San Diego area, United States
San Diego, USA: Vacations and travel
The city of San Diego has become the second largest city in California and the 8th largest city in all of the United States; nevertheless it has managed to keep a laid-back typically Californian style. Unlike many large cities, San Diego controls its levels of pollution and maintains a relaxed pace of life, however the city still has everything you'd expect to find in a large metropolis, and more. San Diego offers a wide range of possibilities for recreation, learning, exploration, and business. There is something to suit everyone's needs and tastes, ensuring the whole family will have a great vacation in this fantastic destination.
This coastal city is also the county seat of San Diego County and features the charming neighborhoods of South Bay, Mission Valley, and Downtown, as well as the coastal suburbs of North Mission Beach, South Mission Beach, and Pacific Beach, just to name a few. It is located on the Pacific Coast in the far southwest corner of the United States and it is bordered by Tijuana, Mexico, to the south. To the west are the Pacific Ocean and the extraordinary beaches that attract droves of tourists all year round. Anaheim and Los Angeles lie to the north. The city has a busy port, where there is also a naval base, the largest one in the world. The naval base is the home port for most of the aircraft carriers in the United States Navy.
San Diego is renowned for its idyllic climate, which is normally nice and sunny during the day, with an average temperature of 70 F degrees and low levels of humidity year round. The temperature during the height of summer is also easily bearable due to the refreshing breeze coming off the Pacific Ocean. The coolest temperatures are on those romantic rainy winter nights.
San Diego's history began in 1542, when the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed in this region, claimed the bay for the Spanish Empire, and named it San Miguel after the Archangel Michael. However, in 1602, the explorer Sebastian Vizcaino surveyed and mapped the coast of California renaming the area San Diego de Alcala.
After Mexico was granted independence from Spain, San Diego became the county seat of both Alta and Baja California, a status that was lost when the population dropped to 100 people after a series of battles. In 1848, San Diego became part of the U.S. and the county seat for all of Alta California. After the industrial revolution and due to the completion of the railroad and the strong presence of the U.S. Navy, the area was further developed and San Diego became one of the most important cities in the U.S.
Gateway to the Pacific Ocean
San Diego borders the Pacific Ocean along more than 60 miles of coastline that features 33 pristine beaches, each with its own distinctive characteristics. The beach areas of San Diego have spurred a unique and carefree lifestyle which distinguishes the city. Tourists flock to the beaches all year round and go boating, sailing and swimming. There are also major surfing and swimming schools, as well as boat rental companies and marinas where you can charter boats, kayaks and jet skis.
The ocean, off the coast of San Diego, is one of the most amazing spots to watch gray whales as they pass by on their migration to their birthing grounds in the Baja California lagoons. There have been counts of up to 200 whales off the coast of San Diego by mid January and the County has even now established some great sites to watch them from. The Scripps Institution of Oceanography also conducts important scientific research in the area.
There are about 10 different areas with perfectly defined neighborhoods, each with its own location and historic value, as well as a special magic to them that is definitely worth experiencing. The whole city offers a wide range of attractions, restaurants, fantastic nightlife, shopping malls, and business and civic centers, all with their very own appeal.
The following tourist areas are highly recommended by the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
This exclusive residential area was one of the first neighborhoods in San Diego, home to fine restaurants, renowned art galleries and outstanding boutiques. Many are housed in buildings with impressive styles of architecture, ranging from old hacienda to the most modern. This coastal area attracts surfers, divers and swimmers, as well as tourists that come to see the waves gently lapping against the rocks on the shore.
This area is the picturesque headland of the peninsula that extends out into the sea and features a natural harbor. It is home to a large part of the U.S naval fleet and also some of the best resorts in the city. The beaches in this area all feature charming parks perfect for relaxing in and enjoy the fabulous climate.
This area features soaring skyscrapers, bustling with large corporations, constructed next to turn-of-the-century buildings housing trendy nightclubs and surrounded by peaceful parks. It is also home to the Gaslamp Quarter, where art, culture, fine dining, businesses and entertainment abound, all in the space of a few dozen city blocks. It is the ideal place for tourists to begin their exploration of this city, right from its heart.
Old Town / Mission Valley
You'll find established residential neighborhoods in these areas, which are literally in the center of the city and where San Diego began. Home to the Chargers, the town's football team, as well as to fabulous shopping centers, hotels and a major university, Old Town and Mission Valley are both well worth exploring.
Pacific Beach / Mission Beach
Down by the sea, in the coastal communities of Pacific Beach and Mission Beach, you'll find the stereotypical California dream with its hip nightclubs and some of the oldest hotels and residential neighborhoods. The area has a festive atmosphere year round thanks to Belmont Park's amusement center that is definitely worth visiting.
This 4,600-acre water wonderland is the largest park of its kind in the world. Here you'll find one of San Diego's most famous attractions, Sea World, along with a wide range of recreational and sporting activities, as well as one of the most popular golf courses in the city.
Point Loma / Harbor Island / Shelter Island
These neighborhoods feature dramatic contrasts, ranging from multi-million dollar mansions and marinas to a stunning strip of coastline and even the local red-light district. They are definitely worth visiting on your next trip to San Diego.
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