California is a beautiful and diverse county in the USA and well worth visiting. However, when people think of visiting California they often think of Los Angeles, San Francisco or Napa Valley yet San Diego is a place you can’t afford to miss if you ever visit The Golden State. Here I will tell you why.
1. Balboa Park
Balboa Park is an amazing cultural urban park, the biggest in the USA which houses 17 museums, 5 gardens and the San Diego Zoo. It’s also a great place to chill out with a picnic or take a stroll whilst admiring the lovely grounds. Lovers of architecture will also really enjoy admiring the Spanish-Renaissance buildings.
I suggest allocating an entire day to explore this fantastic park. Maybe pop over the Natural History museum or take in the Air and Space museum. When you have had your fill of museums, take in the tranquillity of the Japanese gardens like we did on our visit, or stop by the world famous San Diego Zoo which houses pandas as well as other animals, more of this below.
2. Gaslamp Quarter
The Gaslamp Quarter is a downtown area full of restaurants, bars, galleries and museums. A playground for adults it’s a cool place with the historic Victorian architecture, but is also a great place to base yourself for a family stay too, being close to the USS Midway museum and the New Children’s Museum, a contemporary art space for kids.
This area also holds many events throughout the year such as a Mardi Gras festival and the infamous San Diego Comic Con. We stayed at the Marriott Courtyard, Gaslamp Quarter and can highly recommend this hotel, housed in a former bank. If you want you can go to the basement and see the old vaults!
3. San Diego Zoo
Being one of the largest zoos in the US, the San Diego Zoo also houses one of the largest collections of rare and endangered animals in the world.
When you arrive, take the 35-minute bus tour which helps you orientate yourself to the 100-acre park, alternatively try the Skyfari aerial tram that transports you with a great aerial view from one end of the park to the other. As well as the giant pandas, giraffes, elephants, polar bears, and koalas the zoo also hosts animal shows and animal encounter programs daily. I can recommend the 4-D movie shows with excellent educational films about the animals.
4. USS Midway Museum
San Diego has a large naval base and is home to the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet. The most popular naval tourist attraction in town is the USS Midway museum, a decommissioned aircraft carrier that is now a museum. In active service until 1992, visitors can explore over 60 exhibits, and see 29 restored aircraft. A self-guided audio tour gives you a real insight into life on the ship.
The USS Midway museum is also is the fabulous Seaport village, with shops, bayside restaurants and beautiful views. While you are here check out the statue ‘Unconditional Surrender’, a giant statue of a WWII sailor kissing a nurse and the statue of the singer and comedian Bob Hope.
5. La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is a beautiful marine rich cove that is protected for its marine life and is popular with snorkellers, divers and swimmers. If you are lucky you will see some seals and sea lions basking in the sun.
If you want to know how to tell them apart, sea lions have external ears, as well as being larger with stronger front flippers that help them get around. They have an obvious ‘bark’. Seals are smaller, with dark grey, brown or almost black skin, with webbed front flippers and get around by wriggling in the sand.
Tell me, have you been to San Diego? Would you like to visit?
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