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  • Attractions

    Balboa Park

    Balboa Park contains one of the biggest groups of museums in the USA, many of them housed in magnificent Spanish-Mexican buildings, in addition to more than 85 Performing Arts and International Culture Organisations including theatres like the internationally acclaimed Old Globe Theatre, and several art galleries. The park also houses the world-renowned San Diego Zoo with more than 800 species in spacious re-created natural habitats. The oldest and most famous of the 14 museums in Balboa Park is the Reuben H Fleet Science Centre with a big screen Omnimax Theatre and virtual reality simulator that transports visitors to outer space. Other museums cover a wide range of interests, including cars and motorbikes, anthropology, various forms of art, and natural history. The Spanish Village Art Centre provides a traditional ancient village setting for viewing sculpture, painting, glassblowing and pottery performed by crafts people in classic tiled-roofed studios. The park has numerous features and facilities including golf courses, hiking and cycling trails, promenades, extensive landscaped gardens and horticultural treasures, a Japanese Friendship Garden, fountains and restaurants, a pavilion for Sunday afternoon concerts and the world's largest outdoor organ.
    Opening Time: The visitor centre is open daily 9:30am-4:30pm (5pm in summer). Some museums are closed on Mondays, but the zoo, science centre and Spanish Village Art Centre are open daily.
    Admission : Entrance to the park itself is free, as is the Botanical Building and most of the gardens. Visitors can purchase a variety of tickets/passes that include entrance to selected museums. All-inclusive passes are also available.
    Address : 1549 El Prado
    Telephone : (619) 239 0512
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    Downtown San Diego

    The bustling downtown area of San Diego makes for a compact hub of activity and is an easy walk. It includes the business district, the historic Gaslamp Quarter, the post-modern Horton Plaza mall famed for its pastel colours, and the waterfront Embarcadero with boardwalk shops, museums and restaurants. The first commercial district in San Diego; the Gaslamp Quarter, was and is now a trendy 16-block area of historic buildings and old-fashioned wrought-iron street lamps, antique stores, art galleries, shopping centres, restaurants and jazz bars, and chic coffee houses. Well worth the visit is the Horton Grand, which is a reconstruction of a 19th-century hotel with Victorian d├ęcor and costumes. One of California's most important centres for the performing and visual arts; San Diego is celebrated for its artistic and musical heritage annually with the opening of artists' studios and galleries to the public, as well as its numerous Blues and Jazz festivals. Summer evenings are popular and considered to be the liveliest time to visit, when people come out in their droves to frequent the many outdoor tables. ars and clubs and wander the streets. However visits after dark should be confined to the populated, well-lit areas.

    San Diego Beaches

    Epitomising the Southern California lifestyle, the beaches and seaside suburbs are the heart and soul of the city, with bikini-clad bodies, sun-tanned surfers, and a plethora of little shops, coffee houses, cafes, and restaurants. The 70 miles (113km) of sandy coastline attracts swimmers, sunbathers, surfers, volleyball players and snorkellers. A boardwalk that runs from Mission Beach to Pacific Beach is extremely popular for rollerblading, jogging and cycling. Mission Bay is a playground for waterskiing, sailing and windsurfing, and the surrounding beaches of Mission Beach, Ocean Beach and Pacific Beach are known for their wide stretches of sand as well as for the vibrant nightlife and dining. The northern part of Ocean Beach is known as 'Dog Beach', one of only two beaches in San Diego that allow dogs. Mission Beach is the most popular with plenty of action, particularly along the Ocean Front Walk that resembles the boardwalk parade of Los Angeles' Venice Beach. To the north, the pretentious seaside suburb of La Jolla is known for its high-priced real estate, expensive shops and excellent restaurants, as well as its beautiful coastline with lovely coves, cliffs, gorgeous beaches and superb surfing. La Jolla Cove has clear waters and the offshore San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park affords brilliant snorkelling and diving, with giant kelp forests and a deep canyon.
    Telephone : (619) 236 5555
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    Coronado Island

