San Diego is a continuous playground, its diverse neighborhoods covering 4,200 square miles. Explore Old Town, a historic Spanish settlement of restored adobe and wooden buildings, and eat fresh tortillas hand-made in front of you. Catch views of the Mexican border from South Bay as you bird watch in the Tijuana Estuary. Dine in sight of picturesque marinas at Harbor Island. Pile the family into a rental car and head north on Coast Highway 101 to sample San Diego’s laid back beach communities, sprinkled with golf courses and historic missions. Downtown, get your fill of the seas aboard the USS Midway Aircraft Museum or a sailing excursion, before letting loose to the nightlife of Gaslamp Quarter. And don’t forget La Jolla, the jewel of San Diego. In its Mediterranean village atmosphere you can hike, shop, surf, swim, snorkel or scuba dive.
For west coast families, a visit to San Diego might as well be a visit to Orlando. At SeaWorld San Diego, spot 60 threatened sea turtles in Turtle Reef and let out a scream on the Shipwreck Rapids® or Manta, the coaster shaped like a giant manta ray. With 60 rides, shows and attractions, LEGOLAND is equally as thrilling. Its 22,000 LEGO models make it the perfect hands-on park for kids ages 2 to 12. The entire family will enjoy Balboa Park, the largest urban park in North America. Stop by its visitors center to learn about its 15 museums and eight gardens, including the San Diego Model Railroad Museum, San Diego Museum of Art, a sunken butterfly garden and an oasis of 450 palms. The park’s must-see is San Diego Zoo, home to giant pandas, giant tortoises, polar bears, gorillas, tigers, sun bears, leopards, mandrills, Asian elephants and more. Love it? Then head to San Diego Zoo Safari Park too! You can choose to explore its marshes and grasslands via zip line, Segway, caravan truck or tram. Just watch out for the rhinos and giraffes!
There’s still plenty to do if you’re trying to avoid crowds. In the winter and early spring, take a private charter into the Baja California waters to spot some of the 20,000 gray whales that migrate from Alaska each year. Bike the “Mile of Birds” at Ocean Beach to see osprey, ruddy duck, terns, cormorants and blue-winged teal without binoculars. Then melt away for a day at a world-renown spa such as Hotel del Coronado. Its S’moré Couple’s Massage completes a 50-minute Swedish massage with a private beach bonfire with s’mores and champagne. End your stay at a California winery and you’ll return home a new being!