San Diego was established in 1775 as the first Spanish mission in California.
Notice all the people in uniform? San Diego is home to the Navy's Pacific Fleet, and is a favorite leave location for sailors.
Climate: The San Diego area can be an incredible place to visit almost any time of the year. With coastal temperatures around 75 degrees (24°C) most of the time, the weather is ideal. The climate of Southern California is rather complex, however, and temperatures change rapidly as one travels from the coast eastward. In the summer during the day, the temperature might increase as much as one degree Fahrenheit for each mile going east. In the winter, especially at night, eastern areas are usually relatively cooler. Some valleys and other areas have significantly different weather due to terrain and other factors; this is often referred to as "microclimates".
There are a number of airport shuttle companies that handle transportation to and from the airport. They cost around $15 per person. Metro bus #992 ("the Flyer", $2.25) travels 10 minutes to downtown San Diego, and connects to the Coaster commuter train, the Trolley, and the Amtrak station.
Private pilots will prefer the nearby general aviation airports, Montgomery Field (ICAO: KMYF) in Clairemont Mesa, Gillespie Field (ICAO: KSEE) in El Cajon, or Brown Field (ICAO: KSDM) east of San Ysidro. Some air taxi and air charter firms offer specials to the San Diego area from local airports, including from many smaller Los Angeles airports and from the San Luis Obispo area.
San Diego's Amtrak station is at 1050 Kettner Blvd. It is within walking distance of downtown hotels and situated next to San Diego Bay. Shuttles offer service between the train depot and San Diego International Airport. Rail services include 'The Coaster', which is a daily commuter between northern San Diego County and downtown.
Trolley service is limited to certain sections of San Diego, although expansions in recent years have continued to improve service. Major stops include downtown, El Cajon, Santee, Mission Valley, Qualcomm Stadium and San Ysidro, the border crossing between the US and Mexico.
San Diego is easily accessible by car using any one of the three major interstate roadways, the 5, 8, and 15 Freeways.
The 5 Freeway (Interstate 5) begins in San Ysidro, at the US-Mexico border crossing, and continues northward through Los Angeles and Central California to Oregon and Washington, terminating in Blaine, Washington at the US-Canadian border crossing.
The 8 Freeway (Interstate 8) begins near the coast in Ocean Beach and continues eastward through eastern San Diego and Imperial Counties into Arizona, where it connects with Interstate 10.
The 15 Freeway (Interstate 15) begins in southern San Diego County and continues northward into the California deserts, through Nevada, Utah, and Idaho, eventually terminating at the US-Canadian border in northern Montana.
Additionally, there are numerous other freeways that crisscross the county, making access to most places in San Diego relatively easy. However, be advised that traffic is frequently congested during daytime hours.
Greyhound has a station in downtown San Diego, on Broadway St. Private charter lines operate service between other California cities (especially Los Angeles) and Mexico.
Current cruise services only offer excursions departing from San Diego to Baja Mexico and Los Angeles. These include dinner cruises, three-day gambling cruises and 'party excursions' to the Mexican coastal ports of Baja.
The San Diego metropolitan area is large and sprawling. If possible, car travel is the most efficient way of navigating the city and county.
San Diego does offer bus service to almost all parts of the county. If you will be mainly in the areas around downtown, the bus will will be quite suitable. The fare is normally $2.25 and $2.50 for express busses. All downtown buses intersect with Broadway St. at some point. During the day all kinds of people will be taking the bus. At nights some people might feel a little less comfortable, but generally not unsafe on the main parts of downtown. The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) has offices in downtown, on Broadway St.
