Tucked between the coastal mountain foothills and San Diego Bay, Chula Vista, which means ‘beautiful view’ was so named for its scenic location. The Californian city boasts a wealth of family-friendly attractions, such as the Living Coast Discovery Center, Mattress Firm Amphitheatre, Aquatica San Diego, and the Chula Vista Marina.
1.Living Coast Discovery Center
© Living Coast Discovery Center
Located in the Sweetwater Marsh Unit of the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge, the Living Coast Discovery Center is an environmental education center that features a variety of exhibits showcasing animals, birds, and marine animals. The Center’s permanent displays focus on native animals and plants that are found in San Diego Bay and Southern California, including several large exhibit spaces such as Turtle Lagoon, which focuses on Eastern Pacific green sea turtles; and the Shark & Ray Experience & Sting Ray Touch pool where visitors can see several species of sharks, guitarfish, and rays. Other exhibits include the Discovery Center Galleria, the Burrowing Owl Courtyard, the Shorebird Aviary, Raptor Row, Eagle Mesa, and a native plant garden and composting demonstration garden. The Center also features 1.5 miles of hiking and mountain biking trails from the center to the shore of San Diego Bay.
1000 Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91910, Phone: 619-409-5900
2.Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center
© Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center
The Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center is a 155-acre high-performance training facility for Olympic & Paralympic athletes. The Center opened in 1995 and was the first of its kind with a variety of sports venues and support facilities for more than a dozen summer Olympic and Paralympic sports, along with cross-training abilities for summer sports such as rowing, hockey, tennis, soccer, cycling, canoeing and kayaking, and various winter sports. The Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center (CVTC) is open to the public for interactive experiences, guided tours, private events and functions throughout the year and has an Elite Team Shop located inside of the Visitor Center, which has a wide selection of unique gear and souvenirs from Team USA and the various sports represented in Chula Vista.
2800 Olympic Pkwy, Chula Vista, CA 91915, Phone: 619-656-1500
3.Aquatica San Diego
© Aquatica San Diego
Part of SeaWorld's Waterpark™, Aquatica San Diego is a beautifully landscaped waterpark with high-speed rides and thrills, interactive and up-close animal experiences, and the deluxe amenities of a stylish beachside resort. The South Seas-themed waterpark features one of the largest wave pools in Southern California with a vast sandy beach for sunbathing, dozens of water-based slides and rides, including the HooRoo Run® with two enclosed and two open-air slides that have an 80-foot descent. Visitors can enjoy up-close encounters with dolphins and penguins, marine life shows, and aquarium tours, and a souvenir shop offers a variety of marine-inspired books, gifts, and mementos.
2052 Entertainment Cir, Chula Vista, CA 91911, Phone: 619-222-4732
4.Chula Vista Bayside Park
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Chula Vista Bayside Park is a small waterfront public park on the east side of San Diego Bay with paved walking trails, picnic tables, a fishing pier and beautiful views of the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge and the San Diego skyline. Amenities at the park include several paths for biking, walking, running, and skating, parking for bikes, exercise stations and play equipment for children of all ages, concessions, and a small, sandy beach. Visitors can enjoy swimming and stand-up paddle-boarding off the beach, along with kayaking and guided kayak tours of the nearby Sweetwater Marsh. Modern restrooms are dotted about the park, and special events and functions can be hosted in the park against a backdrop of stunning city and bay views.
999 Bayside Pkwy, Chula Vista, CA 91910
5.Mattress Firm Amphitheatre
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Set on 72 acres of once farmland and open fields, the Mattress Firm Amphitheatre is a 20,500-seat amphitheater and one of the larger concert venues in the San Diego area. Currently owned and operated by Live Nation, the Mattress Firm Amphitheatre was opened in 1998 and has had several names, including the Coors Amphitheatre, the Cricket Wireless Amphitheatre, and the Sleep Train Amphitheatre. The Mattress Firm Amphitheatre features 9,468 chair back seats and 10,024 lawn seats and has hosted an array of concerts and performances over the years, including the Spice Girls, Deep Purple, and the Counting Crows.
