Diego, CA, 92110
Ever thought about making your candle but had no idea where to start? When booking your trip, whale watching near San Diego, a super-fun and new way to enjoy time with friends and family in Old Town San Diego, is at Toby’s! Located in the heart of Old Town, owners Kellee and Paul of Toby’s candle shop ensure that you bring home a treasure you will love and remember about visiting Old Town, San Diego, during your San Diego whale watching vacation. The staff here is friendly and helpful and takes the time to teach you about candle making and dipping. Their reasonable pricing options allow you to try your own creative had and bring home a colorful treasure from Old Town. This one is worth adding to your list of places to visit.
2645 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA, 92110
The experience of Old Town San Diego revolved around the authentic colorful flavors of Mexican dishes. When visiting this part of the world, do not be surprised to see primarily Mexican food on the menu! Old Town is home to some of the best Mexican food in America without crossing the International border. Order a burrito at a local takeaway, or stop at some of our favorite locations below to try the most authentic Mexican flavors around town! For extra fun, hop on a trolley and tour Old Town in style. San Diego whale watching vacations are that much more fun with live music and delicious food to eat afterward! In San Diego, whale watching can work up an appetite, and here, the food is served hot and fresh in this border town city.
Visitors who come whale watching near San Diego have been enjoying the flavors of Cafe Coyote for over 30 years. Café Coyote has remained one of San Diego’s landmark restaurants in the heart of Old Town San Diego’s Historic Walking District. Their friendly staff, loyal patrons, delicious Mexican Food, and festive atmosphere make this a must-try hot spot in Old Town San Diego! Hand-made tortillas (“mano” – made by hand) have everyone around town coming to try Cafe Coyote! From your window seat, you’ll hear strolling Mariachi musicians fill the flower-scented air with Festive Mexican Music in their colorful outdoor courtyards. After you are finished enjoying your excursion on the water, San Diego whale watching, relax by the sounds of the beautiful splashing fountains that add to the atmosphere in the Esplanade. Mexican murals and décor line the streets in this popular Mexican eatery. This local gem is a landmark location that has been winning awards for the “Best Mexican Restaurant in Town” for over 18 years!
2461 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA, 92110
San Diego whale watching is at your doorstep all around San Diego, and the food here in Old town is just as spectacular as the animals themselves! A staple location in San Diego, this spot is known for its slow-cooked carnitas; this is the place to go if you are a meat lover! Succulent and moist, the carnitas does not get more authentic than at Old Town Cafe. Other popular dishes include Molcajete, ½ rotisserie chicken, Pozole, ½ rack of ribs, Guacamole, and Carne Asada Dinner. Taco Tuesdays are an event at this Mexican cafe and will have you feeling like you have traveled to Mexico.
2489 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA, 92110
Every weekend Old Town’s favorite mariachi band and beautiful Folklorico dancers make for an unforgettable experience. Casa de Reyes is the place to be, whether it’s lunch, dinner, drinks, or brunch. Situated under the Carrizo arbor, just steps from the Fiesta de Reyes stage, this is a spot where you can bring the whole family to dine on traditional and authentic Mexican food. While you are here in San Diego, whale watching, and enjoy daily entertainment ranging from lively mariachis to historical plays to traditional Folklorico dancing at this local hotspot. The awe-inspiring setting in the heart of Old Town San Diego is just the chocolate on the churros. Aside from great food and fantastic drinks, we think one of the best features of Casa de Reyes is the atmosphere. Casa de Reyes is about much more than eating; whether you have the time to enjoy the fire pits, the garden setting, or the non-stop party, Casa de Reyes is about much more than eating. It’s where the fiesta lives forever. whale watching near San Diego gets even better with a tasty lunch or dinner at Casa De Reys.
2754 Calhoun Street, San Diego, CA, 92110
San Diego whale watching would not be complete without a visit to Rockin’ Baja Lobster. The summer of 1992 changed the palette of Southern California residents forever when local Pacific lobsters, wrapped in warm flour tortillas, ranchero beans, Mexican rice, and a hot red chili sauce, began being served at this delicious restaurant. Inspired by local lobster caught by local fishermen in the Puerto Nuevo part of Baja, the menu at Rockin Baja Lobster will leave you craving more! These burrito-esque entrees served hot and fresh pair perfectly with an icy cold Mexican beer or house-made margarita recipe for washing it all down. Dining here is a must-try when whale watching near San Diego.
3890 Twiggs St. San Diego, CA 92110
If you’re looking for a festive, outstanding experience during your upcoming trip to California while San Diego whale watching, look no further! The food is delicious, and the atmosphere is even better. Cielito Lindo, the lead singer of their in-house Mariachi band, has been serenading Casa Guadalajara guests since 1996. A mariachi birthday song makes every birthday and special occasion unforgettable, and this band will not disappoint. And, visiting during Cinco de Mayo’s festivities means you’ll see their Folklorico dancers light up the stage! Playing weekly on Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays from 5:30 PM until 8:30 PM, be sure to check them out today!
4105 Taylor St, San Diego, CA, 92110
The best part of creating a vacation centered around whale watching near San Diego is that you are close to everything happening in this busy metropolitan city! This location is one of the newer hotels and is within walking distance of National Parks, delicious food, and downtown. With an outdoor pool, fitness, and business center, you can get everything checked off your list to enjoy your San Diego whale watching getaway to the fullest extent.
4200 Taylor Street, San Diego, CA, 92110
If you are looking to keep with the Mexican theme of Old Town and stay overnight in a
Spanish-style hotel decked out from top to bottom with lush tropical landscaping and a
prime location, then the Old Town Inn is the right choice. Guests will enjoy a long list of complimentary amenities, including continental breakfast, free parking, and Wi-Fi, and there is no resort fee — a pleasant bonus in southern California. Only 10 minutes away from popular San Diego beaches and across the street from the Old Town transportation center, the Old Town Inn is close to everything! Take a dip in their heated outdoor pool; it’s the perfect place to relax after a day of San Diego whale watching.
4444 Pacific Hwy, San Diego, CA, 92110
Did you book your whale watching near San Diego trip without reserving a car? No problem at this hotel! The Hacienda Hotel features a free airport shuttle from San Diego International and is near the Amtrack station. The expansive views of Old Town and Mission Bay set this hotel apart from the rest when looking for a hotel near Old Town San Diego.
4041 Harney St, San Diego, CA, 92110
The heart and soul of the 16-square block of the Gaslamp Quarter District of San Diego offers a lively food and theatre scene in San Diego. From Summer music Thursdays, Summer Flick Fridays to Skate Sundays, this area of San Diego is known for fun and inspired menus from around the globe. Victorian-era buildings and modern skyscrapers stand side by side, housing more than 100 of the city’s finest restaurants, pubs, nightclubs, retail shops, offices, and residential/work lofts. Horton Plaza Park provides expansive grassy lawns, delicious ice cream, and a multitude of coffee vendors inside the park. Be sure to stroll to the interactive fountain, which is always a beloved kid’s favorite! Only eight miles from Ocean Beach and a ten-minute drive, the Gaslamp District is the perfect spot for a romantic evening, a family ice-cream party, or a fun and festive bachelor or bachelorette party! The Gaslamp Quarter District of San Diego has something for anyone and everyone while on your whale watching near San Diego vacation.
When the sun goes down and your San Diego whale watching activity is complete, look no further than the Gaslamp District of San Diego to fulfill all your feasting delights. From 5-star restaurants to local hot spot eateries, San Diego has options for anyone and everyone of all ages.
