Driving Over the Bridge to Coronado: The 1st time or the 50th, there's always an adrenaline rush as you follow this engineering marvel's dramatic curves and catch a glimpse of the panoramic view to either side. Driving west, you can easily pick out the distinctive Hotel del Coronado -- or as the locals say, the Hotel Del -- in the distance long before you reach the "island."
Escaping to Torrey Pines State Reserve: Poised on a majestic cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, this state park is set aside for the rarest pine tree in North America. The reserve has short trails that immerse hikers into a delicate and beautiful coastal environment.
Watching the Seals at the Children's Pool: This tiny La Jolla cove was originally named for the toddlers who could safely frolic behind a man-made seawall. These days, the sand is mostly off-limits to humans, who congregate along the seawall railing or onshore to admire the protected pinnipeds that sun themselves on the beach or on semisubmerged rocks. You can get surprisingly close, and it's a truly mesmerizing sight.
Taking in the City's Best Panorama: Drive out to the tip of Point Loma on a clear day and you'll be rewarded with a 360-degree view that takes in downtown, the harbor, military bases, Coronado, and, in the distance, Tijuana and San Diego's mountainous backcountry.
Renting Bikes, Skates, or Kayaks in Mission Bay: Landscaped shores, calm waters, paved paths, and friendly neighbors make Mission Bay an aquatic playground like no other. Explore on land or water, depending on your energy level, then grab a bite at the Mission.
Strolling Through the Gaslamp Quarter: Victorian commercial buildings that fill a 16 1/2-block area will make you think you've stepped back in time. The beautifully restored buildings, in the heart of downtown, house some of the city's most popular shops, restaurants, and nightspots.
Spending a Day in Balboa Park: Many visitors head straight to the San Diego Zoo and overlook the superb city park that surrounds it. The buildings that grew out of Balboa Park's 1915-16 exposition create a Spanish-Moorish fantasia, plus there are mature gardens, the acclaimed Old Globe Theatres, and 13 of San Diego's best museums.
Exploring Model Railroad Museum: I have long held a fascination with trains, ever since my brother received a model train for Christmas. This is the largest operating exhibit of its kind in America. A delight for all ages.
Listening to Live Music Outdoors at Humphrey's: An intimate, palm-fringed venue located on the water at Shelter Island, Humphrey's has name acts from mid-May to October and puts those impersonal summer concert "sheds" found in other cities to shame.
Floating Up, Up, and Away Over North County:Hot-air balloons carry passengers over the golf courses and luxury homes north of the city. These rides are especially enjoyable at sunset.
Slideshow: Fun in the sun Wildflowers and Serenity at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: The largest state park in the lower 48 attracts the most visitors during the spring wildflower season, when a kaleidoscopic carpet blankets the desert. Others come year-round to hike more than 100 miles of trails.
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Frolicking at La Jolla's Beaches: It may be misspelled Spanish for "the jewel," but there is no mistaking the beauty of La Jolla's bluff-lined beaches. Each has a distinct personality: Surfers love Windansea's waves, harbor seals have adopted the Children's Pool, La Jolla Shores is popular for swimming, sunbathing and kayaking, while the Cove is a top snorkeling and scuba diving spot and the best place to spot the electric-orange California state fish, the garibaldi.
Playing a Round of Golf at Torrey Pines Golf Course (La Jolla): Two 18-hole championship courses overlook the ocean and provide players with plenty of challenge. In February the Buick Invitational Tournament is held here. The rest of the year, these popular municipal courses are open to everybody.
Spending a day at San Diego Zoo, Wild Animal Park, or SeaWorld: San Diego boasts three of the world's best animal attractions. At the zoo, animals live in naturalistic habitats such as Monkey Trails and Forest Tails (the most elaborate enclosure it has ever created), and it's one of only four zoos in the U.S. where you can see giant pandas. At the Wild Animal Park, most of the 3,500 animals roam freely over a 1,800-acre spread. And SeaWorld, with its water-themed rides, flashy animal shows, and detailed exhibits, is an aquatic wonderland of pirouetting dolphins and 4-ton killer whales with a fetish for drenching visitors.
For a complete listing of what to see and do in San Diego, visit the online attractions index at Frommers.com.
Frommer’s is America’s bestselling travel guide series. Visit Frommers.com to find great deals, get information on over 3,500 destinations, and book your trip. © 2006 Wiley Publishing, Inc. Republication or redistribution of Frommer's content is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Wiley.