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Point Loma Naval Base

San Diego, California

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Recreational Facilities




Welcome to San Diego, one of the biggest playgrounds in the country.  If you can't find something to do here, you aren't trying.  The Pacific Ocean is to the west, promising fun in and on the water.  Mission Bay Park and several lakes and reservoirs add to the seeming endless possibilities.  More than 90 museums house rare and priceless collections.  Perfect weather, miles of parks, beautiful gardens, hiking and biking trails provide diversity to daily exercise.

As you can see, the people of San Diego enjoy an active lifestyle.  Whatever your taste, you can choose from a wealth of leisure activities.  Take your pick of more than 90 golf courses or 1,200 private and public tennis courts.  On the other hand, maybe you'd prefer a picnic in one of the region's parks or a visit to the zoo.  The good times roll, limited only by time and your own energy.

This section highlights some of the recreational opportunities San Diego has to offer.  We also suggest you refer to the San Diego Union Tribune's "Night and Day" section for up-to-date event information.

MAJOR ATTRACTIONS

BALBOA PARK
Located near downtown, Balboa Park was developed for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition celebrating the opening of the Panama Canal.  It's one of the largest urban parks in the country, spanning more than 1,200 acres and sprinkled with Spanish-Colonial style architecture.  

The park offers an extraordinary array of cultural and social institutions.  It's home to the Tony Award winning Old Globe Theatre, which presents works by Shakespeare and contemporary playwrights.  Balboa Park is also the site of the world-famous San Diego Zoo, as well as 14 museums, including the San Diego Natural History Museum, the oldest scientific institution in Southern California and the second oldest in the western United States.

Visitors to Balboa Park can enjoy free admission to many of the park's museums on specific Tuesday of each month.  Following is a list of Tuesdays and which museums are free:

First Tuesday of the month
Reuben H. Fleet Science Center
San Diego Model Railroad Museum
San Diego Natural History Museum

Second Tuesday of the month
Museum of Photographic Arts
Museum of San Diego History

Third Tuesday of the month
Japanese Friendship Gardens
Mingei International Museum of Folk Art
San Diego Art Institute
San Diego Museum of Art
San Diego Museum of Man

        Fourth Tuesday of the month
House of Pacific Relations International Cottages
San Diego Aerospace Museum
San Diego Automotive Museum
San Diego Hall of Champions



BELMONT PARK

The waterfront park features shops, dining, the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster (a historic wooden roller coaster) and "The Plunge" swimming pool.


CABRILLO NATIONAL MONUMENT

This monument and visitor's center is named in honor of the Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, whose landing here in 1542 marked the first time Europeans set foot in California.  Situated at the end of Point Loma, overlooking the entrance to San Diego Bay; there's a breathtaking, panoramic view of San Diego's harbor and coastline from the Mexican border to La Jolla.  There's also an historic lighthouse open to visitors, hiking trails, tide pools, and regular programs facilitated by rangers dealing with marine life and local history.  This is also the best land-based vantage point for observing the California gray whale during migration season.


LEGOLAND CALIFORNIA

The first theme park of its kind in the United States, Legoland California was developed by the internationally renowned Danish toy manufacturing company.  Millions of colorful Lego toy bricks were used in the construction of the 1228-acre theme park, which employs many interactive features to entertain children ages 2 to 12.

New attractions for 2004:  
Dino Island features the interactive area - Dig Those Dinos - that allows young guests to test their paleontology skills as they dig for the "skeletal remains" of dinosaurs buried in sand pits.  Claws, teeth and bones as well as full-size skeleton reproductions are waiting to be unearthed by junior excavators.  
Coastersaurus speeds up to 21 mph as it climbs, curves and dips in and around a prehistoric jungle of animated and life-sized LEGO brick dinosaurs.  
Another ride for the entire family is Fun Town Fire Academy!  LEGO fire trucks race across a straightaway then riders pump water through a hose to put out a "burning" building.

SAN DIEGO WILD ANIMAL PARK

The park, a sister facility to the San Diego Zoo, boasts a natural habitat to wildlife and endangered species from every corner of the planet.  The 2,000-acre wildlife preserve features more than 3,000 free-roaming animals that live in enclosures that simulate their natural habitat.  

The Wgasa Bush Line monorail provides visitors with a relaxing look at the animals during a five-mile, 55 minute narrated trip.  One may use the 1.75-mile hiking trail or enjoy an up-close -and-personal photo caravan tour aboard a safari truck.  The park has regular shows and informative talks that reveal some of the amazing qualities of wildlife.

SAN DIEGO ZOO

The San Diego Zoo is one of the world's most acclaimed and popular zoological parks.  With more than 4,000 animals, including 800 species of rare or endangered animals and 6,500 varieties of exotic plants, the zoo is a must see for young and old alike.