2050 Entertainment Cir, Chula Vista, CA 91911
6.Marina View Park
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Chula Vista Marina View Park is a public park with grassy lawns and towering trees, many picnic tables, unique public artworks, colorful play equipment, and pretty arbors for romantic moments. Modern restrooms are dotted about the park, and there is a little wade pool with fountains that keep the water fresh. The Chula Vista Marina View Park is a collaborative effort between the Port of San Diego and City of Chula Vista and special events and functions can be hosted in the park against a backdrop of lovely city and bay views.
900 Marina Pkwy, Chula Vista, CA 91910, Phone: 619-725-6001
7.South Bay Salt Works
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The South Bay Salt Works is a salt factory in the South Bay region of southern San Diego that dates back to 1871. Initially opened as the La Punta Salt Works operations, the South Bay Salt Works was the sole supplier of salt for Southern California before being purchased and renamed Western Salt Company in 1902 and went on to become the second largest salt producer in California during the 20th century. The South Bay Salt Works uses water from the Pacific Ocean from which to extract salt by evaporation and, more than a million tons of salt has been harvested since inception. The salt ponds are also a stopping point for endangered and threatened migratory birds, and in 2011, two of the works' salt ponds were restored to marshlands as a habitation for the birds.
8.Rice Canyon Trail
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Rice Canyon Trail is a 3.5 mile lightly trafficked out-and-back trail for hiking, walking, and trail running of all skill levels. Located within Chula Vista’s Rice Canyon Open Space Preserve, the Rice Canyon Trail forms part of the California Riding and Hiking Trail (CR&HT) and is surrounded by spectacular natural scenery and blooming flora. The trailhead is located near the western end of the parking area, and there are a few picnic tables near the parking area which provide an excellent spot for lunch. The trail is well signposted with yellow signs and easy to follow and is suitable for all levels of hiker.
Chula Vista, CA 91910
9.Memorial Bowl & Park
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Memorial Bowl & Park is a beautiful urban park in Chula Vista that is home to the Memorial Bowl which built during the Great Depression. The Bowl originally had a significant water feature but has been since replaced by a stage where outdoor concerts and performances are held. Memorial Park provides a stunning setting for special celebrations and occasions such as local school graduations and private weddings with seating for up to 700 guests.
373 Park Way, Chula Vista, CA 91910, Phone: 619-409-1980
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Gunpowder Point is a historical site in Chula Vista that once housed the Hercules Powder Company which owned a factory that harvested potash and acetone from kelp during the early 1900s. Founded by the DuPont Family who escaped the French Revolution and emigrated from France in the 1800s, bringing with them gunpowder technology, the factory produced gunpowder and cordite, a smokeless powder used by British in World War One from the harvested potash and acetone found in kelp. Based across the road from the Living Coast Discovery Center, the historic site features the remains of concrete pads and scattered structures that hint at the industry that once operated on this site.
1000 Gunpowder Point Drive, Chula Vista, CA 91910-8222, Phone: 616-307-3950
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Friendship Park is a half-acre binational park located within the Border Field State Park in San Diego County. The park includes the border fence that divides the United States and Mexico in the San Diego–Tijuana region and despite its name, is heavily monitored by U.S. Border Patrols 24 hours a day. The park is open on Saturdays and Sundays between 10:00 am and 2:00 pm and entrance to the park is monitored by the U.S. Border Patrol, however, there is no access limitation to the park from the Mexico side. Border Field State Park features pristine beach and coastal habitats and is located next to the suburb of Playas de Tijuana in Mexico and within the city limits of Imperial Beach in San Diego County.
Border Field State Park, 1500 Monument Rd, San Diego, CA 92154, Phone: 619-575-3613
12.Community Congregational Church
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Founded in 1953 by eight friends who desired a place for simplified, a non-liturgical form of worship, the Community Congregational Church is a self-managed religious institution that is a member of the United Church of Christ. The Church aims to create a Christian fellowship and bring people together in the name of Christ and offers services every Sunday morning in the Sanctuary or Chapel. The church is led by Lead Pastor, the Rev. Dr. Johann J. Bosman, and Pastor, The Rev. Jennifer Testa Hrynyk and offers welcome receptions after each service for newcomers and fellow worshippers. The Church also offers Bible studies, adult education seminars, special programs and activities, concerts and choir practice and youth fellowships.
