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Botanical Building, Balboa Park, Visit San Diego

Botanical Building, Balboa Park

Visit San Diego – Balboa Park

Visit San Diego for Balboa Park – the largest urban cultural park in the United States, with over 1,000 acres.  Balboa Park includes the San Diego Zoo, 15 museums, gardens, performing arts, a carousel, gigantic outdoor pipe organ, miniature railroad, visitor center, restaurants and recreation facilities.  The San Diego Zoo offers a Skyfari gondola ride over the zoo, a 35 minute guided bus tour and a hop-on- hop-off express.  They also have a number of 4D theaters in the park.

Old Town, Visit San Diego

Old Town, Visit San Diego

Visit San Diego – Old Town

Old Town San Diego State Historic Park  is the main attraction in the Old Town of San Diego.  The Old Town State Historic Park is all about the early history of San Diego.  The park has restored buildings converted to shops, living history demonstrations and free tours.  There is no admission to the site.  The shops and restaurants near the park continue the historic theme.  Enjoy a yard of beer at O’Hungry’s.  Walk up the hillside to Presidio Park and the Serra Museum.  Father Junipero Serra founded the first of California’s 22 missions here.  Two blocks east of the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park is Heritage Park, dedicated to preserving Victorian architecture.

USS Midway, Visit San Diego Harbor

USS Midway, Visit San Diego Harbor

Visit San Diego Harbor

The San Diego Harbor is a favorite destination when you visit San Diego.  See the Maritime Museum of San Diego, which has tours of the Star of India, the HMS Surprise, other ships and submarines.  Beside the cruise terminal to the south is the Broadway Pier where you can take a harbor cruise.  Also catch the Coronado Island Ferry here.  The next pier south of the Broadway Pier is home to the retired aircraft carrier USS Midway, where you can tour the ship and even sit inside some of the fighter jets on the flight deck.  Alongside the Midway on its south side is the Unconditional Surrender Statue and the National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military.

Continue walking south to Seaport Village for dining and shopping.  Enjoy al fresco dining on the waterfront promenade at the Edgewater Grill.  Next stroll the Embarcadero and then continue south along the waterfront past the yachts, the Grand Manchester Hyatt, the Marriott, the San Diego Convention Center and the Hilton.  The Coronado Island Ferry has a landing at the Convention Center too.

Hotel del Coronado, Visit San Diego

Hotel del Coronado

Visit San Diego – Coronado Island

Coronado Island – is a short inexpensive ferry ride from the downtown harbor or a few minutes by car over the impressive Coronado Bridge.  You can also reach the island on the Old Town Trolley Tour.  The marketplace at the ferry landing is a popular spot.  Coronado Island includes the well known Hotel del Coronado.  Visit Coronado Beach and Silver Strand State Beach too.

Gaslamp Quarter, Visit San Diego

Gaslamp Quarter

Visit San Diego – Gas Lamp Quarter

The Gaslamp Quarter – dining, shopping and historic buildings in the downtown area.  Horton Plaza is the main shopping mall.  Watch the San Diego Padres play at Petco Park.  The Gaslamp Quarter is the center of San Diego night life.  Use the Green Line trolley to reach the Gaslamp Quarter.

Visit San Diego – Hotels

San Diego Harbor: – the Manchester Grand Hyatt

Mission Valley, SeaWorld Town and Country Resort & Convention Center

Crystal Pier Hotel and Cottages – Units over the ocean at Pacific Beach.

Visit San Diego Harbor

Visit San Diego Harbor

Visit San Diego – Other Sights

  • Little Italy – the best street side Italian dining and shopping in San Diego, plus a weekly farmers market.  The Green Line trolley stops at Little Italy and it’s a two block walk from the station.  Ironically, Little Italy is located on India Street.
  • SeaWorld – From the harbor, take the Green Line trolley to Old Town and transfer to the #9 bus.
  • Mission Bascilica San Diego de Alcala – California’s first mission, built in 1769.  Nearby is SDCCU Stadium.
Unconditional Surrender Statue, Visit San Diego Harbor

Unconditional Surrender Statue, Visit San Diego Harbor

  • Visit a beach – Coronado Beach, Mission / Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach or Coronado Beach.
  • Belmont Park – beachfront amusement park and entertainment center.  Located at Mission Beach and not to be confused with the famous horse racing venue in New York.
  • Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the Cabrillo National Monument.  Enjoy views of the San Diego skyline and scan the sea for migrating whales.
Point Loma Lighthouse, Cabrillo National Park, Visit San Diego

Point Loma Lighthouse, Cabrillo National Park

Places near San Diego

  • La Jolla – visit the Birch Aquarium, Windansea Beach, La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores.  Drive by the Mormon Temple of San Diego.  In August and September, swim or kayak with leopard sharks on an HBK Sports adventure.  To the north, just past La Jolla you will find Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, Torrey Pines Golf Course and Blacks Beach.  La Jolla can be reached by city bus #30.
  • San Diego Zoo Safari Park – about 40 minutes northeast of San Diego.
  • Legoland California Resort – about 40 minutes north of San Diego.
  • Old Mission San Luis Rey de Francia – about 45 minutes north of San Diego.
  • Mission San Juan Capistrano – An hour north of San Diego.  Drop by on March 19th to see if the swallows make their annual spring return appearance.  Visit Laguna Beach at the same time.
  • Cross the border to Tijuana, Mexico.   Ride the Blue Line trolley all the way to Tijuana from downtown.  Then catch an inexpensive bus from the US border to Avenida Revolucion in the Zona Centro.
Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach, Visit San Diego

Crystal Pier, Pacific Beach

San Diego Weather

The year round warm, dry San Diego weather makes the city a popular tourist destination at any time of year.  Temperatures are cooler in winter by only about 9 degrees F (5 C), while summer temperatures are consistently pleasant.  From November to February it is possible to get monthly rainfall of 2 inches (50 mm), but most days continue to be sunny and dry throughout the winter.

Petco Park, Gaslamp Quarter, Visit San Diego

Petco Park, Gaslamp Quarter

Get to San Diego

Whether you get to San Diego from the international airport or the cruise ship terminal, the Santa Fe Depot Trolley Station is the place to go through.  The Santa Fe Depot is the central hub of San Diego MTS trains and buses.  From the airport, you can ride the #992 to the Santa Fe Depot Trolley Station.  If you get to San Diego by cruise ship or Amtrak, you arrive at the Santa Fe Depot.

Day passes on the MTS are very reasonably priced and can be purchased from automated ticket booths at each station. Take the Green line to Old Town San Diego, Little Italy, Seaport Village, the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park.  You can take the #7  bus from downtown to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.

Visit San Diego – Background

San Diego is on the southern coast of California.  About 3 million live there.  This area was claimed by Juan Cabrillo for Spain in 1542, but the city wasn’t founded until 1769 with the establishment of the Presidio and the San Diego mission.  In 1850 California became part of the United States after the Mexican-American War.  Today San Diego is a major center for the US Navy, which is its largest employer.  San Diego is also known for scientific research.

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