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San Diego: From a Mission to a Modern City with a Heart
by CL Hendricks

Spaniards arrived in what is now San Diego three centuries before the Mexican War made it part of the United States. Today it is the second-largest city in California and one of the largest in the country. It is also home to a large military presence, but there's more to this city than just bases. If you're planning a trip to San Diego, here is a list of must-sees.

Sea World Adventure Park: The Atlantis Water Coaster, the Wild Arctic Interaction and the world-famous killer whale Shamu are just a few of the attractions at this family-friendly and educational park.

San Diego Zoo: This zoo, one of the most famous in the world, is also one of the largest. It can take one or two full days to explore, and the guided tours are recommended.

Balboa Park: This 1,200-acre "urban cultural park" is home to gardens, museums, theatres and the San Diego Zoo. The pipe organ pavilion should be on every tourist's itinerary.

Mission Beach: The white sand alone would be enough to make this place popular with locals and visitors alike. Add in the shops, restaurants and the famous Belmont Park roller coaster, and you have an amazing place.

Gaslamp Quarter: This 16-block area houses a sumptuous variety of dining, shopping and entertainment options suitable for just about any palate.

Old Town: This site of Father Junipero Serra's first California mission is now the home of a plethora of restaurants, shops and street performers. The best time to visit is in the evening, when this place truly comes to life.

Little Italy: Much like its counterpart in New York, this area features all things Italian, from pasta to boutiques. In October it hosts festivals that attract visitors from all over the world.

MCAS Miramar Air Show: Hundreds of planes are on display, and you don't need top-secret clearance to explore them. The virtual flight simulators and air shows will delight children and grown-ups alike.

Belmont Park: In addition to the famous wooden roller coaster, this amusement park offers everything from bumper cars to wave machines.

About the Author

C.L. Hendricks has been a Jill-of-all-trades and become an expert in some. She has also traveled extensively and now writes about travel destinations around the world for Family Vacation Spots and Best Vacation Getaways