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.
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.
One of the most important ballparks of Major League Baseball (MLB), Petco Park is a baseball fan's haven and the base of the San Diego Padres. Its unique architectural layout is an ode to the region's geography and its natural allure. The framework of the stadium resonates of the surrounding peaks while the steel edifice and enclosing structures are designed like canyons. Landscaped with indigenous plants and featuring a lush area picnic hill, this magnificent stadium boasts to have the best seats for not only sports lovers but also concert goers.
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.
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.
Take in the beautiful city scenes of the city at the Waterfront Park. The area lies along the San Diego Bay overlooking the harbor. Features such as play areas, interactive water fountains, native plant gardens and a space for public art. They offer rental spaces for private events like weddings, parties and much more.
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.
Enjoy a three-hour dinner cruise that provides both amazing food with outstanding views of San Diego from the water. After dining on steak or fresh seafood while marveling at the sights, take your date by the hand and dance under the stars. The perfect cruise for the perfect date.
Explore the azure waters of San Diego bay with a memorable marine excursion with Marietta Yacht. A swanky whale watching sailboat, Marietta offers an airy ambiance for a private party or a cocktail evening. Its sprawling sun-splashed deck promises some spectacular views of the neighboring landscape. The spacious reception lounge indoors is an idyllic spot for school functions, harbor sightseeing tours and other intimate ceremonies.