San Diego

Can’t decide between the city and the beach? You don’t have to. In San Diego, there is plenty of culture, great shopping and wonderful restaurants — plus beaches with top-notch surfing, snorkeling and sea lions that crawl to the shore to sun themselves. Weathermen here have it easy: every day is 70 degrees and sunny. It wasn’t too long ago that San Diego was a sleepy little town, a place where movie stars came to get away from it all. In the past two decades, however, the city has grown by leaps and bounds. It now has a population of 1.3 million (2.8 million countywide) and is the seventh-largest city in the United States. Much of the growth has come from people who want to shop in shorts all year. Other growth has come from companies that have relocated here because of the ease of recruiting workers. The area is also filled with Navy and Marine personnel from bases nearby.

San Diego is a city in which the arts flourish. Balboa Park, the largest urban cultural park in the country, features 15 museums, numerous art galleries, free outdoor concerts, the Tony Award-winning Old Globe theater and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. (The upscale community of La Jolla, a few miles up the coast, is the site of the La Jolla Playhouse, another Tony Award-winning theater.) There are quirky museums, like the Museum of Making Music. And kids won’t know what to do first: swim in the ocean, visit SeaWorld, pan for gold in an old hard-rock gold mine, go to Legoland, explore the tide pools or visit the Aerospace Museum and Hall of Fame, where they can go on a motion-simulator ride that takes them on different planes throughout time. The greater San Diego area also offers much to see and do, as well as luxurious resorts. Base your stay on your interest — city or beach — and then plan day trips to see the outlying areas.