Top 15 Things To Do In Chula Vista (CA)

Written by Jan Meeuwesen
Updated on
Our travel recommendations are based on our personal experiences and research, written by locals and travel experts with deep familiarity with the destination. When you book a hotel or tour that we link to, we may earn a commission.

Chula Vista means ‘beautiful sunset’ and this city is full of many beautiful things to see and do. The city, located in California, is home to a quarter of a million people and is statistically one of the safest places to live in the U.S. The weather here is great all year round and there are miles of trails and coastline just waiting to be explored. If you love the great outdoors then you will surely love Chula Vista, let’s take a look at the best things to do in Chula Vista.

1. Spend The Day At The Living Coast Discovery Center

Living Coast Discovery CenterSource: Roaming Panda Photos / shutterstock
Living Coast Discovery Center

The Living Coast Discovery Center in Chula Vista provides each of its visitors with an intimate nature experience. There are more than 350 animal and plant species to be seen at the center and each one is native to the San Diego Bay Habitat. You can get up close and personal with green sea turtles, owls, hawks, sharks, jellies and stingrays. For children and teenagers there is the option to have an overnight adventure or many other interactive experiences that will surely broaden their horizons. The center itself sits on 3.3 acres of the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife park.

2. Be Entertained At The North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre

FestivalSource: Melinda Nagy / shutterstock

The North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre in Chula Vista accommodates approximately 20,000 people and is one of the largest outdoor concert venues in the state. The venue operates a rain or shine policy and due to its connection with Live Nation it continually serves up an array of top artists from both the U.S. and the world. The venue has been entertaining its guests for more than 20 years and has continued to give back to the community of Chula Vista throughout this time. Tickets should ideally be purchased in advance of attending a show to ensure that there is still availability as many events sell out long before the shows dates.

3. Get Skating At Len Moore Skatepark

SkateboardingSource: Parilov / shutterstock

If you into skating then the Len Moore Skatepark in Chula Vista is a cool place to hang out with like minded people. There are four different areas to skate in that are made up of wooden or concrete structures. The park cost 1.3 million dollars to build and is located with the Oleander Boys & Girls club. It features rails, ramps, vertical extensions and pyramids. The park is open every day and is sometimes used for competitions as well as freestyle.

4. See Future Olympians Train At The Athlete Training Center

Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training CenterSource: Sherry V Smith / shutterstock
Chula Vista Elite Athlete Training Center

In the 90’s the San Diego National Sports Training Foundation presented a gift to the United States Olympic Committee in the form of a 155 acre complex. The complex is a state of the art training facility that is used by future Olympic hopefuls. The athletes are supported through their training and this includes all aspects of their schedule. Visitors can go on a self guided tour of the facilities completely free of charge.

5. Watch An OnStage Playhouse Production

TheaterSource: Matusciac Alexandru / shutterstock

Onstage Playhouse perform at an intimate theatre in Chula Vista that can seat up to sixty people at each show. The company is the only live community theatre in the community and operates throughout the entire year. There are at least six different plays shown each year and they are always popular with the cities locals. The productions are put on by an all volunteer cast and crew so each production is headed up by people who are there for the love of performing, this really shines through in the great work they keep doing. The 30th anniversary of this great company is fast approaching and with the community of Chula Vista right behind them another 30 years is sure to happen after that.

6. Spend The Day At The Otay River Valley

Otay River ValleySource: Manuela Durson / shutterstock
Otay River Valley

9,000 years ago prehistoric Native Indians inhabited the land and used the River Valleys resources to live a prosperous life, in the 1800’s the Spanish moved in and many developments were built which lasted for many decades. The area provides many great recreational activities including hiking, biking, picnic areas and horse trails. The valley also features many annual events and musical concerts that the whole family can come together and enjoy.

7. Walk Amongst The Boats At Chula Vista Marina

Chula Vista MarinaSource: Sherry V Smith / shutterstock
Chula Vista Marina

If you fancy a relaxing walk along the side of the bay to look at the boats this is a great place to start. The marina has a peaceful atmosphere with tall swaying palm trees and beautiful sunsets to match.  There are plenty of fantastic boats moored here that you could spend hours admiring. If you are hungry after taking a look around then head down to the Galley at the Marina, a great spot to grab something to eat and relax with some live entertainment. The restaurant is open for breakfast, lunch and dinner so there is never a bad time to come and enjoy the local produce.

8. Enjoy The Rice Canyon Trail

HikingSource: Blazej Lyjak / shutterstock

The Rice Canyon Trail is a 4 mile trail that sits very near to Chula Vista. The trail is suitable for all levels of hiker and is a gentle walk up and down the local hills. Most people use the trail for hiking or running and it is open all year round. The trail is very quiet so you can enjoy some great alone time as you enjoy the flowers that are at the sides of the path as well as water that is running through the creek parallel to the trail.

