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.
A sailor's delight! Relax while a licensed captain takes you on the sail of a lifetime with Sail San Diego. Or for the more adventuresome, you take the helm! Cruise through the blue waters of San Diego Bay and see the city from a whole new perspective. During January and February, you can also board their 'Marine Biologist's' boat to get up close and personal with migrating whales.
Having played host to more than 130 million visitors since its inauguration in 1964, it is safe to say that not only is SeaWorld San Diego’s leading tourist attraction, but also one of the most well-appreciated marine-life park in the world. A real-life underwater realm, this 189-acre (76 hectares) facility is home to nearly 26 diverse ecosystems that host a succession of themed entertainment programs. Riddled with interesting features, the Bayside Skyride, the Journey to Atlantis, Dolphin Point, Turtle Beach, Shark encounter and Wild Arctic are some of SeaWorld's most prominent attractions. The establishment stands by its founding principles of education, entertainment, research, and conservation and hence helps preserve highly endangered marine fauna such as Pacific walruses, Emperor penguins, Beluga whales, and Guadalupe fur seals through their acclaimed guardianship programmes.
Rev up your engines and cruise on over to the San Diego Automotive Museum dedicated to the last 100 years of automotive development. From 'horseless carriages' to the 50s 'hot rods' parked in front of a simulated diner, car buffs will enjoy checking out the scores of shiny automobiles on display. Research sources are available, as are great gift ideas for any car enthusiast.
High above Old Town, sits the Presidio. First built in 1769 by the Spanish Army as a fort, the Presidio lookout still provides a panoramic view of the city. The adjacent museum was built in 1929 revealing a fine example of Mission Revival-style architecture. Inside the museum you will find clothing, artifacts, furniture, tools and army artillery.
The famous biological research facility, founded by renowned polio vaccine inventor Jonas Salk, is perched high above La Jolla surrounded by 26 acres (10.5 acres). Modernist architect Louis I. Kahn designed the twin-structured building in 1965. The landscape includes a courtyard area, "Stream of Life" and a foot-wide water display inspired by architect Louis Barragan which flows through the marble courtyard between the buildings.
See the majestic California Gray Whale while whale watching on the San Diego coast. Along the way you'll see famous and historic sights of the San Diego Bay, such as the Navy Submarine Base, NOSC, and the Cabrillo National Monument and Point Loma Light House. Although people mainly see Gray whales, at times the tour has also spotted Orcas, Fin Whales, Finbacks, Blue Whales, Humpback Whale and Sperm Whales. In addition to whales, you'll witness many varieties of marine life including dolphins, sea lions, Mola Mola (sun fish) and marine birds such as Brown Pelicans, Sea Gulls and Blue Herons.
The centrally located library is just a few steps away from Horton Plaza and the Gaslamp District. Its cheerful children's section can make for a nice family interlude in between shopping and dining in the area. Downstairs, regular exhibits are free to the public. The third floor offers a business-friendly reference center, staffed with helpful librarians. The library also stocks all local San Diego bus schedules and many other useful resources for tourists and travelers.
Manufactured by Nautica International, this R.I.B. is navigated by one of three U.S. Coast Guard captains through the waters of San Diego and Mexico. Along with the weekly excursions, Adventure R.I.B. Rides offers team-building and corporate events such as whale- and dolphin-watching excursions, naval heritage and wildlife tours, tours of the Coronado Islands, snorkeling, scuba diving and more. Adventure R.I.B. Rides also offers packages that include lunch on board or on a secluded beach. For the aquatic enthusiasts, the R.I.B. comes equipped with chart driver GPS, radar, video depth sounder, and more. For those who just cannot get enough, the three captains of this R.I.B. will rent it out by the hour.
Behind trees, hidden from the historic prestige of much of the rest of Old Town San Diego, this white chapel was built in 1850 as the home of John Brown. Don Jose Aguirre converted this building into a parish in 1858. This chapel, a rebuild of the original bulldozed chapel, contains many of the original artifacts, including the tabernacle, altar, and doors. Jose Aguirre's tomb is in the floor of the chapel.