- Zipping Across the San Diego-Coronado Bay Bridge: The first time or the 50th, there's always an adrenaline rush as you follow this engineering marvel's dramatic curves and catch a glimpse of the panoramic view to either side. Driving west, you can easily pick out the distinctive Hotel del Coronado in the distance.
- Escaping to Torrey Pines State Reserve: Poised on a majestic cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this state park is set aside for the rarest pine tree in North America. The reserve has short trails that immerse hikers in a delicate and beautiful coastal environment.
- Communing with Seals at the Children's Pool: This tiny La Jolla cove was originally named for the young bathers who could safely frolic behind a man-made seawall. These days, seals and sea lions sunning themselves on the sand are the main attraction. There has been much public debate about whether the beach belongs to humans or seals, but it's important to keep a safe distance -- these are wild animals -- and you'll be rewarded with a unique wildlife experience.
- Taking in the City's Best Panorama: Cabrillo National Monument at the tip of Point Loma offers a breathtaking 360-degree view that takes in downtown, the harbor, military bases, Coronado, and, in the distance, Mexico and San Diego's mountainous backcountry. It's also a great vantage point from which to watch migrating Pacific gray whales in the winter.
- Renting Bikes, Skates, or Kayaks at Mission Bay: Landscaped shores, calm waters, and paved paths make Mission Bay Park an unsurpassed aquatic playground. Encompassing 4,200 acres and featuring 27 miles of bayfront beaches and picnic areas, there's plenty to explore on both land and water.
- Strolling Through the Gaslamp Quarter: You'll be convinced you've stepped back in time when you walk through this 16 1/2-block area lined with Victorian commercial buildings. The beautifully restored structures, in the heart of downtown, house some of the city's most popular shops, restaurants, and nightspots.
- Spending an Idyllic Day in Balboa Park: San Diego's crown jewel and the largest urban cultural park in the nation. The buildings that grew out of Balboa Park's two world's fairs (1915-16, 1935-36) create a vision of Spanish Golden Age splendor and provide a home for 15 museums. The park also features gardens, walking trails, theaters, and recreational facilities, and is the home of the San Diego Zoo.
- Being a Groundling: You won't have to stand as they did in William Shakespeare's day, but you can see the Bard's work alfresco at the Old Globe Theatre's Summer Shakespeare Festival. The Tony Award-winning Old Globe hosts performances of Shakespeare's work in repertory, alternating several productions at its open-air theater in Balboa Park.
- Floating Up, Up, and Away over North County: Sunset hot-air-balloon rides carry passengers over the golf courses and luxury homes north of the city. Do it while you can -- open space for landings has been fast disappearing -- making ballooning something of an endangered pasttime here.
- Witnessing the Desert's Spring Fling: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, California's largest state park, attracts most of its visitors during the spring wildflower season, when a kaleidoscopic carpet of blooms blankets the desert floor. Others come year-round to hike more than 100 miles of trails.
- Paddling With the Fishes: The calm surfaces and clear waters of the San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park are the ultimate spot for kayaking, snorkeling, or scuba diving. This ecological reserve features sea caves and vibrant marine life, including California's state fish, the electric-orange garibaldi.
- Teeing off at Torrey Pines Golf Course: These two 18-hole championship courses in La Jolla overlook the ocean and provide players with plenty of challenge. In January, the Farmers Insurance Open (formerly known as the Buick Invitational) is held here. The rest of the year, these popular municipal courses are open to everybody.
- Spending a Day at the San Diego Zoo, Zoo Safari Park, or SeaWorld: At the zoo, animals live in naturalistic habitats; at the Safari Park (formerly the Wild Animal Park), most of the 3,500 animals roam freely through enclosures on an 1,800-acre spread. SeaWorld features pirouetting dolphins, performing sea lions, and the famous Shamu killer whale show.
- Making a Run for the Border: What a difference a line makes. Once you cross it, you're instantly immersed in the chaotic vibrancy of Mexico's fourth-largest city. Just a 20-minute drive from downtown, Tijuana has a raucous tourist zone with plentiful shopping, as well as an array of cultural and culinary delights.
- Toasting the Good Life: Just across the county line in Temecula, about 60 miles north of downtown San Diego, are more than two dozen wineries. They range from mom-and-pop operations with minimal amenities to slick commercial ventures with fancy tasting rooms, retail boutiques, and restaurants.
- Buying Some Peanuts and Cracker Jack: San Diego's National League baseball team, the Padres, plays at PETCO Park, a state-of-the-art ballpark that opened in 2004. Incorporating seven buildings that date as far back as 1909, PETCO's clever design and downtown location have made it a fan favorite.
- Quaffing some local beer: Thanks to its more than 30 breweries, San Diego has been named America's number one beer city by Men's Journal. San Diego's king of beers is Stone Brewery, which operates a sensational bistro and beer garden that will leave even teetotalers impressed.
- Getting in Touch With Your Pioneer Spirit: The mountain hamlet of Julian was founded as a gold-mining town in the 1860s, but it eventually gained fame for a different kind of mother lode: apples. Today, this rustic community has a distinctly Victorian, Old West charm, redolent of hot apple pies.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.