Here we highlight just a few of the wide variety of entertainment options in San Diego. For those who go out a lot, one should pick up and Entertainment Book. It is a collection of coupons for various activities and services in San Diego. Most of the activities are priced as two for one and thus would be ideal for a couple if they are intent on sampling the many activities and restaurants in the area.
Services include car washes, restaurants, hotels, movies, tickets to various entertainment venues like Sea World, San Diego Zoo, etc. Also some discounts are available for airplane flights, car rental and other services. The coupons last a year and expire on November 1. You can usually purchase a book from the local library or from AAA.
San Diego has many beautiful beaches, each with its own character and crowd of locals. See the link above for information about particular beaches in the San Diego area.
Sea World is one of the primeire tourist attractions in San Diego. Primarily known for killer whales, Sea World also hosts exhibits for other sea creatures. If you have never been to Sea World, is it definitely worth going to at least once.
Ticket prices (at the gate) are rather expensive and so it is worth trying to find discounts (and there are plenty available). At some times throughout the year, a season pass may be fairly cheap. If you would go two times a year, then the pass had paid for itself. Their shows are quite enjoyable, though some of the killer whale shows are a bit overhyped and their primary focus is children, so some of the shows may seem juvenile.
Make sure to bring sunscreen, as you will be in a lot of direct sunlight most of the day. You can purchase some in the park if you forget, the mark up is ridiculous.
Admission for students is relatively cheap (under $10) and it is a great way to spend an afternoon. While memberships are available, you would need to frequent the aquarium quite a bit (at least seven times) for it to be cost effective.
One of the finest zoos in the country. The San Diego Zoo has the largest number of giant pandas in the United States; currently four pandas live at the zoo. The habitats here seem much less like cages than other zoos, which makes for a much more pleasant animal-watching experience. If you are up for it, you can hoof it around, but the bus tour, while a tad expensive, just might be worth it (it covers an awful lot of ground for you, and then you can go back and focus on your favorite exhibits).
If you plan on going to the zoo more than once or twice, a membership is an absolute must. A membership costs essentially the same as two visits, and also gets you entrance into the Wild Animal Park (see below)! Membership comes with many bonuses, including 2 free guest passes and 2-for-1 Bus Tour coupons.
The San Diego Wild Animal Park is exactly what it sounds like: a vast open area where you can observe animals in a close approximation to their natural habitats. For those who like plant life, there is a native California plants exhibit. The main highlight of the park is the “Journey Through Africa” tram ride. The tram loops through a recreated African savannah. It is a great way to see animals in their (approximately) native environment and also to enjoy the spaciousness of the park. While a little out of the way (a half hour drive Northeast of San Diego), the trip is well worth it.
We could make an entire website out of things to do in Balboa Park. Balboa Park is home to the San Diego Zoo, as well as most of the museums located in San Diego. Pictured above is the lily pond out front of the botanical building.
The best advice one can give is to go often! You could do something different every time you go. Also a great place to take a picnic on a nice day. Also, every Tuesday a different museum has free admission. More information about about the program can be found here.
Ever played disc golf? If so, then you will love this course. Plenty of trees, but also some nice long fairways. If you haven’t played, then check it out! Disc golf is basically like real golf except you’re trying to throw a frisbee into a bucket.
You don’t need to buy anything in order to play; equipment (i.e. a regulation disc) can be rented at the course for a paltry fee. Greens fees are also rather inexpensive. It is a laid back environment, so don’t worry if you have never played before.
Local movie theaters
There are many different theaters in the San Diego area. In addition to the major chains, there are also smaller independent theaters as well as drive-in theaters. A table of theaters as well as their geographic areas are listed below.
Note that Ken Cinema, Hillcrest Cinema, and La Jolla Village Cinema are your destinations for independent films.
South Bay Drive-In Theatre is one of only two drive-in theaters in San Diego county. It is a great way to watch three movies (on a Friday or Saturday night) for half of the price of a regularly-priced movie at one of the larger chains.
Showtimes can be found at any number of locations on the internet such as Fandango and looking for locations near zip code 92122.
Movie Theaters (locations):
- La Jolla area: AMC La Jolla 12, Landmark La Jolla Village, ArcLight Theatre
- Clairemont Mesa: Pacific Theatres Town Square
- Mission Valley area: AMC Fashion Valley 18, AMC Mission Valley 20, UltraStar Mission Valley Cinemas
- Downtown: UA Horton Plaza 14
- Hillcrest area: Ken Cinema, Hillcrest Cinema
- South Bay: South Bay Drive-In Theatre
By the time you are done with the program at UCSD, you will have spent a lot of time in the UCSD libraries. But libraries need not only be associated with work. If you enjoy watching movies, you should check out the public libraries. The closest public library to campus is the North University branch located near I-805 and Nobel Dr.
You can check out up to five DVDs for a week at a time, free of charge. All you need to do is sign up for an account. For those new to California, this is a great way to also establish proof of residency.
Independent Record Stores
In addition to CDs, these locations also carry Vinyl records. M-Theory also has in-store performances and signings from local bands.
If you are tired of just listening to mainstream songs that have become old and tired, this is a great place to go to find new artists before they get their big break or to discover types of music that you might not have even known about before.
If it’s a big name you’re looking for, you will probably want to try House of Blues in downtown San Diego.
A great resource for all live music coming up is The San Diego Reader. Their website contains a list of all of the local venues as well as up-to-date schedules for which bands will be playing. The list can be found here.