During the month of August, we are exploring the wide world of places military families are stationed. Earlier this week, we headed to Hawaii, and in this post, Navy spouse Noralee Jones shares her San Diego bucket list with us. Enjoy! ~Rebecca

I remember distinctly when we received the orders: my husband was deployed, I was 32 weeks pregnant with my second child, and my oldest was 18 months old. I was so nervous, I hoped we would not be stationed overseas (maybe next time), and I wanted to go somewhere that had things to do since I had young children.

Oh man, was I so excited when I heard: San Diego, CA.

Many people told me how amazing living here would be and how we would always have something new to discover. Boy, were they right! This city has something for everyone. I could go on forever about all the things to do, but instead, here is my personal Top 6 Bucket List of must-see places in San Diego.

San Diego Zoo

I am going to start off with the most iconic and well-known attraction in San Diego. The zoo is extremely family friendly and has many different events and experiences for each age group. If you move to the area, I would recommend an annual pass. Some positives include free parking and a 9 am opening, so it’s easy to beat the heat. Also, active military members and children under the age of 3 are free. Membership also includes the San Diego Zoo Safari Park which provides different experiences including safari tours and live animal demonstrations.

Old Town San Diego

Old Town San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California. This place is really neat. Not only do you get a historical experience, but there are lots of restaurants, businesses, shopping, hotels and even a theater which puts on different types of shows for all ages and tastes. It’s so much fun to walk around and soak in the historical aspects of the area but also enjoy the modern food and fun it has to offer. You can find more information on Old Town here.

Coronado Island

I would be remiss if I did not mention Coronado Island, an incredibly beautiful area of San Diego. It is the home to a military base and some of the most beautiful beaches, shops, and restaurants. It is also the home of The Hotel Del. Many people have their family pictures taken with The Del behind them due to its iconic red roof and beautiful beaches. Beware those, parking can be hard, but once you find a spot, you can almost always walk and never run out of things to do.

Balboa Park

So in the same area as the San Diego Zoo is a large grouping of museums, parks, and beautiful architecture called Balboa Park. It is by far my favorite place in San Diego. It is the home of several museums including the Museum of Man, Museum of Art, Air and Space Museum, the Natural Science Museum and the Fleet Science Center. These are surrounded by beautiful gardens, and Balboa park also has many theatrical and performing art exhibits. These include Old Globe Theater and the Spreckels Organ Pavilion: the largest street organ in the world. So many free concerts/performances are available, especially in the summer and even just taking a walk through the area will give hours of entertainment due to having so many things to see and do.

Seaport Village

Seaport Village is located along the boardwalk in San Diego’s “Big Bay” and is full of things to do. Not only can you take a walk on the boardwalk and enjoy San Diego’s unique and beautiful sunsets on a romantic date night, but you can also enjoy some family fun riding on the historic carousel or getting a caricature completed. There are many different restaurants, and it is all within walking distance of many hotels. It is also just a couple blocks from the USS Midway Museum which makes for a wonderful addition to the bucket list as well.


There are far too many great beaches to list them all. However, I feel for the final bucket list item, I should mention my favorite beaches. These include Windansea, Kellogg, Crown Point and  Playa Pacifica. The first two are in La Jolla, and the other two are in Mission Bay. For small children, I feel that Playa Pacifica and Crown Point really hit the mark. Not only do they have calm beaches with minimal waves, but play structures and parks within just a few yards from the beach for lots of family fun. My personal favorite for a date night or just for time alone is Windansea. The view is beautiful, and it showcases the rocky side of the beach.

Hi, I’m Noralee! I’m a military wife of 10 years, mother of three under 4, and lover of southern comfort food, my planner, and chocolate. In between moving, when I’m not reading kid books, changing diapers or grocery shopping, I love to run, read and cook freezer meals to feed my family. I want to help everyone be their best even on their worst day. I will help teach you how to manage home and family while focusing on self-care and finding their tribe in this crazy life!


Don’t miss out on the first part of our series, Where We Live: O’ahu.


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