What most people forget, or perhaps don’t know, is that San Diego was the first California destination discovered by the Europeans. Of course the native Americans, such as the Kumeyaay people, had been living there long before, but it wasn’t until 1542 that Juan Rodriquez Cabrillo landed at Sand Diego Bay. Formally under Spanish rule, followed by Mexican rule, it wasn’t until 1848 that San Diego County became a part of California statehood under the United States. This area is considered “the birthplace of California” and is now called Old Town San Diego. Check out the San Diego State Historic Park to learn more!
Places to Visit in San Diego
- Sea World
- San Diego Zoo
- Balboa Park and Museums
- Gaslamp Quarter
- Seaport Village
Unique Things to See and Do in San Diego
- Check out the beaches at La Jolla
- Take a bus to Tijuana, Mexico for a taco lunch!
- Hike to the top of Potato Chip Rock
- Take notice of the grave sites under foot along San Diego Ave
- Admire the Heritage Park Victoria Village
- Watch gray whales migrating along the coast
For all the nature lovers, a visit to the Cabrillo National Monument is the perfect spot to watch migrating gray whales. From December to April there are over 20,000 gray whales passing through from Alaska. The females give birth to their calves in the warmer waters and stay until the calves are strong enough to make the trek back up north. Even blue whales have been observed visiting from June to September – they are one of the largest and most endangered species of whale.
Explore the beautiful area of Coronado Island – a popular destination due to the exclusive Hotel de Coronado, wide avenues, many parks, beautiful buildings and perfect beachside residences. A short drive from San Diego, this typical Californian beachside resort has even hosted numerous US presidents over the years.
Star of India, the oldest iron-hulled ship in the world, resides in the boat collection at the Maritime Museum of San Diego. The Star of India was built in 1863 and was used to transport tea from India to Great Britain and all the way to New Zealand. Retired in 1963, she serves as a museum ship with her sails still standing in full glory.
Gaslamp Quarter is perfect for those with an affinity for historical buildings. It is the heart and soul of downtown San Diego and a must-see for all travellers. Stretching over 16 blocks, it still houses 94 historical buildings. Nightlife in Gaslamp Quarter boasts of great entertainment, restaurants and people watching opportunities. Make a point to spend an evening in this part of town!
Getting Around San Diego
There are lots of options for getting around San Diego. The most popular choice for tourist spots is the Old Town Trolley line. Not only will it take you to places like Gaslamp Quarter or Balboa Park, but there are also services to La Jolla and Mission Bay. You also have the option of a narrated ride for a historical take on things.
Did you know…?
That San Diego produces more avocados than any other region in the country.
Did you ALSO know…?
That the Geisel Library holds the largest collection of original Dr. Seuss manuscripts in the world.
Best Time of Year to Travel to San Diego
The main attractions like the San Diego Zoo pull in many families during the peak out-of-school holidays, so generally speaking we suggest travelling during the shoulder seasons from the end of April through May, and September through November. Weather-wise, the days are typically sunny with temperature lows of 9°C in the winter to a high of 19°C. During the height of summer temperatures can reach a high of 26°C with a low of 20°C on average.
Ready to plan your visit to San Diego? Check out these popular guides and trips.