SAN DIEGO

INTRODUCTION

This is California’s second largest city and is known for its clear skies, miles of sandy beaches and a pleasant Mediterranean climate as it lies nestle din the southern tip of the state. San Diego is identified by its beautiful beaches and even more beautiful gardens. Most of the attractions like Sea World, San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park reflect the need for the locals to be outdoor. You will see many sun-tanned, barefoot, bikini-clad surfers filling the city and enjoying their time at surf shops, coffee houses and cafes that truly symbolize Southern Californian lifestyle. Music is an integral part of San Diego’s heritage and popularity. This is also, one of Southern California’s most important centers of arts. Just a short distance away from the Mexican border town of Tijuana, there is definite influence in its culture and history. Bordered by Mexico, the Pacific Ocean, Anza Borrego Desert and the Laguna Mountains, is a great city to explore.

GETTING AROUND

Public Transport – San Diego Metropolitan Transit System operates three types of public transport within the County of San Diego – public buses, trolley and the Coaster train service that provides transport to outlying areas, linking seven coastal communities as far north as Oceanside. There are three trolley lines: blue, green, and orange. The Blue Line operates from the US-Mexico border at San Ysidro and runs to Old Town, via Chula Vista, National City, and Downtown. The Green Line travels from Old Town east to Santee, via Mission Valley and SDSU. The Orange Line is not very usable for tourists. Day Tripper Passes give unlimited access to buses and the trolley for one, two, three or four consecutive days.

Taxis – Yellow Cab operates throughout San Diego County. It is best for visitors to request a taxi by telephone, although it is possible to hail them in the street in Downtown.

KEY ATTRACTIONS

Sea World - Located on the shores of Mission, this marine park is one of California’s most popular attractions, giving visitors an ‘up close and personal’ encounter with fish and marine animals in tidepools filled with sea urchins and starfish and walk-through tanks housing sharks. The park is best known for its killer whale shows starring Shamu – a name that has become synonymous with the city. Amusement rides include ‘Journey to Atlantis’ a six-minute, wet and wild thrill ride that includes a 60ft plunge, and the ‘Wild Arctic’ simulated flight to the world of the walrus, polar bear and beluga whale. The walk-through glass tube that passes through the Shark House affords frightening face-to-face encounters. The Sesame Street Bay of Play, an amusement park starring Big Bird, Elmo and friends and the ‘Cirque de la Mer’ circus-like show is also popular. The park is also one of the pioneers and leaders in marine conservation especially that of the killer whales and is a great source of education and family fun.


Balboa Park - The largest urban cultural park in the US, 1200-acre park is located just north of Downtown San Diego and is a favorite landmark for locals and visitors alike. The main street in the park is El Prado, leading past museums, a lily pond and botanical building and several gardens. Walkways lead from El Prado to the park’s other areas Balboa Park contains one of the biggest groups of museums in the USA, many of them housed in magnificent Spanish-Mexican buildings, in addition to more than 85 Performing Arts and International Culture Organizations including theatres such as internationally acclaimed Old Globe Theatre, and several art galleries. The world-renowned San Diego Zoo with more than 800 species in spacious re-created natural habitats is located here. The Spanish Village Art Centre provides a traditional ancient village setting for viewing sculpture, painting, glassblowing and pottery performed by crafts people in classic tiled-roofed studios. The park has numerous facilities including golf courses, hiking and cycling trails, promenades, extensive landscaped gardens and horticultural treasures, a Japanese Friendship Garden, fountains and restaurants, a pavilion for Sunday afternoon concerts and the world’s largest outdoor organ.


San Diego Zoo - One of the top attractions, it is world renowned for its efforts to conserve wildlife and in protecting endangered species like the Chinese giant pandas and has over 4000 mammals, birds and reptiles. Walk around the 100 acre park or hop on buses, open-air trails, Skyfari aerial tram or even a hot-air balloon! Some of the highlights include the Tiger River Asian rainforest with misty trails past waterfalls, ‘Monkey Trails’, Gorilla Tropics, Children Zoo where animals can be petted. The most popular exhibit is the Pacific Bell Giant Panda Research Station, where several endangered pandas have given birth. The baby pandas are a big hit and long lines often form at the enclosure. The zoo hosts several ‘after dark’ events, including live music performances and up-close animal encounters.


Downtown
The core of the city is the main business district and the location of the historic Gaslamp quarter, the multi-colored Horton Plaza, the waterfront Embarcadero which is filled with shops, museums and restaurants. The Gaslamp Quarter is full of historic buildings, wrought-iron steel lamps, antique stores, coffee houses, galleries and jazz bars. The Horton Grand is a replica of a 19th century Victorian hotel worth visiting.


Others: Birch Aquarium at Scripps, Old Town State Park, USS Midway Museum, Coronado Island, Mission beach, Ocean and Pacific beaches.