A Travel Guide to San Diego: Where to Eat, Sleep, and Play in America’s Finest City

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La Jolla Seals

Should you find yourself wanted to observe even more fauna, park your car along the beach at the La Jolla Cove to witness the hilarity of the native seals and newborn pups. For the best viewing experience, rent a kayak to get that much closer to the seal caves. 

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The Salk Institute 

In 1959, the city of San Diego gifted Jonas Salk, the scientist who discovered the polio vaccine, a plot of land in La Jolla on which he could build a biological research center. Salk enlisted Louis I. Kahn with the project, asking him to “create a facility worthy of a visit by Picasso.” Mexican architect Luis Barragan was also consulted on the design, and recommended leaving the plaza open rather than filling it with a garden. Today The Salk Insitute is fully operational and an architectural marvel to witness. 

Torrey Pines State Preserve Hike          

On the same stretch of land where you’ll find the Torrey Pines Golf Course is a hike offering prime views of the Pacific. Along the way you’ll also see the famed trees that give the preserve its name; they’re a critically endangered species exclusive to the area. Plus, a hike in the preserve (there are eight trails that mostly clock in under three miles round trip) is all low-effort and high reward. 

Coronado Island

Cross the bridge or take a ferry over to Coronado Island, if only just to see the Hotel Del Coronado and more charming Victorian homes. Or spend the day on any one of its white sand beaches: Coronado Central Beach, Coronado Dog Beach, Glorietta Bay Beach, Silver Strand State Beach, and the Ferry Landing Marketplace.

Here’s a theater with a lovely little Hollywood provenance: it was founded in 1947 by actor Gregory Peck and Mel Ferrer. Located on the campus of the University of California San Diego, the theater is constantly staging Broadway productions, so do check to see what might be on view when you’re in town. 

Black’s Beach 

A long steep walk will take you down to Black’s Beach, a stretch of sand beneath verdant cliffs. You’ll catch dedicated surfers lugging their boards down to the waters, and you’ll also spot a lack of clothing—it happens to be the largest nude beach in the U.S. 

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Mission Basilica San Diego De Alcala                                           

To really understand the origin story of San Diego, head to the Mission Basilica San Diego De Alcala, which was the first of 21 Franciscan missions built in California. Established in 1769, the Alcalá overlooks Old Town San Diego and features white stucco walls, Spanish roof tiles, and archways. 

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