There are narrated tours aboard open-air double-decker buses, regular performances of the Sea Lion and Wild Ones shows, a children's petting zoo and a baby animal nursery.

October is children's month at the San Diego Zoo and all children, aged 11 or under will be admitted free (Please contact the Zoo for group requirements).  The first Monday of October is Zoo Founders Day and everyone is admitted free

SEAWORLD

Home of the lovable killer what Shamu, SeaWorld is both a marine-life park and an amusement park.  Locate in Mission Bay, SeaWorld features many exhibits ranging from the Penguin Encounter to one of the largest collections of sharks in the world.  

SeaWorld's newest attraction:  Journey to Atlantis twists you around serpentine turns, plunges you down eight stories of adrenaline pumping exhilaration and drenches you in mystery.

Mid-June through Labor Day, enjoy SeaWorld's "Summer Nights" featuring special evening entertainment, fireworks and extended hours.


RECREATIONAL

Hunting and fishing
California has a wonderful diversity of hunting opportunities. Everything from antelope, deer, elk, wild pig, chuckar, dove, Hungarian partridge, sage grouse and quail and waterfowl of all descriptions.  Most hunting opportunities are established using the zone system with varying dates and bag limits.  Special muzzleloader and archery seasons are available for most upland game and big game species.  There are many sport-fishing charters available for salt-water fishing off San Diego's coast.

For more information please see the California Department of Fish and Game, San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, County of San Diego and City of San Diego web sites listed in Contacts/Links.


Golfing
There are over 90 courses located throughout the San Diego region, from seaside settings to desert mountains to inland valleys.  Numerous San Diego courses have been designed by leading golf course architects including Tom Fazio, John Miller, Alister Mackenzie, Pete Dye, Ted Robinson, Robert Trent Jones, and more.  With a wide range of courses, there is a course for every type of golfer and a range of greens fees that will fit every budget.  San Diego is home to two exciting PGA tour events: the Buick Invitational at Torrey Pines and the Accenture Match Play Championship at La Costa.  

See Location - Installation - Activities for golf courses located on military installations.

For more information please see the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau's web site in Contacts/Links.

Camping
Those who like to camp have a broad choice of terrain, environment and facilities from which to choose including beaches, rivers and creeks, mountain forests and deserts.  There are more than 30 private camping locations in the region equipped for RVs and tents.  Much of San Diego camping takes place in Cleveland National Forest.  With chaparral, mile-high mountains and coniferous trees, it's a beautiful educational and affordable getaway.  Naza-Borrego Desert State Park provides miles of colorful canyons, desert oasis and rocky plains.  At two state beaches - South Carlsbad and San Elijo - campgrounds are located on the bluffs overlooking the beach.  Cuyamaca Rancho State Park, about 45 miles east of downtown San Diego, features almost 110 miles of hiking trails, many open to horseback riders.  There are also several campsites in the Palomar Mountain area including the La Jolla Indian Reservation.  Camping areas in these locations are popular year-round. Reservations should be made well in advance.  

For more information please see the California State Park and County of San Diego web sites in Contacts/Links.

Ballooning
Enjoy San Diego's picturesque scenery from a colorful hot-air balloon.  The coastal communities are among just a few places in the world where a balloon can fly both at sunrise and sunset.  Many of the hot-air balloon companies provide picnics upon landing or champagne flights to celebrate that special anniversary or birthday.  

For more information please see the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, Great American Balloon Company and A Grape Escape Hot Air Balloon Adventure web sites in Contacts/Links.

Biking
If bicycling is your favorite way to enjoy some sunshine, you may want to take advantage of the many bike paths in the county or join a biking club.  With our local terrain, it's quite the workout.  No matter where you ride, be it road, mountain or beach, your legs will beg to pedal a little further just to see what's beyond the next bend.  What smells will the next coastal town impart?  What color will the pines turn at sunset?  Where's the next java stop?

San Diego Bicycle Club is the oldest bicycle club in San Diego.  SDBC supports men and women of all age groups, including some highly competitive juniors.  The club provides its members training programs from seasoned cyclists with racing and coaching experience.  SDBC also organizes some of the best races in the west.  

For more information please see the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and San Diego Bicycle Club web sites in Contacts/Links.

Water Activities
Beaches
Most new residents can't wait to dip their feet in the rolling surf and squish wet sand between their toes.  Whether you're a serious surfer searching for the perfect wave, a parent who wants a safe place where your children can splash around, or a person who wants to end the day with a sunset and a beach walk, there's a place for you.  San Diego offers more than 70 miles of coastline.  Lifeguards man most beaches.  Watch for towers and caution flags warning of riptides or closed beaches.  Many cities offer junior lifeguard classes, and for the more adventurous, there are companies that teach surfing.  

