Tours in San Diego

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The Institute for Shipboard Education was born from an idea to create a floating campus that reflected the ideals of the United Nations and the realities of globalization. As Chinese shipping magnate C.Y. Tung put it, “Ships can transport more than cargo—they can carry ideas.” From humble beginnings, the program went on to attract world-famous guest speakers including Mikhail Gorbachev, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela. Today, the cruising university onboard the MV Explorer offers two-week Enrichment Voyages for learners of all ages, with educational programming that digs deep into each port of call's culture and history. This 15-day cruise incorporates both lectures and hands-on exploration as it passes along Mexico’s Baja peninsula toward the Isthmus of Panama and Ecuador. At each port on the itinerary, available excursions range from dive trips to volunteer service projects, such as plastering houses or feeding kindergarteners (additional fees apply for shore trips). Or you can set off on your own, armed with knowledge acquired from the recommended reading list.Days 1–3: After cruising from Ensenada, Mexico, to the southern tip of the Baja peninsula, the ship anchors at Cabo San Lucas. El Arco, the city’s iconic seaside arch, forms a scenic backdrop for a day of kayaking and snorkeling.Day 6: Puerto Quetzal in Guatemala lies within easy range of Antigua, named an UNESCO World Heritage Site for its well-preserved baroque architecture. It's ringed by mountains playing a very slow-moving game of duck-duck-goose. Day 7: Nicaragua’s largest Pacific port, Corinto, borders León, an old-world town dotted with 17th-century Spanish colonial churches such as the Cathedral of the Assumption.Days 9–10: Balboa, Panama, stands at the entrance to the Panama Canal—still an engineering marvel. The nearby overflow reservoir, Gatún Lake, is home to crocodiles, iguanas, and sloths.Days 12–13: Dipping toward South America, the ship docks at Manta, Ecuador, a trade city dating to pre-Columbian times. Pounding waves on Playa Murciélago create attractive surfing conditions.Day 15: The journey concludes at Puntarenas, Costa Rica, leaving you free to explore inland rainforests or head home. During each day at sea, college professors and other experts lead a string of seminars. Subjects are as varied as marine ecology, cultural anthropology, and photojournalism, and they often relate to the next port of call. The ship retains vestiges of its former life as a commercial liner. There are barstools in the 9,000-volume library, for instance, testifying to the space's former role as the ship's tavern. Despite the emphasis on education, there’s still plenty of relaxation aboard. The Wellness Center spa offers massages, manicures, and other pampering services. Nightly live entertainment offerings include an all-male a cappella group, a magician, and staged readings of old Love Boat scripts. During the day, you can even skip class to lounge by the pool, located on deck 7.See the full trip overview for more information.Read the Fine Print for important info on travel dates and other restrictions.

1000 North Harbor Drive
San Diego,
CA
US

Ghostly Tours in History's passionate guides unlock a portal to the paranormal, leading visitors to haunted and eerie sites around San Diego's Old Town district and Gaslamp Quarter. Depending on the tour, stops include Victorian mansions, the Whaley House, known graveyards, and even unknown graveyards, below which lie the bodies of restless souls. Featured on both the Travel Channel and the Fodor’s Top 400, the company offers walking tours as well as bus and limousine tours for guests tired from giving their assigned ghost a piggyback ride.

In keeping with the historical nature of the tours, each guide dons a period costume and alter ego, ranging from reformed vagabonds to pioneering entrepreneur cowboys. In reality, the cast of guides is equally as diverse, encompassing trained actors, students, a Navy serviceman, and past and present members of the San Diego Historical Society.

2461 San Diego Avenue
San Diego,
CA
US

Launched as a walking-tour company in 2003, Where You Want to Be Tours features a variety of custom adventures designed to show off the beauty of San Diego to locals and tourists. Most adventures last more than two hours, so tourists have plenty of time to stop and sightsee at spots such as Balboa Park and the shores of La Jolla. Today, the company has formed a set of all new clues and hidden gems and has also expanded its offerings with bike tours of locations such as Pacific Beach and Mission Bay and scavenger hunt adventures, which present a hands-on approach to urban exploration, turning tour routes into racecourses and throwing in physical challenges, including Frisbee-throwing contests.

611 K Street
San Diego,
CA
US

Even before you climb inside, the GoCar is clearly a car with a personality. The petite, three-wheeled two-seater has a hood that slightly resembles an eager-to-please smiley face, and an open top that seems custom-made for letting the breeze ruffle your hair. Then the real fun begins: built with the company's own software and a compassion for the voiceless robots of America, a talking GPS system guides two-seater GoCars through the city streets of San Francisco, San Diego, Miami, Barcelona, Madrid, and Lisbon with cheerful, info-rich narration. Second only to having a knowledgeable local jog alongside your minivan, tours zip along at drivers' own pace and accommodate as many pit stops as time allows.

2100 Kettner Blvd.
San Diego,
CA
US

1050 Kettner Boulevard
San Diego,
CA
US

If you can't decide where to eat amid San Diego's wealth of top-tier restaurants, it might be time to go ahead and try them all at once. A Taste of San Diego leads culinary tours through the city's most interesting and respected foodie favorites, from the seafood of Seaport to the desserts of Eclipse Chocolate to the candy-paved sidewalk that connects the two. Other tour highlights might include gourmet olive oil from Olivetti Oil and Vinegar, the swank charm of Jsix, or Venissimo Cheese's world-renowned shrine to dairy. Tours dip into different neighborhoods depending on the theme, and the guides are always scoping out the scene to uncover hidden gems to add into the mix.

616 J Street
San Diego,
CA
US