June 13th, 2008

San Diego – A close look

by Don

(1)  Balboa Park – This beautifully landscaped park covers 1,200 acres and is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, itself designed as a 100-acre tropical garden. The Zoo houses 800 different species, including rare giant pandas on long-term loan from China, and can be toured on foot or by taking a three-mile guided bus tour. Other attractions in Balboa Park are a fine art gallery, the San Diego Aerospace Museum and 14 other museums. Much of the Park’s architecture dates from the Panama-California Exposition of 1915 and the California Pacific International Exposition of 1935, and includes the Old Globe Theater, the California Tower with its working 100-bell carillon and the Spiracles Organ Pavilion, which features concerts on Sunday after-noons. The free Balboa Park Tram runs daily.

(2)  Old Town – This was the heart of San Diego when Spain, fol-lowed by a newly independent Mexico, governed California. Many of the Spanish colonial buildings clustered around the Old Town Square were built between 1820 and 1869, and are now part of a state historical park.

(3) Mission Bay Park – Mission Bay beach community is home to a huge public aquatic park stretching along 17 miles of oceanfront beach-es and containing designated areas for various outdoor sports. Mission Bay is also home to SeaWorld San Diego, a marine park featuring trained killer whales and dolphins, as well as manatees, penguins, belu-ga whales and polar bears.

(4)  CabriUo National Monument – Situated on Point Loma, this monument marks the site where Spanish conquistadors, led by Juan Rodriguez CabriUo, landed in 1542. This rocky point, providing a panoramic view of San Diego Bay, is also an ideal spot to watch for migrating gray whales which spend the winter months (December to March) in the waters off Baja California before returning to northern waters for the summer.

(5) Coronado – The centerpiece of this bayside beach community is the illustrious Hotel Del Coronado. Built in 1888, this landmark build-ing of turrets, cupolas and verandahs was featured in Billy Wilder’s classic Some Like it Hot. A seven-storey tower and poolside complex have been added to the original Victorian structure, and the hotel fea-tures shops, restaurants and other resort amenities. There are other hotels and charming cottages in the vicinity, and the village itself fea-tures a large central park and the popular Ferry Landing Marketplace.

(6) La Jolla (pronounced le hoi ye) – A 20-minute drive from down-town San Diego, this upscale resort is well known for its beautiful ocean beaches, sea~washed caves and abundance of tidepools. Situated in between the especially beautiful La Jolla Shores and Black’s Beach is the Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Birch Aquarium where an outdoor tidepool exhibit introduces visitors to the shore life that can be seen in La Jolla Cove. Just south of La Jolla Cove, along the waterfront, is the Museum of Contemporary Art.

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