A City of Virtues
San Diego Travel Tale
by Lorry Patton ...
A story on San Diego's virtues comes easily, there's so much to see and do. First, located on the
southwest corner of
sunny California, the weather's always perfect. Then there's the heavenly scenic ocean. It is the
ideal location for one
of the largest naval bases in the United States, a myriad of water sports and a cruise ship harbor.
Seaport Village, 14 acres of boardwalks and boutiques close to the cruise ship pier, is a replica of
the harbor 100 years
ago -- although the merchandise in the wooden shanties is probably quite different. It's a fun
place for browsing and
watching the action in the bay. Just walking distance from city center, the village gets busy
during lunch hour, not only
with tourists, but with local residents and office workers taking advantage of the tasty treats
served in the cafes.
The city's continual revival program has kept downtown looking clean and prosperous. I'm not
surprised to learn the
number of people living there increases yearly. They are steps from museums, symphony and
show theaters, jazz clubs,
bistros and year-round outdoor performers. There are lots of department stores, too. Horton
Plaza, a shopping maze of
several levels and open-air architect, covers 6.5 blocks right in the heart of the city.
The latest to get the renaissance treatment is the Gas Lamp Quarter, a 16.5 block section that
dates to the close of the
civil war. These renewed Victorian buildings keep a touch of the olden day in the city. In sharp
contrast to the modern
high-rises in sleek shades of silver, bronze and black, nicknamed tool box, because their
hexagon, triangle and wedged
shapes look like giant chisels and screwdrivers from a distance.
To get a sense of what San Diego was like between the years 1821 and 1872, you have to explore
Old Town a state
historic park since 1968 and the authentically restored adobes within the grounds, such as Las
Casas de Estudillo.
The Seeley Stable, a reconstructed building, has a collection of Western memorabilia that
includes saddles and branding
irons. The flagpole that towers over the town was first raised on July 29, 1846, by a detachment
of Marines and Sailors,
when San Diego became the property of the United States.
Old Town is where the first Europeans settled. The new settlement, where city center sits now,
began when Alonzo
Horton arrived in 1867 and bought 1,000 "jackrabbit-infested acres." At first he had to give
away lots to encourage
people to build, however, by the turn of the century "New Town " replaced Old Town.
I spent several hours in Old Town poking through Bazaar del Mundo's circle of
Mexican-flavored shops. The goods for
sale are so tempting they practically jump in your bag: Indian rugs and jackets, straw baskets with
ribbons, bolts of material in Mexican design, wood and stone carvings, ceramics, paper flowers,
and oodles and oodles of kitchen gadgets. Lots of stuff is useful and of good quality besides
being pretty to look at --
the best kind of goods.
The shops surround an open-air cafe and a stage. Both the performers that sing and dance to
Mexican tunes and the
waitresses that serve the hungry people are dressed in traditional costumes. It's a festive place
and gets quite crowded.
Other major attractions in San Diego are the San Diego Zoo, Sea World, Wild Animal Park,
Balboa Park, Cabrillo
National Monument, Mission Bay, Stephen Birch Aquarium-Museum and California's first
church, the 1769 Mission
San Diego de Alcala. I've been to all of them at one time or another and recommend them
The Spanish Colonial buildings of Balboa Park were built for the exposition in 1915. Natural
history, space, railroad
and sports are just a few of the thirteen prestigious museums within its treed and flowered 1,074
acres. The park is
appropriately referred to as the Smithsonian of the West.
Sea World is as popular as ever and the multimillion dollar shark exhibit is wonderful. When I
walked through a huge
glass tunnel under the water it seemed the sharks were watching me! Another exhibit I liked
was the Clydesdale
Hitching and Nautilus Pavilion. Besides viewing these magnificent animals, there's a beer bar in
the pavilion where
you can sample beer.
For more information on San Diego and a list of campgrounds write to San Diego Convention
and Visitors Bureau,
Dept. 700, 1200 Third Ave, Suite 824, San Diego, CA 92101-4190.
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