San Diego is well known for its 360 days of sunshine and beautiful beaches. San Diego is a common tourist destination for individual travelers and families alike. But, your story for visiting San Diego might be a bit different than most others. You’re traveling to MCRD San Diego graduation week to see your new Marine graduate boot camp.
Coordinating travel and scheduling meals and activities can be stressful, especially if this is your first time attending an MCRD San Diego graduation. Not to fret, we’ve looked ahead and picked out the top 9 things to do in and around MCRD San Diego.
1. Tour the USS Midway
Only 4 miles from the MCRD San Diego Depot, the USS Midway naval aircraft carrier is docked at the Naval Pier and is a great attraction to view when visiting San Diego.
Commissioned into the Pacific shortly after the end of WWII, the USS Midway was the largest aircraft carrier to traverse the seas until 1955. In fact, the ship is so large that it was the first sea vessel too large to pass through the Panama Canal.
Decommissioned in 1992 after her aid in Operation Desert Storm, the legacy of the USS Midway is preserved in the museum exhibits inside the ship. With over 60 different exhibits (including collections above deck, below deck and on the hangar deck), the USS Midway Museum is a great attraction for people of all ages. And, if you skip the line and order your tickets through the USS Midway website you can receive an online discount.
General Admission (Online Price):
$19/ Seniors (ages 62+)
2. Attend a Padres Game at Petco Park
Whether or not you love baseball, or the San Diego Padres, you’re sure to love attending a Padres Game at Petco Park. Only a 14 minute drive from the MCRD San Diego depot, Petco Park is situated right by the ocean in downtown San Diego and just a few minutes walk from the Embarcadero.
Tickets to games range anywhere from $17 to over $100, depending on your seats. If you’re looking to enjoy a mild San Diego evening in a relaxed environment, attending a Padres game with your Marine is a great way to do so.
Ticket Prices vary
3. Visit Liberty Station
If the day of your Marine’s graduation is on the cold or rainy side of San Diego weather, spending a day at Liberty Station is a great way to escape a crummy day.
Liberty Station is only a 9 minute drive from MCRD San Diego and is open every day of the week 11am to 7pm. Offering food, art, music and shopping, Liberty Station attracts visitors and locals of all kinds to enjoy the venue’s public spaces and events.
Liberty Station is also a great place to be if it’s sunny and 75, so you can’t go wrong either way. More details about the events and amenities Liberty Station offers can be found here.
4. Take a Tour of the Hotel Del Coronado
Another great indoor attraction popular in San Diego is touring the Hotel Del Coronado. Originally built in 1886, the Hotel Del has gone through numerous renovations and changes as its legacy in the Southern California area has grown over time.
Known for its coloration and architecture, the Hotel Del is a popular place to visit, eat lunch at or tour. The hotel is infamously known for its ghost stories. Tours at the hotel cover the entirety of the hotel grounds, give details of the ghost riddles and tell the history of the native San Diego landmark. If you’re in San Diego, the Hotel Del is a must-see.
Reserve your tickets online here.
5. Hangout at “Quartyard” San Diego
Emerging in the San Diego area as “the place to be”, the Quartyard offers a variety of food options and live events in a modern space to help locals engage with one another.
Quartyard, just 5 miles from MCRD San Diego, is ranked highly for its food offerings, which include various types of food trucks and sit down restaurants. There is also a dog park and lots of space for concerts, comedy shows and other live events. All events hosted at Quartyard are free, so stop by for some food and see what’s going on during your visit.
Free to all events
6. Go Bowling, Watch a Movie or Hangout at the MCRD Community Center
Looking to stay on base? The MCRD San Diego Community Center is the spot for you and your Marine. Located on the depot, the community recreation center offers bowling, gaming, movies and party rental spaces to Marines, their families and all other visitors.
In addition to the Gamer’s Center and Movie Theater, the Community Center houses Bulldog Tavern, a place you can grab lunch or dinner at.
The MCRD Bowling Alley is open Monday through Sunday, all day and all night, so spending some time bowling with family and friends is a great on-base option to spend time with your Marine.
Monday – Friday until 4:00pm $2.50 a game per person
Monday – Friday after 4:00pm $3.25 a game per person
Weekends all day, all night: $3.25 a game per person
Bowling shoes: $2.25
Movie Theater Admission:
Call (619)-524-4446 to reserve tickets beforehand
7. Visit the MCRD Museum
Though Marines received an in-depth tour of the museum during their training, the MCRD San Diego Museum is a great on-base attraction to take the family and your new Marine to during Depot Liberty.
You’ll learn all about the unique history and customs of the Marine Corps throughout their many exhibits. Some exhibits include first-person narratives of WWI and WWII, POW materials from Japan and Korea, and special manuscript collections.
On Wednesday’s before Family Day and Graduation, the museum offers special tours to the families of Marines. If you can’t make it to the special tours on Wednesday though, don’t worry, the museum is still open through the rest of the graduation events and the weekend.
The museum also offers public restrooms, a boot camp graduation gift shop, seating areas, and an information and membership booth for guests. Make sure to check their website for more information.
8. Explore Balboa Park
Only 4 miles from MCRD San Diego, Balboa Park is an awesome place to venture to with your Marine if you are looking for food, fun and relaxation all in one place.
Balboa Park offers hundreds of different activities through their many museums, shops, exhibits and centers. Some examples of “centers” at Balboa Park are: the San Diego Air and Space Museum, botanical gardens, performing arts showcases and the Fleet Science Center.
The Fleet Science center has the first ever IMAX dome theater where you can view nature films and other movies. The science center even offers a 10% discount to military personnel and a 20% discount if you purchase your tickets through an MWR office!
See website, varies based on center pricing
9. Eat Lunch at Bay View Restaurant
Located right on base, the Bay View Restaurant is a more upscale dining option for you and your Marine should you chose to dine there.
Newly renovated in a 1920 Spanish Colonial style building, the restaurant is open for lunch only on non-graduation days. During Family Day and Graduation Day, the restaurant has extended hours to offer breakfast and lunch.
Lunch offerings include starters, soups, salads, sandwiches and a variety of other entrees. Also, there’s a kids menu and the option to order your food to-go. For an added bonus, graduating Marines receive a free meal if you attend the Bay View Restaurant on graduation day.
Family Day Hours:
Breakfast 6:00am – 9:00am
Graduation Day Hours:
Breakfast 6:00am – 9:00am
Lunch 11:00am – 2:00pm
You can view the menu here.
Whatever you decide to do during your time at MCRD San Diego graduation the most important thing to be aware of is whether or not your Marine is allowed to be off base.
Family Day, usually a Thursday, is the first time you will get to spend time with your Marine, but they will not be permitted to leave base.
Graduation day, usually Friday, is the day where most Marines will be able to leave base and spend time in the San Diego area. Read our blog about MCRD San Diego Graduation to learn more about the events and schedule for the week.