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Chula Vista

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 identity as a tourist destination. There are the more obvious attractions—Aquatica by SeaWorld, San Diego’s largest water park; pop megastar concerts at the Mattress Firm Amphitheatre (formerly Cricket Wireless Amphitheater); and numerous eateries serving up the most authentic Mexican food you’ll find north of the border.  

But there’s a subtler side to Chula Vista, one that begins to reveal a diverse and dynamic town that embraces its natural resources, cultural influences and forward-thinking spirit. With its 560 acres of parkland, which stretches from the San Diego Bay (grab your picnic basket and head to J Street Marina Bayside Park) to the shores of Lower Otay Lake in the rural east, Chula Vista is an ideal spot for all types of outdoors excursions. The crown jewel of the city’s park network, dubbed by locals the Emerald Necklace, is the 200-acre Otay Valley Regional Park, which includes eight miles of paths and seven ponds. An exploration of this open-space oasis illustrates why the Spanish translation of Chula Vista is 'beautiful view'.

A visit to The Living Coast Discovery Center’s aquarium and zoo on the Chula Vista waterfront (adjacent to the San Diego Bay National Wildlife Refuge) is another fun, affordable way to explore the local habitat and wildlife. Spend your morning feeding bat rays and meeting the resident raptors, before heading over to Third Avenue Village in Chula Vista’s old town to wander through the eclectic shops and restaurants.

The Village is home to Onstage Playhouse, a popular community theatre venue—don't forget to check their season's line-up before your visit. If you are a purist when it comes to Tijuana-style street food, head to the no-frills Tacos El Gordo. Two other local favourites for simple, but supremely authentic Mexican food are Karina’s Mexican Seafood and Lolita’s Taco Shop. Insider tip: don’t miss Lolita’s California Burrito—carne asada, french fries, cheddar cheese and sour cream rolled up in a flour tortilla.

Nothing pairs with Mexican food quite like a cold beer, and Chula Vista is an emerging hotspot for urban brewing. Check out Bay Bridge Brewing, the area’s first microbrewery, and Novo Brazil, which serves up an award-winning German-style Chula Pils. 

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Windansea Beach by Myles McGuinness

Southern California

Discover San Diego County

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March
Average (°C)
Mar - May
19°
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13°
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June - Aug
23°
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Sept - Nov
22°
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Mar - May
19°
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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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