From Flamenco dancing on the weekends to live Gypsy King’s style music in the tapas bar. Cafe Sevilla is dedicated to providing the essence of Spanish culture, music, and cuisine. Since 1987 guests have been immersed in their authentic Spanish ambiance, delicious tapas bar, full-service restaurant, and nightclub. Café Sevilla specializes in Spanish tapas or small plates, which are great for a fun, interactive, and sharable dining experience. Menu offerings include a variety of over 30 award-winning ta, traditional paellas, fresh seafood, savory meat dishes, and specialized sangrias and Spanish wines.
353 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
Whale watching near San Diego enthusiasts love celebrating their fantastic time on the water. Known for serving up a fabulously fun and spectacular brunch in San Diego, this hot spot is open daily until 3 pm before they switch gears and elevated pub food and karaoke take center stage. Whether you’re brunching like a civilized human or raging like an animal, the goal of this establishment is to ensure you leave full and happy. This is the perfect spot to celebrate connecting with mother earth while enjoying seeing animals in the wild marine setting you experience while traveling on your San Diego whale watching safari.
627 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
This fun, high-energy downtown restaurant and bar celebrate the richness of American culture through its appetizing and progressive bar fare. The reclaimed wood decor from the original foundation and a warm modernist design makes guests feel relaxed and at ease. The garage-door style windows open up the interior space to the Gaslamp’s sunny disposition. Rooted in the idea that community means something in this part of town, three large communal tables foster a sense of gathering. Here, people come to enjoy deliciously innovative food, conversation, and drinks amongst friends and neighbors. Best of all, though the evening may get started in barley mash, this top-notch eatery also encourages patrons to visit Ginger’s, a hipster bar with live musical entertainment located downstairs. Barley Mash is the place-to-be for locals and tourists alike.
600 Fifth Ave #6916, San Diego, CA, 92101
Whale watching near San Diego vacations soar to new heights when dining at Cucina Urbana after a whale watching trip near San Diego. If you are looking for a place that focuses all of its attention on creating custom dishes from all scratch menus, then you will love the culinary delights at Cuccina Urbana. Their Italian menus are full of flavor with seasonal dishes, including local favorites like house-made charcuterie and sausage, cheese, artisanal bread, and pasta made from scratch daily. If you are into your wines, you’ll love a robust selection of over 200+ labels from around the world, emphasizing Italian and California varietals. Perfect spot to wine and dine and make a memorable evening out of wining and dining with friends, family, or a loved one.
505 Laurel St, San Diego, CA, 92101
Wowing customers and visitors here for amazing San Diego whale watching with their state-of-the-art innovation in food design, this local hot spot is changing how its guests think about food. With an eclectic menu, Cafe 21 San Diego will awaken your palette with our superior food artistry and handcrafted cocktails. Every dish is handcrafted using unique spices and authentic techniques rue to the culture of Azerbaijan. Their signature loaves of bread to fruity-infused sangrias are made with love from scratch. Their menu concept of small plates allows for variety and for our guests to indulge in different tastes and flavors. Their specialties are unique seasonal dishes made from locally grown produce, hormone-free grass-fed meat, wild seafood, and antibiotic-free Mary’s Free Range Chickens. In San Diego, whale watching out of the water can make you hungry. Daily prepared fresh-baked sourdough bread (with Lola as the starter) is one of their signatures, and it is their priority to accommodate gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan guests. Cafe 21 is the perfect spot for a romantic evening or where you’ll want to try an inspired creative, and inventive entrée that you won’t find anywhere else.
802 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
One of the most famous American confectioners is Ghirardelli Chocolates. Lucky for San Diego and its local and distant visitors, patrons who visit for some San Diego whale watching can also enjoy an assortment of treats from this world-famous Swiss owned-confectioner. The Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego is known for serving artistic and delectable food and drink, but chocolate takes center stage at Ghirardelli. Are you traveling with a group? A must-try sweet treat is one of their 1-pound bags of chocolates (flavor of your choosing) OR a homemade banana split, chocolate brownie ice-cream sundae. These sweet treats are delicious, but nothing beats Mrs. Carp. Dave’s brownies at Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari, but brownies are worth having twice on one trip if you are in San Diego on a whale watching near San Diego vacation.
643 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
Have you ever booked whale watching near San Diego? Are you unsure where to stay? There’s the rock n’ theme at the Hard Rock Hotel, Victorian beauty at the Grand Hotel, and more. There is something to suit everyone’s needs on your San Diego whale watching stay, so check these hotels below to see if they make sense for you and your guests.
The Gaslamp Hard Rock Hotel has a modern and contemporary take on everything you expect from a Hard Rock property in the city. Centered at the base of the archway to the Gaslamp District, this hotel will immerse you with its musical amenities. The open floorplan layout with a sitting room, open plan bathroom with luxury tub, and modern bedroom is as relaxing as a hot spot attraction. They serve up American food with a contemporary twist at the Hard Rock restaurant, so if you are looking for a small dose of American Rock and Roll during your San Diego whale watching extravaganza, look no further than the Hard Rock Hotel, San Diego!
207 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
This fully renovated property is upscaled with an ultra-stylish, sophisticated modern design. Adjacent to PETCO Park, Home of the San Diego Padres, and two blocks from the San Diego Convention Center, this property is close to everything you want to experience in greater San Diego while enjoying the thriving nightlife in the Gaslamp District. whale watching near San Diego means learning about the majestic animals under the sea, and here you have expansive ocean views, the stunning San Diego skyline, and baseball park views; with three restaurants inside and an award-winning open-air rooftop hotspot, this is one of the best stays in San Diego.
660 K St, San Diego, CA, 92101
This multi-story Victorian Grand-style boutique hotel is everything you want from a comfortable and luxurious hotel stay. Each room has handcrafted antique furniture, marble-framed gas fireplaces, and detailed architectural elegance. Best of all, the San Diego Trolley stops in front of the Horton Grand, making it easy to access the best of the city. San Diego whale watching has never been easier to enjoy when close to easily accessible city-wide transportation.
311 Island Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
New in 2017, this bright 12-story boutique hotel with modern amenities enticing millennials from around the globe was born into the lineage of Montage Hotels & Resorts. Guests will feel the divine luxury of this urban coastal California aesthetic, making this seaside oasis stand out. The Pendry instinctively values flawless service and unrivaled experiences. While they charge $25 for emptying your mini-fridge, you can request an empty fridge from housekeeping brought to your room. The macarons on your bed for nightly turndown are a classy touch and the perfect end to a day in San Diego whale watching.
550 J St, San Diego, CA, 92101
Serving its guests with supreme excellence for over 100 years, the US Grant Hotel is one of San Diego’s oldest and most prominent hotels in San Diego County. Located adjacent to the San Diego Zoo, Petco Park, Balboa Park, shopping, and the lively musical nightlife of the Gaslamp District, their 235 luxury guest rooms and AAA/CAA Four Diamond cuisine in a stunning Art Deco setting of the Grant Grill has kept customers coming back year after year.
326 Broadway, San Diego, CA, 92101
Rooftop bar and walking distance to most attractions, this boutique hotel is moderately priced compared to the more prominent hotel collections leaving you a larger budget to be sure to book a San Diego whale watching experience with Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari. Clean rooms with fabulously friendly guest services. A place to check out if you are only here for a short visit.
