With the weather up north in San Francisco being a bit too damp and misty at times, and the level of development in the Los Angeles area causing your blood pressure to rise instead of fall, it can be harder than you think to find the stereotypical manifestation of the California Dream in California.
In our opinion, San Diego captures this ideal best, with weather that is even better than a couple hours north in L.A., while having a more laid back attitude towards daily life. Being situated a stone’s throw from the Mexican border, the cultural influence of this nation can be felt here in the food, festivals, and in the joie de vivre of its citizenry.
One visit to this place and you might be looking longingly at the real estate listings, plotting a potential permanent move to a burg that has one of the USA’s highest quality of life ratings.
While you might be skeptical about checking out a replica of an iconic Shakespearean playhouse in the midst of far Southern California, the Old Globe Theatre is one of the best loved performing arts venues in the state.
Located in Balboa Park, San Diego’s biggest green space, the Californian version of the Old Globe hosts fifteen plays per year, and has been home to productions that have gone on to win Tony Awards and star on Broadway.
The complex hosts three different stages, one of which is situated outdoors, making for an excellent evening of drama considering the amazing weather that this corner of America enjoys throughout the year.
The back history of this area may be paltry compared to the eastern portions of the USA, but what heritage San Diego does have is well preserved within its Old Town. Given that this portion of the country used to belong to Mexico before it was annexed after they and Uncle Sam came to blows, this part of the city is home to many of the festivals that those of Mexican descent celebrate, such as Cinco de Mayo and Dia de los Muertos. If you miss these holidays, the museums, churches and charming cafes will have you enjoying your time here regardless.
Being home to much of the Pacific fleet of the United States Navy, it’s not too surprising that the San Diego Maritime Museum is a world class institution that deserves a spot on your cultural touring itinerary.
It has this reputation due to having one of the largest collection of historically significant ships in the USA, with its most prized possession being the Star Of India, which is a tall ship made of iron that is moored alongside the main building of the museum with ten other boats of varying age.
While many cities of any significant size will typically have a zoo of some sort, only a few can claim to be among the best in the nation. The San Diego Zoo belongs in this category, as this park has the highest membership base of any zoo in the world.
They led the way in pioneering open air exhibits that more accurately reflected the natural habitat of the animals that were in their care, and the San Diego Zoo in one of the few parks in the world that is home to a Giant Panda on a permanent basis. If you have a family, this place is a can’t miss attraction.
After touring the many boats and tall ships at the Maritime Museum, proceed down the harbor to the USS Midway Museum, which features the aircraft carrier of the same name, which is retired and set up as a museum ship along the Navy Pier. Serving the needs of the United States from 1945 to 1992, this floating behemoth quickly became the most visited naval museum ship in the world, logging over 1 million visits per year by 2012. Tours are self-guided with an option for audio accompaniment, with every place from the bridge to the captain’s quarters open for inspection.
Those looking for a peaceful natural getaway will want to make time for Torrey Pines State Reserve. Protecting one of the wildest stretches of coast left in Southern California, you can find many quiet places to enjoy the ocean here without the buzz of the city detracting from your state of zen.
Keep on the watch out for animals like bobcats and coyotes, as this land is a haven for these and other species from the pressures of development that can be found everywhere in SoCal these days.