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Botanical Building in Balboa Park in San Diego, California

California

San Diego: Culture, Shopping and Attractions

By: Serena Lorien

Arnaud Muller/Bogdan Zlatkov/Tory Nelson
1 of 5
Giraffe exhibit at the San Diego Zoo in California

California

San Diego: Culture, Shopping and Attractions

By: Serena Lorien

Arnaud Muller/Bogdan Zlatkov/Tory Nelson
2 of 5
A koala at the San Diego Zoo in California

California

San Diego: Culture, Shopping and Attractions

By: Serena Lorien

Arnaud Muller/Bogdan Zlatkov/Tory Nelson
3 of 5
Ballast Point Brewing in San Diego, California

California

San Diego: Culture, Shopping and Attractions

By: Serena Lorien

Arnaud Muller/Bogdan Zlatkov/Tory Nelson
4 of 5
Shopping in Old Town in San Diego

California

San Diego: Culture, Shopping and Attractions

By: Serena Lorien

Arnaud Muller/Bogdan Zlatkov/Tory Nelson
5 of 5
  • States:
    California

The birthplace of California and its second largest city, San Diego, lies 193 kilometers south of Los Angeles.

Bordered by about 112 kilometers of pretty Pacific Ocean coastline to the west, and Mexico to the south, it holds a host of attractions to explore.

Shopping and Dining in the Gaslamp Quarter

My first stop in San Diego was one of the city’s most vibrant entertainment districts. The Gaslamp Quarter is 16 square blocks of Victorian buildings, surrounded by skyscrapers housing over 100 of the best restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and boutiques in the city. Whether you seek karaoke, country, upscale jazz, or even tequila, there is a bar for you here. The restaurants serve a multitude of ethnic options and the whole area is always a lively place to people watch.

Historic Victorian charm of the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego

Historic Victorian charm of the Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego
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Arnaud Muller/Bogdan Zlatkov/Tory Nelson

Stepping Back in Time in Old Town

To discover more about San Diego’s past, take a visit to vibrant and colorful Old Town, where the state’s first Europeans settled. You can find some of the best restaurants in the city here (Old Town is especially known for great Mexican food), as well as galleries, theaters and museums. See everything from restored Victorian homes and 16th through 18th century Spanish furniture. You will also find old-fashioned candy shops, a root beer shop (where you can try the very popular American fizzy drink), and all types of brightly colored clothing and souvenirs.

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Craft Beer

San Diego’s locals maintain a strong passion for beer and craft brewing, with more than 80 breweries in the city creating their own flavors and tastes. The city was recently recognized by Men’s Journal as the USA's Top Beer Town. One of the favorites is Ballast Point. Their tasting room is open every day of the week, so go and taste their various award-winning brews, buy your own hops supplies and enjoy chatting with their friendly staff.

Fascinating Culture and Architecture at Balboa Park

Just a few minutes from downtown, you will find beautiful Balboa Park, which is ranked among the best parks in the world. This 486-hectare urban cultural park is home to 15 museums, several performing arts venues and much more. Whether your interests lie in space, art, history, or even historic cars and motorcycles, Balboa Park has a museum for you. This lovely area is well cared for, so even just taking a peaceful stroll around the landscaped gardens or sitting by one of the fountains reading a book makes for a fun day out.

Serene lily pond leading to the beautiful Casa de Balboa in Balboa Park

Serene lily pond leading to the beautiful Casa de Balboa in Balboa Park
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Family-Focused Attractions

Balboa Park is also home to an absolute must-see, the San Diego Zoo. This zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cage-free exhibits that re-create natural animal habitats. The zoo holds the largest colony of koalas outside Australia, along with elephants, pandas, lions and tigers. Don’t miss soaring high above the city and animals in the Sky Ride.

Another brilliant day out for the family is the popular SeaWorld San Diego, an animal theme park where you can see many species of sea life. Take in a whale or dolphin show, enjoy thrilling rides and experience interactive animal programs. It’s the perfect way to cap off your fun-filled San Diego holiday!

San Diego Zoo, a popular attraction for a day of family fun

San Diego Zoo, a popular attraction for a day of family fun
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Arnaud Muller/Bogdan Zlatkov/Tory Nelson

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