509 Ninth Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
City Center / Bay Front
Baseball is America’s game, and San Diegans have enjoyed watching the San Diego Padres take to the field since their inception in 1969. The Padres are part of the National West League Division and are based in downtown San Diego. Achieving two pennants in 1984 and again in 1998, this is a club with a huge following. If you have never been to a game and you are here for a San Diego whale watching trip, this is something you must check out! Are you visiting San Diego during baseball season or spring training? The Padres play games at Petco Park, an outdoor stadium that can hold over 42K people for concerts and baseball games with just over 40K fixed seating options—looking to watch a game with even higher stakes? Buy a ticket on a day they play their LA neighbors to the North, the LA Dodgers, and get in on some fun local city rivalry. whale watching near San Diego sounds even better when you can take in America’s favorite game while on your trip.
100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
San Diego is filled with indoor and below-deck interactions and features a world-class collection of National Historic Landmark Vessels, including sailing ships, steam-powered, and submarines. You can board and explore the vessesl, and some even take passengers! Steam Powered boating tours on the Steam Ferry Berkeley, Steam Yacht Medea, and the 555 USS Dolphin Submarine. Some vessels include the Californian, HMS Surprise, San Salvador, and the Star of India. This museum is all about preserving and presenting so check out the museum today for a guided tour around the ships. Open daily 10 am – 4 pm.
1492 North Harbor Drive , San Diego, CA, 92101
If aircraft carriers are your thing, the USS Midway located on North Harbor Drive is the perfect activity to keep you on the water after a morning or afternoon of whale watching near San Diego. The self-guided audio tour brings the Midway’s history to life and adds a personal touch to what it was like to live onboard a floating city at sea! Family Self-Guided Audio is perfect for little skippers too. Follow along as Airman Sam Rodriguez leads youngsters on an eye-opening and entertaining audio tour to more than 30 locations throughout the aircraft carrier. For extra fun, stop by the docent Information Center at the start of your visit to learn how your little one can earn their Junior Pilot Wings! This is the perfect segway to continue to learn about life on top of the water after seeing whales and dolphins on your San Diego whale watching excursion.
910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA, 92101
If you are looking for something to do after a trip out at sea whale watching in San Diego or visiting the USS Midway? Try dining and shopping at San Diego’s Seaport Village. This one-stop shopping and dining complex has been delighting vacationers since 1980. The old world harbor charm set in the architecture mirroring over a century ago includes 54 one-of-a-kind shops, 13 casual dining eateries, four fine dining waterfront restaurants, and is located close to local hotels. Open from 10 am-10 pm, the Seaport Village boardwalk is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from many waterfront attractions, connecting with the Convention Center, Marriott Hotel & Marina, Manchester Grand Hyatt, and Midway Museum. One of our favorite things about a plan to enjoy San Diego whale watching is a stop at this seaside shopping area. We LOVE its focus and attention to being green. Seaport Village’s green initiatives include single-stream recycling, strategically placed containers for customer use, waste vegetable Oil (WVO) collected by New Leaf Biofuel converted to biodiesel, and water reclamation practices to protect storm drains. Their efforts extend into restrooms too and offer multiple recycled and recyclable products.
849 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA, 92101
The cultural heartbeat of San Diego, with 17 museums, multiple gardens, and stunning outdoor recreation areas across 1,200 acres, is one of North America’s most iconic urban parks and a must-see on any visit to San Diego. Featuring 65 miles of trails through beautiful gardens, groves, and some famous San Diego sights such as the San Diego Zoo and several museums. Suppose you are a runner looking to get on some steps after your whale watching near San Diego safari with Capt. Dave’s whale watching safari has approximately 19 trails from 5 gateways in the Park. If you want to stroll through the park’s museums and gardens, check out the #2 trail (approx4.1 miles), which leads you through the park’s exquisite museums and gardens. If botany is your particular interest, the #33 trail loop (approximately 3.7 miles) runs through Florida Canyon’s Native Plant Preserve. Stunning architecture, thought-provoking exhibit installations, and cultural events throughout the year are the perfect potent mix of what makes San Diego unique. After your San Diego whale watching tour, grab a quick history lesson about the area. Learn more about how local civic leaders set aside the scrub-filled mesa overlooking downtown to establish a city park over 150 years ago. This ethnically diverse, historically rich, culturally abundant, naturally breathtaking Park is where you can experience San Diego’s past and see where its future is headed. whale watching near San Diego is more than just a trip out to sea – it’s an activity-filled dream vacation!
1549 El Prado, San Diego, CA, 92101
Two parks with two unique and very different experiences are available the San Diego Zoo and Safari Animal Park. The San Diego Zoo houses 4,000 animals of more than 650 species and subspecies within 100 acres of Balboa Park. Close to other main attractions and vacation destinations for many travelers within San Diego, this park is no exception. While our favorite animals are best seen wild and free on a San Diego whale watching tour, the San Diego zoo also has some great exhibits teaching visitors about animals from all over. The San Diego Zoo provides habitats for animals found worldwide, including in Australia, Asia, Africa, Central America, South America, and more. Visitors can listen to scheduled zookeeper talks throughout the day, walk the park, take a guided bus tour or enjoy the park from above aboard the Skyfari Aerial Tram to experience the animal species. Parking is included with your ticket to enter the park. Check their website for all updated ticketing information and pricing for both parks.
2920 Zoo Drive, San Diego, CA, 92101
Suppose you are someone who prefers to see land animals in their natural environment with larger open spaces like we do whale watching near San Diego at Capt. Dave’s Dolphin Safari, then the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, may be a better fit for you. This open-air park is located in Escondido, approximately 45-60 minutes north of downtown San Diego. The format of an open, more naturalistic animal enclosure experience allows guests to ride on a guided safari-like tour on an open-air tram through the African Savannah field. Visitors will see the natural environments where animals roam freely. The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is 1,800 acres of a wildlife sanctuary with over 2,600 animals and more than 300 species. There are scheduled animal shows throughout the day. These shows include the Cheetah Run, Frequent Flyers Bird Show, Elephant Keeper Talk, Trainer Talk, and more. Unlike the free parking, you receive while San Diego whale watching at Capt. Dave’s, here, the parking is an additional fee and isn’t included in your ticket to enter.
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd, Escondido, CA, 92027
Aviation Museum goers worldwide come to experience San Diego’s Air & Space Aeronautical Museum located in Balboa Park. Open daily from 10 am-4:30 pm, visitors worldwide learn about San Diego’s rich aviation history. Beautiful Balboa Park, San Diego, is home to this next museum in the Ford House, one of the US National Registered Historic Places. The B-24 Liberator, the PBY Catalina, Ryan Aeronautical, home of Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis, and North Island Naval Air Station were found here. Born in 1961, this aerospace aviation museum’s motto has always been “Preserve, Inspire, Educate, and, Celebrate.” whale watching near San Diego is even more fun after a trip to the Air and Space Museum when you catch a boat ride with Matt Stumph, our in-house aviation expert!
