San Diego, named after Saint Didacus, is the second-largest city in California and the eighth largest city in the United States.
Though San Diego’s economy is multifaceted—biotechnology, defense manufacturing, agriculture, software development and microbreweries are some of the city’s biggest money-makers—tourism is a cornerstone that can’t be ignored.
Tourism drastically affects the city’s culture, and San Diego houses many local attractions, such as SeaWorld San Diego, Belmont amusement park, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park (formerly the Wild Animal Park), and nearby Legoland California. San Diego’s Spanish influence can be seen in the many historic sites across the city, such as the Mission San Diego De Alcala, Cabrillo National Monumennt and Balboa Park. Not surprisingly, San Diego’s cuisine is diverse, and includes European, Mexican, Indian, pan-Asian, as well several fusion cuisines! Each year, San Diego hosts Comic-Con, the San Diego County Fair and Street Scene Music Festival, in addition to several smaller festivals throughout the county.
Many popular museums, such as the San Diego Museum of Art, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Museum of Man, and the Museum of Photographic Arts are located in Balboa Park. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD) is located in an ocean front building in La Jolla and has a branch located at the Santa Fe Depot downtown. The Columbia district downtown is home to historic ship exhibits as well as the San Diego Aircraft Carrier Museum featuring the USS Midway.
The broad city limits encompass a number of large nature preserves, including Torrey Pines State Reserve, Border Field State Park and Mission Trails Regional Park. San Diego boasts over 100 named areas/suburbs within the city limits and houses the largest naval fleets in the world. Located close to the naval arena, downtown San Diego has experienced much urban renewal since the early 1980s. This has resulted in the opening of Horton Plaza, the revival of the Gaslamp Quarter and the construction of the San Diego Convention Center. And you can’t mention the Gaslamp without PETCO Park, home of the San Diego Padres, which opened in 2004. But by far the biggest sports staple is Mission Valley’s Qualcomm Stadium, home of the San Diego Chargers.
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 an estimated 1.2 million inhabitants.
Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the nation, home to 19 museums, various performing arts and intentional culture organizations (as well as the San Diego Zoo). Here you’ll discover internationally significant art treasures, exotic animal species, unique model trains, rare 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 1915-16 Panama-California Exposition and the 1935-36 California Pacific International Exposition.
Balboa Park is also renowned for the horticultural treasures on its 1,200 acres: brilliant displays of seasonal Sowers, 8 gardens including an award-winning rose garden and a Japanese friendship garden, rare and exotic plant species, shady groves of trees and green rolling lawns. For information, call (619) 239-0512.
Old Town San Diego
At Old Town San Diego, visitors can see a variety of old-time shops, visit art galleries, eat at local restaurants and see an example of San Diego history. Old Town is also home to a guided trolley tour that combines colorful anecdotes, humorous stories and well-researched historical facts. The self-paced tour can be an all-day experience or a 2-hour continuous tour. Tours are given year round from approximately 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. Tours depart from Old Town State Park and stops include the Midway Aircraft Museum, Seaport Village, Horton Plaza, downtown Coronado and the Coronado ferry landing. For more information, call (619) 298-8687.
World-Famous San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is a 100-acre refuge to approximately 4,000 rare and endangered animals from more than 800 different species and subspecies. The zoo is also an accredited botanical garden featuring more than 6,000 species of exotic plants. one of the more popular exhibits is the Giant Panda Research Station. The Zoo is open at 9 a.m., 365 days a year. For more information, call (619) 234-3153 or (888) 697-2632 for exhibit times or visit the http://mwrtoday.com/sandiego/tickets or call 619-556-2174.
San Diego Zoo Safari Park
This park is located just 30 miles north of downtown San Diego. Guests can view over 3,000 animals on a guided monorail tour or by walking the Kilimanjaro Safari Walk and exploring exotic gardens, shows and exhibits in Africa-styled Nairobi Village and the Heart of Africa. Open at 9 a.m., 365 days a year. Admission includes the guided monorail tour and shows. Parking costs are additional. To get there, exit off I-15 at Via Rancho Parkway and follow signs six miles east. For information, call (760) 747-8702, or visit the For listing of available tickets, current specials, office locations, hours and phone numbers visit http://mwrtoday.com/sandiego/tickets or call 619-556-2174.
Picture yourself amidst a treasure of 75 one-of-a-kind shops and great bay front restaurants. The Harbor House, Edgewater Grill, San Diego Pier Café and Buster’s Beach House & Longboard Bar offer savory cuisines complimented by unsurpassed views. Thirteen international eateries offer everything from Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to “Chicago” style hot dogs at Seaport Grill. Take a whirl on the 1890’s Looff carousel, delight in daily live entertainment and simply watch the world sail by.
Open daily, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. (June through August, open 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Restaurants may have extended hours. Enjoy two hours free parking with any purchase. For more information, call (619) 235-4014.
SeaWorld San Diego
There’s no place like SeaWorld San Diego. Where else can you challenge the thrills of Journey to Atlantis one minute and touch a stingray the next? Take in numerous rides, exhibits and shows, including Believe, the visually stunning Shamu show that will take you on a breathtaking journey of curiosity and wonder.
Summer days mean the high-flying acrobatics of Cirque de la Mer, and summer nights sparkle at SeaWorld. Stay late and enjoy sensational new shows, enchanting live entertainment and fantastic fireworks during SeaWorld’s spectacular “Into the Blue” celebration, nightly April through Labor Day weekend.
San Diego is a huge sports town featuring Padres MLB baseball and Chargers NFL football. There are also several college and university games for sports fans to attend. For listing of available tickets, current specials, office locations, hours and phone numbers visit http://mwrtoday.com/sandiego/tickets or call 619-556-2174.
The scenic San Diego shoreline 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.
Wave runners, jet skis, ski boats, surfboards, motor boats, sail boats, sail boards, catamarans, kayaks, paddle boards and paddle boats are available for rent right on the beach.
Tickets are also available for other attractions including San Diego Harbor cruises, dinner cruises and deep-sea trips at one of the 8 Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) discount ticket offices.
Discount Tickets and Travel Specials
for the Military
Morale, Welfare and Recreation (MWR) operates eight discount ticket offices on San Diego Naval installations. Military discount tickets are available for most Southern California attractions such as Disneyland, Universal Studios, SeaWorld, San Diego Zoo and Safari Park, Legoland, local theaters, fishing boats, harbor cruises, sporting events and many other local attractions. The Tickets and Travel offices also offer discounts on cruises, hotels and resorts for authorized military patrons as well as coupon books for local restaurants, retail outlets and events. For listing of available tickets, current specials, office locations, hours and phone numbers visit http://mwrtoday.com/sandiego/tickets or call 619-556-2174.