Photograph by QT Luong/terragalleria.com
The first European settlement on the West Coast, now America’s eighth-largest city, San Diego no longer chooses to be defined solely by 70 miles (112 kilometers) of beaches, supreme weather, a forward-leaning zoo, or its naval history. Though denizens still cling to a pair of flip-flops, in the past decade the city’s economy has been boosted by biotech and telecom industries—the influx of high-paying jobs produced an incursion of talent and fresh perspective, allowing the city to blossom culturally, with money filtering into the arts and helping the dining scene flourish. Downtown’s revitalization has been most dramatic, originating in the Gaslamp Quarter, followed by a new ballpark in 2004 and block after block of restaurants, hotels, and condos, turning the city into a major convention destination. But the city’s finest asset, its outdoor recreation areas, thrive close by and are a top attraction for those who invest the time to discover them.
From Canada to the Caribbean, these 129 authentic and unique hotels are more than just a place to sleep.
Our experts recommend the top attractions in and around San Diego—with advice on how to get the most out of your visit.
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.
How much do you know about this fabled stretch of coastline? Test your PCH smarts with this quiz.
Travel Photos From Your Shot
See Captivating Photos of Our Days' End—Submitted by Members of the Your Shot Community
Shop National Geographic
Special Ad Section
Watch as Nat Geo photographers reveal what drives them to create iconic images.