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San Diego

San Diego Travel Guide

San Diegoís most popular attraction by a long shot is the incredible Sea world, over 100acres of marine life amusement parks. Whatever your views on marine life in captivity it is hard not to be impressed by the sheer scale of the exhibitions and attractions. Highlights include the Shanu killer whale show, the dolphins and sea lions as well as a huge man made penguin colony as well as ski stunts and audio visual experiences. More educational attractions include the awesome Shark Encounter and the Forbidden Reef. Next to Sea World the world famous San Diego Zoo is the second most popular visitor destination - 100acres of beautifully landscaped, often startlingly original, parkland, which is home to around 3,800 animals, from 800 different species. Amongst the most impressive enclosures is Gorilla Tropics, a 2.5acre simulation of an African rain forest that houses six lowland gorillas. The arctic is also wonderfully recreated in Polar Bear Plunge a habitat designed to simulate an arctic summer that is home not only to polar bears but arctic foxes, Siberian reindeer and several species of northern birds. The highlight is The Plunge a 130,000gallon pool, which the visitors can view through a 5inch thick viewing panel and also allows the bears to check out the visitors.

With around 70 miles of beautiful beaches to choose from it is little wonder that San Diego is a magnet for watersport enthusiasts and king of them all is surfing. Yes San Diego is the place to go if you want to hot dog or hang ten. The best conditions are found at Imperial Beach, Coronado, Point Loma, Ocean Beach, Pacific beach, Bird Rock, Windsea, La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores. For the best beach scene the three mile stretch between the southern tip of Mission Beach and the northern end of Pacific Beach canít be beat. Scuba diving is also extremely popular and for good reason. The 6,000acre La Jolla Underwater Park offers some of the best diving in the world. With abundant marine life, magnificant kelp forests and a 100ft deep underwater canyon dives donít come much more spectacular than this. For those who want to enjoy more leisurely aquatic activities there are plenty of pleasure cruises with whale watching outings a speciality around Point Loma.

Back on dry land the City offers myriad opportunities to enjoy arts, culture and entertainment. If you want to combine a bit of art and history with fresh air and some gentle exercise a stroll through Balboa Park is just what youíre looking for. The spectacularly landscaped park is home to replicas of Spanish colonial style buildings along the El Prado promenade, which now house museums. The San Diego Museum of Art has a wonderful collection of European paintings, American landscapes and Asian art. You can find works by Rembrandt, Rubens, El Greco, Cezanne and Pisarro amongst the small but impressive exhibition at the Timkin Museum. The Mingei International folk Museum is chock full of intriguing examples of folk art from around the world whilst the Museum of man not only has a fascinating collection of Native American artefacts but also presents excellent temporary exhibitions.

Youíd think with all the activity going on during the day that the San Diego would be glad of a little rest in the evening, but when the sun goes down thatís when the City really does light up. At one time dining out in San Diego was considered a bit of a joke but today the choice of places to eat and the variety of cuisine on offer is nothing short of impressive. The Gaslamp Quarter alone has over 60 restaurants crammed into its 16 blocks and there isnít a nation in the world you wonít find represented. Whatever your budget youíll find something to satisfy your taste from the freshest seafood to the most authentic Mexican food outside the country, American Steakhouse to Italian Trattoria and Asian food to die for.

Entertainment is equally eclectic. You can line dancing at In Cahoots, try you hand at flamenco at Cafe Seville, get a blues or Jazz fix at Groceís, dance yourself stupid at the E Club or Mosh to the very best in Alternative pop at Casbah. If youíre looking for something more sophisticated there is a wide choice of theatre, dance and classical venues including Sherwood Auditorium and Civic Theatre, the California Ballet Company and the San Diego repertory Theatre. There are also several excellent comedy clubs as well as dozens of clubs and pubs catering for those with more exotic tastes. San Diego also has a thriving gay scene mostly based around the Hillcrest area.

For many San Diego is probably most famous as the stomping ground for Steven Spielbergís rouge T.Rex in The Lost World, with the majority of potential visitors to California setting their sites on Los Angeles or San Francisco. In truth you would be as well to think twice if youíre looking for a more relaxed time. Besides having facilities on a par with both its neighbours San Diego is cleaner, safer and far less hectic than either and probably a lot easier on the pocket. Its proximity to the Mexican border offers untold opportunities for day trips and the surrounding countryside is nothing short of wonderful. San Diego really is one of Californiaís most beautiful secrets.

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San Diego Travel Guide, Attractions and Highlights
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