City of San Diego #1 Vacation Destination in California
Sunshine year-round, miles and miles of fabulous white-sand beaches, laid-back friendliness, rich history and Hispanic culture, and family-oriented outdoor entertainment at SeaWorld and the world-famous San Diego Zoo are enough to draw almost 30 million visitors annually to "America's finest city." But there's more than meets the eye in San Diego. If you look beyond the obvious, you'll discover why many longtime vacationers eventually become City of San Diego residents, and why San Diego residents have a hard time ever moving away.
San Diego, occupying the southwest corner of California, boasts an almost perfect year-round climate. Most days are sunny, averaging 70 degrees and humidity is low. The cool coastal climate is ideal for the area's most colorful industry -- flower growing. Summer temperatures frequently reach 100+F inland, particularly at the Wild Animal Park near Escondido; even so, sandiego nights are cool enough to make it a good idea to have a sweater or jacket handy.
San Diego is a big city, where locals take pride in its small-town feel. With more than 1 million people living within the city limits, San Diego is second only to Los Angeles in population among California cities and ranks as the seventh-largest municipality in the United States. It also covers a lot of territory, roughly 400 square miles of land and sea.
The City of San Diego is delightfully urban and accessible. You can walk the entire San Diego downtown area -- explore the exciting and trendy Gaslamp Quarter, stop and shop at whimsical Horton Plaza, dine Italian, hear a rock band, attend a play, take a sunset harbor stroll, picnic in the park, or visit a historic building. Downtown you can catch the trolley or take the bus to the Balboa Park museums and the zoo, Old Town historic sites, Mission Bay marine park, diverse urban neighborhoods, and nearby Tijuana, Mexico.
To the north and south of the city are 70 miles of beaches. Hiking and camping territory lie inland, where a succession of long, low, chaparral-covered mesas are punctuated with deep-cut canyons that step up to savanna-like hills, separating the verdant coast from the arid Anza-Borrego Desert. Unusually clear skies make the inland countryside ideal for star-gazing.
You'll find reminders of San Diego's Spanish and Mexican heritage throughout the region -- in architecture and place-names, in distinctive Mexican cuisine, and in a handful of historic buildings in Old Town. The San Diego area, the birthplace of California, was claimed for Spain by Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo in 1542. The first European community, Mission Alta California, was established here in 1769, when a small group of settlers and soldiers set up camp on what is now called Presidio Hill. Franciscan Father Junípero Serra, leader of the settlers, celebrated the first Mass here in July of that year, establishing the Mission San Diego de Alcalá, the first of the 21 missions built by Spanish friars in California. San Diego, along with the rest of California, ultimately came under Mexican rule before entering the United States as the 31st state in 1850.
In 1867 developer Alonzo Horton, who called the town's bay-front "the prettiest place for a city I ever saw," began building a hotel, a plaza, and prefab homes on 960 downtown acres. The city's fate was sealed in 1908 when the U.S. Navy's battleship fleet sailed into San Diego Bay. The military continues to contribute to the local economy, operating many bases and installations throughout the county; San Diego is home to the largest military complex in the world.
City of San Diego has taken an orderly approach to inevitable development with the adoption of a general plan to run through the year 2020. More than 50 projects are under way or on the drawing board for downtown SanDiego, including a new ballpark for the Padres, several hotels, and the creation of plazas, parks, and promenades along the waterfront.
Links between the south-of-the-border communities of Tijuana and Ensenada continue to strengthen. Almost 100-million people cross the border at San Ysidro, California crossing annually, indicative of the 2-nation nature of San-Diego. In recent years Tijuana Mexico has grown into one of the biggest, most exciting cities in Mexico. You'll discover a sophisticated, pulsating city marked with excellent restaurants, trendy bars and discos, chic boutiques, discount malls, sports-betting parlors, broad boulevards congested with traffic, and new high-rise hotels.
Without question, San Diego is one of the warmest and most appealing destinations in the United States. As you explore San Diego, you'll make your own discoveries that will lead you to agree with most locals that this corner of California is just this side of paradise.