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Things to Do in San Diego - page 2

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Museum of Photographic Arts
1 Tour and Activity

There are two things on display at San Diego’s Museum of Photographic Arts: A collection of over 7,000 images from 850 artists, and the actual art of photography itself in all of its many forms. The pieces inside this small museum run the gamut of photography’s history, from early daguerreotypes dating back as far as the 1840s, to images of Russia in the mid-20th century and award-winning photojournalism. There’s a modern movie studio inside of the museum that highlights the evolution of film, and displays on photography’s technological advancements show how far the art form has come. More than just the photos themselves, however, it’s the different story that each photo tells that makes this a memorable stop. Considering that many of the photos on display are historical and social documentaries, the museum offers a lens into photographer’s roles in capturing societal change.

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San Diego Convention Center
9 Tours and Activities

The well-known San Diego Convention Center is a staple structure in the city. The impressively equipped location hosts many of San Diego’s famous events and happenings — most notably, the entertainment bonanza that is Comic-Con International. Enjoy the sunny, bayside views and free WiFi while attending one of the events held here before taking a quick walk to the numerous restaurants and shops nearby in the historic Gaslamp Quarter. Check out what’s going on at the convention center during your next visit for some entertainment.

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Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House
5 Tours and Activities

Built in 1850, the William Heath Davis House is the oldest house in San Diego’s Historic Gaslamp Quarter. It was owned by, you guessed it William Heath Davis, but he didn’t build it in San Diego. The pre-fabricated house was shipped to town from Portland, Maine by boat via Cape Horn.

It was Davis’ dream to build a city near San Diego Bay. New Town as it was called, included a wharf, store, park and several houses, but there was no potable water. When Davis lost his fortune he gave up on the city that would later become the Gaslamp District. The William Heath Davis House is also the home to the nonprofit Gaslamp Quarter Historical Foundation.

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Petco Park
16 Tours and Activities

Petco Park is an open-air stadium in downtown San Diego located just minutes from the Gaslamp Quarter. In bygone days, you might have heard people refer to this as Qualcomm Stadium, but no more. Since 2004, the San Diego Padres have called Petco Park their home and it’s here you’ll be able to catch a game during baseball season. Known for its comfortable seating, diverse restaurant selection, and even a mini play area for kids before a game, Petco Park is the stadium of choice for anyone visiting the San Diego area.

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San Diego Harbor
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7 Tours and Activities

Maritime enthusiasts should spend some time visiting San Diego Harbor. The many attractions here include the Maritime Museum, U.S.S. Midway Museum, the Seaport Village, and Embarcadero Marina Park. The well-manicured waterfront promenades stretch along Harbor Drive and are perfect for strolling or jogging.

On the north end of San Diego Harbor is the Maritime Museum, where a number of antique trading and passenger vessels are moored in the water. South of the museum, The U.S.S. Midway Museum, a museum housed in a Navy battleship, has loads of exhibits and a stellar collection of fighter planes. South of the U.S.S. Midway Museum is Seaport Village, which has a collection of novelty shops and restaurants. Embarcadero Marina Park, with its public fishing pier and open-air amphitheater, lies south.

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Whaley House Museum
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8 Tours and Activities

If walls could talk, the Whaley House could fill history books. Completed in the 1857, it served as the home of the Whaley Family, Mr. Whaley's general store, San Diego's first commercial theater, and the second county courthouse. All aspects of the home have been restored and today it is open to the public as a historic house museum.

On the basic tour, visitors explore on their own, but docents are available to answer questions about the house’s history and ghost stories. Rumor has it the house has been haunted since it was built. The Whaleys reportedly believed the spirit of Yankee Jim Robinson haunted the house. Robinson was hanged on the property before the house was built. According to legend, there is a list of ghosts that roam the house, including the Whaley’s daughter Violet, who committed suicide in 1885.

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El Campo Santo Cemetery
6 Tours and Activities

Ghostly legends abound in sunny San Diego, so spooky stories associated with an old cemetery shouldn’t come as a big surprise.

