The Best Things To Do In Chula Vista

When we talk about California, most of us think about Los Angeles, San Diego, San Francisco, and Sacramento. One city often left out of the conversation is Chula Vista.

The Best Things To Do In Chula Vista

This Southern California city tucked away in San Diego is definitely worth visiting. For starters, its name means ‘beautiful view’. If that’s not already enough to tempt you to visit this scenic city, then the attractions the area has to offer sure will.

Chula Vista has a staggering amount of family attractions, lush parks, world-class restaurants, impressive views, and charming river walks. This wealth of attractions makes Chula Vista a must-visit destination.

If you’re looking for an amazing family vacation or an easy weekend getaway, you simply have to pay Chula Vista a visit.

To show you what you can expect when visiting Chula Vista, we’ve listed the best attractions in this post. Stick around if you want to find out what this city has to offer.

1. Tour Chula Vista’s Elite Athlete Training Center

We’ll kick start this list with the Chula Vista Elite Training Center. If you love sports, this is one of the best places in the city to visit.

The Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center is an Olympic training center used by the United States winter and summer Olympians and Paralympians.

The center offers visitors a variety of different tour options to give them a chance to learn more about how the center works, how athletes train, and who has trained there in the past.

There are four different types of tours to choose from. These are VIP, Educational, Self-Guided, and Guided.

2. Visit The Living Coast Discovery Center

The Living Coast Discovery Center is one of the best places in Chula Vista to visit if you have a young family.

Located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the National Wildlife Refuge, this center is essentially an education center that aims to educate visitors about the local wildlife.

The aim of the center is to encourage visitors to care more about coastal wildlife.

Inside the center, you’ll find a wide range of interesting exhibitions, birds, land animals, and marine birds. You’ll also have the chance to get up close with shark species.

For those that like hiking, you’ll enjoy the 1.5-mile hiking path the center has too.

3. Walk Around Chula Vista Marina

One of the most popular places in Chula Vista for a morning walk is the Chula Vista Marina. This is easily one of the most scenic areas in the city. It’s also a very relaxing part of the city.

In the summer, this is a great place to sit with friends and family and enjoy the weather. In the winter, it’s a great place to take in the fresh crisp air.

You can walk around the harbor, take a look at the yachts, sit under the palm trees in the park, and watch the most glorious sunsets.

4. Sesame Place San Diego

Formerly known as Aquatica San Diego, Sesame Place San Diego (see also: 14 Best Coffee Shops To Study In San Diego)is a Sesame Street-themed amusement park complete with rides, waterslides, shows, and parades. In many ways, it’s very much like a smaller Disneyland.

The park has rides and waterslides for all ages, shops, restaurants, and relaxing areas. Your young children will love having their photos taken with characters and riding on the exhilarating rides.

If you plan your visit right, you might be in time for one of the park’s events. These typically happen around Christmas.

5. Visit Chula Vista Bayfront Park

Another scenic area in Chula Vista is Bayfront Park. Bayfront Park is a stunning part of the city where tourists and locals alike come to relax. The park sits at the waterfront, offering amazing views and relaxed walking paths.

Aside from the stunning views and relaxed nature of the park, a lot of people visit this park because it has plenty of space. You could easily take a picnic with you and enjoy a large hangout with family and friends at Bayfront Park.

6. Hangout At Memorial Bowl & Park

Memorial Bowl & Park was built during the Great Depression. It originally had a water feature in the middle but it now has a stage instead.

This may seem like a shame but it actually makes the park a much more entertaining place to visit. Unlike the other parks in Chula Vista, Memorial Bowl & Park hosts a variety of stage performances.

The park is also a place of remembrance for those who fell fighting wars for the US. The whole area is pretty special. It’s the perfect setting for a relaxed afternoon or a special occasion.

In fact, the park can even be hired out for weddings and graduations.

7. Dine At Italianissimo Trattoria

Next up, we have a fantastic food option for you. If you love Italian food, you’ll love the cuisines on offer in Chula Vista. Chula Vista is well-known for its impressive range of Italian restaurants. One of the best is Italianissimo Trattoria.

