San Diego, clean, crisp, polished, has a perfect temperature, a dramatic coast, stunning scenery, interesting places to see, activities to please everyone, but above all, it has “good vibrations”- the Beach Boy mellow life blending seamlessly with the chic and upscale.
It’s city, mesa, country and desert; crashing surf, stretches of beach and fruitful fields. With cliffs leading to the sea, year-round average temperature of 65°, Spanish- influenced architecture, and flowers, hanging, terraced and tiered, it has the feel of a Mediterranean coastal town. Trendy yet not flashy, it is a place where military order coexists with surfer lifestyle; where historic roots underlay transitory fads.
People like to live here, so much so that, like the rest of coastal California, it is densely populated. However, with a landscape of cliffs rising up from the vast Pacific, a large, open bay and an expansive coastline, it does not have the feel of urban sprawl. Neatly tucked between Freeway 5 and the San Diego Harbor, downtown San Diego does not overwhelm. Similarly, communities in the larger San Diego County, nestled up on hills, down in valleys, in small coves and hugging the coastline, break up its population mass.
The first Europeans to discover the protective bay were Spanish explorers venturing up the coast in 1542. They claimed the region for Spain in 1769, establishing in establishing the first mission and first presidio, or fort, on the west coast what is now Old Town. In the early 1800s, Mexican families settled in the area; Americans joined them in 1848 following the ceding of California to the U.S. The Old Town ambience today reflects both influences.
As the Spanish explorers had before them, the U.S. Navy found San Diego Bay ideally suited for its fleet, establishing in 1919 what has become the homeport of the Pacific Fleet. A source of pride to San Diegans, the naval presence lends a distinct character to the area. Multifaceted fleet support, including repair and training, is its mission, and San Diego Bay is busy with naval activity. Huge aircraft are a sight to see; elite Navy SEALS dart around in small training craft; submarines line up at Point Loma; welders’ sparks fly off destroyers docked in the shipyard; Top Guns come in for landings in Coronado.
As “America’s Finest City,” San Diego has a lot to live up to and it does not disappoint. Walk along the Embarcadero, pausing to admire the Star of India or to climb through the USS Midway. Find a souvenir, fly a kite or grab a bite to eat in Seaport Village. Experience 19th century San Diego in the historic adobe and wood buildings of Old Town where you’ll also find chalupas and tacos prepared the authentic Mexican way. Spend an evening of fine dining or dance the night away in the trendy Gaslamp Quarter.
Experience the elegance of the 1920s at the “Del,” the finest of the jewels of picture-perfect Coronado. Spend a day in the museums and enjoy the fountains, flowers and trees in lovely Balboa Park; watch giant pandas munching bamboo in San Diego Zoo. For adventure of a different sort, glide into North San Diego Bay aboard the amphibious Seal Tours of San Diego and see real seals warming in the sun atop floating bait cages. There is this - and much more – all within the city limits.
Venture just outside the city for even more. Golf at famous Torrey Pines; browse art galleries and one-of-a-kind boutiques, followed by lunch overlooking a dramatic ocean cove in picturesque La Jolla. Stroll the Mission Beach Boardwalk, packed with surfers and sunbathers; frolic in the largest water park in the world, Mission Bay Park; get splashed by Shamu at Sea World; try ballooning in Del Mar.
Drive further out to Carlsbad Flower Fields in the spring to see fields of color when the ranunculus bloom; experience the stark desertscape of the Anza-Borrego State Park; sample wine in the wineries in Temeluca; cross the border to Tijuana; go west up into the hills to Julian, an authentic gold mining town now known for its apple harvest.
This is San Diegoland - welcoming, expansive and with so much to see and do - all in a spectacular setting that is delightfully real.