Covering almost two square miles, Balboa Park is home to a host of San Diego’s major museums. Also, free tours about history, architecture, horticulture and botanical gardens. Call for schedule. Visitors Center, House of Hospitality, 1549 El Prado, Balboa Park, 619.239.0512. balboapark.org
A beachfront landmark with attractions, rides, arcades and dining. Highlights include the historical Giant Dipper roller coaster, WaveHouse, SoCal’s largest indoor pool, Liberty Carousel and several casual eateries, bars and food booths. 3190 Mission Blvd., Mission Beach, 858.488.1549. belmontpark.com
Birch Aquarium at Scripps
Explore one of the nation’s largest oceanographic museums, and enjoy a spectacular view from the tidepool plaza. Daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m. Three-hour courtesy parking. $11-17. 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, 858.534.3474. aquarium.ucsd.edu
Cabrillo National Monument
The monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at S.D. Bay on Sept. 28, 1542. Nearby: whale-watching, tidepools, trails, the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and stunning city/ocean views. Daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m. $3-5. 1800 Cabrillo Memorial Drive, Point Loma, 619.557.5450.
Latin America’s luxury theater chain made its first entry into the U.S. market with these two San Diego-area locations. Leather recliners, plenty of legroom and in-seat food and drink service take moviegoing to new levels of luxe. 12905 El Camino Real, Del Mar, 858.794.4045; 6941 El Camino Real, Carlsbad, 760.603.8638.
Visitors of all ages can enjoy and explore this 20-acre outdoor haven to more than 80 domesticated livestock from around the world. Fun and educational interactive presentations encourage an appreciation for animals, nature, sustainable farming and our ecosystem. 5178 Japatul Spur, Alpine, 619.320.4942, childrensnatureretreat.com
From the mastermind creators of The Haunted Hotel and Haunted Trail in Balboa Park, The Great Room Escape San Diego showcases elaborately themed room designs and professional special effects that require guests to outsmart the puzzles in order to escape each room. Great activities for team building, or just getting friends together, groups will enjoy the puzzles and problem-solving as participants are faced with unlocking the mystery and outsmarting the booby traps in the ancient Aztec Temple, before the sundial hits one hour. Guests can also visit the other two themed rooms, “The Lab,” and “Houdini’s Hidden Workshop.” $34.95/pp (group rates also available). Open Thursday-Sunday. 424 Market Street, Gaslamp Quarter, 619.231.0131. greatroomescapesandiego.com
Explore Mission Bay like never before with this new water-propelled jet-pack adventure that allows you to fly over and through the water. First time flyers and returning vets alike will love the sky-high experience. 1010 Santa Clara Place, Mission Bay, 888.553.6471.
SoCal’s first electric indoor kart racing center lets 20-horsepower electric karts roam 70,000 square feet of space; arcade games, too. Great for private parties. 6212 Corte del Abeto, Carlsbad, 760.929.2225; 1709 Main St., San Diego, 619.241.4740.
Find 50-plus rides and shows, and Sea Life Aquarium’s 7-foot-long Lego submarine. Check out the new waterpark complete with a lazy river (open seasonally). Adults $80; kids 3–12 and seniors 60+ $70 (add $13/ticket for admission to aquarium or water park; add $19/ticket for admission to all three). Aquarium-only: adults $20; kids 3-12 $15. Parking $12–20. Call for hours. 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, 760.918.5346.
