Wednesday, April 23, 2008

World Travel Wednesday - San Diego, CA, USA

Funny, I live in one of the most beautiful cities on Earth, and I just now realized what a wonderful focus it would be. And so now I give you my home. San Diego.

San Diego (pronounced /ˌsændiˈeɪgoʊ/) is a coastal Southern California city located in the southwestern corner of the continental United States. In 2006, the city's population was estimated to be 1,256,951. It is the second largest city in California and the eighth largest city in the United States. It is the county seat of San Diego County. and is the economic center of the San Diego–Carlsbad–San Marcos metropolitan area, the 17th-largest in the United States with a population of 2.9 million as of 2006, and the 21st-largest metropolitan area in the Americas when including Tijuana .

San Diego County lies just north of the Mexican border—sharing a border with Tijuana—and lies south of Orange County. It is home to miles of beaches, a mild Mediterranean climate and 16 military facilities hosting the United States Navy, the United States Coast Guard and the United States Marine Corps.

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) and the affiliated UCSD Medical Center combined with nearby research institutes in the Torrey Pines area of La Jolla make the area influential in biotechnology research. San Diego's economy is largely composed of agriculture, biotechnology/biosciences, computer sciences, electronics manufacturing, defense-related manufacturing, financial and business services, ship-repair and construction, software development, telecommunications, and tourism.

First stop: Balboa Park

El Jefe and I (and the kiddos) love Balboa Park. We visit at least once a month, usually more often than that. It is a 1200 acre (4.9 sq. km.) public park, and has SOOO many things to do. The clickable photo above was taken by El Jefe of the Botanical Building. Much of the park's look and feel today is due to the development done for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition. The Exposition was to celebrate the completion of the Panama Canal, set to open in 1915, and to tout San Diego as the first U.S. port of call for vessels traveling north after passing through the canal. The botanical building and it's lily pond (stocked with lovely koi) were built for the exposition. (Picture taken by El Jefe, and prints are for sale if you would like one. Email me!)

Also in Balboa park is the Old Globe Theatre. The internationally-acclaimed, Tony® Award-winning Old Globe is one of the most renowned regional theatres in the country, and has stood as San Diego’s flagship arts institution for over 70 years.

The Old Globe produces a year-round season of 15 plays and musicals on its three stages, including its highly-regarded Shakespeare festival. The Globe has become a gathering place for leading theatre artists from around the world, such as Tom Stoppard, Daniel Sullivan, and Chita Rivera, among many others. Numerous Broadway-bound premieres and revivals, such as Dirty Rotten Scoundrels, The Full Monty, and Damn Yankees have been developed at The Old Globe and have gone on to enjoy highly successful runs in New York and at regional theatres across the country.

We are subscribers to the Old Globe. It is an amazing venue, all of the theatres are intimate affairs and there are truly world class showings going on all of the time. We recently saw Dancing In The Dark, starring Scott Bakula (yes, that one) and it was AMAZING.

One of the wonderful things about Balboa Park is that it serves as a central location for many of San Diego's Museums. Pictured is the San Diego Natural History Museum, recently remodeled and with fantastic exhibits. Currently showing is A Day in Pompeii, which followed the Dead Sea Scrolls, two things I never would have guessed I'd have the chance to see without leaving the US. Both exhibits were marvelous, and the regular exhibits are always great, too. The museum recently held an exhibition called Earth, Wind & WILDFIRE that taught us how to live with and protect ourselves from the wildfires that are commonplace here. Some parts of the country have earthquakes (we have little ones), hurricanes or tornadoes; we have fire season.

Next stop: The Stars

Just outside of San Diego proper sits one of the largest optical telescopes in the world (at #19 currently.) Palomar Observatory is situated on Mount Palomar, a nice drive up mountain twisties an hour or so from downtown. The 200 inch (5.08 m) telescope is named after astronomer George Ellery Hale. It was built by Caltech with a 6 million dollar grant from the Rockefeller Institute, using a Pyrex blank manufactured by Corning Glass Works. The telescope (the largest in the world at that time) saw "first light" in 1948. The American astronomer Edwin Powell Hubble was the first astronomer to use the telescope for observing. The Hale Telescope is operated by a consortium of Caltech, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Cornell University.

Please excuse Thing One's cold self. Although it is beautiful here year round, due to the altitude, Palomar tends to be pretty cold. We enjoy driving up there, often unplanned. El Jefe likes the drive, and I like the gift shop and the fact that six months out of the year there is snow on the mountain. The telescope offers tours most days, and they have wonderful grounds with a picnic area.

Final Stop: Back to Earth

A refreshing amount of land in San Diego has been preserved, and consists of parks and nature conservancies. One of these has an entrance not far from where I live. Mission Trails Regional Park encompasses nearly 5,800 acres of both natural and developed recreational acres. Its rugged hills, valleys and open areas represent a San Diego prior to the landing of Cabrillo in San Diego Bay in 1542. With over 40 miles of trails, boating on Lake Murray, camping at Kumeyaay Lake, numerous informative hikes, and a state-of-the-art Visitor & Interpretive Center, Mission Trails Regional Park has something to offer everyone. I love living in San Diego, because it has all of the things a big city has. But I think I love the care that San Diego has for the land and the people who live here more.

Please, come visit! It's lovely here. There's so much stuff I haven't even begun to show you. If you have any questions, email me!!


Kim Bagwill said...

I'm from LA and I've only been here three years, but I still haven't gotten down to San Diego yet. I've heard it's beautiful!

Kim Bagwill said...

I'm from LA and I've only been here three years, but I still haven't gotten down to San Diego yet. I've heard it's beautiful!

missfire said...

You should come down, if even to see a show at the Old Globe and catch a bite. (I've got some great food recommendations, too!)

Diana said...

I absolutely love your tours! You make San Diego sound as exciting and packed with richness as any exotic destination. Lucky you and your family to be living in the thick of it!!!

If we make it down to Disneyland, we'll have to do the extended tour and tromp through San Diego, if only to hope to see you!

Callooh Callay said...

Cool travelog! I especially like the last photo. I've been to San Diego once but was never able to get into the surrounding area, and it looks so cool!