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San Diego

San Diego

San Diego's superb coastline, near-perfect climate and Mediterranean facade make it the quintessential Southern California beach city. Forget the pace and pollution of LA - if you want to wet your feet in the So-Cal beach scene, pull on your kneebangers and start styling with the boardheads or shopping for rugs and real estate in affluent, conservative, blessed-by-nature, merging-with-Mexico San Diego.

Population: 1.2 million
Area: 330 sq miles (855 sq km)
Elevation: 13ft (4m)
State: California
Time Zone: Pacific Time (GMT/UTC minus 8 hours)
Telephone area code: 619, 858, 760 & 935


San Diego is a coastal city in the southwestern corner of California, close to the border with Mexico. It's an easy place to find your way around. Downtown is a compact grid east of San Diego Bay. The main drag is Broadway, which runs east from the waterfront right through the middle of town. The massive Horton Plaza shopping mall, just south of Broadway, is the centerpiece of San Diego's urban redevelopment, while the renovated Gaslamp Quarter, a few blocks to the south, is the place to go for ambiance and some R'n'R.

The waterfront attractions along the Embarcadero are just west of the downtown grid, while the vast expanse of Balboa Park is in the northeastern corner of the city. Coronado is west of the city, across San Diego Bay, and is accessible by a long bridge or by ferry. The city's main string of beaches begin 5 miles (8km) northwest of the city center and run north 6 miles (10km) to the upmarket town of La Jolla.

San Diego's airport is 3 miles (5km) northwest of the downtown area. The main train station, the Santa Fe depot, is on the western edge of the city center. The Greyhound terminal is smack in the middle of downtown. California's main north-south freeway, I-5, runs parallel to the coast and passes within a few blocks of the city center.