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San Diego

beach in san diego

California's oldest, second largest and southern-most big city, San Diego is one of the nation's most popular playgrounds. With more than 250 days of sunshine per year, it also boasts one of the best climates in the United States. The city mingles contemporary urban sensibilities with colonial Spanish architecture, sparkling ocean vistas to the west with barren, boulder-strewn hills to the east, and fine dining establishments with the newest of "nouvelle cuisine" standing side by side with tiny tortillerias.

You can take in a Padres game downtown, relive the turn of the century in the Gaslamp Quarter or simply sit and savor hot, homemade tortillas and Mexican food on the patio of almost any restaurant in historic Old Town.

Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the nation, features Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, designed and built for the Panama-California Exposition in 1916 - 1917 to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal. The 1,200-acre park is home to performing arts venues, gardens and more than 15 museums, including the Natural History Museum, the Fleet Science Center and the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, with more than 800 species of animals, some of them rare and endangered.

Outside of town, day trips and excursions abound, from beaches to golf courses. Take the kids to LEGOLAND in Carlsbad, spend a day at the horse races in Del Mar, visit the wineries or indulge in a hot-air balloon ride in Temecula, try your hand with Lady Luck in one of the many Las Vegas-style gaming establishments within an hour's drive of the city or go on safari at the incredible San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido, or visit the nude beach in tony La Jolla.

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