By trolley (tram)
San Diego offers a trolley service, mainly for tourists and people living in the southern and eastern parts of the city that need to get to downtown areas. There are three trolley lines: blue, green, and orange. The Blue Line operates from the US-Mexico border through Downtown to Old Town. The Green Line travels from Old Town to shopping destinations in the Mission Valley area, Qualcomm Stadium, SDSU, and east to Santee. The Orange Line connects the eastern cities of El Cajon and La Mesa with Downtown (generally not as usable for tourists except for getting around parts of downtown). Bus and trolley transfers are interchangeable. There's no formal system to check if you've purchased a ticket, but there are trolley guards that may come around and ask to see your ticket. The fine is normally around $120 for not having a ticket, although sometimes (not recommended) you can talk them into simply letting you get off at the next stop and purchase a ticket. A $5 all day pass is available, as are 2 and 3 day passes, valid on both bus and trolley.
Del Mar Plaza. Three level mall with shops, spas, and services.
San Diego Zoo, 2920 Zoo Drive (Park Blvd. exit from the 5 Freeway), 619-234-3153. 9AM-4PM every day. Possibly the premier zoo in North America, the San Diego Zoo encompasses over 100 acres of displays and habitats. Animal shows run constantly, and there are creatures here that aren't visible in any other zoo on the planet. Definitely worth a visit, but you need a full day to really do it justice. $19.50 (general admission; some shows and attractions extra). Located in Balboa Park.
Wild Animal Park The sister park to the San Diego Zoo. The park is located about 30 miles north of San Diego in Escondido, and covers 1800 acres.
Sea World. Meet Shamu and almost get drowned in the Soak Zone. Around $55 for one entry.
Hotel Del Coronado. Gorgeous hotel constructed in the late 1800's. Offers high class shops and service on one of San Diego's most beautiful and clean beaches. Take the Coronado bridge from downtown, the same bridge Baxter was booted off of in the comedy "Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy"
San Diego State University Aztecs, college baseketball enthusiasts will recognize a familiar face coaching this team, National Champion Steve Fisher. They play their home games at Cox Arena, outside of the downtown area and in the SDSU campus.
San Diego Chargers, San Diego's Professional football team who can wow the fans by being bad one year and then great the next.
San Diego Padres, see the Padres play at their brand new stadium, Petco Park, in downtown San Diego.
San Diego Sockers, sadly as of right now the Sockers are on hiatus due to lack of funding and fan support.
San Diego Spirit, this is a team for the ladies. This all girl soccer team rocks every year and are worth seeing. This team and league has also folded.
The San Diego Gulls, while a favorite attraction for San Diegans for numerous years, folded before the 2006-2007 season. At this point, the closest professional hockey is in Anaheim, CA, roughly an hour north of San Diego.
Seaport Village - Visit this beautiful 14-acre waterfront shopping, dining and entertainment complex recreating a harbor side setting of a century ago. It includes 54 one-of-a-kind shops, 13 casual dining eateries, and 4 fine-dining waterfront restaurants. Enjoy four miles of meandering cobblestone pathways bordered by ponds, lakes, fountains and colorful, lush landscaping and a quarter-mile slate boardwalk along the San Diego Bay. Located downtown on West Harbor Drive and Pacific Highway.
Whale-watching - California gray whales migrate south along the coast each February.
Scuba diving - San Diego has some great dives including the Yukon, Ruby E and others in Wreck Alley, kelp beds and much more. In addition several dive boat operators have regular runs to the Coronados Islands off the Mexican coast where you can dive with sea lions. Please be aware that diving here is usually considered cold water diving and the visibility is not always the greatest.
Visit La Jolla - A coastal community of San Diego which includes secluded coves, beaches and ocean cliffs to explore. There are dozens of coffee shops, restaurants and high-end shopping outlets to be had in La Jolla.
Hangliding - At the edge of cliffs towering above the Pacific Ocean, the Torrey Pines Glider Port  in La Jolla allows anyone to soar over one of the most pristine sections of coastline in southern California. Training and tandem glides with an expert are offered.
San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park - The World Famous San Diego Zoo, located in Balboa Park, and the Wild Animal Park, located in north County, have some of the worlds finest collections of animals. Patrons can see animals from every continent as well as witness the breeding programs and conservation efforts that have made the Zoo and Wild Animal park famous.
