Besides the many recreational offerings, San Diego is a thriving and prosperous community. It is now the eighth-largest city in the United States, with 1.2 million inhabitants. The following is a small sample of the major attractions around the San Diego area. Additional information and tickets for local attractions can be purchased at the MCCS ITT Office, Building 2524, 858-577-4126/4141.
Balboa Park is home to 15 museums, various performing arts and international culture organizations as well as the San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the nation. You’ll discover internationally significant art treasures, exotic animal species, unique model trains, dinosaur fossils and mummies, world folk art, photography, sports memorabilia, rare aircraft and more. The stunning architecture in the park is the legacy of two Expositions, the 1915-1916 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935-1936 California Pacific International Exposition. Balboa Park is also renowned for the horticultural treasures on its 1,200 acres: brilliant displays of seasonal flowers, many themed gardens including an award-winning rose garden and a Japanese garden, rare and exotic plant species, shady groves of trees and green rolling lawns. For information, call 619-239-0512 or visit www.balboapark.org.
There’s a whole new kind of theme park where there’s a better way to play. Hop on the Dragon Coaster for a high-spirited tour of the King’s Castle, take a Safari Trek through Africa or power-ski through water blasts at Aquazone. The new Lego Star Wars Death Star model, made completely out of Lego bricks, is now open in Miniland. Also, coming to Legoland is the Lego Friends Heartlake City, set to open in 2015. Ride the carousel in Mia’s family ranch. Stroll through the Lego horse stables. Sing with Andrea at her stage. Cool off in the Heartlake Fountain. The Resort features more than 60 rides, shows and attractions, and there’s so much to do, you’ll want to spend the night. The Legoland Hotel has 250 rooms along with Lego features, themed play areas and it’s steps away from Legoland Park entrance. The resort is home to the expanded Legoland Water Park featuring the Lego Legends of Chima Water Park. Next door is the Sealife Aquarium. Visit california.legoland.com for details.
Old Town San Diego
In Old Town San Diego, visitors can see a variety of old-time shops, visit art galleries, eat at ethnic restaurants and see an example of San Diego history. A guided trolley tour combines colorful anecdotes, humorous stories and well-researched historical facts. The self-paced tour can be an all-day experience or a two-hour continuous tour. Tours are given year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tour stops include Old Town State Park, the Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Marriott Hotel & Marina, Horton Plaza, Coronado (McP’s), Coronado Ferry Landing, Balboa Park, Little Italy, Gaslamp Quarter and Hilton Bayfront.
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is home to 4,000 rare and amazing animals. See giant pandas, Komodo dragons, gorillas, tigers, flamingos, polar bears and many more. The zoo is also an accredited botanical garden featuring more than 6,000 species of exotic plants. For more information, call 619-231-1515 or visit zoo.sandiegozoo.org.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
The park is 25 minutes north of Miramar. The exciting safari experience includes seeing herds of rhinos, giraffes, antelope, zebras and more roaming natural habitats, a choice of guided safari expeditions, and beautiful walking trails to see exotic animals. Admission includes unlimited rides on the Africa Tram and all shows and exhibits but excludes parking and special ticketed events/attractions. To get there, exit off I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway and follow signs 6 miles east. For information, call 760-747-8702.
Seaport Village and the Headquarters
Seaport Village is an iconic San Diego destination for both local residents and visitors. Open 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily, this 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex includes more than 50 one-of-a-kind shops, 14 casual dining eateries and four fine dining waterfront restaurants. New to the Seaport Village family is the newly renovated Headquarters. The Headquarters offers an unmatched shopping, dining and entertainment experience in the revitalized former San Diego Police Headquarters adjacent to Seaport Village. With its inspired mix of architectural styles and lushly landscaped open-air courtyard, The Headquarters is a sophisticated urban retail center with more than 21 unique shops and restaurants. Seaport Village and Headquarters are downtown at West Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway. For more information, visit www.seaportvillage.com, www.theheadquarters.com or call 619-235-4014.
Seaworld San Diego
There’s no place in the world like SeaWorld San Diego. From the moment guests arrive, they are immersed in an undersea world, as they reach in and touch sharks, cleaner fish and other marine-life in four state-of-the-art touch pools at Explorer’s Reef. Thrill seekers love Manta, SeaWorld’s double-launch, multimedia coaster that soars, dives and twists like a ray. For a more serene experience, there’s Turtle Reef, a coral reef-themed habitat with dozens of threatened sea turtles swimming in their 280,000-gallon habitat. Guests can take in numerous other shows and attractions, including One Ocean, the visually stunning Shamu show that takes you on a sensational, breathtaking journey of curiosity and wonder; the Penguin Encounter, featuring more than 300 penguins waddling and swimming in their snow-filled, 25-degree habitat; the Shark Encounter, where a moving sidewalk takes guests through a tunnel with sharks swimming all around them; and Wild Arctic, featuring polar bears, beluga whales and walruses.
San Diego is a huge sports town featuring the Padres Major League Baseball team and the Chargers National Football League team. There are also several college and university games for sports fans to attend.
The scenic San Diego shore offers more than magnificent sunsets and cool breezes. Whether you enjoy riding the waves, sailing the time away or just lying on the beach, San Diego has it all. The waters of Mission Bay, Pacific Beach, Coronado and others are also prime areas for any water sports excitement. Waverunners, Jetskis, ski boats, surfboards, motor boats, sailboats, sail boards, catamarans, kayaks and paddle boats are available for rent on many beaches.