MilFam Travel: 10 Things to Do Near Naval Base San Diego

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Located in the heart of sunny Southern California is Naval Base San Diego. Homeport of the Pacific Fleet — which consists of more than 50 ships and 190 tenant commands — Naval Base San Diego is home to over 24,000 military personnel and 10,000+ civilians. MilFams relocated to the 32nd Street Naval Station (as the locals call it) can expect incredible weather and a long list of interesting sights to see and fun activities to explore. 

Check out this list of popular attractions that highlight 10 things to do near Naval Base San Diego.


1. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

Connect with the rich history of San Diego. Visitors of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park learn more about the culture and lifestyle during the mid-17th century, when San Diego became an American settlement after the Mexican-American War. 

Explore restored historic buildings, including five original adobe buildings that house museums, shops and restaurants, as well as newer structures designed to mimic the style of the original historic buildings. The Historic Plaza is a popular destination for special gatherings and activities, like live music, dancing, basket making and woodworking demonstrations and more!


2. U.S.S. Midway Museum

Learn more about the U.S.S. Midway’s critical role in U.S. military history. Located along the San Diego shore, the U.S.S. Midway is the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the 20th century. Named after the Battle of Midway in June 1942, the aircraft carrier now serves as a museum and educational center, showcasing over 60 exhibits designed for children and adults alike. 

The U.S.S. Midway currently features 30 restored aircraft and nearly 10 acres of exhibits across the hangar deck, flight deck, and even below deck. Explore the admiral’s cabin, take a guided island tour, or visit the holographic theater to see the Battle of Midway interactive display!


3. Balboa Park

Spend quality time with family and friends at the intersection of nature and culture. Named after Spanish explorer Vasco Núñez de Balboa, this sprawling outdoor destination houses the city’s world-famous zoo, various museums and more. In 1977, the park was granted National Historic Landmark status. 

Get lost in the park’s lush gardens. Run, jump and skip around its playgrounds. Marvel at the Spanish Colonial Revival architectural style. Whether you’re looking for a high-energy experience, like live music, or a laid back afternoon strolling through the grounds, Balboa Park hosts a wide variety of things to see and do.


4. Cabrillo National Monument

Take in spectacular views of the San Diego region from the Cabrillo National Monument. Named after the first European to set foot on the West Coast of what is now the U.S. in 1542, Cabrillo honors the cultural and natural beauty of San Diego as well as the Age of Exploration. 

Wander from the monument to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse, which has been restored to its 1880’s appearance, to explore exhibits that tell the story of the lighthouse, its lightkeepers and their families. Then follow the bayside trail, taking in views of the harbor and downtown San Diego. During low tide, you can even see sea creatures like octopus and anemones in the Point Loma tide pools.  


5. Seaport Village

Wine and dine on the San Diego waterfront. Located in the Marina neighborhood, Seaport Village is a 14-acre waterfront complex that boats the best shopping, dining and entertainment San Diego has to offer. 

Grab dinner at Edgewater Grill or indulge in sweets from Seaport Coffee and Fudge. Travel back in time with a trip to American Nostalgia. Kick up the heat with a specialty bottle of hot sauce from Hot Licks. Seaport Village also hosts a variety of events like the Tuna Harbor Dockside Market, Seaport Sessions — a weekly speaker series, and seasonal specialties such as Holidays by the Bay!


6. Liberty Public Market

Engage with San Diego’s local artisans. Open 7 days a week, Liberty Public Market is a can’t-beat marketplace located in Point Loma’s historic Liberty Station that offers prepared foods, craft beer, wine and spirits, fresh produce, baked goods and more from over 30 local artisan vendors. 

In addition to connecting the public and local artisans, Liberty Public Market also showcases art from local artists, offers a dog-friendly market patio every Sunday afternoon, as well as hosts a number of local events including its Live Music series. 


7. Fleet Science Center 

Think outside the box at the Fleet Science Center. Designed for visitors of all ages, this center of curiosity, interactivity and education offers great experiences the whole family can enjoy — from Kid City for children ages 5 and under, to community events such as Two Scientists Walk Into a Bar for adults.  

Fleet Science Center visitors can explore more than 100 interactive exhibits and galleries, including IMAX® films in the Giant Dome Theater, grab a bite to eat at the onsite restaurant called Craveology, or souvenir shop in the North Star Science Store. 


8. SeaWorld® San Diego

Adventure into the depths of the ocean. SeaWorld® is famous for its thrilling, beautiful aquariums and family-friendly presentations featuring some of the most beloved sea creatures. Whether you’re looking for adventure or an educational experience, there’s something for everyone. 

For the thrillseekers, SeaWorld San Diego is now home to the Tidal Twister, an all-new dueling roller coaster that takes passengers on a wild ride through the park. If rides aren’t your thing, there are plenty of other exciting activities and exhibits to explore. One of the most popular attractions is Animal Morning Moments, a live presentation that showcases marine life including orcas, dolphins and otters.


9. Belmont Park 

Ignite your sense of adventure at San Diego’s famous Belmont Park. This beachfront amusement park and boardwalk has something each family member can enjoy. Spend the day lounging on the beach, enjoy laid-back dining with sunset views, then end the night with Tiki Town Mini Golf! 

There are a variety of events to attend at Belmont Park as well, from watching Sunday football games at Draft to Acoustic Sunsets live music sets at Cannonball. Plus, Belmont Park offers special deals and discounts to all military, Veterans and first responders. 


10. The San Diego Museum of Art

Get inspired by the works of past and present creators. The San Diego Museum of Art’s mission is “to inspire, educate, and cultivate curiosity through great works of art.” The museum houses collections of paintings that span eras and styles, from early 15th-century naturalism to modern and contemporary art of today of the 20th and 21st centuries. 

SDMA offers popular activities like workshops, where art enthusiasts can create works of their own in a variety of media, youth programs, documentary and film screenings, and community events such as Culture & Cocktails. You can even get discounted admission to the museum on Fridays after 5pm, followed by dinner Panama 66, the museum’s very own restaurant.


Enjoy everything that the historic, seaside city of San Diego has to offer! From its natural beauty to its buzzing social scene, there’s never a shortage of things to do near Naval Base San Diego.


More Places to Go on the West Coast:

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MilFam Travel: 10 Things to Do Near Camp Pendleton

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