Information contained in this webpage is reprinted by the permission of the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau (SDCVB). For additional information see the website of the SDCVB, http://www.sandiego.org/.
California's second largest city and the United States' seventh largest, San Diego boasts a citywide population of nearly 1.3 million residents and more than 2.8 million residents countywide. Within its borders of 4,200 sq. miles, San Diego County encompasses 18 incorporated cities and numerous other charming neighborhoods and communities, including downtown's historic Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Coronado, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Escondido, La Mesa, Hillcrest, Barrio Logan, Chula Vista just to name a few.
San Diego is renowned for its idyllic climate, 70 miles of pristine beaches and a dazzling array of world-class family attractions. Popular attractions include the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park, Sea World San Diego and LEGOLAND California. San Diego offers an expansive variety of things to see and do, appealing to guests of all ages from around the world.
In San Diego's East County, the terrain varies from gentle foothills to mile-high mountains and the historic mining town, Julian, down to the 600,000-acre Anza Borrego Desert State Park, offering nature-conscious visitors endless opportunities to hike, camp, fish, observe wildlife and much more. In San Diego's North County, the agricultural community produces quantities of flowers and magnificent produce. Wine growers are also making a mark by growing and harvesting quality grapes that become excellent wines, which are served at some of the most elegant restaurants and resorts in the region. Along the west, 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline not only supports year-round outdoor recreation, such as surfing, boating, sailing and swimming, but also important scientific research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. To the south, it's a whole different country, Mexico, featuring its own cultural offerings in various towns along the border and coastline, including Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada.
San Diego's arts and culture and culinary arts are booming. The hottest, new culinary arts talents prepare award-winning meals throughout the regions 6,400 eating establishments. Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the U.S., is home to 15 museums, numerous art galleries, beautiful gardens, the Tony Award-winning The Globe Theatres and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
San Diego County also features 92 golf courses and a variety of exciting participatory and spectator sports, beachfront resorts and luxury spas, gaming, a dynamic downtown district, annual special events and unique holiday offerings, multicultural festivals and celebrations, colorful neighborhoods and communities, a rich military history and much more.
The most difficult decision to make regarding a vacation to San Diego is determining what to do and see among the region's vast and diverse offerings. San Diego County promises a truly remarkable vacation experience for everyone.
San Diego Attractions and Activities
Having fun in San Diego does not require a lot of money. In fact, many things to see and do in San Diego are absolutely free. With 70 miles of beautiful beaches, near-perfect weather year-round, and a variety of magnificent settings countywide, San Diego offers a fun and inexpensive getaway during all seasons of the year.
A List of 25 Free Activities Found in San Diego Year-Round
1. Head to San Diego's many beaches, all free to the public, to swim, body surf or hang-ten. Play in the sand, collect seashells or just bask in the sun.
2. Visit La Jolla Cove and see the magnificent sunset on the ocean. La Jolla Cove is one of the most spectacular natural settings in the world.
3. Visit Seaport Village during the weekends for free entertainment and hours of leisurely strolling and window-shopping. Or just sit in the grass and gaze at passing yachts and ships on picturesque San Diego Bay.
4. Stroll through the 16 Block historic Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego and view the renovated turn-of-the-century Victorian architecture, home to boutiques, art galleries, specialty shops and more.
5. Fly a kite along the grassy field in the Tecolote Shores of Mission Bay Park, a 4,600-acre aquatic park. Here, away from trees and overhead wires, friends and family gather to launch colorful kites into the bay breezes.
6. Enjoy free organ concerts at 2 p.m. on Sundays at the Spreckels Organ Pavillion in Balboa Park. The Organ Pavillion features one of world's largest outdoor pipe organs, a San Diego landmark since 1914, where organists play traditional favorites, waltzes and show tunes on enormous 32-foot pipes.
7. Visit Old Town and witness the living legacy of San Diego history. Guests are also invited to wander free through Old Town's historic buildings, including the blacksmith shop, Seeley Stables, Stewart House, Estudillo House and the oldest schoolhouse in San Diego.
8. Bike or jog along Mission Bay Park's many trails. Joggers and walkers share more than 20 miles of scenic running paths that wind through sunlight and shade near the shoreline and feature workout courses at planned stations along the route.
