The City of San Diego is famous for its wonderful climate, almost endless beaches, and proximity to Tijuana, Mexico. Home to the US Navy's Pacific Fleet, it is also a popular destination for yachters. The Port of San Diego is known for its leadership in the wildlife conservation movement, and it is home to the world-famous San Diego Zoo and Wild Animal Park as well as for its SeaWorld theme park. Within 100 kilometers of the sprawling metropolis of Los Angeles, the Port of San Diego is a welcome relief for those who seek sun, fun, and relaxation. The Port of San Diego's popular coastal community of La Jolla offers chic shops, restaurants, and high-end shopping as well as beautiful secluded coves, golden beaches, and dramatic ocean cliffs. For complete information on the many things to see in do in the Port of San Diego, please visit the city's tourism website.
The Port of San Diego enjoys a Mediterranean to semi-arid climate with warm dry summers and mild winters. Summers last from May until October, and winters are comfortable and somewhat rainy. Due to its varied topography with many hills, mountains, and canyons, the area of the Port of San Diego contains several microclimates. While the coast may be covered with cool fog, just a few miles inland will be sunny and clear, particularly in May and June. Inland areas can have widely different temperatures. Temperatures range from an average high of 25 °C (78 °F) in August to an average low of 9 °C (49 °F) in December and January.
The world famous San Diego Zoo brings people from all over the United States and the world to the Port of San Diego. The not-for-profit San Diego Zoo operates the zoo, the Wild Animal Park, and the Institute for Conservation Research. Founded in 1916 by Harry M. Wegeforth, MD, the zoo is the world's biggest zoological membership association. It has some half a million members who enjoy free admission, a monthly magazine, and other benefits. The 40-hectare zoo houses over 800 species and subspecies with more than four thousand rare and endangered animals. It also contains an impressive botanical collection with over 700 thousand exotic plants. Located north of downtown Port of San Diego at Balboa Park, the zoo is huge but easy to walk. Free bus tours are available that cover a large area of the zoo and offer information you won't get walking. Plan to spend at least one whole day there. Many of the animals are separated from visitors by glass panels rather than cages and fences that block the view. Special shows are offered where visitors meet zookeepers and watch animal feedings. The newest jewel at the San Diego Zoo is the Elephant Odyssey where exhibits include life-sized elephant sculptures, an interactive X-ray machine, and a maze of elephant tracking collars.
The San Diego Zoo's Wild Animal Park, located in the San Pasqual Valley near Escondido, is about 48 kilometers north of downtown Port of San Diego. This huge wildlife sanctuary is home to over 400 species with more than 3500 animals. It also contains 1.5 million specimens from 3500 species of plants. Over half of its 730 hectares is protected native species habitat. Inside the park, visitors will see herds of African and Asian animals roaming vast open spaces from open-air soft-wheeled vehicles inspired by traditional African safari trains. With almost a dozen different exhibits, visitors come eye-to-eye with white rhinoceroses, giraffes, Cape buffalo, gazelle, and many more. More adventurous visitors can soar above the park on Flightline, a zip-line adventure. They may even have close-up and personal encounters with a cheetah, alligator, boa constrictor, or owl. Daily shows and special events through the year add to the experience.
Outdoor lovers and bird-watchers will enjoy visiting the Tijuana Sloughs Estuary and Border Field State Park. These estuarine lagoons and river mouths make up a National Wildlife Refuge. The Tijuana Estuary lies on the border between California and Mexico, and it is mainly a shallow-water habitat that has extreme variation in stream flow throughout the year, making it unique among the National Estuary system. It is also one of the few remaining salt marshes in Southern California and a vital breeding and nesting ground for more than 370 species of migratory and native birds. The Reserve contains four miles of walking trails that go to the river's mouth and the Pacific Ocean. Border Field State Park is in the southwestern corner of the Reserve on a bluff that overlooks the ocean, the estuary, and a bull ring to the south in Mexico.
Travelers who want to visit the Port of San Diego by sea can find a long list of scheduled cruises on the Cruise Compete website.