Explore two drastically different but equally dynamic destinations – one in the desert and one on the Southern California coast.
Hang out at the beach or hit the town? In San Diego, shopping and dining districts are a short drive – and quite often even a stroll or bike ride – from the ocean.
San Diego is home to various coastal communities – Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, Coronado Beach… are you sensing a theme here? San Diego is rife with world-class beaches and surrounding areas to shop, nosh and explore. More urban areas like the hip Hillcrest and North Park neighborhoods boast music venues, breweries and dive bars just waiting to be discovered.
Spend an evening in downtown San Diego’s Gaslamp Quarter, where energetic nightclubs and global restaurants abound.
When it’s time for a snooze, check out the Lafayette Hotel, Swim Club and Bungalows in North Park for retro-style rest and relaxation. The legendary Hotel del Coronado (which locals affectionally refer to as simply “The Del”) offers a luxurious beachfront vacation destination.
Pay a visit to the world-famous San Diego Zoo, which houses more than 4,000 animals, including a brand-new aardvark cub that was the first one to be born in the zoo in nearly 35 years.
Birch Aquarium is also a must-see for animal lovers, which recently welcomed a flock of little blue penguins. For a chance to get a glimpse of sunbathing sea lions in the wild, make sure to stop by La Jolla Cove.
America’s finest City Spotlight
SeaWorld San Diego
In the nearly 60 years that SeaWorld San Diego has been in operation, the theme park has rescued more than 40,000 animals.
In addition to an aquarium, attractions and rides, SeaWorld San Diego offers a series of live shows starring such animal entertainers as orcas, dolphins, sea lions and otters.
SeaWorld San Diego recently debuted its newest roller coaster, Emperor, which has bragging rights as California’s tallest and fastest floorless dive coaster.
After taking the plunge on the park’s newest attraction, cool off with a Penguin Dive Delight, a new featured beverage that combines Sprite, blue raspberry and penguin-shaped gummies. Those 21 and over can opt to add a splash of vodka for an additional charge.
In more adult beverage news: This year, SeaWorld San Diego also partnered with local brewery Mike Hess Brewing to create the limited-release Emperor Hazy IPA. Sold exclusively at SeaWorld San Diego, enjoying this fruity, hoppy beer also contributes to conservation and research efforts – a portion of proceeds will be donated to Penguins International.
Two must-dos when visiting down south: eat some Sonoran-style grub and enjoy the seemingly endless stands of saguaros that populate the city limits.
First stop: Saguaro National Park, where visitors can roam 165 miles of hiking trails among the majestic cacti. Keep an eye out for wildlife like mule deer, jackrabbits, quails, desert tortoises and Gila monsters. For an extra dose of native flora and fauna, pop by the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum, a nature sanctuary spanning 98 acres of desert landscape, plus a comprehensive mineral collection and more than 200 different animal species.
Make your way downtown to catch a show or sip a cocktail at Rialto Theatre or Hotel Congress and don’t miss a visit to Mission San Xavier del Bac, the oldest intact European building in the state.
Fun fact: UNESCO designated Tucson as a distinguished City of Gastronomy for its agricultural history, ongoing culinary traditions and distinctive restaurants. To taste the talent for yourself, don’t leave Tucson without eating at El Charro Café, the country’s oldest Mexican restaurant in continuous operation by the same family.
For a one-of-a-kind lodging experience, book a room at Tanque Verde Ranch, a 640-acre “luxury dude ranch” that offers horseback riding, tennis courts, swimming pools, archery range, fishing lake and more.
Old Pueblo Spotlight
Pima Air & Space Museum
With more than 400 historic aircrafts and 125,000 aviation artifacts, Pima Air & Space Museum is one of the largest aerospace institutions in the world. This Tucson landmark encompasses six hangars and 80 acres of outdoor space, plus an expansive restoration facility where projects range from repainting to refurbishing rare aircrafts. Pima’s collection features examples of international flight from every era in civil, commercial, military and experimental aviation, including a Wright Flyer, a 747 jumbo jet and both the world’s smallest bi-plane and oldest B-52. Admission includes the 390th Memorial Museum, an independent military museum, and the Arizona Aviation Hall of Fame, which recognizes leaders in aviation innovation, including 19th-century hot air ballooning pioneers, modern-day aerospace engineers and other trailblazers in advanced aircraft and missile technology. The museum is pet- and family-friendly and includes a restaurant, playground and interactive activities for people of all ages to explore their inner aviator.
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