San Diego is one of the most pleasant big cities in the nation. Certainly the year-round warm weather and 70 miles of beaches contribute to the pleasantness -- and possibly even to the surprisingly low crime rate here in the nation's 8th largest city. The sweeping blue Coronado Bridge is the landmark of San Diego's skyline, which curves attractively along the edge of San Diego Bay. Once known mainly as home to a large Navy base, San Diego has grown into a major center for culture and recreation in California's southwest.
Among San Diego's most famous attractions are the animals. Three major animal parks, including Sea World and the renowned San Diego Wild Animal Park, exhibit an astonishingly broad collection of wildlife encompassing birds, sharks, tigers, and koala bears. Marine life can be enjoyed in its natural habitat by snorkeling or scuba diving at La Jolla Cove, or watching for whales migrating along the coast. Wildlife of a different sort can be observed on the boardwalks and beaches that are the area's major recreation spots, as skaters, surfers, and sunbathers work on their tans.
One of the nation's oldest cities, San Diego was first visited by Europeans in the mid-1500s, and a number of beautiful Spanish missions can still be seen nestled amid the palm trees. Victorian and Mediterranean architecture are on display in Old Town and the Gaslamp Quarter, recalling San Diego's storied past. The unique aesthetic of the city can also be found in Balboa Park, among the largest urban parks in the nation and filled with museums and pleasant landscaping, and in the smaller neighboring communities like Julian, Carlsbad, and Del Mar.
San Diego is located in southwest California, about 20 miles from the Mexican border and 120 miles south of Los Angeles.