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History & Culture

Explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed on the shores of San Diego in 1542. Later, Father Junipero Serra established the first mission in a chain of 21 that were to become the cornerstone of California’s colonization. Today, Old Town San Diego celebrates that rich heritage with historic sites and buildings, a theater, art galleries, shopping and some of the best Mexican food found anywhere.

Known as the Smithsonian of the West, Balboa Park is home to 17 major museums, performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo. Just across San Diego’s bay, visit the Island of Coronado where the landmark 1888 Hotel del Coronado stands as a testament of time.


Beaches & Outdoors

San Diego’s locals head to the beach all year long for surfing, swimming or lying on the warm sand. A few legendary surf spots include Sunset Cliffs, Bird Rock and Swami’s, while La Jolla Cove’s protected waters are ideal for kayaking, snorkeling and diving.

National forests, wildlife preserves and blooming desert landscapes make San Diego's rural East County a perfect playground for land adventures. Mission Trails Regional Park offers hiking, mountain biking and fishing. Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a hiking favorite for its coastal landscapes and dramatic cliffs.


Family Fun Attractions

San Diego is also well known for its family-friendly attractions. SeaWorld San Diego offers up-close encounters with dolphins, rays and other sea creatures. The San Diego Zoo boasts over 4,000 animals including giant pandas, and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park is a 728-hectare reserve where herds of animals roam free in natural habitats. LEGOLAND California and its adjoining SeaLife Aquarium and Water Park feature more than 60 rides, shows and attractions. San Diego is also conveniently located for a day trip to neighboring Mexico.



Looking for an urban and beach experience? San Diego offers the best of both worlds. Downtown bustles with energy and excitement. Modern skyscrapers sit side-by-side with historic Victorian-era buildings housing trendy restaurants, boutiques, cafes and galleries. Downtown’s sparkling bayfront is home to the USS Midway Museum, Maritime Museum and Seaport Village. Neighboring East Village is home to the San Diego Padres’ baseball stadium, PETCO Park.

Get to know San Diego’s younger side in North Park, with its local bars, pubs, restaurants and boutiques. Grab an espresso and biscotti from a local café, or dine al fresco with a plate of handmade pasta and a glass of Chianti in Little Italy. Or, eat, shop and stroll through luxury La Jolla, a classic Southern California neighborhood, that is known as the "Jewel of San Diego."


Dining & Nightlife

Throughout the city, you’ll find flavors to satisfy all palates, from tasty fish tacos and delicious Cali-Baja cuisine to inventive fine dining with fresh local produce. After dark, downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter transforms into a cosmopolitan playground complete with rooftop bars, nightclubs, restaurants and live music. For a more laid-back scene, check out San Diego’s local craft beer. Referred to as the “Craft Beer Capital of America”, San Diego boasts an enviable number of award-winning breweries and many pubs and restaurants that serve local beers.

Fun Fact

Iconic architecture of the Hotel del Coronado overlooking the Pacific Ocean near San Diego, California
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The Hotel Del Coronado in San Diego is the country’s largest wooden structure.

Hot Air Balloon over Asheville, North Carolina
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