Take a safari adventure through the 1,800–acre wildlife preserve, home to herds of exotic animals roaming in vast enclosures resembling African and Asian plains. Safari packages start at $48 for adults; children 3–11 $32; kids 2 and under free. Parking $10. Daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. 15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, 760.747.8702. sdzsafaripark.org
One of the world’s most diverse plant collections with 37 acres of lush gardens and trails. Daily 9 a.m.–5 p.m. (till 8 p.m. Th). Adults $14, with discounted rates for seniors and small children; free for kids 2 and under. Parking $2. 230 Quail Gardens Drive, Encinitas, 760.436.3036. sdbgarden.org
The world-famous zoo has more than 4,000 rare and endangered animals in a charming, state–of–the–art park. Its inclined walking trails are a workout. $48; kids 3–11 $32; kids 2 and under free. Free parking. Open daily 9 a.m.-9 p.m. 2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park, 619.231.1515. sandiegozoo.org
The 189-acre adventure park features thousands of marine animals including killer whales plus fish, reptiles and birds. $89; kids 3–9 $83; kids 2 and under free. Parking: $14-19. Open daily; call for hours and combo rates. 500 SeaWorld Drive, Mission Bay Park, 800.25.SHAMU. seaworldsandiego.com
Spanish Village Art Center
This artists’ haven includes 37 working studios and an outdoor patio area where visitors can watch resident artists create original works of art. With more than 200 artists represented, the center displays a large variety of paintings, glass, gourds, pottery, jewelry, sculpture, photography, fiber arts, enamel, woodwork and more. 1770 Village Place, Balboa Park, 619.233.9050. spanishvillageart.com
Group or private classes are available to help you customize your own fragrance from more than 300 essential oils, or choose a premixed scent from the boutique. 7853 Herschel Ave., La Jolla. 619.821.8219. tijon.com
U.S. Olympic Training Center
One of only four OTCs in the U.S., this year-round facility features field hockey, archery, soccer, BMX facilities and more. Daily 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Ask about guided tours. Free entry. 2800 Olympic Pkwy., Chula Vista, 619.656.1500.
Founded in 1899 by Sicilian winemakers, this is the oldest continuously operating winery in SoCall— featuring more than a dozen wines and a spacious tasting room. Sample a flight inside or grab a seat on the patio. Open daily. 13330 Paseo del Verano North, Rancho Bernardo, 858.487.1866. bernardowinery.com
The largest winery in Baja’s scenic wine region, which produces 90 percent of Mexico’s wine. Open daily for tastings; also features olive oil, chocolates and gifts. KM 73.5 Tecate-Ensenada Highway, Valle de Guadalupe, Baja California, Mexico.
Boutique Julian winery produces just 4,000 cases of syrah, sauvignon blanc, Riesling and cabernet sauvignon annually. Tastings daily. 1150 Julian Orchards Drive, Julian, 760.765.2072.
Growing syrah, Viognier, muscat canelli and more, this boutique winery produces about 10,000 cases of Rhone-style wines annually. 13455 San Pasqual Road, Escondido, 760.738.6500.
Ponte Family Estate Winery
This 300-acre vineyard grows mostly cabernet, merlot and chardonnay, plus other Italian varieties; tasting room open daily. 35053 Rancho California Road, Temecula, 951.694.8855.
San Pasqual Winery
Favorites at this downtown La Mesa winery include its Summervine Habanero passion-fruit wine, which won Double Gold at the 2013 San Diego County Fair, and its 2010 Lake County malbec, recently chosen to represent California at an international malbec tasting in Cahors, France. 8140 Center St., La Mesa, 619.469.9463.
Solterra Winery & Kitchen
This modern winery, tasting room and tapas-style eatery is just a couple blocks from the beach. Try the Solterra “white” label, made from grapes that are only grown in San Diego County, Temecula and northern Baja, Mexico. 934 N. Coast Hwy. 101, Encinitas, 760.230.2970.
South Coast Winery and Spa Resort
This winner of the California State Golden Bear Winery of the Year Award produces some 65,000 cases annually. Tastings daily. 34843 Rancho California Road, Temecula, 951.587.9463.
Medal-winning sparkling winery is housed in a vineyard-view chateau in Temecula. Tasting lounge open daily; tours on weekends. 32575 Rancho California Road, Temecula, 951.699.0099.
Wilson Creek Winery and Vineyard
Known for its almond sparkling wine, this Tuscan-inspired estate also includes a restaurant and tasting room, both open daily.35960 Rancho California Road, Temecula, 951.699.9463.
Witch Creek Winery
Two tasting rooms, including one in the heart of Carlsbad, offer samplings of Witch Creek’s full-bodied wines daily, each with a feline-inspired name. 2906 Carlsbad Blvd., Carlsbad, 760.765.2023; 2000 Main St., Julian, 760.720.7499.