Experiencing the Very Best of San Diego

The skyline of San Diego at twilight. peasap/flickr
Laid back, mellow, and chill to the max, San Diegans surf before work, swim toward sunsets, and enjoy Shakespeare and Santana under moonlit skies. The choices for adventure, amusement, and illumination are endless. I've highlighted my favorites here to help guide you to the ultimate San Diego vacation.
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A lily pond at Balboar Park in San Diego Ming-Yen Hsu/Flickr
San Diego’s pride and joy, this exquisite cultural complex (created originally for the Panama–California Exposition of 1915-1916) never ceases to delight locals and visitors alike, who gather here for celebrations, picnics, exercise, and immersion in the arts. Nights are magical, with lights glowing on El Prado, blues drifting from a street musician's sax, and museums holding concerts, lectures, and parties.
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Vacationers enjoy La Jolla Beach Cove in California Roger Ta/Flickr

Seriously, how could you not spend time on the beach? Choose Coronado Beach, La Jolla Shores, or Pacific Beach for the wholesome family experience; Mission Beach for wild, rowdy partying; or Ocean Beach for laid-back funk and awesome surf.

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A view of San Diego from above. S.D.Dirk/Flickr

Seeing the City from on High: Bird's eye views of San Diego are different wherever you perch. In daylight, from cliff tops at Cabrillo National Monument  the panorama takes in Navy bases, San Diego Bay, downtown, Coronado, and the horizon south to Mexico. At night, watch jetliners descend to the airport, seemingly skimming downtown's sparkling skyline from Bertrand's at Mr. A's. Mt. Soledad offers the ultimate view of the coastline.

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A young surfer catches a wave off San Diego. kellinahandbasket/Flickr
Try balancing on a surfboard or paddleboard, kayaking amid seals, catching a sea bass, or captaining a Catamaran—you can do all of this, and more, in this active city.
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A sunset at Sunset Cliffs in San Diego. Chad McDonald/Flickr
There's good reason for the name—Sunset Cliffs faces the horizon's ever-changing palette without obstructions. Bring a towel or beach chair and linger as vibrant colors streak the darkening sky.
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A koala bear at the zoo. randy stewart/flickr
You could return several times and still not see everything at this world-famous zoo.
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Flowers at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Marshal Hedin/Flickr
Anza-Borrego Desert State Park's sandy brown landscape bursts into color in spring when a kaleidoscopic carpet of blooms blankets the desert floor. The 90-mile scenic drive through the mountains and down to the desert floor takes about 2 hours.
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A man walks along the beach at Torrey Pines State Park Osbornb/Flickr
Poised on a majestic cliff overlooking the Pacific, The Torrey Pines State Reserve protects the rarest pine tree in North America and has short trails that immerse hikers in a delicate and beautiful coastal environment.
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