9. Visit the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista for a free tour of the 150-acre facility, including training fields and tracks, athlete dorms and the Otay Lake Reservoir. Tours are offered daily from the Copley Visitor Center between 10 a.m.-3 p.m. on Monday through Saturday, and 11 a.m-3 p.m. on Sunday.
10. Stargaze outside the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center in Balboa Park on the first Wednesday of every month. The San Diego Astronomy Association sets up huge telescopes to offer guests a great view of all the stars in the night sky.
11. Take a scenic, one-hour drive to Mt. Laguna. Once there, hop out for an invigorating hike and enjoy the fresh mountain air whispering through the pines.
12. Step back in time with a stop in Julian, a century-old gold mining town in the Cuyamaca Mountains. Pick up a free map at the Chamber of Commerce for a self-guided walking tour of the area's historic sites and later enjoy a slice of homemade apple pie - a Julian specialty!
13. Grab your picnic basket and head to Torrey Pines State Park where you can watch talented and daring hang-gliders do tricks in the strong winds that sweep along the coastline cliffs.
14. Cross the border into colorful and exciting Tijuana, Mexico. Entrance is free, the people are friendly, and the shops offer unique gifts and apparel as well as great window-shopping. Delegates from foreign lands must take care about crossing the border into Mexico. Visas issued by the U.S.A. INS are valid only for delegate travel to and from the U.S.A. from the country of origin of the visa. An issued visa may not allow an IEEE MFI 2014 delegate to re-enter the U.S.A. from Mexico. Delegates are advised to seek advise from the Registration Desk before traveling to Mexico.
15. Rollerblade, skateboard or bicycle along the Mission Beach Boardwalk, a scenic 3-mile boardwalk along picturesque Mission and Pacific Beaches.
16. Visit Mission Trails Regional Park to explore the cultural, historical and recreational aspects of San Diego. Stop at the Visitor's Center and learn about the wonders of nature and the people who once lived on the land. Or, roam through the park's 40 miles of natural and developed hiking and biking trails.
17. Go scuba diving or snorkeling off San Diego's shores and see spectacular creatures of the sea. La Jolla Cove offers some of the clearest waters on the California coast, as well as miles of protected underwater preserves to explore.
18. Go bird watching at the Torrey Pines State Reserve. Located high above Torrey Pines State Beach, the area is home of the rare and ancient Torrey Pine as well as a beautiful protected habitat for swifts, thrashers, woodpeckers and wrentits.
19. Stroll through Balboa Park and marvel at its beautiful Spanish Colonial Revival architecture. While there, take advantage of the park's variety of offerings, including 15 museums (select museums free on Tuesdays), free daily park tours, public organ concerts (Sundays), and spectacular gardens (seven are free daily).
20. Visit other museums around town that offer similar free days. In its La Jolla facility, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is free on the third Tuesday of each month; the downtown facility is free daily.
21. Gather family, friends and firewood for a cozy beach bonfire at one of the beaches in San Diego County, including Coronado Beach, La Jolla Shores and Mission Beach.
22. Explore the tidepools in Point Loma at low tide and get up close and personal with flowery anemones, scampering shore crabs, elusive octopus, spongy deadman's fingers and many other magnificent sea creatures.
23. Drive to th top of Mt. Soledad in La Jolla for breathtaking, 360-degree views of San Diego, including the gently curving La Jolla coastline and Mission Bay. Spectacular views of San Diego's East County communities also await guests at the top of Mt. Helix.
24. Visit the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and experience the natural beauty of the desert. The 600,000-acre park is one of the largest state parks in the United States and each spring, following winter rains, explodes into a rainbow of colorful wildflower blossoms.
25. Take a scenic walk along The Big Bay, San Diego's "largest attraction." With 27 miles of waterfront featuring bayside parks, marinas, hundreds of shops and restaurants, and miles of promenades and bikeways, the Big Bay appeals to all ages and interests.
