Photo by Catty Morrison
If you casually mention that you are vacationing in California, you are sure to elicit some slightly jealous sighs from your friends, relatives and colleagues. Whether you're visiting the northern part of the state with Lake Tahoe and the redwood forests or headed south to L.A., San Diego and the sunny beaches, California remains an incredible destination. A vacation itinerary that involves a visit to San Diego would not be complete without seeing and experiencing some of the area's most notable spots.
San Diego Zoo
With a delightful array of well-cared for animals, natural habitats, an expansive 100-acres, free parking, helpful staff, numerous restaurants and live shows, the San Diego Zoo experience is full of fun for every member of the family. Some animal highlights include giraffes, koalas, pandas, elephants and polar bears, as well as more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals and innumerable botanical specimens.
Thrills come a mile a minute at Sea World, one of the San Diego's premier attractions. Up-close encounters with dolphins, orcas, penguins, otters, sea lions and more give lots of educational fun for children and adults alike. Lines can queue up for the thrill rides, but if you don't want to wait, the animal theme park, oceanarium, marine mammal park and numerous aquariums are sure to keep you busy. Daily can't-miss shows include the Orca Encounter, Dolphin Days, Sea Lions LIVE, Pets Rule and Sea Rescue. Seasonal shows lend a festive atmosphere during the summer and holiday seasons.
Nature, science and culture meld together at Balboa Park, a 1200-acre area encompassing numerous performing arts venues, museums, parks and activities. Try your hand at lawn bowling, play a round of golf, hike on one of the many trails, explore multiple playgrounds, rent a bike, ride the antique carousel or take in a race or Olympic-level training session at the San Diego Velodrome, one of only three bicycle training and racing sites of its type in the Southeastern U.S.
If you crave a bit more peace and quiet, head just a few minutes north of San Diego. Located twelve miles north of downtown San Diego, this quaint town is an idyllic seaside location surrounded on three sides by ocean bluffs and beaches. Inspired by Balinese design, the highly rated Pantai Inn provides a pristine waterfront location along with suites and cottages with unprecedented views. Nearby La Jolla cove takes you down several hundred steps down into a vast cave where water laps into the large cavern. Kayaking, whale watching, snorkeling, swimming, sunbathing are just a few activities to enjoy in or by the water. Also, be sure to catch a day enjoying the many wild seals at the Children's Pool. Museums, bike tours, aquariums, restaurants and more round out a visit to the area.
Old San Diego
You don't have to be a history buff to enjoy all that Old San Diego has to offer. Officially known as the birthplace of California, Old Town San Diego features historic sites, museums, theatres, unique shops, attractions and wonderful restaurants, many with an old-school feel. You can spend a day or more enjoying this area while taking a trolley tour, visiting historic homes, taking in a show at the Cygnet Theater, visiting art galleries, sampling at candy shops and shopping at Bazaar El Mundo, Fiesta de Reyes, Old Town Market and many other boutique shops. Don't miss one of the many eateries serving up homemade tortillas on site which may include a festive show at the restaurant's outdoor stage.
The San Diego area offers a lot to visitors seeking rest, relaxation, excitement and new experiences. Maybe a little of each one makes for your perfect getaway!