Explore Downtown San Diego

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Downtown San Diego is an ideal travel destination. It seems as though the city was built entirely around the idea of serving tourists.

It all starts with the San Diego Airport. If you are a light packer, you could literally take a leisurely walk from the airport to downtown San Diego’s top attractions. Your 1.3 mile walk would take you along the glistening San Diego Harbor full of sailboats while you enjoyed spectacular views of the downtown skyline. You would pass by the Coast Guard Station, a Mediterranean mooring area for the largest private ships in the world, and arrive at the San Diego Maritime Museum, which is home to the world’s oldest sailing vessel and ships used in blockbuster Hollywood movies.

Continue walking along the harbor for another 1.3 miles and you will pass the starting spot for the Harbor Boat Cruises and City Bus Tours, the Visitor Information Center, Cruise Ship Terminal, U.S.S. Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, Seaport Village Shopping Area, and the Convention Center before arriving at the Gaslamp Quarter and Petco Park, home to the San Diego Padres.

Along the way, you will pass within two blocks of the AMTRAK station, Trolley stops, the New Children’s Museum, and the Chinese Historical District.

Visitors are always amazed at the convenience, beauty, and pedestrian-friendly nature of downtown San Diego. Select each of the picture tabs above to start exploring what Downtown San Diego has to offer or start making your plans to enjoy the walk along the downtown harbor.

Little Italy

Location: Downtown San Diego (Little Italy)

Features: Italian Restaurants, Art & Home Furnishing Shops, Festivals, and Farmers Market.

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Mormon Battalion Historic Museum

Location: Old Town (4 Miles North of Downtown San Diego)

Open Daily: 9AM – 9PM

Cost: Free

Features: One of the longest military marches in U.S. history is profiled in this new, state-of-the-art museum.

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Explore California History in Old Town

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Come visit the historic heart of San Diego in Old Town. You may wonder, how much history can their really be in San Diego. If you have ever visited San Diego before, you probably noticed it is a very attractive, modern city with very few old buildings or run down areas of town.

Don’t let that fool you. San Diego is the oldest settlement on the West Coast of the United States. It is also one of the oldest European settlements west of the Mississippi River. (It goes back even farther when you consider that prior to the arrival of Spanish Conquistadors, Indians occupied the area going back over 10,000 years.)

You can explore all of this history in Old Town, where the first of California’s 21 Spanish Missions was established. You will learn about the transition of power over the area from the Indians, to the Spanish, to the Mexicans, and eventually becoming part of the Old West of the United States. In addition, you will learn what life was like in an early frontier town. The State Historic Park in Old Town has preserved and recreated much of what life was like for the early settlers.

After spending your day visiting the attractions, you will have plenty of fabulous shops and restaurants to choose from for your evening. Old Town offers some of the best Mexican restaurants this side of the border.

Add some fascinating history to your vacation by reviewing each of the attractions pictured above or read an overview of what to do in Old Town.

Explore the Glamour of Coronado

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Would you like to take a step back into time and visit an old fashioned community known for its glamour? Have you ever been intrigued by the mystique of the Navy SEALS special forces? Or, do you just want to sit-back with your feet in the water and enjoy magnificent views of a city skyline?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, Coronado is the place for you!

The most famous landmark is the Hotel del Coronado. This Victorian designed hotel built in 1888 is one of most historic hotels in America. It is where King Edward VIII met his wife, where Marilyn Monroe starred in ‘Some Like it Hot’, where Wizard of Oz writer Frank Baum designed the chandeliers in the majestic Crown Room, and where numerous U.S. Presidents and other world leaders have taken their vacations. After a recent remodel, it is as beautiful as ever and guests can soak up the nostalgia as they walk down hallways full of pictures to relive the history of this grand ole’ dame.

Within walking distance of the Hotel Del is a street full of shops and restaurants reminiscent of the fictional community of Mayberry from The Andy Griffith Show. Yet, this Mayberry not only serves a historic hotel but one of the top 10 beaches in America and the best in California.