Activities and Attractions
San Diego is packed with world-famous fun activities and exciting attractions for kids, adults and the whole family:
San Diego Seaworld
There's no place in the world like SeaWorld San Diego. Where else can you challenge the thrills of Journey To Atlantis one minute and touch a dolphin the next? Take in numerous attractions, exhibits and shows, including Believe -- the visually stunning Shamu show that will take you on a sensational, breathtaking journey of curiosity and wonder. You'll also see Shamu in a different light as his high-energy nighttime show, Shamu Rocks, performing during Spring into Night and Summer Nights. Touch a world that touches you at SeaWorld San Diego. To buy tickets and to check for coupons go http://www.sandiego.org/ or to the website shown below.
500 SeaWorld Dr.
San Diego, CA 92109
Tel: (800) 25-SHAMU
San Diego Zoo
Pandas: our world-famous celebrities
The San Diego Zoo has had a love affair with giant pandas ever since two of the black-and-white bears came to visit in 1987. After years of red tape and tons of application paperwork, the Zoo and China agreed on a 12-year research loan of two giant pandas, Bai Yun and Shi Shi. A brand-new exhibit area was built for our panda guests, which has since been expanded and renovated and is now called the Giant Panda Research Station. Although we currently have four giant pandas, our facility can comfortably house up to six!
Today our giant pandas enjoy deluxe accommodations with larger exhibit areas and extra vegetation and climbing structures. You'll enjoy the newer exhibit area too, with its winding, elevated viewing paths that give great panda-watching opportunities into the two main enclosures.
Next to the public panda viewing area is the building that houses the Giant Panda Team, made up of the pandas' keepers and researchers who observe and study giant panda behavior in an effort to learn all we can about these endangered bears. Be sure to stroll through the Giant Panda Discovery Center, located nearby. It includes a climb-in panda den, interactive exhibits, and even a chance to find out what pandas sound and smell like! To buy tickets and to check for coupons go http://www.sandiego.org/ or to the website shown below. Fun facts:
* The People's Republic of China sent two giant pandas, Basi and Yuan Yuan, to the San Diego Zoo for a 200-day loan in 1987. More than two million people were able to view the pandas during their stay.
* On August 21, 1999, Bai Yun gave birth to Hua Mei, the first giant panda born in North America to survive to adulthood. Millions of people around the world watched Hua Mei grow up via the Zoo's Panda Cam.
* In 1979, the Zoo began working with Chinese zoos to help many of China's endangered animals, including red pandas, takins, and Manchurian cranes.
* A panda narrator is at the panda's main viewing area daily to share the latest news and to answer guests' questions about the "bamboo bears."
* Bamboo is grown on Zoo grounds and at several off-grounds locations to supply the pandas with their daily meals.
Park Blvd. & Zoo Pl.
San Diego, CA 92112-0551
Tel: (619) 231-1515
San Diego Zoo's Safari Animal Park
The 1,800-acre San Diego Zoo's Safari Animal Park is an expansive wildlife sanctuary operated by the not-for-profit Zoological Society of San Diego. It is home to more than 3,500 animals representing 429 species, including the largest crash of rhinos in any zoological facility, and one of the only California condor exhibits in the world. Naturalist habitats provide an opportunity to view animals lounging in natural settings, while unique construction at areas like Lion Camp allow you to come face-to-face with Africa's biggest cat. Modeled after the hot air balloon tours of the Serengeti, Balloon Safari offers visitors scenic views of the Safari Animal Park's lush grounds and don't forget Photo Caravan Safaris offer an intimate adventure inside the Safari Animal Park's field habitats in open-air trucks. Close-up photography experiences are the norm where Indian rhinoceros lumber alongside vehicles and giraffes peer into the camera lens from inches away.
15500 San Pasqual Valley Rd.
Escondido, CA 92027-9614
Tel: (760) 747-8702
At LEGOLAND California everyone in the family becomes a hero. There are more than 50 super rides, shows and attractions. We need pirates to sail a galleon in the new Splash Battle. Brave Knights for the Knights' Tournament. And Firefighters to put out fires. Heroes Wanted. To buy tickets and to check for coupons go http://www.sandiego.org/ or to the website shown below.
One LEGOLAND Dr.
Carlsbad, CA 92008
Tel: (760) 918-5346