Top 20: San Diego

20 Reasons to Visit San Diego, California

1 California’s birthplace

As the site where the first Europeans set foot on the US west coast, San Diego oozes history and culture. A monument, on Point Loma, marks the spot where Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo stepped out of his ship after sailing into the bay under a Spanish flag in 1542.

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2 Old Town

Peel beneath the touristy veneer to find the best of this lively district. Presidio Park is recognised as the area where Spanish settlers initially resided, as showcased in the Junipero Serra Museum. Nearby Whaley House, on a former gallows site, is one of only two officially designated haunted houses in the state. Old Town is one of the most reliable places for good Mexican food, without having to cross the border to Tijuana. On Friday nights, enjoy live music (and awesome guacamole) at the outdoor Casa de Reyes.

3 Gaslamp Quarter

The heart of the city’s nightlife beats along these 16 blocks, particularly 5th and 6th avenues. Kicking off at 4pm in most bars, happy hour usually lasts two or three. Then the revelry continues at venues such as Quality Social and Side Bar, or Croces for live jazz. A good place to people-watch over a fresh seafood dinner is Blue Point Coastal Cuisine, on the corner of Market Street. Finish up at Fluxx dance club to see the adult-sized tree house and five-metre rope chandelier. On your way home, note the historic Victorian buildings, preserved from the days of the Wild West. In the late 1800s, Wyatt Earp ran three gambling halls in this red-light

4 Rooftop bars

A sexy space to sip under the stars sits atop the Andaz Hotel. Ivy Rooftop has a swimming pool, swinging chairs and beds for reclining while imbibing. Other hot spots in the cool breeze include Altitude, on top of the Marriott, and Stingaree on 6th Avenue. Bursting to return to the social scene is the W Hotel’s newly renovated rooftop beach bar, complete with a heated sand floor, fire pits and private cabanas. W’s downstairs Living Room is also buzzing on the weekends, and the finger food is good, too.

5 USS Midway

If you arrive in the city for a cruise, you can’t miss this massive aircraft carrier docked nearby. As part of the US Navy fleet for 47 years, it served as home to more than 200,000 sailors during the Vietnam and Gulf wars, and is now open to the public as a museum. After touring inside, head up to the top deck to see 25 restored fighter jets and bombers.

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