Many people don’t know that San Diego is historically the first place visited by the Europeans on the west coast of the United States. Known for its constant mild climate, superb beaches and important base for the US Navy, San Diego now offers at least five amazing things to do during the summer.
1. Walk on the deck of the U.S.S. Midway Aircraft Carrier
One of the most visited and the most iconic places around San Diego is the U.S.S. Midway Aircraft Carrier. If you’re in southern California, you just have to get on board! Over 972 feet in length, the warship commonly served as the capital ship of the fleets it was part of during the 20th century, had the distinction of being the largest vessel in the world for a whole decade from the mid-40s, and currently holds 25 aircrafts for display purposes, a quarter of its capacity. Last, but not least, a great majority of the docents on board served on other carriers and even the Midway herself. Few things compare to hearing what it means to be a top gun straight from the horse’s mouth.
2. Balboa Park
Another stunning attraction in San Diego, and a fierce competitor in terms of visitor numbers to the Midway, is Balboa Park. Unlike the carrier, this one deserves at least two, perhaps three full days for itself, especially if you’re a photographer or a camera neophyte! Boasting over 1,200 acres of cultural and botanical attractions, Balboa is home to the Zoo, the Natural History Museum, Museum of Man, the Fleet Science Centre, theatres, restaurants and so much more. Even if you don’t have that much time on your hands, come by and just stroll around the numerous idyllic and charming attractions within the “Smithsonian of the West,” as it is often called. You won’t regret it.
3. Dirt bike riding and ATV Tours with Lets ATV
Right after the Midway or Balboa Park, you need to get off the tarmac and explore the wilderness of California’s Pacific Coast. You can’t say you’ve been in San Diego if you haven’t handled an ATV or dirt bike on the dusty, unkempt trails of its hills and canyons. Whether you want rough mountain trails or just amazing views of Baja and Cleveland National Forest, combined with your choice of family adventure, wine tasting or spa trip (half day, full day or two days’ worth), it’s never been easier to experience the stunning outback of Southern California’s outdoors. Lets ATV gives you the guides, the rides (ATVs or dirt-bikes, both big and small), the fuel, and even the gear you need to rubber out the local Off Road Park. You can get more info about the tours here.
4. San Diego Zoo
If you do happen to find yourself in Balboa Park, the local Zoo is one of the most renowned institutions of its kind in the entire world, boasting over 3,700 animals belonging to more than 650 species. With a rich history dating back more than 100 years, SDZ now has three giant pandas, the unchallenged stars of the show. However, there are plenty of chances to get up and close with numerous rare animals, many of them endangered in their natural habitats. The SDZ houses koalas, warty pigs, albino boa constrictors, California Condors, grizzly bears, elephants and much, much more await!
5. Coronado Island
Technically a peninsula, San Diego’s Coronado Island is yet another must see. There, you’ll find a delightful, laid-back village surrounded by a pristine beach that is commonly voted as one of the best in the United States, as well as gentle waves perfect for some mellow surfing. Most importantly, the island is home to the legendary Hotel del Coronado, the architectural jewel where starring Marilyn Monroe had shot most of “Some like it Hot”. For those equally inclined towards historical fact and juicy gossip, the Coronado Walking Tour is a must.