San Diego

San Diego is the 8th largest city in the United States, and lies just north of the Mexican border in southern California. It is a base for the US Navy, Marine Corps, and Coast Guard, and is also a technology hub. San Diego is well known for its long expanses of beaches, temperate climate, museums, and animal parks.


Balboa Park was established at the end of the 19th century by the horticulturist Kate Sessions, who planted thousands of trees and shrubs in the area, and who is known as “The Mother of Balboa Park”. The park is home to a number of museums that are housed in colonial Spanish buildings, as well as the world-famous zoo. San San Diego’s Museum of Art is one of the country’s top art museums, and contains a number of old and modern European art pieces, and a substantial collection of Asian artwork. The Natural History Museum has many exhibits from the southern Californian region, and nearby the Museum of Photographic Arts has many classic and contemporary photographic exhibits on show. The Air and Space Museum is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institute and contains a number of historic aircraft and spacecraft displays.

Arguably the most prominent feature of Balboa Park is San Diego’s Zoo, known for the first Giant Panda to be born in North America that survived into adulthood. Amongst the highlights of the zoo are Tiger River and Gorilla Tropics, which are rainforest environments, and Balloon Safari, which is based on hot air balloon tours of the Serengeti in Africa.

Continuing with the animal theme, Sea World is perhaps the most famous landmark in San Diego, and is home to Shamu, the star of the killer whale show.

Naval enthusiasts will enjoy a visit to the Maritime Museum as it features a world-class collection of historic ships, including the oldest active ship in the world, the Star of India, and HMS Surprise, which was featured in the film “Master and Commander”.

Because of its coastline and good weather, San Diego has many beaches for visitors to relax at, or try surfing and scuba diving, and popular ones are Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, and Pacific Beach. For naturists, Black’s Beach is one of the largest nude beaches in the United States.


San Diego has a wealth of shops to keep shoppers busy, including large centres such as Horton Plaza, Fashion Valley, and Las Americas.

For more specialist shopping, Seaport Village is located on the waterfront and has many boutique shops and galleries.

Nightlife and Eating Out

San Diego has a particularly high standard of international cuisine, because of a number of immigrant communities in the city, and is also known for its seafood. The Fish Market offers diners a huge selection of seafood and panoramic views of the harbour, while Anthony’s Fishette offers cheap and tasty fish and chips. Dakota Grill is worth a try for local Californian dishes.

Given its proximity to the Mexican border, it is perhaps no surprise that San Diego offers good quality Mexican fare to diners, and Old Town Mexican Café and Zocolo Grill come recommended.

For a selection of other international cuisine, well worth a try are the Panda Inn for Chinese food, Greek Islands Café for Greek cuisine, Monsoon for Indian dishes, and Café Sevilla for Spanish tapas and live flamenco music.

There is an abundance of bars and nightclubs in the city. For a traditional Irish pub, The Field is a well-known establishment, and the whole pub was shipped piece-by-piece from Ireland to San Diego. The Waterfront lays claim to having the oldest liqueur license in the city, and has historically been a fisherman’s retreat. For live music, the House of Blues, The Casbah, and Humphrey’s by the Bay are well worth visiting. For nightclubs, 2 of the better-known ones include The Onyx Room and Stingaree.

Tourist Information

San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau2215 India StreetSan Diego92101

Telephone: +1 619 236 1212Email: sdinfo@sandiego.orgWebsite:


San Diego International Airport is situated 2 miles west of the city centre, and is easily accessed by bus or taxi. The airport is served mainly by domestic carriers, though there are some international carriers present. Another option of getting to the city would be to fly into Los Angeles and then take a two and a half hour bus or train journey down to San Diego.

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