San Diego, California, United States of America
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A relaxing antidote to the hustle and bustle of LA, San Diego is – despite its size – one of the most relaxing cities in California. Even the weather here is mild for the West Coast, although of course you can still bask on the area's many golden beaches to your heart's content. It's not just about sands and surf, though – San Diego also boasts the famous Balboa Park, an immense, immaculately sculpted green space dotted with a cactus garden, numerous museums, and ornate examples of Spanish Colonial Revival architecture.

Things to see

The very first SeaWorld was created here in San Diego, and it's still a top draw to this day. Walk through its underwater tunnel to see sharks glide ominously overhead, gawp at the killer whale shows set to rock music, chatter with penguins, and brace yourself for wet and wild thrill rides. And if you want more animal magic, head over to San Diego Zoo, which is world famous and with good reason. It's a world in itself, featuring a veritable slice of Africa where big cats and elephants wander, as well as thickets of bamboos where giant pandas frolic together. Yet another family-friendly attraction is Legoland California – from pirates and dragons made of the little building blocks to rollercoasters and other rides, it makes for a grand day out. If you're here for the seafront, make a bee-line for Mission Beach. Here you'll also find Belmont Park, an amusement park which has stood since 1925 and features historic wooden rides. For an atmospheric night out, the Gaslamp Quarter is perfect – this is the historic center of San Diego, with clubs, bars, and restaurants nestling within old Victorian buildings.

Hotels in San Diego

It's easy to find plush hotels in San Diego – in fact, you can find yourself in island resorts with guestrooms styled after beach bungalows, with views of sandy beaches and blazingly colorful tropical gardens. You don't necessarily need to splurge to enjoy the mod-cons during your stay though – there are San Diego hotels which are reasonably priced and still offer neat, modern guestrooms, small swimming pools, and fitness centers.

Where to stay

If you're here on business or to attend a conference, you may want to book your San Diego hotel in the Downtown area. There are numerous hotels clustered here, putting you very close to the offices of the financial district. Alternatively, if you're here to play rather than work, the Beach Cities are a very attractive prospect with resort hotels in areas like Mission Beach and Pacific Beach putting the sands, boardwalks, and perfect waves within strolling distance. Another option is to book a hotel in the Old Town, often called the birthplace of California as it's where the first European settlers made their homes. Lovers of Mexican food and margaritas will especially relish the bars and eateries here.

How to get to

San Diego International Airport is located less than 10 minutes away from downtown San Diego, and there are frequent airport shuttle services making the trip to your hotel a doddle. There are daily connections between this airport and many locations across the United States and the rest of the world, although some visitors may have to fly to Los Angeles first and transfer from there. McClellan-Palomar Airport handles general aviation, while the distinctive red trolleys of San Diego regularly pull into Gaslamp Quarter Station.

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