San Diego Bay Attraction Guide
One of San Diego’s greatest resource is its bayfront. Ideally located within the city’s downtown, the bay is San Diego’s calling card: a picture postcard perfect setting of recreation, history and entertainment. Not to mention that San Diego Bay and the views it offers is just plain gorgeous. So, what makes San Diego’s Bayfront so inviting? Well, it’s a combination of tourist attractions, waterfront accessibility, and bargain entertainment. Whether you have money to burn or if you’re on a budget, San Diego’s Bay has something to offer everyone to enjoy. Here are some of the best things to discover along San Diego’s Bayfront.
Embarcadero Walking Path
Typically, we refer to San Diego’s Embarcadero (Spanish for “landing place”) as the area centered around the Broadway Pier and a few blocks to the north and south of it. But the reality is San Diego’s Embarcadero stretches from the San Diego Convention Center to the south up north to Spanish Landing Park, and maybe even beyond to Shelter Island.
And the cool thing is that there are walkways, bikeways and pathways that cover virtually the entire route alongside the waterfront uninterrupted. If you’re ambitious, pick a sunny day and spend it biking or hiking the entire length of the waterfront and take in all the sights and attractions: the Star of India, County Adminstration Building, Seaport Village, USS Midway, the Convention Center. Then you’ll understand why we live here. And why visitors want to live here.
Point Loma Seafoods
San Diego’s bayfront has lots of dining opportunities, and many of those venues obviously cater to the tourist trade. But there’s one can’t miss place if you love fresh seafood, and it’s a beloved institution of locals. Point Loma Seafoods, located along the bay near San Diego’s sportfishing fleets, has been selling the freshest seafood in town since 1963. If you’re looking to buy fresh, including locally caught, fish, this is the place you want to go.
From early summer thru early to mid-fall, the Pacific Swordfish sold is caught using harpoons. This fish is then brought on board and cleaned immediately in order to preserve the quality of the meat. During the months from October thru March, locally caught California Spiny Lobster is available. Point Loma Seafood also serves meals in its restaurant, which is a favorite of locals who love deep fried delicacies or sandwiches.
San Diego-Coronado Ferry
Before the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge was built in the late 1960s, ferries transported cars across San Diego Bay to Coronado. Although auto ferries are no longer in operation, you can still travel by water by taking the San Diego-Coronado Ferry. These ferries carry only pedestrians and bikes, and it’s well worth the 15-minute trip and it’s one of San Diego’s best bargains around: only $4.25 each way.
The ferry departs from two San Diego locations; Broadway Pier and the Convention Center. Once across you’ll arrive at the Coronado Ferry Landing, a waterfront marketplace full of over 25 unique shops and restaurants. Plus, if you’re a commuter, you can ride the ferry for free if you commute in the early morning between 5:40 and 8:50 a.m.
Star of India
If you’ve ever visited the San Diego waterfront, you’ve doubtlessly seen the magnificent sailing ship the Star of India. Perhaps you’ve observed some other boats moored nearby. But did you know that the ship collection is known as the Maritime Museum of San Diego? The museum was founded in 1948 as a result of the purchase of the sailing ship Star of India in 1927. The Star of India is now fully restored and sailed at least once a year by a dedicated group of volunteers and skilled craftsmen.
Nothing says “U.S. military might” like a Navy aircraft carrier. The USS Midway, anchored at the embarcadero, is the world’s most visited floating museum. The USS Midway, which was commissioned a week after World War II ended, embarked on an unprecedented 47-year odyssey that concluded after Midway served as the Persian Gulf flagship in Desert Storm.
The Midway was the longest-serving US Navy carrier of the twentieth century, as well as the largest ship in the world from 1945 to 1955. Exhibits include the crew’s sleeping quarters, a massive galley, the ship’s jail, officer’s country, postal service, machine shops, and pilots’ ready rooms, and also primary flight control and the bridge high in the island over the flight deck.
Unconditional Surrender Statue
San Diego doesn’t have many public art displays where you literally stop in your tracks and say, “Whoa!” But “Unconditional Surrender” is exactly that: a 25-foot statue inspired by Alfred Eisenstaedt’s iconic “V-J Day in Times Square” photo. But is it art or cheesy kitsch? Doesn’t matter, because since being loaned to San Diego in 2007, sculptor J. Seward Johnson’s monument to affection has become a genuine tourist attraction photo favorite.
Situated in a perfect spot along the waterfront in Tuna Harbor Park next to he U.S.S. Midway museum, the statue has taken a life of its own in this military town. In fact, the display was slated to end its stay in San Diego in 2012, but the Port Commission – after heavy debate as to its artistic worthiness – has granted “Unconditional Surrender” a permanent home along the bayfront. The statue will be recast in bronze, painted and will continue to bring a smile to the public’s face.