El Campo Santo Cemetery was used in the mid-to-late 1800s. Some of the city’s early pioneers and infamous figures are buried at El Campo Santo Cemetery. One of the most famous grave sites belongs to Yankee Jim Robinson, who was hung at the site of the historic Whaley House, a couple blocks away. Some say his ghost has haunted the Whaley House since it was built in 1857. As San Diego grew, the cemetery was reduced in size. As a result some graves now lie beneath San Diego Avenue and Linwood Street. Tales of car trouble, chills and misty figures have been reported.

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Heritage Park
3 Tours and Activities

Heritage County Park provides a view into San Diego’s colorful past. Almost eight acres in size, the park contains several restored Victorian homes and San Diego’s first synagogue, Temple Beth Israel.

It all began after World War II when San Diego’s downtown started to boom. Expansion threatened the buildings with demolition, so private and public funds were used to relocate and restore them. Some of the structures, like the Temple Beth Israel, are open to the public. The first service was held at Temple Beth Israel on Sept. 25, 1889, today it is open daily from 9am to 5pm, unless a private event is scheduled. Built in 1896, the Senlis Cottage is also open daily from 9am to 5pm. The McConaughy House was built in 1887 and is now home to the Old Town Gift Emporium, a store that specializes in Victorian porcelain dolls. It is open Thursday through Tuesday, from 10am to 5pm.

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More Things to Do in San Diego

San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)

San Diego Natural History Museum (The Nat)

3 Tours and Activities

Ever since 1874, when this Natural History Museum became Southern California’s first scientific institution, researchers have tirelessly been working to showcase the tales of the world around us. In this highly interactive, highly educational, natural history museum, visitors can learn everything from the mysteries of fossils to the saga of California’s water. Go deep inside an Egyptian tomb to see the buried treasures of King Tut, or explore the astounding biodiversity of the greater San Diego region. Sit back and enjoy a film inside the enormous 3D theater, or compare the shapes of over 200 skulls from a wide assortment of animals. The scientists and researchers who work with the museum are some of the top in their field, and who have dedicated their lives to explaining and learning the secrets of the natural world. Whether it’s trying to figure out why whales breach in the nearby waters offshore, or dissecting the facts about everything from penguins to coffee.

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Pacific Beach

Pacific Beach

8 Tours and Activities

Long a mainstay for the college crowd and those looking to get out and have a little bit of fun in the sun, the little neighborhood of Pacific Beach is a California-lover’s dream. Bikinis and board shorts, bike paths and boardwalks, and of course miles of pristine beach, Pacific Beach is what many picture as idealized southern California living. From tasty beer taverns to sunny California shacks serving fish tacos, Pacific Beach is an ideal choice for getting out and seeing the young and fit crowd do its thing. North Pacific Beach tends to be quieter and cater to more of a family ambiance, while Tourmaline Beach is a surfing-only beach great for long low waves that are perfect for beginners.

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San Diego Museum of Man (SDMM)

San Diego Museum of Man (SDMM)

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3 Tours and Activities

In the 18th century, when Spanish settlers arrived here on San Diego’s shores, a band of Kumeyaay Native Americans already inhabited the coast. Though little remains of their settlements today, one of the best places to learn about the Kumeyaay is here at the Museum of Man. Here in San Diego’s only museum devoted entirely to anthropology, artifacts from many of the of the world’s ancient cultures are intriguingly displayed inside. Look at mummies that have been removed from their tombs in the sandy deserts of Egypt, or artwork and pottery from Mayan tribes from modern day Guatemala. Learn about the brutal history of torture and tools of the morbid trade, or peruse a collection of thousands of skulls that date to the origins of man. Some exhibits—like the history of beer—are only on temporary display, whereas collections on the Maya, Egyptians, and Kumeyaay are permanent exhibitions. When finished reading about Mayan monuments and hieroglyphic writing.

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Green Flash Brewing Co.

Green Flash Brewing Co.

2 Tours and Activities
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Belmont Park

Belmont Park

3 Tours and Activities
This ocean front amusement park offers thrills for kids and kids at heart. For adrenaline-lovers, there’s the Giant Dipper roller coaster and rock climbing, and if you’re looking for fun at a bit of a slower speed, there’s mini-golf and the arcade.

