San Diego Vacation Rentals
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San Diego is set around a gracefully curving bay, represents the acceptable face of southern California. The second biggest city in California may be affluent and conservative, but it's also easygoing and far from smug.
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Always vibrant and active, downtown San Diego is the best place to start exploring. Since the late 1970s, several blocks of 1920s architecture have been stylishly renovated, with the sleek modern bank buildings symbolizing the city's growing economic importance on the Pacific Rim. Downtown is safe by day, but can be unwelcoming at night, as much of it shuts down after business hours, and you should confine your after-dark visits to the restaurants and clubs of the comparatively well-lit and well-policed Gaslamp District.

The tall Moorish archways of the Santa Fe Railroad Depot , at the western end of Broadway , built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition, still evoke a sense of grandeur. Broadway slices through the middle of downtown, at its most hectic between Fourth and Fifth avenues. Shoppers, sailors, yuppies and slackers linger around the fountains outside Horton Plaza (Mon-Sat 8.30am-5pm, summer Mon -Sat 10am-9pm, Sun 11am-7pm;, San Diego's major upmarket shopping venue, with a somewhat dated postmodern style that borrows heavily from Art Deco designs and motifs. Head for the open-air eating places on its top level; though the cuisine may be more expensive than in the streets - and offers little more than the standard fast-food fare of other shopping zones - it's fun to sit over a coffee and watch the parade of tourists go by. Take time on your way out to visit the 21ft-tall Jessop Clock on level one, made for the California State Fair of 1907.

South of Broadway, a few blocks and yet a world away from Horton Plaza, the sixteen-block Gaslamp District , heart of frontier San Diego, is now filled with smart streets lined with classy cafés, antique stores, art galleries, and, of course, gas lamps - now powered by electricity. A tad artificial it may be, but its late-nineteenth-century buildings are intriguing to explore. Worth a peek is the Horton Grand , 311 Island Ave, a reconstruction of two nineteenth-century hotels originally located a few blocks away, with Old World decor and hotel staff in Victorian costumes.

West of downtown, the Embarcadero pathway follows the curve of the bay, and leads to the Maritime Museum , 1306 N Harbor Drive (daily 9am-8pm, summer closes at 9pm; $6; ), where the most interesting of three vintage sailing craft is the Star of India , built in 1863 and now the world's oldest still-afloat merchant ship.

Across San Diego Bay from downtown, the isthmus of Coronado is a well-scrubbed resort community with a major naval station occupying its western end. It's of somewhat limited interest, save for the majestically modern Coronado Bay Bridge , a curving 11,000-foot span that's one of the area's signature images ($1 toll for southbound travelers without passengers), and the historic Hotel del Coronado , around which the town grew. The massive Victorian-turreted "Del" is where Edward VIII (then Prince of Wales) first met Mrs Simpson (then a Coronado housewife) in 1920 and where Some Like It Hot was filmed in 1958, posing as a Miami Beach hotel. The simplest and most scenic way to get to Coronado is on the San Diego Bay ferry ($2 each way; tel 619/234-4111) which leaves Broadway Pier daily on the hour between 9am and 9pm (10pm Fri & Sat). Tickets are available at San Diego Harbor Excursion , 1050 N Harbor Drive.

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Mission Beach Vacation RentalsMission Beach Vacation Rentals. Only steps from Mission Beach, these homes, & condos are perfect for a San Diego Beach vacation.


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