SAN DIEGO HOLIDAYS

The Heart and Soul of Sunny California

Known as “the birthplace of California”, the city of San Diego lies only a stone’s throw away from the Mexican border, giving it a unique vibe and an eclectic mixture of attractions and things to do that is quite unlike anywhere else in the United States. This makes San Diego holidays a fun and unique experience.

Sun worshippers will be able to partake in the classic California beach experience on the famous Mission Beach, a two-mile-long seafront which comes complete with serene boardwalks and even an amusement park containing a huge rollercoaster. There are, of course, ample opportunities here to partake in surfing lessons, beach volleyball tournaments and all sorts of other daytime beach activities. Evenings are equally enjoyable, with many beachside restaurants and bars lining the seafront for you to explore on your holiday to San Diego.

Downtown San Diego is home to the USS Midway Museum, a maritime museum like no other. Repurposed from the US aircraft carrier Midway, a 64,000 ton warship which stretches to almost a thousand feet in length, the museum details the day-to-day lives of United States navy men and contains several US aircraft, some of which were built in southern California.

San Diego characterises a typical Southern Californian beach city: with year-round sunshine and surf, a superb coastline with miles of sandy-white beaches, easygoing inhabitants, and a wide variety of world-class family attractions. It’s no wonder San Diego is such a popular holiday destination. Tourists, long-time vacationers and would-be residents can’t help but be drawn visit San Diego, ‘America’s finest city’.

San Diego is a vibrant collection of colourful neighbourhoods and communities. It has award-winning restaurants, trendy shopping districts, attractions such as the world-renowned San Diego Zoo and SeaWorld, and a dynamic downtown district that includes the city’s historic Gaslamp Quarter. There are numerous indications of Mexican and Spanish heritage to discover on your San Diego holiday, such as the traditional architecture, typical Mexican cuisine, and strong links with the town of Tijuana just across the Mexican border.

San Diego is also rich in art and culture, and the city boasts the largest urban cultural park in the US, with beautiful gardens and Spanish architecture featuring 15 museums, art galleries and theatres to be found in Balboa Park. More than 70 miles (113km) of beaches around the city offer superb surfing and beach activities and provide the perfect introduction to this accessible and laid-back city.

The city of San Diego is surrounded by mountain peaks and is built on some 200 deep canyons and hills. Cleveland National Forest is half an hour’s drive away and contains four officially recognized wilderness areas which are virtually untouched by humans. The Forest contains several beautiful picnic areas, while those who enjoy keeping active will find ample climbing, camping and hiking opportunities. Of particular note is the Sunset Trail, a 4.6-mile-long loop trail where walkers can take in gorgeous pine forests, open meadows and idyllic lakes while keeping an eye out for the local wildlife.

Arguably the jewel of San Diego is Balboa Park, a 1,200 acre ‘urban-cultural’ park, which contains everything form protected green zones full of native trees and plants, to all sorts of museums, including the Timken Museum of Art, the San Diego Museum of Man and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. You can get a guided tour of the park’s most significant sights on the Balboa Park Small Group Historic Highlights and Secret Spots Tour.

The most popular exhibition space in Balboa Park, however, is the San Diego Zoo, which contains upward of 650 species of animal, and bears the distinction of being one of the few places in the world to have run a successful giant panda breeding programme. Indeed, the pandas are permanent residents of the zoo now and are a huge draw for tourists. San Diego Zoo is seen as one of the world’s most forward-thinking and humane zoological gardens, being one of the first to create cageless, open air enclosures which are designed to resemble the animals’ natural habitats. This philosophy has been carried forward into the nearby San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a 1,800-acre restoration of the African Serengeti and Asian plains, which contains a 32 acre safari trail where visitors can see majestic lions, giraffes and elephants roaming an expansive habitat.

San Diego boasts a selection of world class theme parks which rivals those found in Orlando, Florida. Based on the hugely popular building blocks, Legoland has emerged as one of the world’s favourite theme park franchises. Boasting upward of 60 rides (including 3 rollercoasters and 7 water-based rides) across several distinctly themed ‘lands’, Legoland California is open all year-round and welcomes anywhere between one and two million attendees every year.

San Diego’s other premiere theme park is Sea World, where visitors can get up close and personal with all manner of sea animals, from sharks and sea turtles to penguins and white beluga whales. The park features daily shows from a host of creatures such as bottle-nosed dolphins and orca killer whales which perform tricks for the audience’s amusement.

Given the busy nature of a San Diego holiday and the semi-arid local climate, there’s a good chance that you’ll end up feeling mighty thirsty during your stay. Fortunately though, there’s no better place for beer lovers, as San Diego has earned itself the nickname of “America’s Craft Beer Capital”. The region is fabled for its finely crafted beers, which combine American and Mexican influences to create all sorts of great flavours.

To celebrate the diversity and richness of local suds, San Diego hosts a full-on Beer Week every November, which brings a real carnival atmosphere to town. Even outside of the designated Beer Week, there’s ample time and opportunity to go on one of several local beer tours where you can experience the very best of San Diego’s 30+ craft beer breweries. If you’re looking to expand your palette even further, be sure to check out the Tequila, Tacos and Tombstones Culinary Tour where you can taste the best of local Mexican-themed food and drink while exploring the Old Town, which includes a trip to Whaley House which has been officially designated as a haunted house by the US Government.

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