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.
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.
History, food and fun are all within easy walking distance of the Old Town. Father Serra established the first mission here more than 225 years ago; Kit Carson helped to raise the first American flag in 1846. Now there are 37 restaurants and entertainment is abundant with artisans, dancers, galleries, hotels, mariachis, professional theatre and shops. Most restaurants and shops accept major credit cards. You can access this area from Interstate-5 by taking the Old Town Avenue exit, driving east and turning left on San Diego Avenue.
Known as the harbor for the first European voyageurs to ever step foot in California, Point Loma is an attraction of great historic importance. Often described as the place where California began, this seaside community of San Diego overlooks the San Diego River to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the south and the Old Town to the east. Today, Point Loma is home to two important military bases, a university and a national cemetery. Proximity to the bay attracts surfers, sport fishers and yachts from all around the world.
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.
The southernmost city on the West Coast, San Diego has a rich history from its pre-colonial to modern military days. Originally inhabited by the Kumeyaay people, Spanish and Portuguese explorers soon arrived to map the land and claimed the bay for their respective home countries. After passing from Spanish to Mexican control, the area was finally acquired by the United States along with the rest of California. The area housed significant naval facilities and factories that aided the war effort during World War II. San Diego has many tourist attractions especially for those who want to relax and unwind. Some of these hot spots include the pristine beaches, the beautiful golf courses, as well as plenty of clubs and casinos to spice up the nightlife. The city also has a varied terrain which makes for an ideal path for cyclists to ride on. Another way to explore San Diego is to board a yacht or a cruise and enjoy whale-watching and sea-excursions.
HMS Surprise is a replica that pays tribute to Rose, a war-ship that is now a part of the Maritime Museum of San Diego. This ship also featured in movies like Pirates of the Caribbean and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World.
Now a part of the Maritime Museum Of San Diego, this California State Historic Landmark, and a National Historic Landmark had to be restored owing to deterioration and neglect. The displays at this ferry include steam engine and other items pertaining to it. The vessel also houses a fully- equipped research library, a workshop and administrative offices of the museum. For more details, call ahead.
Owned by the Soviet Navy, the Soviet Submarine B-39 is a submarine used to track ships that belonged to NATO and United States. It came into prominence during the Cold War; now it is a part of the Maritime Museum of San Diego.