200 Hartshorn Drive, Short Hills, New Jersey 07078, Phone: 973-379-5600
13.California Motorsport Adventours
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California Motorsport Adventours provides exhilarating ATV and dirt bike tours around the Baja Peninsula. The company offers a variety of tours, which includes exploring the spectacular natural landscapes and terrain of the Baja Peninsula and other exciting attractions such as wine tasting at an award-winning winery in the Guadalupe Valle and enjoying fresh lobster at one of the Oceanside restaurants. All tours include professional tour guides, essential riding safety gear such as helmets, goggles and gloves, OHV off-road park entry fees (if required), drinking water, and vehicle fuel.
Chula Vista, CA, Phone: 619-350-7776
14.Village Walk at Eastlake
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Village Walk at Eastlake is an enchanting shopping village located in the Eastlake area of Chula Vista that features a fantastic selection of specialty shops, brand stores, an array of dining options and coffee shops, and a full complement of amenities and services. The center boasts inviting outdoor spaces with winding walking paths, water features and a pond filled with koi and turtles, a children’s sandbox, a grand clock tower, and spacious areas for special events and functions, which are held throughout the year. Brand stores and favorite restaurants include T.J. Maxx, Trader Joe’s, Hooked on Crab, Sprouts Farmers Market, Pier 1 Imports, Pho Hiep & Grill Château, Petco, The Broken Yolk Café, and more.
884 Eastlake Pkwy #1627, Chula Vista, CA 91914, Phone: 619-656-8231
15.Family House of Pancakes
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Family House of Pancakes is a family-friendly restaurant that serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a casual, relaxed setting. Established in 1964, the eatery offers a wide range of classic dishes such as pancakes and egg plates for breakfast, fresh salads for lunch and prime steaks and burgers for dinner, along with senior, holiday and kid’s menus, and weekly specials and is open year-round. Family House of Pancakes has two locations in Chula Vista and National City.
562 Broadway | Chula Vista, CA, Phone: 619-425-5133
© Italianissimo Trattoria
Italianissimo Trattoria is a charming eatery on Third Avenue that serves a menu of traditional Italian fare and a robust wine list of local and imported wines. Open for lunch and dinner, the family-friendly eatery offers a menu packed with mouthwatering Italian favorites such as handmade pasta smothered in hearty sauces, wood-fired pizza with various toppings, fresh seafood dishes and meaty entrées, along with sweet and savory desserts. Signature dishes include calamari with spicy tomato sauce, mushroom ravioli, shrimp farfalle with asparagus and cherry tomato sauce, and classic Margherita pizza. The food is accompanied by an excellent selection of imported and local wines, and other tasty spirits and beverages.
323 Third Ave, Chula Vista, CA 91910, Phone: 619-651-1457
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Xtreme Adventures is a family-owned and operated company that offers exhilarating driving experiences in high performance and exotic cars. The exotic car theme park features a professionally designed autocross track where visitors can drive high-performance vehicles such as Lamborghini Huracans, Porsche 991 GT3s, and Ferrari California Twin Turbos. Professional and friendly instructors ride along and provide encouraging tips and advice to ensure a safe and unforgettable exotic car driving experience. Experiences cater for all levels of drivers, and all safety equipment is provided.
2050 Entertainment Cir, Chula Vista, CA 91911, Phone: 619-289-5972
18.Tacos El Gordo De Tijuana
© Tacos El Gordo De Tijuana
Tacos El Gordo de Tijuana is a family-owned and operated restaurant that serves traditional Mexican fare and drinks in a relaxed and friendly atmosphere. Established over 40 years ago and operating several locations around the country, Tacos El Gordo de Tijuana prides itself on providing delicious, authentic food and outstanding service. The authentic Tijuana menu features dishes prepared with the freshest and highest quality ingredients, top-grade meats, handmade corn tortillas, and made-from-scratch guacamole and salsas. Favorites include tacos, quesadillas, mulas, tostadas, and suaderos with an array of fountain drinks. Tacos El Gordo de Tijuana is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
689 H St, Chula Vista, CA 91910, Phone: 619-691-8848
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19.Aunt Emma's Pancakes
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Established in 1959, Aunt Emma's Pancakes is a family-owned and operated restaurant that has been proudly serving pancakes ever since. The eatery offers over 24 different options of pancakes, ranging from sweet to savory, as well as other sweet treats such as crepes and waffles. Pancakes are made from scratch using the freshest local ingredients and Aunt Emma's special recipe, promising mouthwatering delight with every bite. Signature pancakes include Pumpkin Pancakes with pumpkin puree, powdered sugar and whipped cream, Buckwheat Pancakes with whipped butter and gluten-free syrup, Banana Pancakes made with fresh bananas and topped with powdered sugar. Aunt Emma's Pancakes is open for breakfast and lunch, seven days a week.
