When the Spanish explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo allegedly arrived in San Diego in the 1540s, the Kumeyaay tribespeople were the native residents; it wasn’t until the mid-1700s, however, that the fort and mission were established which gradually expanded into a settlement under the first Spanish rule. Nowadays, San Diego is the second largest city in California, with around 70 miles of sun-drenched coast, lively neighbourhoods, a great craft beer scene, beautiful urban parks and beaches and of course, the world-famous zoo.
There is a rich naval history here too, with the retired aircraft carrier, the USS Midway, open to the public at the outdoor maritime museum along the Embarcadero. Liberty Public Market is popular with foodies and has over 30 stalls of artisan produce to sample. Wildlife enthusiasts can enjoy the ocean-view trails at the Torrey Pines State Nature Reserve, in the nearby beachfront area of La Jolla and Mission Bay is the place to go for every kind of water sport imaginable. Balboa Park houses the hugely popular San Diego Zoo and natural history museum, with grand Victorian era architecture standing tall in the historic entertainment district of the Gaslamp Quarter.
Situated just across the bay from downtown San Diego you will find the district of Coronado, a beautiful coastline offering wide sandy beaches with sparkling sand, courtesy of the mineral Mica. The Coronado, meaning ‘the crowned one’ in Spanish, has elegant gardens, old-world mansions, quaint shops and oceanfront dining with spectacular sunset views. No visit here would be complete without seeing the Hotel Del Coronado – built in 1888, this historic landmark is widely believed to have been the inspiration for the Emerald City in Wizard of Oz, as the author L. Frank Baum was known to have spent many winters at this beachfront hotel.