It is along these beaches you will see Navy SEALS jogging to their nearby training facility and retired Admirals soaking up the sunshine after years of serving our country at sea. You see, the north end of Coronado, better known as North Island, is the birthplace of Naval Aviation and current home to three aircraft carriers. They are two different worlds sharing the same piece of land just across the harbor from the beautiful skyline of downtown San Diego.

Select one of the picture tabs above or read the overview of Coronado attractions to plan your romantic trip that will provide fond memories for a lifetime.

Explore San Diego’s Top Attractions

panda at the San Diego Zoo

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Are you ready to make the most of your San Diego vacation?! You would need weeks to visit all of the great attractions in San Diego. There is an old saying among locals that people who visit San Diego for vacation end up staying for a lifetime.

Since most visitors do not have weeks to spare, here are the most popular attractions to visit in San Diego. These are the most recognizable attractions that your family and friends will ask about when you return home. Don’t leave them disappointed.

Click on each of the pictures of San Diego’s top attractions above or select one of the tabs to get a full description of what to expect and do at the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, LEGOLAND, Wild Animal Park Safari, Balboa Park, Old Town, La Jolla, and of course, the Beaches.

Then, continue to scroll down the summaries of the Most Popular Attractions below to see several more of the best places to visit during your vacation.

Explore the 13th Best Park in the World – Balboa Park

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Are you looking to spend a day, or a week, strolling through some of the largest museums of their kind in the nation, lounging around flower gardens, and maybe catch a theatre performance or two? You can enjoy your time with all of these activities at Balboa Park, located a few minutes north of downtown San Diego.

The Project for Public Spaces rates Balboa Park as the 13th Best Park in the World. It is home to the San Diego Zoo, art museums, science and space museums, the nation’s largest multisport museum, and the longest running Shakespeare Festival in the U.S., where Queen Elizabeth was on hand for the dedication of a statue in Shakespeare’s honor when she vacationed in San Diego.

Follow in the footsteps of royalty. Come spend your vacation in San Diego and explore one of the best parks in the world. Start clicking on each of the slideshow pictures above or read the Balboa Park description to start finding what is in Balboa Park!

Louis Kahn Salk Institute Architecture Tours

Location: Torrey Pines (15 Miles / 20 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego)

Weekday Tours: 12PM – 1PM

Cost: Free

Features: Tour one of Louis Kahn’s most important architectural works, the Salk Institute

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Mining for California Gemstones & Tourmaline in San Diego

Museum Curators, Gemologists, Jewelers, and Rockhounds from around the world descend on northern San Diego County looking for the perfect specimens to add to their gem collections. California’s gemstones came to notoriety during the latter part of the 19th century when abundant pockets of high quality gemstones were discovered in the Mesa Grande and Pala Districts of San Diego County. A number of famous California gem mines are now open to the public.

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Wildlife Art at Hidden Forest Art Gallery & Nature Center

Location: Fallbrook (53 Miles / 55 Minutes Northeast of Downtown San Diego)

Cost: None, unless you want to buy a wildlife painting.

Hours: Varies

Features: Meet Famed Wildlife Artist Gamini Ratnavira, Browse through his Wildlife Paintings, and Meet his Unique & Colorful Birds.

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Lake Henshaw Scenic Overlook

Location: Santa Ysabel (75 Miles / 1.25 Hours Northeast of Downtown San Diego)

Hours: Always Open

Cost: Free

Features: One of the top Birding Spots in San Diego overlooking the local mountains, grasslands, and Lake Henshaw.

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Cupa Cultural Indian Center

Location: Pala (52 Miles / 55 Minutes North of Downtown San Diego)

Hours: 9:30AM – 4:30PM, Monday through Friday

Cost: Free

Features: Displays of artifacts, photographs, arts & crafts, and history of the Pala Indians, including the Cupeno Trail of Tears

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