If San Diego holds the title of “Most Beautiful City in America”, it’s for countless reasons. Located a two-hour drive from Los Angeles and a half-hour drive from the Mexican border, San Diego features beaches and havens of peace, typical of California, with a multicultural twist and (to my mind) opinion) of the warmest people.
While a brief Google search for “Los Angeles activities” can generate up to 20 pages of results, knowing what to do in San Diego is not as easy. That’s why I wanted to give you an overview of the top 10 attractions in San Diego and surrounding areas.
1. The San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park
Home to nearly 800 species, including pandas, the San Diego Zoo is known as one of the most beautiful in the world. It would be difficult to spend less than half a day for any person, regardless of age. So you could spend the second half of your day at nearby Balboa Park, home to more than 16 museums, a botanical garden, golf courses, arts centers, an artists’ village and a multicultural center. Balboa Park, the essence of San Diego, is a must-see in the city.
2. The Torrey Pines State Reserve
Adopt Southern California’s outdoor lifestyle by undertaking some incredible hikes in Torrey Pines. The views are breathtaking and the experience refreshing and unique.
3. The island of Coronado
The island of Coronado, accessible only by bridge or ferry (or swimming), offers the best view of the San Diego skyline. A naval base occupies half of the island, while the other half houses the Hotel Del Coronado, one of the oldest buildings in the country to be fully equipped with electric lamps. If you go there in winter, you will have the rare pleasure of being able to skate on the ice just a few meters from the Pacific Ocean, under the shade of the tall palm trees.
4. The Cabrillo Monument and Sunset Cliffs
The national monument of Cabrillo marks the initial landing point of Juan Cabrillo, the first European to set foot on the ground of what is now called California. The place offers views of Coronado Island, San Diego and even parts of Mexico. North of the peninsula, you’ll find Sunset Cliffs: a set of exposed rock faces that twinkle at sunset. Have a picnic and watch the surfers ride the last waves of the day.
5. The Jolla Cove and Scripps Aquarium
La Jolla (“The Jewel” in Spanish) is home to one of California’s largest marine reserves. You can make selfies with sea lions (do not forget to be respectful and careful), kayaking on kelp forests (a variety of large seaweed) and diving among the Demoiselles Garibaldi (fish emblem from the state of California). You find the water a little too cold? Visit Scripps Aquarium, just north of the creek, to familiarize yourself with some of these marine species in a drier and more comfortable environment.