2001 Pan American Plaza, San Diego, CA, 92101
Another hot spot inside Balboa Park for tourists and locals alike is the Natural History Museum of San Diego, built in 1874. For nearly 150 years, this has been the oldest scientific institution in San Diego and all of Southern Califonia and the third oldest west of the Mississippi. The Natural History Museum of San Diego occupies 8 million specimens, award-winning exhibitions, and a multitude of incredible hands-on experiential education classes designed to inspire people of all ages. Our favorite part of this museum’s rich history comes from Museum Research Associate and Biologist Dr. Ray Gilmore. Beginning in the 1950s, Gilmore documented shrinking numbers of gray whales – who we see today migrating along the Dana Point costs on their way to and from the warm waters of Mexico, where they will birth and breed before returning to the cold waters of Alaska In the late Spring months. Recognizing that these majestic creatures needed help, Gilmore began raising awareness by taking people out on boats to watch whales. Many people returned inspired. They refused to support commercial whaling, stopped buying whale-based products, and pressed for protective laws. Gray whales came back in larger populations in 1994 and were removed from the federal endangered species list. As you plan your whale watching near San Diego itinerary, check out the museum for yourself and learn more about Gilmore’s plight for grey whales and all facets of this area’s diverse natural and ever-evolving animals, ecosystems, and history! This is one of our favorite places to visit on your San Diego whale watching adventure!
1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA, 92101
Bringing the fun to the run since 1998, Rock ‘n’ Roll Running Series San Diego is a favorite among locals and tourists alike. Starting at Balboa Park and finishing in Downtown San Diego, this run will take you on an explorative journey within eight well-known San Diego neighborhoods, allowing you to experience an insider tour. This run has all the locals raving and is an ultimate foot-tour highlighting all the iconic communities, their personalities, and everything we love about America’s Finest City, San Diego, CA if you plan to run San Diego’s loudest and most jammin’ marathon, whale watching near San Diego is your reward!
Located on the 19th floor of the Intercontinental Hotel, this top-floor view is considered one of San Diego’s best. From the moment you leave the elevator, your experience begins, and you are transported into old-world Rome. The open-air wood fire kitchen and luscious foliage awaken your senses as the smell of simple ingredients come from the kitchen. The ambiance earns an easy five starts at Seneca. If you are going to splurge on anything, do the tableside mozzarella. It’s incredible to watch! And, you may even learn something new while they prepare it for you. With a recently opened and updated bar and lounge area, this is one of San Diego’s best locations for watching the sunset over the water. Breathing-taking skyline views are a favorite, and we recommend the wood-fired pizzas. If you are celebrating a special event, this is the perfect spot for you – it’s fantastico!
901 Bayfront Ct Level 19, San Diego, CA, 92101
If you prefer dinner and dancing to celebrate awesome San Diego whale watching, our following recommendation will “wow” you in every way! This local hot spot offers a three-course dinner menu every Saturday night combined with a two-part Flamenco Dance performance. With the longest-running Flamenco show in Southern California, there is no better place to watch the top Flamenco dancers. Trained in Spain and teaching Flamenco classes, these shows are a sensory indulgence of sight, sound, and taste, leaving guests with a piece of truly Spanish culture. The menu is as indulgent as their dancing, featuring their Shaved Jamón Serrano Ensalada Sevillana followed by our award-winning Paella Valenciana and Lemon Tart with Linguee Cherries for dessert. A tapas menu, a full bar, and an eclectic wine list are just a few of the upgrades you can add to your experience. Nothing says celebrate whale watching near San Diego like a festive dinner party. At the same time, you marvel at the passion, beauty, and athleticism of this traditional art form end enjoy a spectacular meal at Cafe Sevilla! Tickets start at $89.50 per person (plus tax, a 20% tip, and a 5% surcharge will be added to the check at the end of the show). Call 619-233-5979 to purchase tickets today.
353 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
Whales and dolphins are amazing to see during a San Diego whale watching experience, and so are dining at the winner of Top Chef’s Season 3, Brian Malarky Herb & Wood restaurant. Here he creates a dining experience with simple ingredients and Mediterranean flavors, a comfortable ambiance, and a massive kitchen with gorgeous, store-front-like glass windows for diners to see the action. With a mix of California seasonality and sustainability as the stars of every dish prepared in this wood-fired Mediterranean-focused menu, Chef Malarky’s humble ingredients, such as carrots, beets, and chicken, are the stars here. This is a place your whole family will enjoy. An outdoor secret garden-like courtyard with a two-sided fireplace that is both lounge and dining room creates a sense of Southern Charm right in the heart of San Diego. Try booking an outdoor table in their secret garden-like courtyard for an open-air feel. Celebrating a special night out on your upcoming San Diego whale watching vacation? Skip buying the balloons and save room for dessert! Their Ricotta Hush Puppies and scratch-made Baklava are an absolute delight.
2210 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA, 92101
If you like the idea of Farm to Chef to Table and a constantly changing menu based on what is brought in by local farmers and fishermen each morning, then Juniper & Ivy is the right spot for you. Their hand-selected, seasonal ingredients are crafted with precision, passion, and creativity. The creative use of space of a once-abandoned warehouse has been revitalized d into a social dining space with a big open kitchen where guests can catch the action of the Chef team. Grab a seat in the spacious bar area, sit in the main dining room, interact with the culinary team at the Chef’s counter, or enjoy the sunny and always temperate SoCal weather on their covered patio. San Diego whale watching never sounded do good when you know you’re having great food before or after you trip.
2228 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA, 92101
No visit to San Diego is complete without a trip to Little Italy, and the best pizza around town is Filippi’s Pizza Grotto. Bringing little ones with you on your San Diego vacation? Filippi’s is the perfect place to sit back and enjoy pizza in “The #1 City in California.” Traveling all over San Diego County? You can grab a slice in several hot spot locations like Pacific Beach, Escondido, Kearny Mesa, Scripps Ranch, Temecula, and more! The DePhilippis family has been making pizza and serving customers in San Diego since the beginning days of their Cash & Carry markets. This family-owned and operated pizzeria is hands-on, the best around town. Grab a slice or a whole pie while you fuel up for your afternoon San Diego whale watching safari.
1747 India St, San Diego, CA, 92101
The All-Star team behind Juniper & Ivy (mentioned above) is back at it again with another restaurant in their bag of tricks. This one is all about chicken. Each dish is prepared with thoughtfully sourced, fresh local ingredients and free-range chooks. The laid-back vibe of an updated level of fast food will leave you with an unexpected level of hospitality that will bring your tastebuds a sumptuous delight. Some of our favorites are places that take extra care to protect the environment. After learning about the human impact on animals in the water while San Diego whale watching, you will be pleased to eat at a place where caring about the environment is a daily to-do.” At Crack Shack, all wings are locally farmed and organic. Non-GMO products are used whenever possible from boutique farms and bakeries. Any time of the day is great to try some of their house-made Jidori fried chicken. Grab enough for the whole family with some fries and homemade slaw or wrap it up in a fresh-baked bun and enjoy it in a sandwich. If chicken isn’t your thing, that is no problem here. Their bowls and salads are just as delicious, and you won’t regret stopping taking a peep at the menu at this locally loved hotspot.
2266 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA, 92101
Making an appearance on host Guy Fieri’s and Food Network’s popular TV Show “Diner’s Drive In’s and Dives” crowned this local hot spot with the title of “The Best Burgers In The World.” As a tribute to Guy and his award-winning triple D show, Hodad’s serves up the Guido Burger on their specialty men – a burger made of pastrami, swiss, pickles, onions, and brown mustard. Hodads is “the place” to come for a staple entrée meal of cheesy burgers, onion rings, and fries, and the BEST homemade ice cream desserts in town. They also offer vegan options and sandwiches if you have specific culinary needs. Baseball game goers have the chance to enjoy these cheesy treats at several locations inside Petco Park as well as downtown San Diego and Ocean Beach locations. Make this meal a “classic” with an ice-cold milkshake. Try one classic flavor or try all three for a yummy Neapolitan treat! This is the perfect spot to dine anytime before or after your San Diego whale watching experience.
