California's southernmost city, and second-largest, lies beside the Pacific Ocean, basking in near year-round sunshine with shimmering beaches and a fascinating history.
Discovered by Europeans - and claimed for Spain - in 1542 when Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo docked his ship at Point Loma, this is a maritime city. It is, after all, homeport of the Pacific Fleet and home to the Maritime Museum, which celebrates San Diego's briny heritage. The USS Midway, which served the U.S. longer than any other aircraft carrier is docked at Navy Pier and now thousands of tourists take cheap flights to San Diego each year to marvel at it.
One of San Diego's greatest attractions is Balboa Park, a wonderful collection of gardens, stunning Spanish Revival architecture, museums, wilderness and zoo. Another is the Gaslamp Quarter, the historical heart of the San Diego. A red-light and low-rent district in times gone by, the past few decades has seen it come back to life - now as a lively dining, entertainment and urban shopping area.
With Mexico just a $2 tram journey away, flights to San Diego could be just the beginning of wider travels.