There’s no cost for admission. You pay as you go, buying tickets or unlimited ride wrist bands. Along with rides and attractions expect beach boardwalk style grub like ice cream, burgers and pizza. If your visit to Belmont Park includes some time at the beach, you can rent everything you’ll need, from surfboards and wetsuits to beach chairs and umbrellas. Belmont Park is also home to a FlowRider® wave machine and the onlyFlowBarrel® in the United States. Pumping 100,000 gallons of water per minute, the FlowBarrel® wave machine creates an endless 10 foot wave.

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Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD)

Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (MCASD)

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Two locations make it even easier to fit a visit to the Museum of Contemporary Art into your San Diego itinerary. The museum's collection includes more than 4,000 works of art created since 1950.

The La Jolla location is perched on nearly three acres of oceanfront property and includes the scenic and colorful Edwards Sculpture Garden. More than a dozen sculptures and installations are on display throughout the museum grounds. The Sculpture Garden is a nice option for families and artists. Pencil sketching is permitted. The downtown location is more historic, set in the former Santa Fe Depot baggage building. Public tours are offered (free with admission) at both locations. Downtown tours begin at 2pm on Saturdays. La Jolla tours are held on Sundays at 2pm. Tours are also held at 5:30 p.m. on the third Thursday of the month at both locations. No reservations are necessary.

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Liberty Station

Liberty Station

3 Tours and Activities

As a major port and hub of the U.S. Navy, it’s no surprise that one of the city’s most important commercial districts is a former naval base. Once a military barracks and training center, Liberty Station is a cultural hub with a celebrated food market. The many food stalls, small shops, and even art galleries bring together some of the best of each in San Diego and represent the city’s diverse influences. The Liberty Public Market is a food hall comprised of artisan food, beer, wine, cocktails, and the city’s top local flavors.

Spread out over 28 acres, the Liberty Station architecture showcases San Diego’s historically Spanish roots. Many of the historic buildings have been tastefully converted into modern businesses and venues, many stretching along its main promenade. It’s also a major arts district, home to museums, dance companies, music halls, and a popular monthly art walk.

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Japanese Friendship Garden

Japanese Friendship Garden

1 Tour and Activity

Somewhat of a park inside of a park, the Japanese Friendship Garden is a sanctuary of calm inside busy Balboa Park. Symbolic of the friendship between San Diego and the Japanese city of Yokohama, this 20-acre garden has over 200 cherry trees that dot the manicured landscape. In keeping with the tradition of Japanese gardens, the landscape here is methodically arranged so the stones, water, trees, and plants have a natural and calming energy. It’s a place for serene, inward reflection, and also a place where visitors can experience traditional Japanese culture. Stop for a drink at the tea museum and gaze out over the ponds, or wander through gardens that are meticulously planted in traditional Japanese herbs. On weekends, there can be classes in everything from Japanese language to the art of fine calligraphy, as well as a festival for the cherry blossom bloom that takes place every March.

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New Children's Museum

New Children's Museum

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San Diego County is home to more than 90 museums, but the New Children’s Museum (NCM) downtown is a top choice among many families. Every visit brings the opportunity for kids to create something different. With three floors of hands-on activities, craft projects, and play areas, art is constantly being created. Kids are encouraged to roll of their sleeves and create a masterpiece.

In addition to performances and seasonal events, NCM runs a number of regular continuing programs including Toddler Time on the second Friday of the month and Finger Painting Friday on the fourth Friday of the month. NCM is across the street from Children’s Park, offering easy access to a nice spot for kids to run around and let off some steam.

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Downtown San Diego

Downtown San Diego

The eighth largest city center in the US, downtown San Diego has its fair share of entertainment. Located just minutes from the airport, you’ll find a wonderland of accommodations, restaurants, entertainment and cultural attractions in downtown San Diego. The Gaslamp Quarter is downtown’s most famous district, though you’ll also find neighboring Balboa Park hosts quite a number of San Diego attractions, including the world famous San Diego Zoo. Walk to Petco Park to catch a Padres game, take the kids to the New Children’s Museum, or take a walk down the Embarcadero district and hit the beach, see the USS Midway Museum, or stop and shop in Seaport Village. If you’re in San Diego, downtown is the place to be.

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