San Diego is the sunniest pocket of The Golden State, boasting 266 days of sunshine each year. This Southern California city (which has a population of 1.4 million) is a favorite getaway for both families and culture seekers. Each neighborhood carries distinct identities, from Little Italy to Hillcrest (which hosts San Diego’s annual Pride parade). Here's everything to see and do on your visit.
The San Diego Zoo
Continually ranked as one of the country’s top zoos, and the most visited in the U.S., the San Diego Zoo is home to 3,700 animals, including African penguins and koalas (the zoo has the second-largest number koalas outside of Australia). The zoo also features plenty of fun-for-all attractions like the Scripps Aviary in Gorilla Tropics, which is designed to resemble an African jungle. Children and adults alike will love Monkey Trails, an elevated walkway that showcases a wide array of monkey species from around the world. Be sure to visit the zoo's Polar Bear Plunge (where polar bears reside).
What to Do in San Diego’s Balboa Park
The San Diego Museum of Art and the San Diego Zoo are among the attractions in the sprawling, 1,200-acre Balboa Park. Other museums in the park include the San Diego Air & Space Museum, the San Diego Natural History Museum, the San Diego Automotive Museum, and the Fleet Science Center. On the Southern end of the park is Golden Hill Fountain Grotto. The Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden
— which peaks in April and May — has more than 100 different rose varieties.
Where to Find the Beach
Downtown San Diego hugs San Diego Bay, which means you won’t find long stretches of beach in this area. Instead, head to nearby communities like La Jolla and Coronado. Within San Diego, you can find two miles of boardwalk in Mission Beach along with a restored 1920s roller coaster. Mission Beach is about 10 miles northwest of downtown San Diego. Ocean Beach is another San Diego neighborhood right on the sand.
Shop ‘Til You Drop in San Diego
San Diego is a great shopping destination. At Las Americas Premium Outlets, 20 minutes south of San Diego by car, you'll find fashion brands like 7 For All Mankind, Armani, and Kate Spade. For Southwestern and Mexican goods, visit Old Town Market, which sells textiles, pottery, and more. If you love flea markets, visit Vintage Flea Market in North Park, where you'll find everything from vintage jewelry to home furnishings. Neighborhoods like Little Italy, Ocean Beach, Del Mar, and La Jolla have their own fair share of eclectic shops and boutiques.