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17 Things to Do on Father’s Day in San Diego

We rounded up a list of the best local tours, outings, restaurants, and free activities to celebrate pops on June 18
Courtesy of City Experiences
Fathers Day Things to do 2023 Midway Museum

Fathers Day Things to do 2023 Midway Museum

Courtesy of USS Midway Museum

Father’s Day is just around the corner, and if you’re anything like me, you probably struggle each June to nail down festivities that will make your pa feel special. On their day, Moms get fancy brunches complete with nice outfits, vibrant flowers, and Champagne. Dads? They get another new tie and a mug from Target.

Every year, my own dad downplays the need for any kind of celebration (how many times have you heard, “I just want some peace and quiet?”), so I’m left scrambling for ideas to give thanks to pops. But I’m finally coming prepared—and sharing my ideas with you.

Put down the shaving kit and beer-scented soap. Here are 18 things you can do with dad on Father’s Day that he’ll likely love more than whatever gift is in your Amazon cart right now.

Visit the Midway Museum

Whether your dad’s a history buff or not, the Midway Museum at Navy Pier is one of the coolest experiences in San Diego. The museum features more than 60 exhibits and 29 restored aircrafts, offering an inside look at what life was like on one of the longest-serving aircraft carriers of the 20th century. For a $31 admission fee ($21 for veterans), you can get your dad talking about the good old days, reminiscing about that time he almost was accepted into the Top Gun program.

Deep Sea Fishing Out of Shelter Island

Is your pa the type to brag nonstop about his deadliest catch? Take him on a deep sea fishing charter to test his skills on the open water. H&M Landing has half- and full-day excursions for Father’s Day, including the Grande Coronado Islands charter for $250 per adult. During the tour, you’ll have the opportunity to reel in yellowtail, barracuda, bonito, bass, rockfish, and other game fish around the island. Note that we’re talking about Mexico’s Coronado Islands—not the crown city across the bay—so you’ll need a valid passport that’s up to date.

18 Holes at Loma Santa Fe Executive Golf Course

Sure, you could get your dad a new set of golf clubs, but he’d likely rather just hit the links with you. Book some quality time at Loma Santa Fe Golf Course. The 2,431-yard, 18-hole, William Bell–designed course is great for golfers of all levels and features scenic views of the ocean. Just be sure to do your pops a solid and let him “win” on his big day. Green fees are $38 per golfer on Father’s Day.

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Meet the Animals at San Diego Zoo

Fathers who spend their free time watching scrub jays and goldfinches on the porch will happily enjoy an afternoon exploring the San Diego Zoo’s aviaries. Or level up your visit with one of the zoo’s Inside Looks tours, a 90-minute guided excursion via golf cart that teaches you more about the animals and their care. Starting at $90 per person, the adventure offers ample opportunities for creature-themed dad jokes (“Why couldn’t the cheetah play hide-and-seek? He was always spotted!”).

Surf Old Man’s With Your Old Man

Paddle out at Tourmaline Surf Park with your dad for a longboard session that will have him reliving his dawn patrol days. Check conditions by calling the San Diego Lifeguard surf report number at 619-221-8824, and aim to get there at daybreak so you don’t have to compete with all the other dads (or kooks) in the lineup.

Father’s Day Brunch at Roy’s 

A morningfood experience to rival Mother’s Day outings: the brunch buffet at Roy’s Restaurant at the Marriott Marquis. Master chef Roy Yamaguchi pulls out all the stops, whipping up Hawaiian fare such as Wagyu beef loco moco, kalua pork benedict, and Haupia brûlée brioche french toast stack. Dad can unwind with an island mimosa or Kailua beach coffee made with vodka, kahlua, creme de banana and heavy cream. The buffet is priced per entree for adults and $19 for little ones.

Fathers Day Things to do 2023 Wooden Boat Festival Koehler Kraft

Father and son visit booths at the San Diego Wooden Boat Festival at Koehler Kraft Co

Courtesy of San Diego Wooden Boat Festival

San Diego Wooden Boat & Belmont Park Car Festivals

Whether your pops is a gearhead or a mariner, there’s a festival for him on June 18. Head to the free Father’s Day car show at Belmont Park to marvel at vintage rides like sleek 1950s Bel Airs, iconic 1960s Camaros, and more cool cars from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Or nab $10 tickets to Shelter Island’s San Diego Wooden Boat Festival to experience the history and craftsmanship of local wooden vessels, plus live music, food vendors, and a raffle.