945 Broadway, San Diego, CA, 92101
An actual true peninsula and not an actual island, Coronado became a world-famous vacation destination with the arrival of the black and white film “Some Like it Hot, starring Jack Lemon and Marilyn Monroe.
Start your San Diego whale watching morning off right with one of Coronado’s most popular places to grab a coffee. Visit with friends at this full-service restaurant and bar and feel at home at The Henry. Designed to feel like you are meeting up with friends at home, this trendy street front location is only a short 10-minute walk or 5-minute bike ride from the famous Del Coronado Hotel. Meet a friend for coffee or order lunch or dinner and enjoy an experience where the staff caters to you. Are you planning a special event? The Henry offers private rooms where you can work with the Chef to create a special menu that your guest will remember. Vegan, Gluten Free, and Vegetarian options are all available.
1031 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA, 92118
Stepping into Clayton’s is like taking a time machine back to 1940. At Clayton’s, you can dine in a vintage booth, mingle with singles at the counter, or hang out by the vintage jukebox. You may even run into someone from your San Diego whale watching safari on your trip out with Capt. Dave’s Whale Safari! The comfort of home cookin’ is what you will find at Clayton’s with dishes like freshly baked turkey dinner, homemade meatloaf & mashed potatoes, biscuits & gravy & so much more. Nostalgic dining experiences in one of the few authentic classic American diners would be complete without an original jukebox! Here at Clayton’s, you will find it all. Open 6 am – 2 pm, Clayton’s Coffee Shop donut and coffee window has locals and visitors lining up to grab a delectable treat, so plan that you may have to wait, but we promise it will be worth it.
979 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA, 92118
Love East Coast-style pizza? Since 2002, the Village Pizzeria is located on Orange Avenue, just a block away from the beach and the Hotel Del Coronado. Grabbing a slice here means enjoying San Diego’s best views, located at the foot of the pier at the Coronado Ferry Landing. In addition to NY-style and Sicilian pizza, Village pizzeria offers wings, brussels, subs, pasta, salads, and pizza kits to go if you want to take your pie home to bake later. Grab a pitcher of craft beer and a pie with family and friends after your San Diego whale watching adventure.
1206 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
The iconic cupola-adorned landmark was built in 1887 as a design prototype for the Hotel del Coronado located across the street. Surrounded by historical character and stunning views of the Bay, it’s a must-see culinary destination. This contemporary waterfront grill inside the Del Coronado Hotel boathouse serves up pristine seafood with sweeping waterfront views of Glorietta Bay. If you are traveling with your furry friend on this year’s San Diego whale watching vacation, make a note of this destination because it is also pet friendly. The Bluewater Boathouse Grill is a locally known hotspot, so make a reservation before arriving.
1701 Strand Way, Coronado, CA, 92118
Since 1882, the Miguel Family has been making their family’s authentic dishes for patrons all over San Diego. Housemade tortillas, salsas, and chips aren’t the only items on the menu their costumes are craving. Their menu’s across all locations capture the true spirit of Mexico with a unique San Diego twist. The authentic flavors they create have captured a loyal audience of those in search of Sonoran grilled swordfish tacos, sizzling sirloin fajitas, and spicy rich chicken mole. Don’t forget to order your food with what many call “white gold,” a decadent, must-have creamy jalapeño white sauce. Yummmm, delicious! If you can’t make it to Miguel’s in Coronado, look for one of their sister locations found throughout San Diego to make your whale watching near San Diego trip complete!
1351 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA, 92118
If the names Jack Lemon, Marilyn Monroe, and Tony Curtis ring a bell, then this next local spot is one you will want to visit during your San Diego whale watching trip that will immerse you and your guests in a little bit of movie star history. The Del Coronado Hotel (known by most as “the Del”) is as legendary and iconic as it is historic. The Del is a stopover San Diego location that appears on many vacationers’ itineraries.
Now a Curio by Hilton Collection, with three different lodging options to meet any of your vacationing news, including the world-famous “Victorian”, “Shore House,” and “The lodging House.” If you are looking for a timeless classic where no two rooms are the same, the main lodging area where many scenes from “Some Like it Hot” will be the perfect place for you. Rocking chairs and a welcoming front porch bring back the timelessness of a seaside vacation from a century ago. Spectacular Queen Anne architecture and adjacent lush garden patio set the stage for this relaxing and luxurious vacation destination.
Are you staying with your whole family? Look at Shore House, where there is plenty of room for your entire family to unpack and unwind in the comfort of your borrowed home.
If you are hoping for something more exclusive, try staying at Beach Village, where vacation rentals promise a more personalized, elevated service with access to exclusive experiences and amenities at every turn.
1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
When planning your San Diego whale watching itinerary, it is important to note how long it takes to get from place to place, as this is an area where people from all over the world come to visit!
Mission Bay Recreational Area
This recreational area is one the largest of its kind in the country, with 15 million visitors each year. Roughly 4,235 acres of nearly equal parts land and water make up this amazing outdoor recreation spot loved by locals and sought after by visitors alike. Mission Bay is a hotspot for water activities, from stand-up paddling boarding to waterskiing sailing. With 27 miles of shoreline, 19 of which are sandy beaches with eight locations designated as official swimming areas, there is nothing but fun to be had at Mission Bay Park. Here you will find boat docks and launching facilities, sailboat and motor rentals, bike and walking paths, basketball courts, and playgrounds for children. Truly, this is one of San Diego’s most fun-filled spots to visit. For those who prefer to stay on land, many visitors spend their days leisurely picnicking, riding a bike along the 14 miles of bike paths, playing volleyball, or flying a kite within the stunning surroundings of San Diego’s Mission Bay.
3000 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA
Since 1925 on Ocean Front at Surfrider Square in the Mission Bay area of San Diego, California, families have enjoyed family fun in the sun at Campland on the Bay®. From the thrilling ride on the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster and the spinning Beach Blaster to calmer options on the carousel, mini golf, or a trip to the arcade, Belmont Park is one local hotspot you will not want to miss. Most days, you will find local groups who come to show off their restored and refurbished classic cars and the hottest paint jobs on motorcycles. Do you like to skate or rollerblade? The Belmont boardwalk area is a great place to get in a bit of exercise on your vacation too. Bring your whole crew to create a delicious ice-cold snow cone, or pick your favorite scoops inside a delicious monster waffle cone. Open 11 am – 11 pm in the summer months (check website for winter availability)
3146 Mission Blvd, San Diego, CA, 92109
If you are looking for a family-friendly place to camp in a tent or RV with the bonus of water activities at your fingertips, then Campland By The Bay® is the perfect family location. Since 1969 family campers have been biking, water toys, boat rentals, and more are located on-site, drawing in large groups. At Campland, the atmosphere is both lively, action-packed, and fun. While it may not be the quietest oasis in the outdoors, it is a place packed with fun things to do and a place that ensures that everyone in your group will have a great time. RV sites can accommodate RV’S up to 40 feet, and sites are available for a combination of pavement and soil, so be sure to tell them the correct size of your rig. Their activities calendar is filled with things to do for the whole family, so as you plan out your San Diego whale watching itinerary, be sure to check out their list of fun things to do so you can take advantage of all they have to offer.