9. Remember The Fallen At Memorial Park

Chula Vista Memorial ParkSource: Tammy Bailey / Facebook
Chula Vista Memorial Park

Sitting just outside downtown in Chula Vista is the Memorial Park, a beautiful park that provides the perfect setting for the Memorial Bowl. The Bowl has a seating area that accommodates approximately 700 people. Each year the area is used for many weddings and other celebrations. The Bowl was built to pay tribute to all of the heroes that have fallen whilst fighting for the United States. The park itself dates back to 1939 and was set up during the period that Roosevelt was president.

10. Learn About The History Of Chula Vista

Chula Vista Heritage MuseumSource: The Chula Vista Heritage Museum / Facebook
Chula Vista Heritage Museum

The Chula Vista Heritage Museum is a fascinating place that tells the history of one of the oldest cities in this part of America. You can take a look through photos of the old town to see how it has changed and developed over the years. There is an exhibition that features the lemon packing that used to happen in this part of the world as well. There is quite a lot to walk around and if you love architecture you will be thrilled by what you see. The museum opens Mondays, Wednesdays and Saturdays but it is always a good idea to check in advance of visiting as this may change from time to time.

11. Time For Tacos at Tacos El Gordo

Tacos El GordoSource: T.Tseng / Flickr | CC BY
Tacos El Gordo

If you like your Mexican food served fresh and bursting with flavour then a trip to Tacos El Gordo should be in your diary. Here the meat is cooked to perfection and the tortillas are handmade. The restaurant treats all of its visitors as if they were family and so the service you receive really is top notch. The tacos are large and the flavour just spills out onto the plate they are served on. Apart from tacos you can also get mulas and quesadillas which are equally tasty and equally large.

12. Take A Trip To The Longest Running Farmers Market

Farmers MarketSource: Matej Kastelic / shutterstock
Farmers Market

The Third Avenue Village Farmers Market in Chula Vista is the longest running farmers market in the South Bay. Each Thursday between three and six pm the market opens to the cities locals. The market has been running for over twenty years and offers a wide range of local fruits and vegetable. The produce comes directly from the local farmers ensuring it is the freshest you can get. There is also an international food court as well as some handmade art and crafts.

13. When Life Give You Lemons…

LemonSource: DmZ / shutterstock

Chula Vista is the lemon capital of the world and each year the Chula Vista Lemon Festival shows off all that is special about the lemon. There is live entertainment, arts, crafts and even a Lemon Pie Eating Contest. The event usually attracts a crowd of approximately 25,000 people who love to get involved and some even bring along their own crop of lemons to try and win the largest lemon award. The festival is the longest running community event in Chula Vista and is not one to be missed.

14. Treat Yourself At Italianissimo Trattoria

DiningSource: TnkImages / shutterstock

If you are looking for somewhere to dine for a special occasion then look no further than this fine Italian restaurant. 30 years ago Aniello Zaino was working on an Italian cruise ship. He was travelling the world and one day he ended up in San Diego. Originally he ran the hugely popular Buom Giorno but eventually he opened up Italianissimo Trattoria in Chula Vista. The restaurant has a talented Italian chef and an excellent waiting team. There is a great looking menu and an excellent selection of wines.

15. Spend A Night At Hercor Hotel

Hercor HotelSource:
Hercor Hotel

If urban boutique is your thing then a night at the Hercor Hotel will be perfect for when you are visiting town. The hotel is located just a 15 minute drive from San Diego Airport making this a convenient location for any visitor. The air conditioned room are all equipped with free Wi-Fi and continental breakfast is served daily. The hotel is in excellent condition and the staff are well trained to be able to look after your every need whilst you are with them.

Top 15 Things To Do In Chula Vista (CA):

  • Spend The Day At The Living Coast Discovery Center
  • Be Entertained At The North Island Credit Union Amphitheatre
  • Get Skating At Len Moore Skatepark
  • See Future Olympians Train At The Athlete Training Center
  • Watch An OnStage Playhouse Production
  • Spend The Day At The Otay River Valley
  • Walk Amongst The Boats At Chula Vista Marina
  • Enjoy The Rice Canyon Trail
  • Remember The Fallen At Memorial Park
  • Learn About The History Of Chula Vista
  • Time For Tacos at Tacos El Gordo
  • Take A Trip To The Longest Running Farmers Market
  • When Life Give You Lemons...
  • Treat Yourself At Italianissimo Trattoria
  • Spend A Night At Hercor Hotel