SeaWorld - Sea World San Diego allows visitors a chance to interact with aquatic animals in an exciting way. Through shows, displays and enclosures people can learn about the worlds oceans and the creatures that inhabit them.
San Diego Maritime Museum - San Diego is steeped in nautical history and the Maritime Museum chronicles that history. Located across from the US Navy's North Island Naval Air Station (offering panoramic views of navy air craft carriers) the museum is home to a collection of 19th century sailing ships and the B-39, a former Soviet Union attack submarine.
USS Midway Museum - Located just a short walk from the San Diego Maritime Museum is the USS Midway (CV-41), a former aircraft carrier of the US Navy. The Midway is home to a collection of former naval aircraft housed on her expansive flight deck. Guided tours and displays offer the public a unique look into the life aboard and of a powerful old warhorse.
Balboa Park - An expansive campus of museums, parks, gardens and arboretums gives visitors a chance to expand their thinking. Museums include the Museum of Art, the Air and Space Museum, the Museum of Man and the Reuben H. Fleet Center (an Imax theater is located here.) Neo-classical Spanish architecture, flowering gardens and a beautiful clock tower make visiting Balboa Park a must.
Old Town San Diego - Stepping into Old Town is taking a trip into the past. Preserved buildings and icons of the Spanish heritage of San Diego and the Old West will amaze visitors. From 19th century cannons to the haunted Whaley house there is much to explore and see in Old Town. Shopping and restaurants dot this historic district and living history performances help to make the past come alive.
Point Loma lighthouse
Point Loma Lighthouse, Cabrillo National Monument - From the sky high vantage point of Point Loma visitors can get the picture of a lifetime. The Naval Air Station, downtown San Diego, the Coronado Bridge and the distant mountains make for a panoramic picture you will never forget. The lighthouse is a short walk and allows stunning sunset views of the Pacific Ocean and off-shore islands. Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's expedition for Spain of California in 1542.
Fort Rosecrans - Also located on Point Loma, Fort Rosecrans is a former WWII military outpost which contains bunkers, weapons emplacements and the Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery (Arlington of the West). A visit to Fort Rosecrans is a somber reminder of the price of freedom.
Universities in the area:
University of California, San Diego (State public university)
San Diego State University (State public university)
University of San Diego (private, Catholic university)
Point Loma Nazarene (private, Protestant Christian university)
California Western School of Law (Private university)
The Salk Institute for Biological Research (Prestigious nonprofit research institute)
The Scripps Research Institute (Private research institute)
The Scripps Institution of Oceanography (Famous marine biology institute)
The Burnham Institute for Medical Research (Private research institute)
La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology (Nonprofit research institute)
San Diego is a major technology and defense hub of California and the United States. Major industries include defense, telecommunications, biotechnology, computers and scientific research. With five major military bases located within fifty miles of San Diego, defense related services and support are a key part of San Diego's prosperity.
Major employers located in San Diego are:
Department of the Navy
National Steel and Shipbuilding (NASSCO)
Telecommunications and Technology:
StressGen Biotechnology Corp.
TriLink BioTechnologies, Inc.
Aurora Biosciences Corp.
BD Biosciences, Inc.
Biogen IDEC, Inc.
Jack in the Box, Inc.
Rubio's Fresh Mexican Grill
Jenny Craig, Inc
San Diego is dotted with major shopping centers and upscale boutiques catering to nearly every style of dress and expression. The following is a list of a few of the major shopping centers in the San Diego area:
A lot of stores also exist around the Gaslamp Quarter. The Gaslamp Quarter is a wonderful area to walk around.
The district sections of San Diego offer more details on local places to eat.
Hotel Del Coronado
Hawthorn San Diego Hotel, 1335 Hotel Circle South, . Free Wifi, breakfast and other amenities.
Padre Trail Inn, 4200 Taylor Street • San Diego, CA 92110 • Phone: (619) 297-3291. . 100-room hotel near Old Town San Diego, close to attractions such as Sea World, Balboa Park, Beaches, Gaslamp, Sea Port Village and San Diego's famous Trolley.
