The United States' largest urban cultural park is also one of the world's most scenic, with a dazzling array of museums, entertainment venues, botanical gardens and architectural landmarks. The world-renowned San Diego Zoo is just one of the many treasures nestled within the verdant expanse of this 1,200-acre (490-hectare) park, set aside as a reserve for public use as early as 1835. The 1915-16 Panama-California Expo and the 1935–36 California Pacific International Expo left behind a wealth of architectural jewels strewn across the park, including the California Building fashioned after the typical design of a Spanish Colonial Church and now home to the San Diego Museum of Man. Fifteen museums, award-winning theaters, an antique carousel, a miniature railroad and the Spanish Village Arts Center come together at Balboa Park to celebrate the cultural diversity of the state and its inspiring natural landscape.
Near the man-made islands of Mission Bay, this beach runs along Mission Boulevard and boasts a fabulous boardwalk. One of the best places in San Diego to soak up the city's beach lifestyle, this is an unsurpassed area for people watching or building sandcastles. For a faster pace, rent a bike or in-line roller skates or better yet, take a ride on Belmont Park's world-famous wooden roller coaster. Whatever attraction you choose, be prepared for large crowds and limited parking at Mission Beach.
Located right along the Navy Pier in downtown San Diego, the USS Midway Museum lends deep insights into naval aviation and one of the important chapters of American history. The museum is home to the iconic USS Midway, which has been one of the country's oldest aircraft carriers. A famed naval museum in the United States, it also shelters an arsenal of other significant carriers, most of which were crafted in Southern California. The museum is complete with simulators, myriad deck exhibits and the stirring Battle of Midway theater. The museum has also been a host to an array of private, media and sporting events.
This club is a prime spot to hear new and cutting edge music in San Diego. Bands such as Nirvana, Smashing Pumpkins and Alanis Morissette have been among the previous guests. Local bands play here as well, primarily featuring a punk-rock flavor. In addition to music, the club offers pool tables, an enclosed smoking patio, vintage pinball and video games. A stage and dance floor provides plenty of room to dance. Meanwhile, the full bar serves a long list of beverages.
Fun for adults and kids, this museum-on-water is the focal point of San Diego's historic Embarcadero Promenade. Comprised of several painstakingly restored historic ships, it is a tribute to the sea-faring age. One of the ships showcased at Maritime Museum of San Diego is the Star of India (1863), a stunning vision that graces the coastline as the world's oldest actively-sailed, square-rigged ship.
Founded in 1769, Mission San Diego de Alcalá was the first mission founded by Father Junipero Serra in The Californias. Like many of the Spanish missions that were built along California's famous El Camino Real, the mission is actually the namesake of the major city it's near--in this case, San Diego. The mission experienced a tumultuous history since its founding, and its church building has since been rebuilt five times on the same site. Today, the mission stands as a remarkable example of early California history and is currently registered as a National Historic Landmark.
The San Diego Opera continues its tradition of offering world-class productions. As a theatrical experience, watching plays here is top notch and of particular note is the state-of-the-art Opera House itself. Equipped with a Digitext screen above the stage, the audience can follow along with an English translation. Although it can be argued that opera is as much a sensual exercise as it is intellectual. Whether you understand the words or not, the music, the vocals, and the visuals serving to create a production far greater than the mere sum of its parts.
San Diego's performing arts venue is home to the San Diego Opera and California Ballet. It also hosts several annual community events throughout the year. 'San Diego Theaters,' is non profit organization and they aim to provide the public with world class theater experiences.
Forming an integral part of the city, Downtown San Diego is one location you just cannot miss. The center of the city, Downtown San Diego has attracted tourists and locals alike because of favorable climate throughout the year, fun activities, facilities and amenities and easy access to other parts of the city. Check the downtown website for details and plan your trip to this tourist haven.
This historic venue was built in 1912 and since then has been host to a variety of shows including plays, musicals, comedy shows and concerts. The Spreckles Theatre has been a vaudeville house, a movie palace, and now a theater. This architectural masterpiece is considered as one of the finest theaters in the country.
St. Joseph Cathedral is a quaint Roman Catholic church that is located in the heart of San Diego, at Downtown. The religious site owns various ministries, programs and Parish groups to perform charity works in the city. One may also receive sacraments at St. Joseph Cathedral for important events like baptism and wedding. Along with the routine prayer services, the cathedral also holds special workshops encouraging participants to probe deeply into the scriptures and history behind such revelations as the Gospel of Saint John.
The Firehouse Museum is the oldest firehouse in San Diego and displays numerous old fire engines, including "The Lancaster," an 1841 hand-pulled steam engine. Also on display are rare photos and equipment from the 1880s, badges, uniforms, helmets and memorabilia from firefighters of days gone by. Items from San Diego and around the world are on display. Come here to learn about the old ways of fighting fires; the kids will love it.