10 Best Things To Do In National City, CA: Discover The Treasures

things to do in national city california
Contributing Writer
| 4 min read

National City is home to a mixed bag of things to see and do. Located in the South Bay of the San Diego region, it’s been classified as the second oldest city in the county.That said, there are many treasures to explore. Whether you’re visiting as a family or a couple, National City is a great mini break. Here are the best things to do in the area:

1. San Diego Pretzel Company

Source: Needpix

San Diego Pretzel Company began business in 1995 and is still going strong today. The company has a great taste in a variety of pretzels with culinary of German, Bavarian. Classes and tours allowing guests to make and take home your wonderfully made pretzel.

One visitor Barbara states how fantastic it was: “We took a tour of this small but mighty pretzel factory today. Wow, it was fascinating. Learned so much about commercial bakeries, business, creating yummy food… And had lots of fun doing so… The kids loved it… The adults loved it… And all ages loved the exceptionally great pretzels… Just like we used to get in NYC… right here in [San Diego].”

San Diego Pretzel Company

Address: 224 W 12th St, 91950 National City, CA

Website: San Diego Pretzel Company

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2. Living Coast Discovery Center

Chula Vista Nature Center Front
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Janet Hudson used under CC BY 2.0

The Discovery Center is a hands-on experience for animal lovers, with the center being open for over 20 years. The expansion is a real treat to those visiting San Diego. Owl sanctuaries, turtle lagoon and much more have been added to Discovery Center.

There is so much to see and explore and many new animal friends to encounter. There are several meet and greets available throughout the center, including stingrays. VIP meet and greet packages are also available for those who wish to spend more time with the animals, up to an extra 30 minutes.

Living Coast Discovery Center

Address: 1000 Gunpowder Point Dr, 91910 Chula Vista, CA

Website: Living coast discovery center

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3. Pier 32 Marina

Marina, San Diego, CA, USA - panoramio (10)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user peter boy12qq12 used under CC BY 3.0

One of the finest of San Diego’s marinas, it has so much to offer. First class boaters are popular and this is a great place to spend an afternoon in National City. One reviewer said: “So, this marina… amazing! We love love love staying here. We have our boat and this marina is beautiful.”

Pier 32 Marina

Address: 3201 Marina Way, 91950 National City, CA

Website: pier 32 marina

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4. San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge Complex
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Visitor7 used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Part of the San Deigo National Wildlife Refuge complex, the refuge hosts a variety of habitats from Sage Scrub and Oak Woodland. It manages a national network of lands and waters set aside to conserve America’s fish, wildlife, and plants. The exhibits feature marine life, birds, and plants found in the San Diego Bay.

Walking trails of up to 8 kilometers (5 miles) can be explored with access to the bay. These trails are best for getting a chance to see the wildlife housed within the refuge. Other trails are great for active visitors with great chances to hike, bike and even ride horses. The site is open sunrise to sunset.

San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

Address: 6010 Hidden Valley Rd, 91910 Chula Vista, CA

Website: San Diego National Wildlife Refuge

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5. La Vista Memorial Park

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Although it sounds like a morbid place to visit while on holiday, it’s popular with those who visit National City. It’s a great chance to visit the history archives and to learn about the history of National City. The history dates back as far as 1868 and historical tours are readily available for those looking to enhance their experiences.

La Vista Memorial Park

Address: 3191 Orange St, 91950 National City, CA

Website: La Vista Memorial Park

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6. Stein Family Farm

Pig on the farm
Source: Pexels

Purchased by German immigrants, the farm is a living history museum and family fun day out. The Farm is a Victorian style farmhouse and 100-year-old barn. Children are encouraged to meet the farmyard animals, including Petunia the pig.

Tours of the house and barn are available every Saturday. Within the gardens, there are homegrown vegetables aligned to be picked as a souvenir. Even better for families is that it’s free to enter the farm, making for a great cheap day out.

Stein Family Farm

Address: 1808 F Ave, 91950 National City, CA

Website: Stein Family Farm

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7. National City Depot

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

A favorite with railroad enthusiasts, Michael TripAdvisor comments: “Great place if you want to learn about the history of the railroads in Southern California and San Diego. They have a vast selection of old vintage trolleys, memorabilia, and other train items in the gift shop. If you are a train enthusiast or love the history of San Diego, then this place is for you. If you also have kids, then make sure to stop by, because they will love it here! Lastly, it’s, of course, free, but I gave a donation just to be nice, and so should you.”

This lovely little Santa Fe station was originally named California Southern Railway. It is the oldest railroad structure in San Diego in its original location.The depot serves as a museum Saturday to Sunday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., arranged by appointment.

National City Depot

Address: 922 W. 23rd St., 91950 National City, CA

Website: National City Depot

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8. Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

Occoneechee Spray Ground
Source: Photo by Flickr user Virginia State Parks used under CC BY 2.0

The 200-hectare (500-acre) park has plenty of activities on offer to those wanting to visit. There is plenty to choose from, including campers and trailers, and motorhomes are encouraged to camp out in the wild. There are 112 site options, supplied with water and electricity.

The site is even catered to those who have horseback ridden to the sites. Several campsites have carrots provided for the horses. There is a splash park for children to keep them cool and entertained on a summers day. Plenty of picnic areas and shaded areas for those wishing to keep sheltered and cool.

Sweetwater Summit Regional Park

Address: 3218 Summit Meadow Rd, 91902 Bonita, CA

Website: Sweetwater Summit Regional park

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9. Bayshore Bikeaway

Silver Strand sign
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user RightCowLeftCoast used under CC BY-SA 4.0

The Bikeaway is an iconic ride with a 39-kilometer (24-mile) stretch of palm trails sunshine coastline. Bike rentals are available if you don’t want the hassle of bringing your own. The trail starts downtown, past many historical sites, including the famous Hotel Del Coronado, built in 1888, which has hosted presidents, celebrities, and royalty over 120 years. The rail-trail ends at the end of the South Diego Bay at the main street.

Bayshore Bikeaway

Address: Bayshore Bikeway (Silver Strand Bikeway), Coronado, CA

Website: Bayshore Bikeaway

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10. National City Heritage Day Event

USA CA NationalCity Center 002 2013 - Mile of Cars
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Der-wuppertaler used under CC BY-SA 3.0

The famous city car event is celebrating its 26th year. Car enthusiasts gather together to show their newly restored and refurbished cars. Over 200 vehicles are registered to be exhibited every year.

Live entertainment is on hand to get the event live and kicking. It celebrates the first dealership in the city, which opened in 1904. By the mid-‘50s, it began promoting National Avenue as 'The Mile Of Cars,’ becoming one of the first auto malls in the country.

National City Heritage Day Event

Address: 901 National City Blvd, 91950 National City, CA

Website: National City Heritage Day Event

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City of treasures

Exploring new things is what makes National City so unique. Grab a famous pretzel before seeing the wonderful coast by bike.

Any must-sees we missed? Tell us about them in the comments section or write a post here to help out fellow travelers!
Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.


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Kirsty is based in the U.K's countryside, she loves travelling although she loves culture and exploring new places to visit. Her heart and favorite place will always be Disneyland. In her spare...Read more

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