Last Updated on January 1, 2024

San Diego, a vibrant city nestled along the Pacific coast, is a great outdoors-style place with 300-plus days of sunshine a year. Given its coastal location, it’s unsurprising perhaps that the city is popular for water and beach sports, in addition to being a city with some major sports teams. So let’s take a look at what San Diego has to offer for you if you love sports.

San Diego sports visitors travel guide

San Diego Sports Teams

There are some major league sports teams in San Diego:

1. Baseball

San Diego Padres represent San Diego in Major League Baseball (MLB) and play their home games at Petco Park in downtown San Diego.

Given the number of games there are in the main MLB season, you can generally find tickets quite easily at the stadium or get tickets directly online.

For the playoffs and World Series though, tickets can be harder to get.

2. San Diego FC Major League Soccer

One of the newest franchises in Major League Soccer, with games from 2025, is San Diego FC. They will play at the Snapdragon Stadium, located on the SDSU (San Diego State University) campus.

3. Football (American Football)

San Diego used to have an NFL team, the San Diego Chargers, but they relocated to Los Angeles and became the Los Angeles Chargers.

While there isn’t currently an NFL team in San Diego, the city remains passionate about football and you can go to a sports bar and enjoy a game.

I love Monday night football when in the States and, in San Diego, I can recommend the Bull Pen Bar.

4. Basketball

San Diego doesn’t have an NBA team either, unfortunately, but there’s a strong basketball community with college teams and recreational leagues.

For college basketball, you can watch the San Diego State University Aztecs.

5. Hockey (Ice Hockey)

The San Diego Gulls play in the American Hockey League (AHL) and play their home games at the Pechanga Arena.

They have a solid following with a great atmosphere and you can often get tickets for a game.

6. San Diego Legion

San Diego also has its own rugby team called the San Diego Legion and they play their home games at Alcala Park.

Legion is a professional team that plays in Major League rugby in North America, along with 10 other teams.

5 Must Visit Sporting Attractions and Location, San Diego

1. Petco Park

Home to the San Diego Padres, this baseball stadium offers a fantastic atmosphere during games.

Even if you’re not catching a game, the stadium offers tours that provide insight into its architecture and history and I really enjoyed the tour we did.

Petco Stadium in San Diego, home to the San Diego Padres

2. Torrey Pines Golf Course

Torrey Pines Golf Course is one of the most scenic courses I have ever played a round of golf on.

As you play you have a beautiful view of the Pacific Ocean and it’s just generally a lovely course to play on. If you love golf, I highly recommend Torrey Pines.

It is also the location for the prestigious Farmers Insurance Open (more on that later), which takes place annually and is attended by many top players.

So, if you prefer to watch golf than to play it, and are in San Diego in January, you can try and get tickets for this event.

3. San Diego Hall of Champions Sports Museum

An inexpensive attraction and if you are in Balboa Park, I recommend visiting the Champions Sports Museum (which includes baseball and football exhibit areas).

It doesn’t take that long to see the museum but given its location close to the automotive and space museums, it’s probably something you’d walk nearby anyway if sightseeing.

4. Del Mar Horse Racing Track

If you are interested in horse racing, then Del Mar Race Track is the place to head to.

July to December is the main season and the track itself is one of the biggest in the United States.

Learn more from their Facebook page.

5. Mission Beach & Balboa Park (for Active Sports)

Not a sports attraction exactly but, if you are visiting San Diego and want to get involved or watch sports, then head down to Mission Beach and find beach volleyball tournaments, surfing, and other water sports.

Likewise, Balboa Park is another great place for joining in outdoor sports and activities, with this expansive park hosting recreational activities like disc golf, tennis, and jogging.

Annual San Diego Sports Events

1. Cymbiotika San Diego Open

This event is one of the WTA (World Tennis Association) events and is part of the 500 series.

Many top world players play at this event which normally takes place in September annually.

Learn more from the official site here.

2. Farmers Open

As mentioned also under the attractions section, the Farmers Open golf takes place annually at Torrey Pines golf course.

3. San Diego Crew Classic

Taking place on Mission Bay, this rowing regatta is one of the largest in the United States, featuring collegiate, junior, and masters-level rowing competitions, attracting teams from across the country.

This event normally takes place over 3 days every April.

More on the Crew Classic here.

4. Holiday Bowl

A post-season college football bowl game held at SDCCU Stadium, featuring top teams from the Big Ten and Pac-12 conferences, providing an exciting culmination to the college football season.

The Holiday Bowl typically takes place in late December and you can learn more from the Holiday Bowl site.

5. Surfing Competitions

San Diego hosts various annual surfing competitions, such as the Supergirl Surf Pro, Oceanside Longboard Surfing Club Contest, and Switchfoot Bro-Am, attracting top surfers and fans to the city’s beautiful beaches.

6. San Diego Triathlon Challenge

Held in La Jolla, this triathlon event brings together athletes with physical disabilities and offers a day of swimming, biking, and running, raising funds for Challenged Athletes Foundation programs.

7. San Diego International Polo Classic

Taking place at the historic San Diego Polo Club in Rancho Santa Fe, this event combines polo matches with fashion, food, and entertainment, creating an elegant sporting affair.

Where to Stay in San Diego – Accommodation Including Hotels

 

Getting to San Diego, California

Getting to San Diego offers a variety of options:

By Plane

San Diego has an International Airport (SAN) which makes getting to the city relatively easy from other main U.S. cities.

There are numerous domestic and international flights that fly into San Diego on a daily basis.

Many major airlines operate here, providing direct or connecting flights including budget-style airlines such as Southwest Airlines.

By Train or Rail

Amtrak and local commuter trains like the Coaster and the Sprinter connect San Diego to various cities within California and across the United States.

The main train station is Santa Fe Depot which is located downtown in San Diego.

By Bus or Coach

Several bus and coach companies offer services to San Diego, including Greyhound, Megabus, and FlixBus.

The coach services link San Diego to most parts of the United States, although traveling the length of the USA, such as San Diego to NYC, would take a couple of by Greyhound.

So, these coach services are best for traveling to San Diego from other parts of California, from Nevada, Utah, or Arizona.

By Car

San Diego is accessible via major highways like I-5, I-8, and I-15, depending on your starting point. It’s well connected to nearby cities and regions by road.

Your choice might depend on factors like budget, time constraints, or personal preferences for comfort and sightseeing opportunities along the way.

Traveling around the world to watch & experience sports, I tend to always use the same resources for booking trips. These are the ones I use most frequently and that I find to have great customer support and competitive prices.

  • Flights – are also now offered by booking.com and as I love the brand this is my first port of call now for flights.
  • Booking.com – The best site I have found for hotel and accommodation bookings.
  • Safety Wing Travel Insurance – I love Saftey Wing as they cover everything I need to be covered and they have a simple-to-use site, and again, I have found their customer service very good, when I needed to ask questions.
  • Get Your Guide – is an excellent site as a one-stop shop for booking attractions, local tours, activities, and excursions. Great customer service and an easy-to-use site.
  • Hostelworld – Book backpacker hostel rooms around the world with Hostel World.
  • Sports Event Tickets – Tickets for all sporting events