A2211 Pacific Beach Dr, San Diego, CA, 92109
Mission Trails Regional Park is one of the largest urban parks in the country, with over 8,000 acres and 65 miles of trails and native flora and fauna viewing. Mission Trails is a must-see vacation destination. Other areas to visit in the park include Cowles Mountain (the most popular hike in the city), the East Fortuna Staging Area (Equestrian Staging Area), Kumeyaay Lake and Campground, Old Mission Dam Historic Site, Kwaay Paay Peak, and many additional areas to hike, bike, observe and explore. Everyone’s San Diego whale watching plans should include a stop at Mission Trails Regional Park.
Located at the east end of Stonebridge Parkway in Scripps Ranch is West Sycamore’s 1,128 acres. The park also serves as the location for a 14,000-square-foot, award-winning Visitor & Interpretive center. A wide range of free interpretive programming, including tours, hikes, and educational presentations, are available to visitors. Seven miles of multi-use trails are the perfect way to add steps into your day while whale watching near San Diego.
One Father Junipero Serra Trail, San Diego, CA, 92119
Are you planning a San Diego whale watching trip and looking for fun activities designed to inspire and evoke thought within the minds of your youngest travelers? Look no further than The Children’s Museum of San Diego. With creative classes, climbable sculptures, and contemporary art for kids in a bright, modern space, this new museum geared just toward kids is open six days a week (closed Tuesdays) with two play sessions, 9 am-12 + 1 pm – 4 pm. Due to the high traffic going in and out of the museum, masks are strongly recommended for visitors ages two and up. Tickets can be purchased onsite or online just as easily as booking your San Diego whale watching fun.
200 West Island Ave, San Diego, CA, 92101
Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, and Point Loma
The endless beach party vibe of 3 of the most popular connecting beach cities are Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, Mission Beach, and La Jolla. Each beach area is like a micro-environment within an environment and is eclectic and diverse as they are desirable by college students and recent graduates and visitors alike. Looking for a place that keeps your family enjoying the water during your San Diego whale watching vacation? Have a go at surfing the waves in California, where surfing was born! Tourmaline Surfing Park is a great spot to ride the waves while enjoying a friendly locale.
A slightly calmer stretch of beach families tend to prefer, thanks to its lifeguard-supervised swimming areas and facilities at the ends of Law and Diamond Streets, is in Pacific Beach from the Crystal Pier. Here you’ll find anything from bicycle rentals to biker bars and more of the same as you head inland up Garnet Avenue for many blocks. The vibrant and bohemian vibe of the Ocean Beach neighborhood is filled with surfers and sunbathers and is one of the most popular local fishing spots around with sweeping ocean views. Nearby, Newport Avenue is lined with antique shops, beachwear and surf boutiques, organic groceries, taquerias, and brewpubs.
Be sure to stop by the local Farmers Market, where most days, you’ll hear the latest sounds of local live musicians. Consider yourself warned. Summer months are the busiest for whale watching near San Diego, and this area and parking can be tricky and hard to find. Be patient because these beach cities are worth visiting.
Beach Bird Watching at Point Loma & Ocean Beach
Are you someone who loves whale watching near San Diego and other parts of the world because you get to see so many seabirds? One of the best bird-watching spots in beach cities is Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery. Surrounded by water on each side, this marine hotspot hosts 280 bird species, such as black-vented shearwaters, surf scoters, black oystercatchers, cormorants, and black swifts. Cabrillo National Monument is a hop, skip, and jump down the road and an easy activity for endless fun while in San Diego whale watching. Breathtaking views and textbook tidepools are just a touch away from where the San Diego River connects to the ocean next to the soft shores of Ocean Beach. As the water here ebbs and flows, draining tides allow the mudflats and pools perfect for ducks, great blue heron, little blue heron, long-billed curlews, and marsh wren to make an appearance. Adjacent to urban developments, Famosa Slough is a pocket of wetlands providing a welcoming backdrop to nature within the city.
Over 20 beaches make up the pristine city area known as La Jolla, California. When booking your upcoming whale watching near San Diego, it can feel overwhelming to plan the perfect vacation so that you do not miss out on the best local hotspots. Knowing where to stay and all of the new local hotspots in town that have everyone talking about is key so read below to find out some of our favorites to keep your San Diego whale watching trip on point. When it comes to a beachfront location that you won’t want to miss out on in La Jolla, trust us…we understand the assignment.
La Jolla Cove, Tide Pools & Sunny Jim Sea Cave
At the entrance of La Jolla Cove, known affectionately by locals as “Seal Rock,” this is a favorite seal haul-out amongst seals and sea lions. On your San Diego whale watching Safari with Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari, you will find an array of marine wildlife species, from seabirds to fish and different species of pinnipeds. The best place to see La Jolla seals and sea lions is along Coast Boulevard between The Cave Store in the north and Children’s Pool in the south. The Cave Store is also the only access point to the only California sea cave accessible by land. Just head down the old wooden stairs and enter the cave at the bottom. If you are visiting Southern California to go whale watching near San Diego in June-October, rent some snorkeling gear and dip in the warm summer water. In La Jolla, you’ll have the chance to see docile and beautiful leopard sharks coming to the cove to breed. California’s official fish, the bright orange fish Hypsypops rubicundus, better known as Garibaldi (sometimes referred to as the Catalina goldfish).
When you’re visiting, check local websites for beach closure information. The Children’s Pool (Casa Beach) is closed from December 15 to May 15 to protect the newly-born seal pups. The best viewing time is between Feb-April to view the love births of new seals in this area. If you happen to be going on your San Diego whale watching vacation and have a birthday on June 15, you may just be part sea lion! Thanks to the phenomenon known as “synchronized reproduction” in which the animals breed, birth, and wean simultaneously, research shows that just about half of all sea lion births occur on June 15th. These amazing creatures are part of the pinniped family and are seen frolicking, playing, and fishing right here in La Jolla Cove. It is imperative to remember to be respectful to all animals in the area and pay careful attention not to get too close to these animals when both San Diego whale watching and snorkeling at La Jolla Cove. Wild sea lions can bite, so keep a safe distance and enjoy nature living the best wild and free life at sea!
Colorful marine life featuring in more than 60 habitats of colorful fishes and invertebrates from the cold waters of the Pacific Northwest to the tropical waters of Mexico and beyond are right here at the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. While enjoying incredible ocean views, you’ll have the opportunity to Interact with hands-on exhibits that showcase cutting-edge research discoveries by Scripps Oceanography scientists on climate, earth, and ocean science. Tide Pool Plaza will enable you to touch and feel various species in their hands-on underwater tank. Extended summer hours allow your family and friends to immerse yourself in a mesmerizing underwater experience you’ll never forget during your San Diego whale watching adventures. Advanced reservations are strongly encouraged, as this is a top-rated San Diego attraction to vacationers and locals alike, and walk-up tickets are never guaranteed for admission.
2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA, 92037
This next attraction is another stop for the historical history buffs. Honoring Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, who stepped into history books as the first European to set foot on what is now the West Coast of the United States in 1542, the park is home to both cultural and natural resources. As you travel through the park, you will navigate through a Voyage of Exploration. When planning a San Diego whale watching trip, stopping and seeing how and where this rich land area was originally created helps paint the bigger picture of why it looks the way it does in the modern day.
