Things to do on Memorial Day > San Diego

8 Fun Activities to do on Memorial Day in San Diego

Memorial Day Weekend in San Diego

Home of fun Balboa Park, Embarcadero, USS Midway Museum and amazing of things to do in San Diego on Memorial Day. We've compiled some of the best activities to do in San Diego on this Memorial Day holiday.

Memorial Day Weekend in San Diego

Balboa Park on Memorial Day

You’ll keep returning to this 1,200-acre urban park for its world-class zoo, restful cultivated areas, museums in refined Spanish Revival buildings and live shows in San Diego during Memorial Day.

There’s a tapestry of gardens around the park, planted with more than 350 plant species hand-selected at the turn of the 20th century by the botanist Kate Sessions, the “Mother of Balboa Park”. An emblem for the park and San Diego is the Botanical Building, one of many splendid holdovers from the 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition.

Among the largest lath buildings in the world, the Botanical House contains 2,100 individual plants and is fronted by a pond with annual displays of lilies and lotuses.


San Diego’s walkable harbour-front is brimming with shops, interesting sights and eateries, and looks across the bay to Coronado Island.

A lot of the Embarcadero’s interest is literally floating on the water, at the USS Midway and the heritage ships belonging to the San Diego Maritime Museum.

This is also the place to board tour boats around the harbour and out in the ocean to spot whales.

When the mercury rises kids can go wild at the interactive fountains in the Waterfront Park and adventure through the creatively designed playgrounds.

In November the Embarcadero stages the San Diego Bay Wine & Food Festival, while the San Diego Symphony Orchestra plays the Bayside Summer Nights from late-June to the start of September.

Memorial Day on USS Midway Museum

The longest-serving aircraft carrier in the world has been permanently moored at San Diego’s Embarcadero since 2004. Commissioned in 1945, the USS Midway served in the Vietnam War and Operation Desert Storm, before becoming the largest museum dedicated to aircraft carriers and naval aviation anywhere. offers a self-guided audio tour of this humungous vessel, during which you’ll see over 30 restored aircraft, including 8 propeller planes, 14 jet aircraft and 8 helicopters.

You’ll be led through the galley, brig, crew’s sleeping quarters, pilots’ ready rooms and engine room, and hear exciting snippets from people who served aboard the Midway.

You’ll have lots of chances to get involved, testing simulators, climbing into cockpits and watching films documenting the dramatic events that took place where you stand on Memorial Day in San diego.

Point Loma

The west side of San Diego Bay is embraced by a long rocky peninsula that merits a visit for jagged topography, thrilling history and views you won’t soon forget.

We’ll touch on a few of the sights on Point Loma later, but in 1542, this was the landing point for the first European expedition to what is now the West Coast of America.

Given the peninsula’s setting, protecting the west flank of the harbour, Point Loma has a military presence going back to the 19th century.

The 77.5-acre Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery (1882) is on the grounds of a former coastal artillery station.

There are more than 100,000 graves here, and solemn memorials like the USS Bennington Monument, recording an accident in San Diego Bay that claimed 66 lives in 1905. Head to the marina for whale watching expeditions, and to Osprey Point were climbers scale the rocks and fishers camp over the water.

La Jolla

The upscale oceanfront community of La Jolla is on a rocky headland poking out into the Pacific and surrounded by water on three sides.

La Jolla means fine dining, cliffs with sea caves and little coves where seals and sea lions rest on the sand.

We’ll stop by La Jolla many times on this list, visiting the famous Torrey Pines and its State Reserve, beaches and golf course.

La Jolla proper has a cosmopolitan, European feel in its cafes, boutiques, low-rise houses and steep stairways.

At Ellen Browning Scripps Park by La Jolla Point you can contemplate the majesty of the Southern Californian coast, catch open-air concerts on summer evenings and see the fireworks on the Fourth of July.

Make a detour to the Legends Gallery on Prospect Street, which has original art by former La Jolla resident Theodor Seuss Geisel (Dr Seuss).

Memorial Day on Food and Drink

San Diego’s Spanish past and proximity to Mexico makes for amazing food.

We’re talking about some of the best fish tacos, carne asada, enchiladas around.

These dishes are underpinned by ultra-fresh ingredients like avocados, tomatoes, eggplant and fruit, all grown locally.

San Diego is the birthplace of the comforting California Burrito, which has French fries and carne asada.

Oscar’s Mexican Seafood makes a mean fish taco and great ceviche, and has four locations around the city.

The craft beer scene in San Diego is something to be reckoned with, and the Toronado craft pub (56 rotating draughts), and the multi-award-winning Societe and Ballast Point production breweries need to be in the plans of any beer aficionado.


Surf culture is woven into San Diego’s identity and the county’s 70 miles of open ocean coastline has more surf spots than we could list here.

Much of the shore has southwest facing beach breaks, while there are rockier sections with reef breaks at La Jolla and Point Loma.

Avid surfers are always ready to travel for the perfect wave, and this might mean a trip up to the highly popular Swami’s, which was mentioned in the Beach Boys’ Surfin USA. The river mouth point break at Trestles is world renowned and hosts WSL competitions from May to September.

Honourable mentions go to the beach breaks at Oceanside and the spacious Del Mar, where you won’t have to jostle for a wave.

There are shops for gear rental near every major spot.

And if you’d rather keep your feet on dry land, you can watch some great surfing action from the rocks at Windansea in La Jolla.

San Diego Zoo

Founded by the physician Harry M. Wegeforth after he was inspired by the roar of a lion at the Panama-California Exposition in 1915, the San Diego Zoo is rated among the best in the world and houses more than 650 species.

This was one of the first zoos to build cageless exhibits, and opened the first ever moated lion enclosure in 1922. You can beat the heat and get around on a guided tour bus that covers three quarters of the park, or the Skyfari tramway from 1969. As with the best zoos, the enclosures tally with natural habitats, so there’s African rainforest inhabited by gorillas, some of the world’s largest free-flight aviaries, as well as Arctic woodland and tundra for polar bears.

The San Diego Zoo is one of only four zoos in the United States to have Giant Pandas, and these are in the Panda Trek, while the Giant Panda Discovery Center has clever multisensory exhibits revealing how these creatures sound and smell. You and your family must visit on Memorial Day weekend in San Diego.

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