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Top 5 Things to Do in San Diego

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by Oxford Explorer (subscribe)
I'm a Mum of two boys living in Oxfordshire, enjoying lots of fun activities and writing about them when I get a chance.
Published October 12th 2012
With a beautifully mild climate all year around, fantastic beaches, buzzy nightlife and some big attractions, San Diego is a popular tourist destination. Here are my Top 5 things to do.

La Jolla Beaches sunset
Enjoy a sunset walk on a balmy evening

1. Enjoy the miles of sandy beaches
San Diego is blessed with miles of coastline, great beaches and as a result a very laid back Californian lifestyle. For a cluster of the best beaches, try La Jolla.

La Jolla Shores is perfect for families with a large wide and very soft sandy beach. The waves are small and there are no rips so ideal for little ones to have some fun in the sea. There's also a grass park and shaded playpark. Why not bring a picnic or BBQ and make a day of it? La Jolla Cove is the best place for snorkelling with clear water up to 30 feet and lots of marine wildlife. For surfing, head straight to Windansea Beach or just relax on a bench and watch the crashing waves. For more details click here for a full review.

Mission and Mission Bay Beaches cover the largest area and are the most popular. Swimming, waterskiing, sailing, walking, and playing are just some of the many activities you'll see here.

Running on from Mission Beach is Pacific Beach. Just like its neighbour it's large and busy with lifeguards on duty. You'll also find lots of beach bars and restaurants. What could be better than relaxing on a comfy seat, soaking up the sun and watching the weird and wonderful go by?

2. Visit San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park
With over 4,000 animals and a focus on conservation, the world renowned San Diego Zoo is a must visit for many tourists. It's one of the few zoos which has succesfully bred Giant Pandas in captivity. You can easily spend a whole day here without seeing everything. Click here for a full review.

Flamingo, San Diego zoo

San Diego Safari Park is more suitable for older kids that can sit still to watch the animals. Jump in a safari tram to view majestic giraffes or regal lions in free range enclosures.

3. Get Lively in the Gaslamp Quarter
Located in downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter is the old historic centre and today is where to go for great restaurants and a buzzy nightlife. Fourth and Fifth Streets are the happening areas. Crammed full of restaurants, bars and clubs you can find almost any cuisine or listen to a live rock band while drinking a cocktail. Try the Operacaffe for a great Italian.

Gaslamp Quarter
Gaslamp Quarter

4. Be Cultured in Balboa Park
Ranked as one of the best parks in the world, Balboa Park boasts 15 major museums including the San Diego Museum of Man devoted to anthropology and the Museum of Photographic Arts. Not only that but there are 19 gardens, a host of performing arts clubs and activity centres. It's also home to San Diego Zoo. There's so much to see and do in Balboa Park and if you have the time and want to visit a few places then it's worth investigating the various special offers they have for day passes. Check out their website for more details and plan ahead.

Balboa Park San Diego
Balboa Park

Balboa Park, San Diego
Balboa Park

5. Marvel at the Marina

Just a few minutes walk from the Gaslamp Quarter is San Diego's Marina. It's well worth a visit just to walk along and look on enviously at the boats, or watch people flying their kites. Once full of warehouses, the Marina has been rejuvinated and has lots of great restaurants at Seaport Village with a pleasant view. Walk on to the Navy Pier and if you're lucky you can board a Navy ship for a tour. If you're looking for somewhere to stay then try the Marriott Marquis & Marina.

San Diego Marina
Enjoy the Marina from a restaurant terrace

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Why? They're some of the best things to do in San Diego
When: Anytime
Where: Around San Diego
Cost: Varies
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