This restaurant was first opened by Zaino Aniello more than 3 decades ago. Ever since the restaurant has been a popular choice in the city with thousands of locals and tourists choosing to eat here every year.

If you visit Italianissimo Trattoria, you can expect the very best authentic Italian food, a relaxed atmosphere, and friendly staff.

8. Tuck Into Mexican Food At Tacos El Gordo

Another popular food choice in Chula Vista is Mexican food. Mexican food always tastes great, but it’s even better when it’s fresh, aromatic, and authentic. All three of those things can be found at Tacos El Gordo.

Tacos El Gordo serves classic Mexican dishes packed full of flavor and fresh ingredients. Of course, the tacos are a big favorite with visitors.

The quesadillas are pretty special too.

All the food at Tacos El Gordo is prepared fresh daily. Most dishes also come with the restaurant’s freshly made tortillas.

9. Walk To The Otay River Valley

Travelers looking for a more adventurous activity in Chula Vista should visit Otay River Valley. Steeped in history, the Otay River Valley has impressive views, epic hikes, and a rich natural landscape.

The area has a Native Indian history that dates back almost 9,000 years. The Native Indians would use the river as an important source of their livelihood. Development on the land was then carried out by the Spanish in the 1800s.

Today, the park is home to hiking trails, running trails, and biking trails, as well as picnic areas and viewpoints.

10. South Bay Salt Works

Chula Vista has its very own salt factory. It may seem strange but this salt factory makes for an interesting attraction.

Known by the name South Bay Salt Works, this salt factory can be found in the southern part of San Diego. It originally opened in 1871 so it has a lot of stories to tell.

This salt factory was once the sole supplier of salt for Southern California, giving it historical importance.

Only by visiting the salt works can you start to understand just how big this operation was. The views over the salt ponds are remarkable. During your visit, you’ll also be told more about how salt production works.

One thing we love about this area is how endangered birds can be spotted here.

11. Buy A Beer At Bay Bridge Brewing

If you love good beer, you simply have to visit Bay Bridge Brewing. Bay Bridge Brewing is a local Chula Vista brewery that produces a wide range of refreshing handcrafted beers.

The brewery also produces some interesting seasonal beers like pumpkin beer and berry beer.

Visiting the brewery gives you a chance to see how the beer is made. You’ll be pleased to hear that there are plenty of opportunities to sample the beer too.

Bay Bridge Brewing isn’t just a place for learning about how beer is made though. This brewery also has a relaxing bar with an array of local beers on tap.

Occasionally, live music events, trivia nights, and beer pong competitions are held here.

This could be perfect if you’re after a fun-filled night.

12. Run The Rice Canyon Trail

Those of you who like walking or running first thing in the morning need to visit the Rice Canyon (see also: Where To Stay When Visiting The South Rim Of The Grand Canyon)trail. The Rice Canyon trail is a 3.5-mile out-and-back trail perfect for hiking, walking, and running.

Suitable for any skill level, this trail is relatively easy. There isn’t too much elevation and the path is clear and well-built.

Along the way, this trail merges with the California Riding and Hiking Trail. This part of the trail is surrounded by an incredible natural landscape and lush flora. You’ll find the trailhead for this trail near the western end of the parking lot.

13. Take In A Show At The Mattress Firm Amphitheatre

The next thing to do on this list is to take in a show at the Mattress Firm Amphitheatre. Opened in 1998, this amphitheater holds a whopping 20,500 people and covers a staggering 72 acres of land.

Also known by the name North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre, this facility is one of the biggest in San Diego.

If you plan your visit right, you could enjoy a variety of different shows at the amphitheater. Throughout the year, live performances, events, and concerts are put on for locals and tourists.

Notable acts include the Spice Girls, Counting Crows, and Deep Purple.

14. Pay The Chula Vista Heritage Museum A Visit

History buffs should pay the Chula Vista Heritage Museum a visit if they get a chance. If you’re anything like us, you’ll appreciate how important it is to learn more about the history of the area you’re visiting.

For that, this Chula Vista museum is the best. This museum is utterly fascinating. It has exhibitions that show the development of the city and how the city has grown over the years.

