San Diego: City Of Opportunity For Sunseekers And Adventurers
San Diego, for those of you who don’t know, is a city in southern California, south of Los Angeles, and just to the North of the Mexico border. The primary language here is still English, but only just, thanks to the enormous Hispanic influence on the city. Not only is it an excellent location for enjoying some of North America’s best weather, but it’s also a fabulous location for those looking for a spot of adventure. Here’s a flavour of what you can enjoy in and near California’s most southern city.
The Gaslamp Quarter
If it’s a cultural adventure you’re after, the Gaslamp quarter has you covered. It’s a four-by-four block area of mostly Victorian buildings containing some of the best shops and trendiest restaurants that the city has to offer. The area is home to the Horton Plaza, a shopping district, and is on the intersection of Fourth and Fifth avenues, two of the city’s busiest routes.
The Quarter is home to many of the city’s longest-running events, including the annual Mardi Gras Parade, as well as rock and roll music festivals and Comic Con. Although it’s a busy place, it can be accessed from hotels in Carlsbad, San Diego, via public transportation. Parking is free on most days, with an $8 surcharge for every additional hour, if you decide to hire a car.
Cabrillo National Monument
Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo was the first European explorer to successfully sail the Californian coast all the way back in 1542. The Cabrillo National Monument was built in honor of him, to commemorate the spirit of exploration and adventure that has come to represent the West.
You can find the monument five miles to the south of San Diego, near to the Point Loma naval base. If you’re in an adventurous mood, you don’t have to stay with the statue. There are numerous walks to the surrounding areas, including to the Point Loma Tide Pools and the nearby bluffs. You can even hire a guide to show you around the location if you want to take a long walk or camp under the stars at night.
Beaches in and around San Diego and Los Angeles can be extremely busy. But there are a few hidden gems out there, yet to be found by the crowds of tourists and beach-loving locals. One such beach is Coronado, a 1.5-mile stretch of sand lapped by gentle waves, and nearly devoid of sunbathers all year round. The name Coronado means “Crowned one,” perhaps a reference to the premium property that sits along its edge. The beach certainly has a premium feel compared to many, thanks to the many showers along the beach edge, volleyball facilities, and the convenient ferry landing. Make sure you get there before the 11 pm curfew to avoid disappointment.
Torrey Pines Nature Reserve
The city of San Diego today is a bustling metropolis. Skyscrapers dominate the harbour, making it difficult to imagine what the first settlers saw on arriving in the location. The good news is that Torrey Pines State Reserve provides visitors with a window into the past of the city, showing them what the landscape looked like before Europeans arrived.
The park covers more than 1,750 acres of unspoilt wilderness next to the coast. There are more than 3,000 Torrey Pines in the park, as well as one of California’s largest waterfowl salt marshes. Not only are there more than eight different trails crisscrossing the park, but there are also many opportunities to see rare birds in their natural environment and unusual flowers, especially in the spring.
There’s no admission cost to get into the park, just the cost of parking. In the summer, parking is about twice the cost as in the winter or low season. The cost of parking also varies depending on which car park you use. Expect to pay between $5 and $20, depending on the season.
Balboa Park is San Diego’s most beautiful civic amenity. Based on some of England’s best city parks, Balboa park houses not only a zoo but also museums and a botanical garden, one of the largest examples in North America. Here you’ll find over two thousand different plant species, allowing you to explore all day long if you want to.
The park is open all year round, meaning that you can visit all of its differently-themed gardens in the height of summer or the depths of winter. What about prices? Entry is free, but some of the attractions charge. The zoo is the most expensive, costing around $46 for a single day and more for 7-day access.
The USS Midway Museum
The city of San Diego has long been associated with the military, playing an essential role in the second world war against the Japanese. Now it’s home to the USS Midway, a once formidable aircraft carrier and now museum with over 60 exhibits.
The aircraft carrier is enormous and holds more than two dozen restored aircraft. As you walk around, you’ll learn about the rich military history of the Midway, the longest-serving aircraft carrier in the nation’s history. You can choose between taking a guided tour by one of the museum’s curators, or use an audio guide to steer you through the many decks and cabins of the enormous ship.
Although best suited for history buffs, the USS Midway is far more than a mere museum. It still feels very much alive, making it an excellent place for anyone with a remote interest in military might and personal freedom. The attraction opens at 10 am and you can stay until 5 pm. Adults tickets are around $20, children half that.
In summary, San Diego is one of America’s most exciting cities. It’s especially suitable for adventurers, thanks to the many interesting places you can explore. With national parks right on its doorstep, San Diego offers many opportunities to explore beautiful landscapes practically all year round. Once you’ve finished with nature, there are places to go to eat and shop, and cultural events to enjoy.