700 E Street, Chula Vista, CA 91910, Phone: 619-427-2722
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20.Zorbas Greek Restaurant & Buffet
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Zorbas Greek Restaurant & Buffet is a festive family-owned restaurant that serves traditional Greek fare buffet-style along with occasional live entertainment such as belly dancers. Established over 25 years ago by Pashalis Koutzimbis, Zorbas Greek Restaurant & Buffet has been serving authentic Greek fare to the local community ever since with diners returning time and again to savor garlicky tzatziki, meaty gyros and souvlaki, lamb kleftiko, dolmades, and fresh seafood like calamari and octopus. The restaurant exudes the ambiance of the beautiful Greek islands, complete with a stunning terrace and fabulous views, and offers live entertainment in the form of traditional Greek dancing and belly dancing. Zorbas Greek Restaurant & Buffet is open for lunch and dinner, seven days a week.
100 Broadway, Chula Vista, CA 91910, Phone: 619-422-8853
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21.Bay Bridge Brewing
© Bay Bridge Brewing
Bay Bridge Brewing is Chula Vista's first craft beer company and features an industrial-style tasting room with a large-screen television, a copper mash tun, and seven beers on tap. Exuding a laid-back, relaxed vibe, Bay Bridge Brewing was founded by Doug and Jim in 1996 and produces full-bodied, well-balanced beers, including Bonita Blonde, Wolf Canyon Wheat, America’s Finest Amber Palomar Pale Ale, Star of India IPA, Rolling Hills Irish Red, and Bill of Rights Red IPA. The brewery’s tasting room is open Thursday through Sunday and is available for hosting special events and functions.
688 Marsat Ct B, Chula Vista, CA 91911, Phone: 619-934-7371
21 Best Things to Do in Chula Vista, California
- Living Coast Discovery Center, Photo: Living Coast Discovery Center
- Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center, Photo: Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center
- Aquatica San Diego, Photo: Aquatica San Diego
- Chula Vista Bayside Park, Photo: Courtesy of sherryvsmith - Fotolia.com
- Mattress Firm Amphitheatre, Photo: Courtesy of Danil Nikonov - Fotolia.com
- Marina View Park, Photo: Courtesy of Ilhan Balta - Fotolia.com
- South Bay Salt Works, Photo: Courtesy of sherryvsmith - Fotolia.com
- Rice Canyon Trail, Photo: Courtesy of AnnaMoskvina - Fotolia.com
- Memorial Bowl & Park, Photo: Courtesy of mangpor2004 - Fotolia.com
- Gunpowder Point, Photo: Courtesy of Selim - Fotolia.com
- Friendship Park, Photo: Courtesy of sherryvsmith - Fotolia.com
- Community Congregational Church, Photo: Courtesy of Rawpixel.com - Fotolia.com
- California Motorsport Adventours, Photo: Courtesy of yo camon - Fotolia.com
- Village Walk at Eastlake, Photo: Courtesy of ivanko80 - Fotolia.com
- Family House of Pancakes, Photo: Courtesy of ChristArt - Fotolia.com
- Italianissimo Trattoria, Photo: Italianissimo Trattoria
- Xtreme Adventures, Photo: Courtesy of Teteline - Fotolia.com
- Tacos El Gordo De Tijuana, Photo: Tacos El Gordo De Tijuana
- Aunt Emma's Pancakes, Photo: Courtesy of bevisphoto - Fotolia.com
- Zorbas Greek Restaurant & Buffet, Photo: Courtesy of Brent Hofacker - Fotolia.com
- Bay Bridge Brewing, Photo: Bay Bridge Brewing
- Cover Photo: Courtesy of sherryvsmith - Fotolia.com