San Diego /ˌsæn diːˈeɪɡoʊ/ is a major city in California, on the coast of the Pacific Ocean in Southern California, approximately 120 miles (190 km) south of Los Angeles and immediately adjacent to the border with Mexico. San Diego is the eighth largest city in the United States and second largest in California and is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. San Diego is the birthplace of Californi and is known for its mild year-round climate, natural deep-water harbor, extensive beaches, long association with the U.S. Navy, and recent emergence as a healthcare and biotechnology development center. The population was estimated to be 1,322,553 as of 2012.
Historically home to the Kumeyaay people, San Diego was the first site visited by Europeans on what is now the West Coast of the United States. Upon landing in San Diego Bay in 1542, Juan Cabrillo claimed the entire area for Spain, forming the basis for the settlement of Alta California 200 years later. The Presidio and Mission of San Diego, founded in 1769, formed the first European settlement in what is now California. In 1821, San Diego became part of newly independent Mexico, and in 1850, became part of the United States following the Mexican-American War and the admission of California to the union.
The city is the seat of San Diego County and is the economic center of the region as well as the San Diego–Tijuana metropolitan area. San Diego’s main economic engines are military and defense-related activities, tourism, international trade, and manufacturing. The presence of the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), with the affiliated UCSD Medical Center, has helped make the area a center of research in biotechnology.
California’s second largest city and the United States’ eighth largest, San Diego boasts a citywide population of nearly 1.3 million residents and more than 3 million residents countywide. Within its borders of 4,200 sq. miles, San Diego County encompasses 18 incorporated cities and numerous other charming neighborhoods and communities, including downtown’s historic Gaslamp Quarter, Little Italy, Coronado, La Jolla, Del Mar, Carlsbad, Escondido, La Mesa, Hillcrest, Barrio Logan and Chula Vista just to name a few.
San Diego is renowned for its idyllic climate, 70 miles of pristine beaches and a dazzling array of world-class family attractions. Popular attractions include the world-famous San Diego Zoo and San Diego Zoo Safari Park, SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California. San Diego offers an expansive variety of things to see and do, appealing to guests of all ages from around the world.
In San Diego’s East County, the terrain varies from gentle foothills to mile-high mountains and the historic mining town, Julian, down to the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, offering nature-conscious visitors endless opportunities to hike, camp, fish, observe wildlife and much more. In San Diego’s North County, the agricultural community produces quantities of flowers and magnificent produce. Wine growers are also making a mark by growing and harvesting quality grapes that become excellent wines, which are served at some of the most elegant restaurants and resorts in the region. Along the west, 70 miles of Pacific Ocean coastline not only supports year-round outdoor recreation, such as surfing, boating, sailing and swimming, but also important scientific research at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. To the south, it’s a whole different country, Mexico, featuring its own cultural offerings in various towns along the border and coastline, including Tijuana, Rosarito and Ensenada.
San Diego’s arts and culture and culinary arts are booming. The hottest, new culinary arts talents prepare award-winning meals throughout the region’s 6,400 eating establishments. Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the U.S., is home to 15 museums, numerous art galleries, beautiful gardens, the Tony Award-winning The Globe Theatres and the world-famous San Diego Zoo.
San Diego County also features 92 golf courses and a variety of exciting participatory and spectator sports, beachfront resorts and luxury spas, gaming, a dynamic downtown district, annual special events and unique holiday offerings, multicultural festivals and celebrations, colorful neighborhoods and communities, a rich military history and much more.
The most difficult decision to make regarding a vacation to San Diego is determining what to do and see among the region’s vast and diverse offerings. San Diego County promises a truly remarkable vacation experience for everyone.