San Diego Bay Cruises

#16 in Best Things To Do in San Diego
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San Diego Bay Cruises2 of 2
Flagship Cruises & Events

Key Info

N Harbor Dr

Price & Hours

Vary by tour company
Vary by tour company


Beaches, Sightseeing, Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend


  • 3.5Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.0Atmosphere

San Diego is known for its beaches and beach activities, and one of the best ways to experience the city is from the ocean. Along the city's Embarcadero, you'll find many cruise options, each offering a different experience. Finding the right experience and type of trip depends on your interests and time constraints. There are many one- to two-hour cruises available for people of all ages. Some are whale watching focused, as San Diego is one of the top places for whale watching in the country. Others, such as Flagship Cruises and Events' San Diego Harbor Tour, are sightseeing cruises which visitors enjoy thanks to the engaging tour guides who narrate as the boat passes notable San Diego landmarks. Families with young children may appreciate the city's SEAL tours which are narrated by guides on an amphibious vehicle; the tour consists of a 30-minute ride on land coupled with an hourlong ride on the water where riders often see seals and other wildlife. Older crowds may be more interested in fine dining cruises, which provide guests with meals or drinks as they float along the city's coast. Options include a luxury dinner cruise from Hornblower or the brunch cruise from Flagship Cruises and Events. Then, there are cruises for thrill-seekers: Complete with whipping winds and splashing water for a 30-minute ride, boat adventures like the high-speed Patriot Jet Boat ride are not for the faint-hearted. 

Cruises depart from various ports within the harbor. Other attractions like Seaport Village, the USS Midway Museum and the Maritime Museum of San Diego are also nearby, so there are plenty of activities to keep you busy before or after your cruise.

Prices vary based on the cruise company, the length of the trip, the amenities included in each trip and more, so you'll want to check each company's website for additional details. Most adult tickets for basic sightseeing cruises hover around $25 to $35. There are numerous parking garages around the Embarcadero area, but most lots will require a fee. You can also access the waterfront area by bus or trolley.

See also: The Best San Diego Boat Tours »

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More Best Things To Do in San Diego

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Time to Spend
#1 Balboa Park

Home to the renowned San Diego Zoo. this 1,200-acre park is the city's cultural hub. Located in downtown San Diego (about 2 miles north of the city center), Balboa Park is a great place for a stroll, bike ride or picnic. Wander around the park's many gardens while admiring the intricate Spanish-Renaissance architecture that permeates the grounds (the best examples are the California Building and the House of Hospitality). The Botanical Building is a great starting point in Balboa Park. The building is one of the most photographed places in Balboa Park and is one of the largest lath structures in the world. But don't just look at it. The famous botanical building features more than 2,100 permanent plants, including striking collections of tropical plants and orchids. The park also features a cactus garden, rose garden, a Japanese-style garden as well as a palm tree canyon, among many others.

But if you find yourself growing antsy just walking around and smelling the roses, there are plenty of attractions located here (many of them free). Take in a show at the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theatre, visit the Spreckels Organ Pavilion to see one of the world's largest outdoor pipe organs, or the Marie Hitchcock Puppet Theater if you got the kiddos in tow. Museums are just as aplenty, with enough to suit all types of interests. Art lovers will enjoy the San Diego Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts and Mingei International Museum while science enthusiasts will enjoy the Fleet Science Center and the Museum of Man. If you're traveling as a family, take some time to check out the San Diego Air and Space Museum or the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, the world's largest operating model railroad museum. There's also an automotive museum and the San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum, dedicated entirely to San Diego's sports history.

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