Courtyard Old Town, , 2435 Jefferson Street. Convenient to Sea World, San Diego Zoo and Downtown San Diego.
Estancia La Jolla, , 9700 N. Torrey Pines Road, (858) 550-1000. A rustic four-star ranch style hotel in La Jolla, Prices starting at $220 a night.
Handlery Hotel, , 950 Hotel Circle North, (619) 298-0511. A warm, friendly welcome and some big, lush rooms. Also has a hotel mini-bus to take you to SeaWorld. Located in Mission Valley.
Hawthorn Suites, , 1335 Hotel Circle South, (619) 299-3501. Daily complimentary hot breakfast buffet each morning and in the evening and social hour Monday through Thursday.
Holiday Inn Express - Old Town, , 3900 Old Town Avenue, (619)299-7400. Nestled in the heart of Old Town San Diego, California. Just four blocks to the San Diego Trolley. Four-and-a-half miles from San Diego Airport (SAN). Five miles from downtown and the Gaslamp District. 10 minutes from Mission Beach and Belmont Park.
Holiday Inn - Bayside, , 4875 N. Harbor Drive, (619) 224-3621, (800) 662-8899. Located in Point Loma, near San Diego International Airport.
Holiday Inn - Downtown, , 1617 First Avenue, (619) 239-9600. Situated in the heart of downtown San Diego, California. Just a short walk to Seaport Village and the Gaslamp District. Located minutes from the San Diego Zoo and Sea World. Free airport shuttle service - 2 miles from Lindbergh Field Airport (SAN). Five miles from Mission Beach and Belmont Park
Holiday Inn - On The Bay, , 1355 N Harbor Drive, (619) 232-3861. Between the bustling downtown Gaslamp District and Lindberg Field, San Diego's airport. 600 newly renovated guestrooms and 17 suites, all with furnished balconies.
The Inn at Mission Bay SeaWorld, , 4545 Mission Bay Drive, (858) 483-4222. Offers high-speed Internet and a free breakfast buffet.
Manchester Grand Hyatt, , 1 Market Place, (619) 232-1234. Located on Harbor Drive in the Marina district of downtown San Diego. The hotel consists of two towers that are connected on the bottom four floors that were upgraded in 2003. The hotel has over 1600 rooms, making it the largest hotel in San Diego.
Sommerset Suites, , 606 Washington Street, (800) 962-9665. Suites just minutes from the harbor and downtown, easy access to the major avenues and freeways, located in San Diego's "Uptown" district, shares the neighborhood with great restaurants and entertainment spots as well as two of San Diego's major medical centers.
Town & Country, , 500 Hotel Circle North, (619) 291-7131, (800) 772-8527. Resort with swimming pools, restaurants, spa facilities, golf, and beautiful gardens. Located in Mission Valley, adjacent to San Diego Trolley Station, and Fashion Valley shopping center.
Wyndham, , 400 West Broadway, (619) 239-4500. Located downtown next to the Santa Fe transit center.
Hotel Parisi, . 1111 Prospect Street, (858) 454-1511, A Zen-elegant luxury boutique retreat in La Jolla.
La Valencia, . 1132 Prospect Street, (858) 454-0771, A Luxury Spanish-style hotel, famed for its views of La Jolla Cove.
The Lodge at Torrey Pines, . 11480 N Torrey Pines Roard, 858) 453-4420, Rustic alpine-style hotel adjacent to the PGA Championship Torrey Pines Golf Corse in La Jolla.
Hotel del Coronado, . Luxury hotel and national historic landmark with a slightly dated art deco interior located in the city of Coronado, about 15 minutes south of downtown San Diego
In an emergency (immediate danger to loss of life or limb), call 911.
Be aware that if you call from a cell phone, 911 calls are currently directed to the California Highway Patrol, which can result in delays in contacting city police. (911 calls made from land-line telephones are directed to the appropriate local agency.)
