San Diego: where California was born
San Diego is large town on the Pacific coast in southern California, next to Mexico’s border. It has strong Spanish influence since first permanent settlement in 1769, quite noticeable in the Old Town neighborhood. In the core of the city is Balboa Park, vast green space with numerous attractions and activities to offer. San Diego is known for its beaches and warm climate that brings tourists year around. It has also large harbor, host to numerous naval and passenger ships ad boats, including United States Navy’s Pacific Fleet.
City is also famous for San Diego Zoo, as well as numerous art galleries, artist studios, museums and gardens. Nightlife is also very vibrant, going from cocktail lounges and dive bars to high end clubs in the Gaslamp Quarter.
San Diego is also favorite stop for passenger traveling from Los Angeles to Mexico by road, and it is also perfect for day trips to nearby Tijuana.
Main attractions in San Diego
There are dozens of attractions in San Diego and we are listing here only top 20-25 of them.
Balboa Park. Large attraction park area, located centrally in San Diego, spread over 1,200 acres with zoo, 17 museums, gardens and more. SeaWorld San Diego. SeaWorld is known for its amazing animals, interactive attractions, aquariums, rides, beautiful landscaping and educational programs for all ages. Over 190 acres of area is located inside Mission Bay Park. San Diego Zoo. Locate in Balboa Park, this large zoo is housing over 3,500 animals from more than 650 species. It’s an open-air cage less concept of a zoo. Featuring also safari park for tours and a conservation society.
USS Midway Museum. The USS Midway was the 20th century’s longest-served aircraft carrier. Named after the June 1942 Midway Climate Battle, now serves as a museum featuring various exhibits from sea and aircraft carriers, flight simulators and guided tours. San Diego Zoo Safari Park. The Safari Park is a large wildlife sanctuary home to over 3,000 animals representing over 300 species. Its famous collection of botany represents 3,500 species and 1.75 million specimens. Offering wildlife tours. Gaslamp Quarter. A walkable urban playground in downtown San Diego, adjacent to the Convention Center, Petco Park and Horton Plaza. Filled with rich Victorian architecture and history as the West Coast’s premier entertainment district, offering fine dining with world-renowned chefs, and vibrant and exciting nightlife venues.
Cabrillo National Monument. Historic lighthouse with scenic views all the way into Mexico. This picturesque structure is restored to the appearance of its 1880s and presents life as it was for light keepers and their families. Interactive exhibits tell the story of Point Loma’s Lighthouses in the adjacent Assistant Keeper’s Quarters. La Jolla Cove. Located in the northern shores, this quaint beach houses permanent lifeguard stations, picnic tables and showers. Popular for swimming, scuba diving and family picnics. Mission Beach. A neighborhood and a beach, popular with surfers, sunbathers and volleyball players. A paved path winds its way around Mission Bay, a popular water sports spot.
Hotel del Coronado, Curio Collection by Hilton. Majestic beachfront hotel, located in San Diego coastline. Built in 1888, this landmark hotel offers luxurious lodging and fine dining experience. Old Town. Neighborhood in San Diego popular with tourists and locals alike. Offering various events and celebrations, such as Cinco de Mayo. There are plenty of places to shop and dine with unique merchandise and a quaint atmosphere within walking distance. Bazaar del Mundo, Fiesta de Reyes, Old Town Market and numerous boutique shops offer a range of unusual gifts.
Coronado Island. Located just across the San Diego downtown bay, Coronado is consistently voted as best beach in the U.S. This island paradise is perfect for a family vacation or romantic getaway with gentle surfing, sparkling wide-sand beaches, charming main street and great hotels, including the famous Hotel del Coronado. Belmont Park. Popular beachfront amusement park and boardwalk offering vintage games, gift shops, rides and an iconic wooden roller coaster. Founded in 1925. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This State Historic Park was established in 1968 and is a museum of living history that commemorates and preserves numerous historic buildings dating back to the 19th century. The attraction, California’s most visited state park, incorporates various aspects of the early history and culture of San Diego from 1820 to 1870 as it transitioned from Mexican to American rule.
Little Italy. Little Italy, once home to the thriving tuna industry in San Diego and generations of Italian families living on the sea, is now a chic, pedestrian neighborhood full of patio cafés, lively restaurants, craft brew stops, urban wineries, art galleries, sophisticated shops, boutique hotels and the beautiful Amici Park. San Diego Bay. Large natural harbor in San Diego, featuring naval ships and marinas. Offering walking areas, shops, restaurants, parks and nature reserves. Torrey Pines State Reserve. Seaside reserve, just north from San Diego, offering hiking and dolphin watching experience.
Sunset Cliffs. Neighborhood in Point Loma area of San Diego, popular for views of the area, caves and surfing on the beach. Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Located seaside to the north from San Diego, this Aquarium offers interactive exhibits and is hosting marine research facility. San Diego Natural History Museum. Located in Balboa Park, this large museum is showcasing animals, dinosaurs and earth science exhibits.
From other attractions in San Diego we recommend: Black’s Beach, Fleet Science Center, Maritime Museum of San Diego, San Diego Museum of Man and The San Diego Museum of Art.
Top things to do in San Diego
Just simply visiting attractions listed above will give you more than enough things to do in San Diego.
San Diego is large city and to visit all the attractions we’ve listed you will need more than a week, but if you are planning to stay longer and your budget allows it, here are some more recommendations: Scavenger Hunt Adventure, visit several beaches, or go for one or two days to nearby Mexico.
Festivals and events in San Diego
San Diego has very lively festival and events scene year around. Here are some recommendations.
San Diego Restaurant Week (January), San Diego Museum Month (February), San Diego County Fair (June-July), 4th of July – Big Bay Boom, Del Mar Racing Season (July-September), San Diego Comic-Con International (July), Miramar Air Show (September), San Diego County Credit Union Holiday Bowl (December).
Interesting facts about San Diego
Best time for flights to San Diego
The peak season for flights to San Diego is March, June and October. The low season for purchasing tickets is January, July and November.
San Diego is served by these airports: McClellan-Palomar Airport (CLD, CRQ) and San Diego International Airport (SAN). Direct flights to San Diego are offered by 12 airlines.
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Top hotel offers for San Diego
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