Down south, towards the Mexico border, sun-drenched San Diego is the perfect family holiday destination. As if San Diego''s 120 kilometres of coastline and reliably sunny weather weren''t enough, the city is also home to museums, a world-renowned zoo, theme parks, SeaWorld San Diego, famous golf courses, and a lively theatre scene, as well as great food, shopping and nightlife in the historic downtown quarter.
San Diego Adventure
Join locals swimming or snorkelling along the sweeping Pacific bays, kayaking into La Jolla caves at low tide and cycling or rollerblading along Mission Beach''s boardwalk. Back on dry land, the Museum of Contemporary Art showcases minimalism and pop art. Kids in tow? Keep them amused with traditional craft demos at the Old Town State Historic Park, killer whales and pirouetting dolphins at SeaWorld San Diego, and giant panda encounters in Balboa Park''s world-famous San Diego Zoo.
Nightlife & Party with Locals
Bronzed, well-dressed revellers begin their evening over cocktails and legendary Pacific sunsets at La Jolla Bay. Go downtown to the Gaslamp Quarter for an upbeat mix of nightlife - from live jazz to Irish reels via techno DJs - in bars that range from cosy to post-modern. Playful Mission Valley is the place to sample locally made beers in a brewpub and take your chances in the arcades. The much-lauded San Diego Symphony performs at Copley Symphony Hall.
Gourmet Cuisine & Dining Out
Enjoy tacos with ice-cold Cerveza (beer) in the Mexican-infused Old Town and Old World flavours from Mediterranean to classic French in the vibrant Gaslamp Quarter. To enjoy a thin-crust pizza with a bottle of Chianti - head to Little Italy. Here, diners tuck into Eric Bauer''s market-fresh cuisine over live jazz and blues in trendy supper club Anthology. Prospect Street is the heart of La Jolla''s restaurant row, offering swanky dining, locally grown, organic dishes and ocean panoramas.
Just 45 minutes north of downtown, San Diego''s North County is among the finest wine-growing regions in South California. There are 14 wineries, many open to touring. San Diego''s restaurant scene bustles with newcomers and old standbys alike, one-hundred of which are in the Gaslamp Quarter. The fare is infinitely varied, including pan-Asian, Hawaiian, Mediterranean, plenty of surf-and-turf, and even a new, risqué cook-your-own-steak joint.
World''s Best Scuba Dive Sites
San Diego''s underwater scene ranges from the magnificent giant kelp forests of Point Loma to the nautical graveyard off Mission Beach called Wreck Alley. At the aquatic Ecological Reserve off La Jolla Cove, fishing and boating activity has been banned since 1929. Diving and snorkelling, though, are welcome in the 533-acre reserve; and it''s a reliable place to spot garibaldi, California''s state fish, as well as endangered giant black sea bass. Shore diving here or at nearby La Jolla Shores is common, and there are dive shops to help you get set up.
But boat dives are the rule. Check out the Islas los Coronados, a trio of uninhabited islets off Mexico (a 90-minute boat ride from San Diego), where seals, sea lions, eels, and more cavort against a landscape of boulders (watch for swift currents). There''s also the Yukon, a 366-foot Canadian destroyer that was intentionally sunk in 2000. It''s part of Wreck Alley, an artificial reef less than 1 mile out from Mission Beach that includes several other vessels and the remains of a research platform toppled by a storm in 1988. Water visibility is best in the autumn; water temperatures are cold year-round.
World Class Golf Courses
Sun cascading along stretches of white sandy beaches, relaxing resorts, shopping, dining, and partying are legendary in this region. As a golf destination, San Diego has over 1,800 undulating greens to conquer, 4,000 bunkers to avoid, and countless ball-swallowing water features within the 90-plus courses. Combine the regions golf scene with their numerous attractions and you''ll understand why San Diego is one of the top golf spots in the universe.
Dozens of public parks, 70 miles of beaches, and numerous museums are just part of what awaits kids and families in San Diego.
Balboa Park has street entertainers and clowns that always rate high with kids. They can usually be found around El Prado on weekends. The Natural History Museum, the Model Railroad Museum, the Air & Space Museum, and the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center (with its hands-on exhibits and IMAX theatre) draw kids like magnets.
The San Diego Zoo appeals to children of all ages, and the double-decker bus tours bring all the animals into easy view of even the smallest visitors. There''s a Children''s Zoo within the zoo, and kids adore the performing sea lion show.
SeaWorld San Diego, on Mission Bay, entertains everyone with killer whales, playful dolphins, and plenty of penguins. There are also wet and wild thrill rides and a collection of Sesame Street-related attractions, including rides and a 4-D interactive movie experience.