    The isthmus of Coronado contains an upmarket resort community with several beaches, including the award-winning Silver Strand State Beach, hotels, outdoor dining, boutiques and the Museum of History and Art dedicated to the history of Coronado. A naval station occupies the western end of the island. The island is of little interest except for the historic Hotel del Coronado around which the community grew. 'The Del' is a much-loved San Diego institution, and a National Historic Landmark dating back to 1888. Its distinctive Victorian turrets, conical towers, balconies and curious architecture have served as a filming location for many years, and a stage for political meetings and social happenings. Its glamorous old-world ambience with polished oak pillars and arched ceilings has hosted guests like Marilyn Monroe, Frank Sinatra and a number of presidents. Guided tours are available, or visitors can choose to dine and dance here, stay as a guest or simply wander through the grounds and look at its historic photo gallery. Visible across the bay is Point Loma where a statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo commemorates the landing of the first European in 1542.
    Opening Time: The visitors centre is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm, weekends 10am-5pm.
    Address : 1100 Orange Avenue, Coronado
    Telephone : (619) 437 8788
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    San Diego Zoo and Safari Park

    The San Diego Zoo is one of the city's biggest attractions and has a worldwide reputation for its enlightened management program, worldwide conservation efforts, natural animal environments and most notably its success in breeding endangered species in captivity for reintegration into their natural habitats (together with the Wild Animal Park north of the city). It is the only zoo to have successfully bred Chinese giant pandas in captivity. The zoo houses more than 4,000 mammals, birds and reptiles. Many rare and endangered animals roam simulated natural habitats, while tourists follow walkways and bridges, passing waterfalls, tropical forests, sandy plateaus, arctic tundra, and bird aviaries. The 100-acre (40-hectare) park can be explored on foot, on narrated open-air trams, hop-on-and-off buses, or above the ground on the aerial Skyfari tram or hot air balloon. One of the highlights is the Tiger River Asian rainforest with animal enclosures situated along misty trails enhanced by waterfalls and exotic plants. It features tigers, pythons, tapirs and crocodiles. Other highlights include the Gorilla Tropics, Sun Bear Forest, polar bears in a simulated freezer, and the Ituri Forest Exhibit that features African buffaloes, monkeys and hippos. There is also a Children's Zoo where small animals such as rabbits, goats and sheep can be petted, and the nursery where the latest arrivals are looked after. An outdoor amphitheatre has daily sea lion and other animal shows. Some 35 miles (56km) away is the San Diego Safari Park, where visitors can see animals like giraffe, rhino, cheetah, elephant, tiger and gorilla in open-air habitats. Tours are available by tram, bus, Segway and even zipline.
    Opening Time: Open daily 9am-5pm, and 9am-6pm during Spring Break (March).
    Admission : Basic admission is $54 (adults), $44 (children age 3-11). Combination packages with the associated Wild Animal Park and the museums of Balboa Park are also available.
    Address : 2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park, San Diego, CA 92112-0551
    Telephone : (619) 231 1515
    Website :


