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Must-See San Diego

What to see when visiting San Diego


Must-See San Diego
Courtesy of San Diego Zoo
Updated December 11, 2006
As picturesque as San Diego is, one can explore the city and its surrounding areas for years and still need time to see more. But for visitors and residents alike, there are a few attractions and places that should be on the must-see list, whether its to impress the visiting relatives, or simply to remind yourself what a great place San Diego is to live. We call it "Must-see SD!"

The Absolute Must-Sees:

The San Diego Zoo
The world's greatest zoo is a must-see, over and over. This 100-acre, lushly landscaped facility is what all zoos in the world measure up to. Bio-climatic exhibits such as Tiger River, Polar Bear Plunge, and the newest exhibit Monkey Trails simulate habitats that allow native animals to roam and intermingle. And of course, one mustn't miss the Giant Panda Research Station, home to Bai Yun, Gao Gao, Mei Sheng and the newest baby cub, just born on Aug. 2, 2005. Open daily.
Read my Zoo profile...

Sea World
Home of Shamu, Sea World brings ocean life right before your eyes. From entertaining and educational shows featuring Shamu the killer whale, dolphin interaction, shark and penguin encounters, as well as amusement rides like Shipwreck Rapids and the Journey to Atlantis water coaster, Sea World has something to entertain any age.
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The newest addition to San Diego's amusement parks, LegoLand, located in Carlsbad, just north of San Diego, is just what its name implies. Based on the hugely popular interactive toy blocks everyone played with as kids, LegoLand brings it all to life with interactive rides and amusements for the younger set, especially those who are toddlers to preteens. But adults will enjoy LegoLand as well, especially the fascinating and impressive replications of famous cities using Legos and the new Knights' Tournament ride, a contraption where you ride on robotic arms that you control.
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San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park
This giant, 1,800 acre animal facility, located about 40-minutes north of San Diego, is not your father's zoo. In fact, it's more like an wildlife preserve, with exotic animals roaming free in huge enclosures replicating native habitats in Asia and Africa. Take the Wgasa Bush Line Railway to get a taste of the scope of this place, and then roam Nairobi Village and the Heart of Africa, where you get up close views of cheetahs, giraffes and okapi. The recently opened Lion Camp lets you see a pride of lions up close. Open Daily.
Read my Wild Animal Park profile.

Balboa Park
Home to many of the city's museums and cultural attractions, Balboa Park is the crown jewel of San Diego. This enormous greenbelt in the middle of the city is the community's gathering place. Catch a first-class play at the renown Old Globe Theatre, observe the works of master artists at the San Diego Museum of Art and the Museum of Photographic Arts, salute local sports heroes at the Hall of Champions, gain some knowledge at the Fleet Science Center and Museum of Natural History, or just enjoy the beautifully landscaped open space. Balboa Park has something for everyone.
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The Waterfront
It's what San Diego is all about. San Diego's Embarcadero is a place of great scenic views and is the essence of San Diego. Start at the foot of Broadway in downtown. Stroll north where you'll see cruise ships in port, the historic Star of India sailing ship, and the handsome County Administration Building across the street. South from Broadway pier, you might see a Navy ship or two docked, and farther down, you'll end up at Seaport Village, a popular shopping and dining complex on the waterfront. Also, at the Broadway pier, you can catch the ferry to Coronado across the bay, and next to the pier is the Midway Carrier museum. Take a walking tour of the downtown waterfront.
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The Beaches
Scenic. That's how best to describe San Diego's beaches. And each one has its own flavor and personality. From the funkiness of Ocean Beach, to the seclusion of Black's Beach, there's just about a beach to match your own mood for the day. Oh, yeah, did we mention the scenery?
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