La Jolla's Birch Aquarium
Dave Lauridsen

Birch Aquarium

Birch Aquarium
Learn about the Pacific’s undersea world

Catch a glimpse of Pacific Ocean habitats, from the north-west’s frigid waters to the tropical ecosystems of Mexico and beyond at La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. High on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, 20 minutes north of downtown San Diego, this aquarium offers exhibits on a wide range of marine creatures, ranging from big whales to bizarre weedy sea dragons, a type of seahorse. Coral reef exhibits shimmer with tropical fish as well as chambered nautilus and lionfish. Get a closer look at sea stars, squishy sea cucumbers and other near-shore marine life in the aquarium’s outdoor touch pools in the Preuss Tide-Pool Plaza.

Thanks to its affiliation with the adjacent Scripps Institution of Oceanography, the aquarium presents plenty of cutting-edge scientific discoveries too. It is a great way to get a deeper appreciation of that beautiful ocean stretching to the horizon.

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Windansea Beach by Myles McGuinness

Southern California

Discover San Diego County

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23
July
Average (°C)
June - Aug
23°
High
18°
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Sept - Nov
22°
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15°
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Dec - Feb
18°
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9°
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Mar - May
19°
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13°
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Imagine 70 miles of sun-drenched coast, an inviting ocean, and a year-round daily forecast of 70°F, and you’ll understand why this southernmost stretch of the state is all about outdoor fun. Discover top theme parks and attractions like SeaWorld San Diego, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and LEGOLAND California.

The first European explorer to land in California, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, came ashore in San Diego in 1542.

Relax at legendary retreats like Hotel del Coronado, find art and culture in San Diego and surrounding cities like luxurious La Jolla, and enjoy world-class golf at Torrey Pines, and enjoy culture and diversity, all at the edge of a sparkling blue sea.

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Roy Bartels/Getty Images

Chula Vista

San Diego County’s second largest city boasts authentic Mexican food, a burgeoning craft beer scene and outdoor activities galore

About seven miles from central San Diego in one direction and the Mexican border in another, Chula Vista is quickly developing its own strong...

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Stretching 1,942 feet, the historic Oceanside Pier is the longest wooden pier on the Pacific Ocean.
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Giraffes at the San Diego Zoo

Spotlight: San Diego Zoo

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See rare and endangered species

Visiting this expansive zoo in San Diego’s Balboa Park is more than a chance to see animals from all over the world: it’s a chance to see one of...

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Trip 8-10 days 10 stops

Ultimate Southern California

Beach Towns & Big Thrills
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Your trip begins in California’s largest city. LA has non-stop action and things to do, but it can be a challenge to navigate, so planning your trip in advance is a big plus. Start in the coastal city of Santa Monica, with a wide, uncrowded beach, a signature pier topped by carnival rides and...

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Famous for their giant sequoias, soaring mountains, deep canyons and roaring rivers, this tandem set of parks have plenty to see, even though they are less well known than Yosemite, roughly 75 miles north. Within the borders of Sequoia & Kings Canyon are Mount Whitney, the highest point in...

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Discover quintessential sun and fun at these coastal charmers

Take one part water, one part sand, one part sun-soaked coastal charm, and you’ve got the recipe for some of the Golden State’s most appealing destinations....

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Lucas Himovitz
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Gwynne Spann

Where to eat, what to drink

Endless Sun, Oceanfront Dining & Craft Breweries

With its endless sun and ocean front location, as well as strong influences from Mexico, San Diego offers plenty of dining options—from flaky fish...

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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for child-friendly fun zones that...

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John/ Flickr
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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind the scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of actvities...

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Photo by Michael Saechang/Flickr
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Legoland California by Lucas Himovitz

Spotlight: Legoland California

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Magical Recreations, Rollercoasters & Smiles

It’s hard to say who enjoys Legoland more: the little ones running around in a magical world created by 60 million LEGO plastic bricks or...

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Unleash the kid within at California’s ultimate play lands

From Disneyland classics to beachfront carousels, the Golden State’s best-in-class theme parks deliver something for everyone, from tots and teens to film buffs and daredevils. Find out what is...

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Lucas Himovitz
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The historic 101 Café in Oceanside is the oldest continuously-operating restaurant on historic Highway 101.
A lion cub at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park
San Diego Zoo Safari Park by Miller

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

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Find out where the wild things are

Like a journey to Africa, a day at this spectacular park lets you see some of the world’s most magnificent—and endangered—animals at close range...

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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisan cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets are...

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Laura Flippen
Thanks be to God, I arrived here...at this Port of San Diego. It is beautiful to behold, and does not belie its reputation.
Father Junipero Serra
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Make memories at some of California's family-favourite beaches

Sand, water, and children-it’s a natural combination for easy family fun. These sandy beaches offer appealing, family friendly features, such as calm water for new swimmers, tide pools for...

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Alex Farnum
Surfers on a San Diego Beach
San Diego by Dave Lauridsen

San Diego Surfing & Surf Culture

Try your hand at hangin’ 10—or at least get the look

Sometimes it seems as if everyone surfs in San Diego County. When the surf is up, there’s a steady stream of dudes (and plenty of dudettes,...

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World-class accommodations in world-class locations

Head to the heart of California’s cities for luxurious stays at world-class hotels and resorts. From San Francisco’s historic hotels to celebrity hot spots in Hollywood and Beverly Hills,...

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Lynn Gately/Flickr
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Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
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Taste the delicious dishes from these amazing California chefs

From a pastel coloured pastry shop to Michelin-starred dining rooms, top restaurants run by celebrity chefs dot the Golden State. And even if you don’t know these chefs from the TV...

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Dave Lauridsen

San Diego Golf

Get your daily dose of greens at ocean front courses

Perfect weather, challenging courses and incredible settings make San Diego County a golfer’s dream destination. It’s not surprising that many of...

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Dave Lauridsen

Julian

Visit a surprising mountain town that’s as American as apple pie

Poised between the desert and the coast, a little more than an hour’s drive east of San Diego, this surprising mountain town makes a great day...

The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.
Jacques Yves Cousteau
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Encinitas

Head north of downtown San Diego to experience one of the best surfing cities in the world

Encinitas isn’t just a city; it’s a vibe. Visit the coastal community 25 miles north of downtown San Diego and you’ll instantly get a sense of ...

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Joe Polillio/Getty Images

Oceanside

Find exceptional restaurants, inventive breweries and a thriving local art scene in Northern San Diego County

It doesn’t take an etymologist to figure out how Oceanside got its name:...

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Steve Skinnery/Getty Images

Carlsbad

This family-friendly coastal town has feel-good appeal

Carlsbad’s legacy as a tourist hotspot dates back to the 1880s, when a local farmer tapped into mineral-rich springs and a spa...