Photograph by Heeb Photos, eStockPhoto
Rich in parkland, lined with 70 miles of beaches, and blessed with what many consider to be the nation's best weather, San Diego is home to the ultimate California dream. This smart city is energized by the biotech and telecom industries, which draw talent and fresh perspective, allowing it to blossom culturally with money flowing into the arts and helping the dining scene flourish. A huge range of water-sports facilities, giant culture parks, and the largest zoo in the U.S. draw millions of visitors a year.
As the oldest Spanish settlement in California, San Diego and its environs are full of historic places. A hop-on, hop-off trolley system offers narrated tours and an easy way to see much of the city. Among the attractions are the revived Gaslamp Quarter, where Wyatt Earp ran such a bawdy operation that he caused his more uptight neighbors to move north. The quarter is now the place to shop and eat in historic San Diego.
Another of the city's jewels is 1,100-acre Balboa Park, which holds 17 museums and art institutes, three theaters, 19 formal and informal gardens, the world-famous San Diego Zoo, and more Spanish colonial architecture than anywhere else in the state.
Much of San Diego's delights are tied to its seaside location. In the waters off Mission Bay, the city's prime recreation area, a spectacular oceanic display takes place between mid-December and mid-February, when gray whales migrate from Alaska down to Baja California.
San Diego Experiences
Ride shot gun with our Urban Insider as she experiences a Nat Geo staffer's "perfect day" in San Diego.
With all its rich history and excellent weather, San Diego is full of activities that require no cash. Here's a list of free attractions and events to get you started.
From Canada to the Caribbean, these 129 authentic and unique hotels are more than just a place to sleep.
In a world where basic chain hotels and luxe resorts are being built at rapid-fire pace, the palpable sense of history you feel at this stately American classic is a breath of fresh air.
Our experts recommend the top attractions in and around San Diego—with advice on how to get the most out of your visit.
2015 Traveler Photo Contest
Explore the top photos, share your favorites, and browse all entries.