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.
The centerpiece of the blissful Balboa Park, the San Diego Zoo is a prolific destination for adults and children alike. Spread over 98.84 acres (40 hectares) of diverse landscapes, the zoo is home to an excess of 3,500 fauna that belongs to 650 species or subspecies. Established in the year 1916, it is one of the few non-profit wildlife conservation zones to nurture the highly-endangered Giant Panda. Laden with man-made habitats that emulate various topographies from around the globe, the park's most-visited exhibits includes the Monkey Trails, the Polar Bear Plunge, Elephant Odyssey, Tiger River, Koalafornia and the Panda Trek. Virtually every nook and corner of the zoo is made conveniently accessible by the beloved Skyfari, a gondola system that spans across nearly 75 percent of the property.
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.
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.
Enthrall yourself when you are visiting the Horton Plaza Park. You will witness the beautiful fountain which is proudly the first water fountain in United States of America to have electric lights. It is an absolute delight to see the fountain flowing magnificently in the nights where it looks simply beautiful. Next time when you are shopping in the Horton Plaza, don't forget to check out this fantastic work of glory.
Horton Plaza Park takes its name from the original owner of the property, Alonzo Horton, who sold the land in 1890 to the city of San Diego. The park remained a gathering place over the next century and then in 2011, the city and Westfield Group began the renovation of the archaic park. Today, the space contains an amphitheater, historic Broadway Fountain, food and beverage pavilions and its connected to the Westfield Shopping Center.
Vibrant, eclectic, and endlessly entertaining, the Gaslamp Quarter covers more than 16 city blocks of downtown San Diego, with hundreds of specialty shops and dozens of trendy restaurants, bars and avant-garde playhouses. Most of the shops keep late hours, so delightful shopping, drinking, and dining can occur virtually simultaneously. Cutting-edge women's fashions elbow up against exclusive art galleries, while nearby is a hardware store founded more than 100 years ago. The San Diego Convention Center is just steps away from the Gaslamp, and during major conventions the flow of souvenir-hunting attendees floods the area. For an upscale shopping mall experience, the adjacent Horton Plaza offers major department stores and a hundred or so mall shops set in an architecturally amusing maze of bridges, stairways, and intricately tiled walls. If you have just a few hours to devote to shopping, spend the time and the money here.