1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr, San Diego, CA, 92106
Situated atop cliffs overlooking the Pacific Ocean, there is no better place to tee off at a municipal golf course in San Diego. With not one but two PGA golf courses, this course has fast greens and is as challenging as it is serene. For many visitors, both locals and visitors alike, this course is a highlight. As such, the course does sell out, so reserve your desired time months in advance, so you don’t find yourself feeling frustrated when you show up on the day to play and find there isn’t a tee time available. If you think you may want to get in a round of 18 while in town, be sure to book early.
11480 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA, 92037
We all know that getting up in the morning during the summertime can be challenging as the days are long and sometimes the nights are even longer. Before you head off to have some fun on your next whale watching trip near San Diego, try a cup of Joe at Better Buzz, certified by CCOF as an ORGANIC Coffee Roaster. Here the beans are fresh roasted daily and ground to perfection to create delicious and unique options like their Iced Moroccan Spiced Latte. Here you’ll be able to grab a light breakfast and order sandwiches so that you have some food while you board your San Diego whale watching on one of Capt. Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari’s®.
909 Prospect St. Ste 100A La Jolla, CA, 92037
Start or end your day with Duke’s on the beach. Originally from the tropical beaches of Hawaii, Duke’s serves up the beautiful ambiance and delectable seafood that pairs well with specialty cocktails from their iconic barefoot bar. The lovely sounds of the ukulele paint the perfect backdrop of the endless waterfront views and salty open-air seating. Celebrating something special? Duke Hula Mud Pie is a dessert your guests will rave about long after your whale watching near San Diego trip.
1216 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA, 92037
Decadent and masterful works of art are the only way to describe the wonderful pastries and bread you will find at Wayfarer Bread & Pastry. Start your morning with something unique like their Strawberry Pistachio Croissant, or take home a loaf of sourdough, multiseed baguettes, or English muffins. Any way you slice it, this is hands down the place to go for something out of this world, delicious and quick too! This is the perfect spot to grab a treat before heading off to Dana Point for your San Diego whale watching safari.
Address: 5525 La Jolla Blvd, La Jolla, CA, 92037
If you are looking for luxury, then luxury is what you will find at the La Valencia Hotel. This vacation destination has been known for creating an unforgettable atmosphere, welcoming guests, including the Hollywood elite, for over 90 years. This hotel’s signature pink exterior and iconic tower, known as the elegant “Pink Lady,” remains a renowned landmark on La Jolla’s distinctive Prospect Street. The Pacific coastline takes center stage here with commanding views of the stunning La Jolla Cove coast. The hotel’s ocean-facing restaurant, The Med, serves a fresh seasonal California coastal cuisine, which is not all! La Sala, a sumptuous and dazzling Spanish-Mediterranean style lounge cast in the tradition of grand hotel bars, is the perfect spot to lounge and unwind with yoru favorite drink and best of friends. Book a room, a suite, or a villa suite in the penthouse. Book your stay early – everyone wants a piece of the action at La Valencia.
1132 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA, 92037
Nestled within the legendary Torrey Pines Golf Course, this hotel has stunning oceanfront views, a large pool and large rooms and is tucked away just enough to make you feel as though you are in a secluded seaside city. Close enough to participate in all the fun La Jolla has to offer, this hotel is one worth staying at for more than one day. The staff here is as friendly as the smiles you will be greeted with on your San Diego whale watching safari with Capt. Dave’s team and the breakfast are delicious! We are not the only ones who think so, so be sure to book this hotel with as much advance notice as possible. It books up fast when visitors decide to go whale watching near San Diego, and with good reason!
10950 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA, 92037
Recently having undergone a massive redesign, this hotel now offers a state-of-the-art fitness center, an outdoor pool, and an outdoor patio/bar. Situated close to highway 8 in San Diego’s Golden Triangle, this hotel offers convenient access to the University of California at San Diego, Scripps Research Institute, and La Jolla Shores. If shopping is on your list of things to do on your next whale watching near San Diego trip, then look no further because this hotel is centered near the heart of boutique shopping, art galleries, restaurants, and more.
4240 La Jolla Village Dr, La Jolla, CA, 92037
Located between Del Mar and La Jolla, this hotel is the perfect location if you plan to participate in many fun things around San Diego. Our next hotspot wins the award for blending luxury with charm. The bodacious rancho-style, spot wins the award for having lots of games on-site, a huge pool, and fun activities like cornhole, giant chess, and ping pong; this hotel ranks high on our list for the best bang for your buck!
9700 N. Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, CA, 92037
This boutique seaside inn offers its guests the ocean breeze, larger square footage, and a kitchenette instead of the luxury amenities you will find at other chain hotel locations in La Jolla. Sitting above the shores of La Jolla’s beachfront community, you will find everything you need within walking distance during this overnight stay. Enjoy the sounds of sea lions and seabirds nearby and borrow a beach chair and umbrella at no extra charge. This charming hotel has everything you’ll need to create a seamless stay during your upcoming San Diego whale watching vacation.
1003 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA, 92037
North San Diego County
Here in North County, it is all about the waves! You will find surfers and coastal bottlenose dolphins catching a ride on this coastal area’s surf break from sun up to sun down. From Solano Beach, Encinitas, Cardiff, and Del Mar to Carlsbad and Oceanside cities, these North County towns are making a splash when it comes to fun things to do and fabulous places to eat and stay while visiting San Diego, California, for your upcoming whale watching trip near San Diego. Depending on the time of year you plan to visit, many activities are happening all year long throughout this part of San Diego. Read through our list below so you are in the know of where to go and what to do as you plan your next vacation!
Dolphin & Whale Watching at Captain Dave’s Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari
We bring you up close and personal with dolphins, whales, and local marine wildlife, making this trip sure to leave a lasting impression on your heart, memory, and soul! The Dana Point whale watching season isn’t seasonal. This year-round activity means you can enjoy whale watching the whole year through. Home to an assortment of sea life like enormous and magnificent blue whales and fin whales – two of the largest mammals to EVER live on planet earth, plus more whales and a variety of different species of dolphins, seals, California sea lions, molas, turtles, sharks, and more! Trips leave daily, seven days a week, so book your whale watching cruise today! We can’t wait to see you aboard!
24440 Dana Point Harbor Dr, Dana Point, CA, 92629
Southern California is home to some of the world’s BEST surfing so grab a board and surf the waves brah. Several beach locations typically have family-friendly swell sessions and are entry-level for most novice beginners. Are you already an expert? Download the Surfline app, check where the best swell is happening, and make your way to the beach. When the waves call, it is time to get out there and do your thing! While in the water, you may just catch a glimpse of local sea turtles, coastal bottlenose dolphins, sea lions, and seals. Don’t forget to do the “sting ray shuffle” on your way out there, though, because those little animals can pack a mean sting if they feel like they are being threatened.
North San Diego County’s rolling hills are one of the most spectacular and coordinated displays of natural color and beauty anywhere in the world. For over 60 years, visitors have come to the flower fields to enjoy nearly fifty acres of Giant Tecolote Ranunculus flowers that make up The Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch® in Carlsbad, California. The best time to visit is in March through early May – when the flowers bloom for approximately six to eight weeks each year. This annual burst of color, which has become part of North San Diego’s local heritage, is one of nature’s official ways of announcing the arrival of spring here in Southern California. Come and watch gray whales migrate home to Alaska and stop at the flower fields to enjoy the fragrant scenery on land during your San Diego whale watching vacation. This park is pet-free in an effort to protect the stunning flora and fauna. Additionally, no bicycles or drones are allowed at any time.