In many cases when within the city limits it may be more appropriate to directly dial the San Diego non-emergency number, (619) 531-2000. For example, to report a crime in progress when you are not in direct danger, it is probably best to call the San Diego Police (or other local municipality) directly.
San Diego is a relatively safe city, but use the same precautions as you would in any large metropolitan area. Avoid walking in Barrio Logan, Downtown, and especially Southeast San Diego at night. If you do, avoid walking down dark alleyways or approaching unknown people. Avoid the Normal Heights and Hillcrest area late at night due to the sudden increase in violent crime and robberies. Most people do not encounter any problems if they avoid buying illegal drugs or prostitution.
San Diego is served by a professional police force  as well as a county sheriff department; additional protection is offered on the major highways by the California Highway Patrol (CHP).
The city of San Diego fire department is a top-rated service offering fire protection, emergency medical care, hazardous waste cleanup, and search and rescue functions. If you dial 911 for an emergency it is guaranteed that the first responders will be the San Diego Fire Department.
There are numerous public and private hospitals in San Diego. These range from state funded institutions such as UCSD-Hillcrest and Thorton to private, world-renowned hospitals of Scripps La Jolla and the Children's Hospital. First-rate, world-class medical care can be found at any of these hospitals, as well as interpreters for more than a dozen languages.
Rip currents are notorious in San Diego for their strength and sudden appearance. Do not go out in the water without lifeguard supervision or at night. At La Jolla Shores, rip currents can be so strong that people standing (not swimming) in waist-deep water have been pulled out over their heads -- sometimes with deadly results (especially for non-swimmers). Except for sunbathing, avoid low tide like the plague at this beach. (This means the largest of the two daily tide cycles. Check newspaper weather page for Scripps Pier, or view the Weather Channel.) All of the major beaches have lifeguards on duty in the summertime, with only the more popular beaches having lifeguards year round.
Many of the ocean cliffs are made of a compressed sandstone and are prone to collapse, especially in rainy weather. Follow all signs. Access to the beaches is safely made by using any of the public stairways provided; they are well maintained (except at Black's Beach) and free. Always supervise children very closely at places such as Sunset Cliffs and the Torrey Pines Glider Port above Black's Beach. It may be necessary to hold their hand at all times. If you have unruly kids, don't go there.
Heavy rain may cause rising bacteria and chemical levels in the ocean waters. Care should be taken to read the newspapers or call the county health office to see if the water is safe for swimming. Generally most people keep away from the beaches for 24 to 72 hours after rain.
Thefts do occur at the beach, do not leave any purses or other personal items of value alone on the beach or in an open car. Vehicle bulgaries are especially high in most beach communities.
Smoking is banned in all restaurants, bars, public offices, and other places by order of California law. There is a county wide ban on smoking in all state parks and there is city wide bans in San Diego, Del Mar, and Solana Beach that forbids smoking on public parks and beaches.
In the area of the Westin Hotel there is free WiFi. The SSID is "turbonet".
San Diego is probably the best city in America for making a quick trip to Mexico. Tijuana, San Diego's twin city across the border, is only a short trip by car. Trolley service is also available from downtown San Diego to the US-Mexican border. Avoid driving hassles and long waits when returning by parking in pay lots near the border and walking across.
For a delightful, low-key alternative, drive 60 minutes on the American side to the small border crossing of Tecate (home of the Tecate brewery). It's a short walk to the town square. Coming back, there are typically only a couple of people in line at the pedestrian crossing. You can easily combine a trip to the train museum in nearby Campo with a quick trip across the border for lunch!
The greater San Diego County has a lot of smaller, more private beaches, and some great small towns to stay in and explore. Further east, the Imperial Valley and the California Desert give a change of scenery.
Temecula Wine Country. Located about 60 minutes northeast of San Diego, there are about 20 vineyards (with tasting rooms) located fairly close to each other. This trip makes a good day trip from San Diego.
This is a usable article. It has information for getting in as well as some complete entries for restaurants and hotels. An adventurous person could use this article, but please plunge forward and help it grow!