Alcazar Garden, one of the many Balboa Park attractions. Photo credit: Wiki Commons

There’s so much to see in San Diego and U.S. News & World Report is happy to boil it down to a list for you, just as they do with colleges and hospitals.

So tourists, day-trippers, and locals who may not have seen it all before, here you go, U.S. News’ top picks for San Diego’s Finest Sites (and there’s some surprises in the bunch):

The top three are Balboa Park, which the magazine calls the city’s “definitive cultural hub,” followed by Mission Beach, credited with fitting “the SoCal stereotype to a T” and Coronado, which though it lacks Mission Beach’s boardwalk, the site notes it boasts a “peaceful atmosphere and idyllic location” instead.

Rounding out the top 5 are the Gaslamp Quarter for its “hip, busy scene” and the San Diego Zoo and Safari Park.

Nature gets its due too, as does the region’s Navy and seafaring history.

Torrey Pines State Reserve, the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma and Sunset Cliffs in Ocean Beach, clock in at numbers 6, 7, and 9 respectively. Torrey Pines gets kudos for its range of hiking, from easy to challenging treks, the Cabrillo monument for its fabulous views and the off-chance of spotting a whale or two, and Sunset Cliffs for its breathtaking vantage point for the sun slipping away at day’s end.

The retired U.S.S. Midway, now a museum in San Diego Bay, is number 8, cited for the change to experience life on an aircraft carrier, while the Maritime Museum holds the 10th slot for its look at the city “as a bustling seaport.”

SeaWorld, perhaps surprisingly, despite this year’s troubles, just missed the Top 10, but the San Diego perennial still merits a mention by U.S. News.

Overall, according to U.S. News, San Diego is “an ideal destination for adventurers.” See U.S. News Travel for more of the site’s guides.

Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma. Photo credit: Jennifer Vigil.
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