Shelter Island was built more than 50 years ago to house the larger ships of the United States Navy. The sand dredged up during the bay-deepening process was repurposed and used to build the island. It is technically an isthmus because it is not an island but is connected to the mainland by a narrow strip of land.
But whatever you call it, it is one of San Diego’s most popular recreational areas for sea and ocean activities, popular with both tourists and locals. Beyond the Polynesian-themed hotels and restaurants, there’s a fantastic shoreline park with incredible views of the skyline, as well as a fishing pier where you can see what’s biting in the bay.
Embarcadero Marina Park North
Everyone knows about Seaport Village, but beyond the hustle and bustle of this shopping and entertainment complex is waterfront serenity. Embarcadero Marina Park North offers up some of the best views of San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego and Coronado. It’s a favorite place for people to relax, picnic, take in the views, and stroll along the walking paths. The adjacent hotels, restaurants, and shops might smack of tourist pandering, but Marina Park North is a slice of greenery that takes you away from all of that.
Spanish Landing Park
Sitting in the shadow of the San Diego International Airport/Lindbergh Field, alongside busy Harbor Drive, across from the Harbor Island marinas, is a nifty oasis of calm amid downtown’s hustle and bustle. On out way to catch a flight out of Lindbergh Field or to head across to Harbor Island for dining or sailing, we more than likely bypass Spanish Landing Park without even realizing it.
An historical landmark, the site commemorates the 1769 meeting of the Gaspar DePortola and Father Junípero Serra expeditions. The park features a pedestrian path, bike route, picnic tables, benches and the Callaway Carillon bell tower. And for those who work or live in downtown, the park provides a nice escape from their hectic lives.
San Diego Sportfishing Landings
San Diego Bay may no longer have a commercial tuna fishing fleet of any significance, but it’s still the home of one of the best sportfishing fleets anywhere. Head to the sportfishing docks on Scott Street just around the corner from Shelter Island, and you can pick and choose what type of deep sea fishing catches your fancy. Established and friendly fleets like H&M;, Point Loma Sportfishing, Fisherman’s Landing, Malihini, and more will set you up with anything from half-day to multi-day excursions to fish the local waters.
Restaurants, Shop, enjoy water sports at San Diego Bay
San Diego Bay is one of the top San Diego Attractions for tourists, offering a unique opportunity to enjoy San Diego Restaurants, play on San Diego Beaches, Shop in San Diego, take a San Diego Harbor Cruise, and so much more! The Bay sits just moments away from downtown San Diego.
About San Diego Bay
San Diego Bay is one of the San Diego Attractions that promises adventure and entertainment for the entire family. One of the most exciting Things to do in San Diego is getting out on the blue waters of the Bay or relaxing on the shoreline’s beaches and in the tourist facilities.
San Diego Bay extends from Point Loma, along Harbor Drive, south to the shores of Imperial Beach. When you visit San Diego, you’ll be just moments away from San Diego Bay’s parks, San Diego Attractions, and much more fun!
Why You Should Visit San Diego Bay
There are so many things to do in San Diego, on the Bay and around the outskirts, such as taking in San Diego Shopping, enjoying water sports, sunbathing on the Bay’s beaches, dining at fabulous San Diego Restaurants, and simply looking at the breathtaking views of the water and sunny skies.
The gorgeous land and seascape that you’ll experience along San Diego Bay is home to a growing collection of public art in San Diego, which are fun San Diego Attractions in themselves. From Shelter Island on the Bay, you can take San Diego Harbor Cruises and dinner cruises to celebrate special events in San Diego. Visit America’s Cup Harbor and find wonderful Things to do in San Diego like lounging in San Diego gathering spaces or walking the marina.
Visitors’ Tips for Exploring San Diego Bay
- If you want to step back in time, visit the San Diego Maritime Marina on Harbor Drive, on the edge of the Bay. Roam the decks of several ships, including the Star of India, which is a tall ship that sailed the Pacific during the 1860s and is still seaworthy today.
- Make your way to picturesque Harbor Island, which is just a few minutes from San Diego Downtown, and you can view far-reaching glimpses of the San Diego Bay.
- Visit bustling Seaport Village, which sits on the shore of the San Diego Bay. At Seaport Village, you’ll find San Diego Restaurants and cafes, San Diego Shopping boutiques, live music venues, and fabulous street performers.
- There are many ways to get to San Diego Bay, but once you’re there, you’ll most likely want to explore on foot or with a San Diego Tour group.
Interesting Facts About San Diego Bay
- Point Loma was discovered in 1542, and was named San Miguel. This was the beginning of the Bay’s rich history, which starts at the tip of Point Loma where the Cabrillo National Monument is on display.
- Imperial Beach, which sits on the southern edge of the San Diego Bay, is the land link between San Diego and Coronado Island. Its beaches are popular San Diego Attractions for surfers and sand sculpture artists.