We had the privilege of living in San Diego, California for just under four years, when our children were quite small. The U.S. Navy sent my husband there to work on a ship, so we were lucky enough to be housed in Navy housing quarters; in San Diego, that meant we were only a couple of miles from the beach. While there was navy housing scattered all over the huge city, ours was in scenic Pacific Beach. We were even on a slight hill so if we craned our necks, we could see glimpses of the ocean from our front yard. We could also see the tower at Sea World, as well as the fireworks that were set off there every Saturday night during the summer months. The best thing we found about San Diego, however, was that there are countless things to do there. In fact, in four years of living there, we did not get to do everything on our list of things to do; there simply was not enough time and there are too many options!
One of our favorite spots in San Diego was the world famous San Diego Zoo. Not only does the zoo offer all that makes it famous – giant pandas, polar bears, amazing habitats for the animals, and a plethora of species, many which are endangered – but it also has a jungle-like beauty that makes visitors forget they are in the middle of a huge city. The zoo is laden with countless palm trees and other tropical plants. All paths are paved and there is shade to be found around every corner. There are many restaurants, snack shops, and snack stands all around the zoo, depending on the taste of the visitor, or if visitors bring their own lunch, there are plenty of picnic tables and area in which to rest and relax. The San Diego zoo offers special passes for groups or multiple day visits, and even season passes.
Our other favorite place to go in San Diego was Sea World. Not only was Sea World a refreshing place to visit on a warm summer day, it had all the wonderful attractions such as dolphins, penguins, polar bears, countless types of fish, sting rays, sharks, and of course the beloved Shamu. For anyone staying in San Diego for a week or longer, Sea World offers summer camp programs for children where they can make new friends and learn about sea life in a safe and fun setting. Our son went to the Sea World camps two years in a row and absolutely loved it.
Belmont Park is a small amusement center on Mission Beach in the central part of coastal San Diego. With an old roller coaster, several other rides, and many video games, Belmont Park is a fun place for children and adults even on the rare rainy days in San Diego. Yet on sunny days, the beach is just steps away; in fact, the view of the ocean from the top of the roller coaster is something to behold!
San Diego also offers the Gas Lamp District, which is a downtown area full of trendy restaurants and pubs, with all the streets decorated by old-fashioned gas lanterns. La Jolla, just north of the city, is another good place for restaurants, as well as shopping. La Jolla has been touted as a small version of Beverly Hills.
Still, our favorite place to go while we lived in San Diego was simply to the beach. Especially after moving to the northeast where we always have to park far away and pay an entrance fee to go to the beach, we enjoyed San Diego where we could simply ride our bikes or park and walk onto the beach, no charge. The beach was large, clean, and had plenty of lifeguards. When we got hungry, we could walk up the boardwalk to our favorite restaurant or find something at one of the many snack shacks.
All in all, San Diego is a wonderful place to visit and to live. Even if one must live on the eastern side of the city, the beach is not far away, the weather is delightful for much of the year, and there are always plenty of fun things to do. I would highly recommend a visit to sunny San Diego.