Enjoy a Whale Watching Charter

Reserve a spot on one of San Diego Whale Watch’s local charters and get up close with the largest mammals on the planet. Charters on Father’s Day are 3.5 hours, depart at 9 a.m. or 12:30 p.m., and cost $55 for adults and $49 for children. Bring dramamine to combat seasickness, a waterproof poncho to stay dry, and a handful of whale puns to beat your pa at his own game. Hey, dad, why did the whale cross the ocean? To get to the other tide!

Visit the San Diego County Fair

If pops wants to party with his grandkids today, the San Diego County Fair is a great, family-friendly option. After a few turns on the Tilt-a-Whirl, he can settle his stomach with treats like the 50/50 brownie from Mom’s Cookies, charbroiled corn from The Blue Ribbon, and the legendary Cardiff Crack Sliders from the Cardiff Seaside Market. The fair takes place from June 7 to July 4, and admission starts at $15 (depending on the time of week), with children age five and under entering for free.

Fathers Day Things to do 2023 Stone Brewing

Patio at Stone Brewing Liberty Station

Courtesy of Stone Brewing

Hops at Stone Brewery Liberty Station

Raise a glass to dad at Stone Brewery Bistro & Gardens, a bustling spot to hang with the fam or catch the Padres game (their Father’s Day match against the Tampa Bay Rays starts at 1:10 p.m.). As well as plenty of indoor and outdoor seating, the brewery also features a bocce ball court so you can challenge dad to a best of three—loser buys a round.

BBQ & Live Music

You stand by the “Grillmaster” apron you gifted your dad last year, but this Father’s Day, give him a break from hamburger duty and swing by Grand Ole BBQ for Texas-style ribs, brisket, and sandwiches. His old Stones CD will get a rest, too—the restaurant offers live music from 1 to 4 p.m.

Kayak and Snorkeling at La Jolla Cove

Your dad has always been there to keep you afloat. Show him how much it means to you with an underwater adventure in La Jolla Cove. Rent kayaks and snorkels from La Jolla Kayak off of Avenida De La Playa, or sign up for their guided tours, which depart at 12 p.m. and cost $69 per person or $109 per pair. You might spot leopard sharks, seals, sea lions, garibaldis, eels, sea turtles, and yellowfin tuna.

Hiking at Torrey Pines Reserve

This one’s for all the outdoorsy dads: Lace up your hiking boots and hit the Torrey Pines Nature Reserve. Tackle one of the reserve’s trails (they range from a half mile to 1.5 miles in length) at dawn or dusk for better views, fewer crowds, and enduring memories with your old man.

Lunch at Liberty Station Market

Dad’s been taking care of your leftovers for a lifetime—thank him by taking him on a culinary tour through Liberty Station Market. Chef Phillip Esteban’s White Rice offers pork belly rice bowls and pinoy BBQ, while the Sushi Stand slings colorful rolls topped with fresh salmon or spicy tuna. Pa can pair his bites with a pint from Bottlecraft.

Sunset on Coronado Beach

Want to start a laid-back new Father’s Day tradition? Treat your dad to sunset views at Coronado Beach. Cross the Coronado Bridge at golden hour, pick up a to-go picnic dinner from Little Frenchie, and watch the summer day wind into darkness at one of the most beautiful spots in SD.

Fathers Day Things to do 2023 City Cruises San Diego Bay

Family embarking on City Experience’s Father’s Day cruise

Courtesy of City Experiences

Dining Cruise Around San Diego Bay

Sure, you’re always up for a day on your dad’s old fishing boat, but sometimes you need a more upscale take on seafaring. This Father’s Day, City Cruises offers brunch and dinner jaunts with chef-prepared meals, cocktails, wine, and a live DJ, plus picturesque views of the city from the outdoor decks. Adult tickets start at $99, and kids age three and under are free.

Live Music at Domaine Artefact Vineyard & Winery

Every Father’s Day gift guide is loaded with beer-themed picks, from home brewing kits to pint glass–printed socks—but what if your pops is more into grapes than hops? Take him to sip traditional rhone varietals and listen to local artist Kayla Ray’s renditions of 1970s classic rock hits from 3 to 6 p.m. at Domaine Artefact Winery in Escondido.

By Cole Novak

With a background crafting digital strategies and storytelling for brands, Cole loves reporting on local figures, businesses and nonprofits. A lifelong San Diegan, Cole is passionate about photography, surfing, music, cooking, the local art scene, and the great outdoors.

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