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San Diego, California

San-Diego

Great Destination:

4.5

Value for Money:

3

Total Stars:

7.5

Personality Types that Like it Best

All personality types like it-Venturers personalities like activity sports. Authentics enjoy beaches and sun

Did you know….?

  • California was born in San Diego; it was the state’s first Spanish settlement (1769).
  • San Diego hosts the world’s largest military complex.
  • The city claims the highest number of PhDs per capita of any U.S. city.
  • The Hotel del Coronado operates the world’s three oldest Otis elevators (1888).
  • Charles Lindbergh’s Spirit of St. Louis was built in San Diego.

‘America’s finest city’

San Diego bills itself as “America’s finest city.”  Perhaps the phrase fits because it has great weather, lots of water sports, golf courses galore, multiple theme parks, access to mountains for skiing and the desert for off-road vehicles, and unlimited choices in dining and entertainment.

The city, although modest-sized (less than 1.4 million), also has a well-funded symphony orchestra, an opera company, an active theater scene and two professional football and baseball teams. San Diego boasts a downtown that is very much alive and well with several districts offering shopping, dining and entertainment.

With more than 70 miles of coastline, it offers surfing, swimming and vista views from high cliffs. But the real center of water-based activity is Mission Bay, with calm waters that make lots of activities possible.

Visitors need a car to get around, as one does in most of California. That car facilitates visits to some of the nearby upscale communities such as Carlsbad, Del Mar, Encinitas, La Jolla, Rancho Santa Fe and others, to view multimillion-dollar houses.

San Diego is a golfer’s haven. The top two manufacturers of golfing equipment call Carlsbad home, TaylorMade and Callaway, and Carlsbad has top-end golf courses.

San Diego is also a great place for family fun with a heavy concentration of theme parks and related attractions. The world class San Diego Zoo houses 4,000 animals, representing 800 species and subspecies. San Diego Zoo’s Wild Animal Park, 30 miles northeast of downtown, covers 1,800 acres with wild animals roaming free in natural settings reminiscent of Africa and Asia. Sea World on Mission Bay has an active self-funded sea animal rescue program.

The weather, described by fans as the best in the world, allows visitors to pursue most activities throughout the year. And, in the winter, skiers can head to nearby mountains. That experience won’t match well-known ski resorts in the West, but it is a change of pace from other activities.

The locals are laid back, so visitors don’t have to dress up much, except for fine dining and high-end entertainment at night. Even then, men don’t have to wear a tie.

Things to do for Venturers

  • Jump into adventurous water sports such as parasailing, rent a powerboat or go sportfishing. Or, charter a sailboat for a personalized spin around San Diego’s waters.
  • Take a day’s trip to hike Cedar Falls in the hills of eastern San Diego; also, you can swim there in the springtime when the water is sure to flow. Continue to Julian, a quaint old mountain community and enjoy one of its famous apple pies. Julian was the epicenter of the only gold rush in Southern California; its Stonewall Mine was abandoned in 1893 after 23 years in production.
  • Sightsee in a hot-air balloon departing from Del Mar, or take an hour’s drive to the north and glide high over wine country in Temecula just outside San Diego County. Or, try hang gliding or paragliding.
  • Don your goggles and experience flight in any of several vintage aircraft provided by Barnstorming Adventures. Choices are 1920s biplanes; so-called “air combat” planes that saw service in various wars, and a third called the warlord, an advanced trainer for pilots in World War II. With any of the aircraft, you would have the option of taking the controls, no pilot’s license required.
  • Sign up for an off-road mountain bike tour in local parks, such as the Mission Trails, Penasquitos and Rose Canyon areas.
  • Want to be part of the funkiness that California exports to the world? In Pacific Beach, you can get body piercing and choose from an array of tattoo parlors. Some down-and-out bars add to the town’s uniqueness.

Things to do for Centrics

  • Take a self-guided tour of the aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, which was dedicated as an official museum in May 2007.  Retired Navy veterans donate their time to explain things. You can also see Navy ships docked nearby or moving out for active duty.
  • Make a day (and evening) of it at the huge and beautiful Balboa Park. It offers the world-famous San Diego Zoo, a golf course plus free summer concerts featuring its outdoor organ. Rent a bike to get around, or plan to do a lot of walking. Another option: Take the 30-minute drive to the Wild Animal Park, run by the San Diego Zoo.
  • Head to San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter for great dining, unique shops and Victorian architecture. Also, see Old Town which is of historic interest, and tour the historic Mission San Luis Rey, located a few miles from the Pacific Ocean in northern San Diego County. Now operated by the Franciscan Friars of California, it is one of 21 missions established by the Spanish.
  • Ride the restored 1925 Giant Dipper roller coaster in Belmont Park. The wooden structure is the only U.S. roller coaster to have National Landmark status and to be on the National Register of Historic Places.
  • Go whale watching at the glassed-in observatory at the Cabrillo National Monument on Point Loma. From December to March, up to 200 whales pass San Diego daily en route to Mexico.
  • Eat lots of avocados.  Four towns in San Diego County claim to be the world’s avocado capital: Carlsbad, Escondido, Fallbrook and Vista.

Things to do for Authentics

  • Visit Coronado Island and make it a point to visit the historic Victorian-era red-roofed Hotel del Coronado. Featured in the movie, “Some Like It Hot,” it has a Sunday brunch in the famous Crown Room (expensive and only moderately good, but you may want to try it). Window shop at the hotel boutiques, then buy an ice cream cone and walk along the beach.
  • Book your tee times. You’ve got more than 90 choices in San Diego County, from expensive to reasonable. Also, attend a Padres baseball game.
  • Test your luck at any of several casinos; most also serve Las Vegas-style brunches.
  • For a few shivers, visit the Whaley House in Old Town. Sometimes called the country’s most haunted house, it is said to have at least seven ghosts.
  • Choose a museum or two from this list: Aviation Adventures & Film Museum (Hollywood aviation movies, flight simulator, interactive exhibits), Birch Aquarium at Scripps (unique fish and stunning ocean views), Firehouse Museum (antique equipment in San Diego’s oldest firehouse), Maritime Museum of San Diego (fine collection of historic ships), San Diego Air & Space Museum (lots of history) and the San Diego Automotive Museum (more than 90 cars and motorcycles).
  • See the San Diego Harbor aboard a cruise that may include a lunch or dinner.

Additional Resources

For more information, consult the San Diego Tourism Authority at www.sandiego.org