Sandy beaches, naval history and exotic animals all have one thing in common: San Diego. As the site of the first permanent Spanish settlement in the state, San Diego is considered the “birthplace” of California, and is the second-largest city in The Golden State, just behind Los Angeles.
The city’s Mexican and Spanish heritage is showcased in many locations, including Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Cabrillo National Monument and Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá.
San Diego also is well-known for its mild year-round climate, its association with the United States Navy and its zoo, which was a pioneer in the concept of cageless, open-air exhibits for animals.
“For student groups, San Diego has it all, from exciting historic finds and world-class arts and culture to 70 miles of beaches, water adventures and famous attractions like the San Diego Zoo, Safari Park, LEGOLAND, SeaWorld and Balboa Park,” said Robert Arends, manager of public relations at the San Diego Tourism Authority.
These five stops from the San Diego Tourism Authority highlight the city’s aquatic adventures, heritage, arts, natural history and wildlife.
1. Birch Aquarium
As the largest oceanographic museum in the United States, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps is the exploration center for Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Overlooking the Pacific Ocean, the aquarium showcases over 60 habitats of fish and invertebrates. A variety of education programs are available, including Discovery Labs, visits to La Jolla Shores and self-guided visits that highlight the range of habitats along the California Current.
2. Cabrillo National Monument
Students can step onto the same soil Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo did back in 1542, discovering what is now the West Coast of the United States. Cabrillo was a Spanish navigator who created history as the first European to explore California’s coast. The Cabrillo National Monument tells the story of the 16th-century exploration among a statue, lighthouse, tide pools, and other natural and cultural resources. Ranger-led programs give students an extensive historical and scientific lesson on the national park.
3. The Old Globe
Students can catch a musical performance and get an inside look backstage at the Tony Award-winning Old Globe Theatre. Modeled after Shakespeare’s Old Globe in London, the theater has been the home of several world premieres, including Into the Woods and Imaginary Friends. Premiering in the summer of 2018 (July 3 to Aug. 12, 2018), Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax is a musical devoted to the popular American author and icon, Dr. Seuss, who once lived in La Jolla.
4. San Diego Zoo
Housing over 3,700 animals of more than 650 different species, the zoo gives students the opportunity to experience exotic wildlife like no other. Hands-on programming allows students to learn about conservation issues, natural history, various animal species and habitats, science and math. Students can encounter animals including elephants, cheetahs, giant pandas, butterflies, giraffes, gorillas and koalas. Special experiences include guided bus tours and Skyfari, an aerial tram that shares expansive views of the zoo.
5. San Diego Natural History Museum
Students can step into a scientist’s shoes at this museum. As the oldest scientific institution in Southern California, the museum is dedicated to sharing the ecological diversity and history of the region. Classes, docent-led tours and self-guided tours are offered for students visiting the museum. The “Fossil Mysteries” permanent exhibit shares the rich fossil history of the region, traveling through 75 million years, from the age of dinosaurs to the ice ages.
San Diego Tourism Authority