    SeaWorld is a leader in marine conservation and plays an important role in rescuing and rehabilitating animals found beached along the West Coast. It is also one of the world's largest marine entertainment parks and is a source of education as well as family recreation. The park is best known for its work with killer whales (orcas) and dolphins, and the Dolphin Interaction Programme provides the experience of feeding, stroking and wading with bottlenose dolphins (requiring advance booking and an additional fee). SeaWorld's favourite attractions are its arena shows that run throughout the day, highlighting the behaviours and talents of trained marine mammals such as sea lions, walruses, otters, dolphins and killer whales. Most of the exhibits are walk-through marine environments like the Penguin Encounter that passes through a glass-enclosed Antarctica with remarkable emperor penguins sliding over glaciers into the icy water. The walk-through glass tube that passes through the Shark House affords frightening face-to-face encounters. Adventure rides include the Shipwreck Rapids ride with its turbulent rivers and underground canyons, the exhilarating Journey to Atlantis and the virtual-reality trip to the world of beluga whales, polar bears and walruses of the Wild Arctic. During summer peak hours the shows and more popular exhibits can be very crowded with long queues. Certain attractions are closed at certain times of the year. Check the website for more information.
    Opening Time: Open daily, but park hours vary according to the season. Generally open 9am-10pm (summer) and 10am-5pm (September to May).
    Admission : Single-park tickets are $89.99. Value tickets are also available, as well as combination packages with Disneyland and Legoland.
    Address : 500 Sea World Drive, San Diego, CA 92109
    Telephone : (619) 222 4SEA
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    Tijuana, Mexico

    A typical border town, Tijuana is not suited to everyone's taste, with plenty of noise and frenetic activity. Its location on the American/Mexican border and proximity to San Diego ensures a steady stream of curious day-trippers and souvenir hunters from up north, as well as students in search of cheap alcohol and a lower drinking age. Tijuana's notorious 'sin city' image of prostitution and sex shows has now taken a back seat; the sleazy element is still there to an extent, but the focus has shifted in an effort to clean the town up a bit. It has become something of a shopper's delight along with the intense nightlife, a burgeoning culinary scene and non-stop entertainment. This is the place to shop, drink and dance the night away; there are souvenir stalls, numerous duty-free shopping malls and markets selling goods from all over Mexico, and countless bars, restaurants and dance clubs. Tijuana has some traditional attractions as well, including bullfighting and Jai Alai (a Spanish ball court game), but this is not the classic Mexico that stories are made of. Just across the Mexican border, 30 minutes from downtown San Diego, Tijuana is unlike other Mexican cities, but is a worthwhile experience that provides a fascinating contrast between Mexico and the USA.
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    Legoland California

    Legoland California is among the most popular attractions for families in San Diego. The first Legoland built outside of Europe, the park is divided into nine sections: Explorer Island, Heartlake City, Fun Town, Castle Hill, Miniland USA, Pirate Shores, Imagination Zone, Land of Adventure and Legoland Waterpark. The attraction also features a lego themed aquarium and a hotel. Rides and attractions cater for all ages, and there are shops and restaurants located around the park. Legoland California even has its own iPhone and Android apps to assist visitors in planning their Legoland adventure.
    Opening Time: Hours vary by season. Check the website for specific dates.
    Admission : Legoland combo ticket (includes aquarium and waterpark) only: $119 adults, $113 children (3-12). Separate admission is available.
    Address : 1 Legoland Drive, Carlsbad, CA 92008
    Telephone : (760) 918 5346
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    San Diego Wine Country

    While not as well-known as Napa Valley or Santa Barbara, the wineries in San Diego and neighbouring Riverside are growing in popularity as they produce excellent wines. A few of the most popular wineries to visit include Vinavanti Urban Winery, Bernardo Winery, The Blue Door Winery, and San Pasqual Winery. While many of the most popular wineries are in Escondido, but there are other areas around San Diego worth visiting. The suburb of Temecula is home to more than 30 wineries that offer tastings and tours, and Valle de Guadalupe, just across the border in Mexico, also has a number of good vineyards within 90 minutes of San Diego that are worth exploring.
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    Aquatica by Seaworld

    A great way to beat the heat in San Diego is a 32-acre water park located in Chula Vista, just outside San Diego. Water slides and other fun water attractions are on offer, with many new and exciting rides for adults and children alike. There are many fast-food stands throughout the park and lots of shopping facilities.
    Opening Time: Opening hours vary by season, check the website for specific dates.
    Admission : There are a variety of ticket options and passes available. Check the website for further details.
    Address : 2052 Entertainment Circle (off Auto Park Drive), Chula Vista
    Website :