For more information please see the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau web site in Contacts/Links.

Recreational Lakes
What are commonly referred to as the San Diego City Lakes are actually the impounding reservoirs, which comprise the City of San Diego's municipal water supply system.  There are nine reservoirs and 15 lakes in San Diego County.  The public is provided supervised recreational access to all of the City's reservoirs for a variety of traditional outdoor activities, including fishing, boating, canoeing, kayaking, sailing, hiking, picnicking, waterfowl hunting, etc.  In addition, a highly popular water contact program offering seasonal access for water-skiing, jet skiing and windsurfing was implemented with the approval of the City Council in 1989.
For more information please see the City of San Diego web site listed in Contacts/Links.

Boating and Water Skiing
Mission Bay Park, the West Coast's largest aquatic man-made park covers 4200 acres, offers a network of waterways, inlets and islets for many different activities such as jet boats, jet skis, wave runners, wake boarders and water-skiers, sailboats and sailboarders or swimming beaches.  Also enjoy the many parks, beaches, islands and coves, restaurants and resorts.  Excellent bathroom facilities, parking lots, picnic parks and playgrounds, boat rentals, charters and launch ramps. Roads and running paths access every nook and cranny of the park.

For more information please see the City of San Diego web site listed in Contacts/Links.

Other Water Activities
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling
The diving in San Diego doesn't offer the colorful fish and coral reefs found in tropical destinations like Hawaii or the Caribbean, but we do have rich undersea kelp forests, fascinating shipwrecks and offshore islands like San Clemente and the Coronados close at hand.  The best scuba diving in San Diego is found on the inshore reefs of La Jolla and Bird Rock, the Point Loma kelp beds and the submarine canyon outside of La Jolla Shores.  For snorkeling, nothing compares to La Jolla Cove, where you can see tame fish in calm, shallow water just a few paces from shore.

For more information please see the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau web site in Contacts/Links.

Surfing
San Diego is loaded with surf shops, surf camps and surf culture. Experienced surfers will be stoked with the fast, hollow reef breaks in La Jolla and snappy performance beach breaks in North County and the South Bay. Trestles, Blacks, Windansea and Sunset Cliffs are all world famous and, when the conditions are right, world class.

For more information please see the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau web site in Contacts/Links.

Hiking
Even the briefest of map studies of San Diego County immediately reveals that the region is ideal for backpacking, climbing and camping.  But the colors and swirls of a topographical map hardly do it all justice.  Camping experiences range from the oceanfront variety at Torrey Pines State Beach, to the pine forests of Mount Laguna.  San Diego is one of those wondrous places where, just a few miles in from the trailhead, the sense of oneness with nature and the peaceful sound of your own footfalls on the dirt trail make it is possible to forget that civilization is so near.  Small wonder that the Pacific Crest Trail, that hiker's byway stretching from Mexico to Canada, spends its first 150 miles in San Diego County.  Hiking San Diego is an adventure, through and through.
For more information please see the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, California State Parks Dept. of Parks and Recreation and Pacific Crest Trail Association web sites in Contacts/Links.


Snow Skiing
One of the great wonders of San Diego is that you can surf in the morning and ski in the afternoon.  Big Bear Lake is about three or four hours away in the San Bernardino Mountains.  Although snowfall averages between 135 and 180 inches per year, state-of-the-art snowmaking equipment is widely used to provide the necessary snow cover, regardless of weather.  Both Big Bear and Snow Summit have developed extensive snowboard parks.  In addition, Snow Summit has one of the largest snowboard schools in California.  Mammoth Mountain is a favorite of Southern Californians willing to drive eight hours.  Mammoth hosted the first annual Winter Gravity Games in January 2000, an alternative winter sports festival that brought top international athletes to compete in snowboarding, free skiing, snow mountain biking and more.  

For more information please see the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau and Big Bear Chamber of Commerce web sites in Contacts/Links.

Sports

San Diego has several professional sports teams: the San Diego Padres (baseball), the San Diego Chargers (football), the San Diego Gulls (hockey) and the San Diego Sockers (World Indoor Soccer League).  Qualcomm Stadium, seats 67,544 people and has hosted many major sporting events, such as the 1988, 1998 and 2003 Super Bowls, the 1984 and 1998 World Series, Major League Soccer and two Major League Baseball All Star Games.  The Chargers, and the San Diego State University Aztecs share Jack Murphy Field at Qualcomm Stadium.  The San Diego Sports Arena is home to the Gulls and holds other sporting events, such as indoor tennis matches and professional ice skating shows. In April 2004, downtown San Diego opened PETCO Park, the San Diego Padres new stadium.  The stadium seats 46,000 in addition to a "Park at the Park" behind the outfield wall that will be used for lawn seating for up to 2,500 fans.

 



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