There are thousands of old photographs to look at and exhibitions that show the growth of various factories in the area.

You’ll also find an impressive architecture exhibition that shows some of the best architectural designs in San Diego.

This museum is usually open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays.

15. Visit Gunpowder Point

Gunpowder Point is an important historical site in Chula Vista. The area was once used to house the Hercules Powder Company. This company harvested acetone and potash from kelp in the 1900s.

The company’s factory was founded by the DuPont family who brought with them the latest gunpowder technology from Europe.

Today, this historic site features the remains of the factory, giving visitors an insight into what used to happen here. This is another brilliant place to visit if you want to learn more about the city’s history.

16. Play Basketball At Mountain Hawk Park

Mountain Hawk Park is a great place to visit if you want to play sports like basketball. The park has its very own basketball court that anyone can use.

Aside from playing basketball, this park is a great place to visit if you want to escape the city and enjoy a more relaxing, scenic afternoon.

At the park, you’ll find numerous hiking trails, a children’s playground, picnic tables, and plenty of green space.

This is a particularly good place to visit if you have children. They will enjoy running around and playing with other children.

17. Dine At The Family House Of Pancakes

As far as your breakfast is concerned, you won’t do any better than the Family House of Pancakes. This is definitely the best place in Chula Vista for breakfast. The restaurant has been open since 1964 and it continues to thrive.

As you can probably tell by the name, this restaurant is famous for its pancakes. Fluffy, soft, and slightly crisp around the edges, the pancakes here are to die for.

The long list of pancakes features the most amazing sweet and savory options that include fresh ingredients.

Popular menu options include tropical pancakes with roasted coconut and pineapple, banana pecan pancakes, and sweet potato pancakes.

18. Race At California Motorsport Adventours

If you’re looking for a more exhilarating experience during your time in Chula Vista, look no further than California Motorsport Adventours.

This company offers a wide range of intense, exciting, and exhilarating dirt bike and ATV tours around the Baja Peninsula.

The best thing about this exciting attraction is the variety of tours on offer. You can take part in a scenic landscape tour, speedy dirt bike tours, two-day tours, private ranch tours, and even wine-tasting tours at award-winning Guadalupe winery.

Every tour includes a professional tour guide, goggles, gloves, helmets, off-road park entry fees, drinking water, fuel, and a vehicle.

19. Go Animal Spotting At San Diego’s Animal Refuge

If you love all things animals and the great outdoors, San Diego’s animal refuge is a place (see also: 10 Amazing Places You Can’t Miss During Your Road Trip From San Diego To Phoenix Drive)you have to visit.

The San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge is home to hundreds of native and endangered species, all of which you can spot if you’re lucky.

The refuge works tirelessly to protect these species so by paying the area a visit, you can help them continue their hard work.

During your time at the refuge, you can enjoy the scenery, try and spot wildlife, follow the hiking trails, and learn more about the local wildlife.

There’s a very good chance you’ll see birds, rabbits, and squirrels at the refuge so keep your eyes peeled.

20. Try Your Luck At Seven Mile Casino

The final attraction on our list is the Seven Mile Casino. If you’re a keen gambler or simply someone looking for an entertaining night, visiting this casino should be on your list of things to do. Besides, you might score big!

Seven Mile Casino has a wide range of classic table games you can play. Of course, these include poker, blackjack, and Texas hold ’em.

After enjoying the casino games, you can kick back and relax in the onsite restaurant and bar. Here, you can order delicious tacos, cocktails, wood-fired pizza, wine, and beer.

What’s not to like?

Final Thoughts

As you can see from this list, Chula Vista has a wide range of attractions to choose from. Whether you’re looking for great hiking trails, scenic parks, exhilarating experiences, historical sites, or the very best food, there’s something for you on this list.

Chula Vista really does have it all, making it a great place to spend a vacation or weekend with your friends and family.

Admittedly, our list could have gone on and on with awesome attractions. Having said that, we’re confident that we’ve shown you the very best things this city has to offer.

Now you have this list at your fingertips, why don’t you narrow down the options and decide what you want to do first during your visit

Andrea Reeves