5704 Paseo Del Norte, Carlsbad, CA, 92008
If theme parks are what you love to do and you are looking for more amusement park fun after Disneyland and California Adventure, then check out Legoland® California Resort! More than 60 rides, shows, and attractions, including the new LEGO® Star Wars™. Recently opened is the 16-foot Star Wars Finalizer model: The Force Awakens Miniland Model Display made entirely out of LEGO bricks plus six more scenes! Here your family can conquer dragons, battle pirates, and discover ancient treasures at the Resort! If you are feeling the heat of the summer, grab your towel and sunscreen and head over to LEGOLAND’s Surfers’ Cove – a water park expansion featuring racer-water slides. There’s so much to do; you may decide to stay the night. LEGO NINJAGO-themed rooms make the perfect ending to the most constructive of San Diego vacation itineraries!
One Legoland Dr, Carlsbad, CA, 92008
In its beginnings in 1936, the property at the mouth of the San Dieguito River was purchased to host the Del Mar Fair. The fairgrounds have grown through the generations. Each year, vacationers add this location to their vacation plans – whether to watch a live thoroughbred horse race meet held in July-September, attend the 10-day county fair, or see their favorite band or comedians play an outdoor show. Holidays are an attraction at the fairgrounds, too, with multiple light installations during the months of late November through December. Check their calendar to see what’s happening at the fairgrounds when planning your whale watching trip to San Diego.
2260 Jimmy Durante Blvd, Del Mar, CA, 92014
Indoor Skydiving Experience at iFly Oceanside
This attraction provides the safest experience to enjoy what it feels like to fly like a bird. Soar to new heights with instructor-led flights and try your hand at performing in-flight aerial maneuvers. In just a few minutes, you will have the thrill of a lifetime and an experience worth sharing with others at home! This So Cal attraction will satisfy any of your adventure-seeking family members.
3178 Vista Way, Oceanside, CA, 92056
The historical Oceanside Pier is one of the most iconic landmarks in Oceanside. The wooden pier extends 1,942 feet long; it is the perfect location to take a stroll, go fishing or watch surfers. Initially constructed in 1888, the Pier sets the backdrop for many outdoor concerts and performances at the outdoor amphitheater, surf competitions, the Oceanside IRONMAN triathlon, and more. All day long, visitors worldwide can enjoy the Pier, take a deep breath, and unwind while enjoying the stunning views of the coastline’s natural beauty and the glistening Pacific Ocean. Stay late and indulge in a captivating sunset!
Pier, Oceanside, CA, 92054
Marina: 1540 Harbor Drive, North Oceanside, CA, 92054
Led by the surrounding natural inspiration from the local coasts, forests, and mountains, Getting outside and setting up camp is more than the theme of Campground. This local hotspot is serving up hot plates with profoundly distinct flavors and deserts that make up the vibrant and eclectic landscape of California. The idea and inspiration behind the flavors at this locals favorite who come here to share memorable times with friends and family and simulate the nature of relational bonds forged together ‘round the fire. Open 5 pm Mo, reservations strongly recommended.
2725 State St, Carlsbad, CA, 92008
Nick’s family of restaurants is known for executing impeccable standards of hospitality. Our favorite upscale yet casual environment near the track serves classic American comfort food and crave-able bar snacks at this intimate and chic restaurant. Featuring a chic island bar, walls of glass, and a spacious covered patio, this local favorite is perfect for people-watching while enjoying some of Del Mar’s highest quality food and beverage around town. Nick’s family of restaurants is known for executing impeccable standards of hospitality. Nicks never disappoint and are always delicious, so book your table in advance if you want to grab a table at this local hotspot.
3377 Del Mar Heights Rd, San Diego, CA, 92130
The consumer-centric focus on providing excellent service with a seriously fabulous vibe lands this local eatery on our favorite hotspots to dine in the North County list. A stone’s throw from the stunning shores of Cardiff and many of California’s best surf spots, this loved by the locals community-oriented venue is stylish without being stuffy. Their location offers an intimate yet open environment boasting three separate dining areas, a lively main bar, and comfortable seating with reclaimed wood accents and modern furnishings. Union’s classic American menu, made from fresh ingredients, is perfectly paired with delicious craft cocktails, local brews, a popular beer list, and vintage wines for an all-around experience to satisfy every customer.
1108 S Coast Hwy 101, Encinitas, CA, 92024
The perfect location to watch the sunset is a window table at the Pacific Coast Grill. Here the seafood is always fresh. Located along the sweeping views of the Pacific Highway, this local fine dining experience is the perfect backdrop for a romantic night out. Celebrate and enjoy the relaxing lull of the ocean waves crashing at your doorstop while impeccable service is at yoru every beck and call.
2526 S Coast Hwy 101, Cardiff, CA, 92007
This luxury hotel is is on our list of best places to stay because it is no more than 12 miles from all the top-rated things to do in San Diego. With recent renovations, this hotel lands on the list of many who decide to spend the night celebrating a special occasion such as a wedding, anniversary, and more! This hotel offers its guests easy accessibility to beaches, great food, and proximity to nightlife.
1540 Camino Del Mar, Del Mar, CA, 92014
This luxurious hotel is a hidden gem within a casual coastal vibe, just three blocks away from the Pacific Ocean in the small town of scenic Carlsbad, CA. Hosting consumers and businesses alike, this intimate vacation hotel provides guests with modern amenities and warm hospitality. Located just a few miles from popular attractions like Tamarack Surf Beach, San Diego Zoo, Legoland, Carlsbad Premium Outlets, and the Flower Fields, this is the ideal location to stay if you are looking to book a whale watching trip near San Diego.
4970 Avenida Encinas, Carlsbad, CA, 92008
Touted as “The most unique eco-friendly initiative from hotels and resorts worldwide” by Departures Magazine, this intimate five-suite Inn at Moonlight Beach is honored to be the World’s First WELL™ Certified hotel. Each suite has its own HVAC system that ensures no cross ventilation/contamination with other suites. As the first hotel in the world recognized as WELL Certified – Platinum Level by the International Well Building Institute, the Inn at Moonlight Beach has created an extraordinary environment. Being WELL certifications are only provided to those locations that meet the highest standard of tests in the measures of Air, Water, Lighting, Nutrition, Fitness, Comfort, and Mind.
105 N Vulcan Ave, Encinitas, CA, 92024
Funky & Fresh describes this hotspot. Located in Oceanside, just 4 minutes from the beach, this is close to all things North County San Diego. Recently featured in T&L, Condé Nast, LATimes, SanDiego & Locale Magazines, these individually curated designer rooms, and super trendy outdoor amenities make this property stand out. Add their cedar hot tubs, complimentary surfboards and beach cruisers, and a communal patio area with a fire pit. This is a unique place to rest weary heads while traveling. Free private parking is available, and the hotel also has bike rentals for guests who want to hike or bike and explore the surrounding North County area. This is a unique place to rest weary heads while traveling.
2020 S Coast Hwy, Oceanside, CA, 92054
'Sea' You Soon!
We hope with these suggestions, you’ll find the perfect places to eat and rest your head on your next San Diego vacation!
Please be sure to tell us your favorite places too when we see you on your Dolphin and Whale Watching Safari at Capt. Dave’s!