The birthplace of California and its second largest city, San Diego, lies 193 kilometers south of Los Angeles.

Bordered by about 112 kilometers of pretty Pacific Ocean coastline to the west, and Mexico to the south, it holds a host of attractions to explore.

Shopping and Dining in the Gaslamp Quarter

My first stop in San Diego was one of the city’s most vibrant entertainment districts. The Gaslamp Quarter is 16 square blocks of Victorian buildings, surrounded by skyscrapers housing over 100 of the best restaurants, pubs, nightclubs and boutiques in the city. Whether you seek karaoke, country, upscale jazz or even tequila, there is a bar for you here. The restaurants serve a multitude of ethnic options and the whole area is always a lively place to people watch.

Stepping Back in Time in Old Town

To discover more about San Diego’s past, visit vibrant and colorful Old Town, where the state’s first Europeans settled. You can find some of the best restaurants in the city here – Old Town is especially known for great Mexican food – as well as galleries, theaters and museums. See everything from restored Victorian homes to 16th through 18th century Spanish furniture. You will also find old-fashioned candy shops, a root beer shop where you can try the very popular American fizzy drink, and all types of brightly colored clothing and souvenirs.

Craft Beer

San Diego’s locals maintain a strong passion for beer and craft brewing, with more than 100 breweries in the city creating their own flavors and tastes. The city was recently recognized by Men’s Journal as the USA’s Top Beer Town. One of the favorites is Ballast Point. Their tasting room is open every day of the week, so go and taste their various award-winning brews, buy your own hops supplies and enjoy chatting with their friendly staff.

Fascinating Culture and Architecture at Balboa Park

Just a few minutes from downtown, you will find beautiful Balboa Park, which is ranked among the best parks in the world. This 486-hectare urban cultural park is home to 15 museums, several performing arts venues and much more. Whether your interests lie in space, art, history, or even historic cars and motorcycles, Balboa Park has a museum for you. This lovely area is well cared for, so even just taking a peaceful stroll around the landscaped gardens or sitting by one of the fountains reading a book makes for a fun day out.

Family-Focused Attractions

Balboa Park is also home to an absolute must-see, the San Diego Zoo. This zoo pioneered the concept of open-air, cage-free exhibits that re-creates natural animal habitats. The zoo holds the largest colony of koalas outside Australia, along with elephants, pandas, lions and tigers. Don’t miss soaring high above the city and animals in the Sky Ride.

Another brilliant day out for the family is the popular SeaWorld San Diego, an animal theme park where you can see many species of sea life. Take in a whale or dolphin show, enjoy thrilling rides and experience interactive animal programs. It’s the perfect way to cap off your fun-filled San Diego holiday.

Where to Stay

Homewood Suites by Hilton San Diego Mission Valley/Zoo, 445 Camino Del Rio S., San Diego, is centrally located near San Diego attractions. The all-suite hotel offers studio and one-bedroom units with home-like amenities. Enjoy a hot breakfast daily and an evening social on weekdays.

Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter, 401 K St., San Diego, is in the city’s historic and picturesque Gaslamp Quarter. Take in city views from sophisticated guest rooms and suites in the hotel, a short walk to restaurants, nightlife, Petco Park and the San Diego Convention Center.

DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel San Diego-Hotel Circle, 1515 Hotel Circle S., San Diego, offers upgraded guest rooms and an outdoor pool. The hotel, which is 10 minutes from the airport, is near shopping in Fashion Valley, nightlife in Gaslamp Quarter and dining in Little Italy.

A story with Visit The USA: The Official USA Travel Website

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