The famous Coronado Hotel on the waterfront in San Diego
With its suburbs stretching to the Mexican border, San Diego combines all that’s best about southern California with a hint of latino spirit. Blue skies and long stretches of sandy beaches make for an easy-going lifestyle in a city set on a series of hills.
What to see and do
San Diego boasts 70 miles of fabulous beaches. Coronado (c), near the downtown area, is one of several beaches that are excellent for swimming, while others such as La Jolla (c) are popular with surfers.
Whales, dolphins and sea lions are among the stars at SeaWorld. The 189-acre park includes spectacular aquatic shows, rides and aquariums.
The Gaslamp Quarter in the downtown area dates back to the 1860s. Its Victorian buildings have been restored to house an eclectic array of shops, bars and restaurants.
Where to eat
Award-winning chef Brian Malarkey has opened his first restaurant, Searsucker (www.searsucker.com), in the Gaslamp Quarter. The emphasis is on a ‘New American’ menu featuring locally-sourced ingredients such as pork, rib-eye steak and Baja (c) scallops.
The intimate and exclusive Nine-Ten (www.nine-ten.com) in La Jolla is consistently ranked among the best restaurants in the US. Outdoor dining includes pavement tables and an ocean-view terrace.
Get a taste of Mexico at Cafe Coyote y Cantina (c) (www.cafecoyoteoldtown.com) in Old Town San Diego. Fountains and strolling mariachis add to the festive atmosphere.
Where to drink
Twenty-two storeys up on top of the Marriott Gaslamp Quarter hotel, the Altitude Sky Lounge (www.altitudeskylounge.com) offers great views over the downtown area, Coronado and the bay. It also overlooks the Petco (c) Park baseball stadium, home of the San Diego Padres.
Relax in a private cabana at the Ivy Rooftop at the Andaz hotel (www.sandiego.andaz.hyatt.com). With a pool, sundeck and views over downtown, it also features DJs at night.
One of San Diego’s best-known microbreweries, Karl Strauss (www.karlstrauss.com) offers more than 30 beers ranging from stout and light ale to lager and barley wine. It has several outlets in the city, including downtown and La Jolla.
Where to stay
The Valley View Casino (www.valleyviewcasino.com) in the suburb of Valley Center has opened a 108-room luxury hotel with views of the Palomar Mountains. Rates include poolside breakfast.
With its distinctive red and white turrets, the beachfront Hotel Del Coronado (www.hoteldel.com) is San Diego’s most famous hotel. Fondly known by locals as the Del, it had a starring role in the film Some Like It Hot.
An award-winning restaurant and a trendy bar make the uber-cool Tower23 (c) (www.tower23hotel.com) on Pacific Beach popular with locals and visitors alike. The 44 rooms are furnished in a sleek, modernist style.