San Diego, California

70 miles of Pacific coastline and 200 days above 70° are two great reasons to visit San Diego County. This gallery of San Diego, Coronado, La Jolla and Carlsbad will show you 50 places to go while you’re enjoying sunny Southern California.

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1 Skyline and Sailboats along San Diego Bay in San Diego, California

San Diego Bay is a 12 mile waterway and harbor for a wide range of watercraft, from naval aircraft carriers, to commercial ocean freighters and lots of pleasure boats. On a sunny day it is typical to see several sailboats floating slowly passed the skyline of downtown.

1201 1st St, Coronado, CA 92118
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2 California Bell Tower at Balboa Park in San Diego, California

The 200 foot California Bell Tower’s cupola and lantern is accented with a starburst tile design that is so exquisite that it has become an iconic symbol of San Diego. This three-tier, Spanish and Mexican tower welcomes visitors that enter Balboa park through the El Prado entrance. The California Building was created for the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and houses the anthropology Museum of Man.

1350 El Prado San Diego, CA 92101
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3 Botanical Building at Balboa Park in San Diego, California

A lush garden surrounds the Lilly Pond in front of the Botanical Building at Balboa Park. As beautiful and colorful as this reflection pool is, it only hints at the 2,100 plants and flowers inside this wooden lath structure. Both the building and pond were opened in 1915 to help celebrate the Panama-California Exposition.

1650 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
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4 Natural History Museum at Balboa Park at in San Diego, California

Although the San Diego Society of Natural History was established in 1874, it did not take residence in its current building in Balboa Park until 1933. During World War II, the Navy converted the building into a hospital. In 2001, its space was doubled in order to properly display its collection of natural history exhibits from southern California and the Baja California Peninsula.

1788 El Prado, San Diego, CA 92101
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5 Museum of Art at Balboa Park in San Diego, California

These young mothers are pushing their baby carriages as part of a women’s exercise program in front of the San Diego Museum of Art at Balboa Park. The exterior ornamentation is called plateresque, an architectural style that started in Spain during the 15th century. Inside the museum is a huge collection from European masters plus American, Spanish and Asian artists.

1450 El Prado San Diego, CA 92101
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6 Male Asian Elephant Profile at San Diego Zoo in San Diego, California

This male Asian elephant is named Ranchipur. He is one of six that enjoy the 2.4 acre exhibit built for them at the San Diego Zoo in California, which includes a 37,000 gallon pool. They also have one African elephant. Only 40,000 to 50,000 Asian elephants live in the wild. The Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey exhibit also showcases the evolution and extension of animals in Southern California including fossils.

2920 Zoo Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
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7 Pier Café in Seaport Village in San Diego, California

Seaport Village is a 14 acre park that is filled with boutique stores, art galleries, live music, family entertainment and, best of all, bayside paths with spectacular views of the San Diego Harbor. You’ll also find plenty of options for a bite to eat, from quick snacks to the fine dining at Pier Café. They serve fresh seafood with a complimentary side dish of gorgeous scenery.

885 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
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8 Bob Hope Memorial Silhouette in San Diego, California

There is no mistaking the identity of this silhouette profile: Bob Hope. This legendary comedian, singer and movie star spent over 50 years entertaining troops from World War II until the Persian Gulf War in 1991. This bronze statue on Harbor Drive is called “National Salute to Bob Hope and the Military” and is a tribute to his 57 USO tours. He died in 2003 at the age of 100.

3 Tuna Ln, San Diego, CA 92101
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9 Unconditional Surrender Statue in San Diego, California

This 25 foot statue by J. Seward Johnson of a sailor kissing a nurse is modeled after the famous image in Life Magazine by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt that was taken on V-J Day. In the background is the USS Midway, a famous aircraft carrier that was launched less than a month after the iconic photo was taken in Times Square.

55 Tuna Ln, San Diego, CA 92132
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10 USS Midway Bridge over Flight Deck in San Diego, California

The USS Midway, which was named after a critical battle against the Japanese in 1942, was the largest ship in the world for ten years after it was launched in 1945. It is humbling to stand on the flight deck of this 972 foot aircraft and stare up at the bridge which also served as the admiral’s and captain’s quarters.

910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
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11 USS Midway A-1 Skyraider Airplane in San Diego, California

This A-1 Skyraider, which was a bomber during the Korean and Vietnam Wars, is one of two dozen airplanes displayed on the flight deck of the USS Midway Museum. It is thrilling to walk up to each of these different military aircraft, read about their history and then peek inside.

910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
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12 USS Midway Shooter Mannequin on Flight Deck in San Diego, California

On an aircraft carrier, crews wear different colored vests based on their assigned task. This mannequin on the flight deck of the USS Midway is called a “shooter.” He, along with other catapult and plane handlers, coordinated the preparation and take off of fighters. Throughout this museum, you’ll also see mannequins of other crewmembers ranging from pilots, officers, cooks and even servicemen in sickbay.

910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
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13 USS Midway at Sunset in San Diego, California

The sunset over the San Diego Bay bathed the USS Midway with the glory it deserves after this enormous aircraft carrier proudly served the Navy for 47 years. In 2004, it opened as a museum that draws over one million visitors a year.

910 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
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14 Star of India Ship at Sunset in San Diego, California

The Maritime Museum of San Diego is justifiably proud of the Star of India which they claim was built in the Isle of Man in 1863, making it the oldest active merchant sailing ship in the world. It is just one of ten antique ships and submarines that are available to be explored along Harbor Drive.

N Harbor Dr & W Ash St, San Diego, CA 92132
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15 County Administration Center North Harbor Drive View in San Diego, California

When the sun sets over San Diego Bay, it paints the buildings along North Harbor Drive with a delightful orange hue. A beautiful example is this view of the County Administration Center which serves as the offices for the Government of San Diego County. You can see why this building is nicknamed the “Jewel on the Bay.”

1600 Pacific Hwy # 61, San Diego, CA 92101
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16 County Administration Center Pacific Highway View in San Diego, California

The former City and County Administration Building was created in 1938 in order to consolidate the offices that were scattered around San Diego. Since then, the city government has left this beautiful Beaux Arts and Spanish Revival architecture, but several county departments remain.

1600 Pacific Hwy # 61, San Diego, CA 92101
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17 Traditional Home in Little Italy in San Diego, California

In the 19th century, Little Italy was populated by fisherman, boat makers and tuna cannery workers. Those days are gone, but this 48 block neighborhood still retains its charm. Along India Street you will pass plenty of small restaurants, stores and art galleries. But take time to talk with old Italian couples out for a stroll or the longtime residents who sit on their porch and gab with their neighbors. They are delightful and welcoming.

1726 India Street, San Diego, CA
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18 Blowing Bubbles Mural by Lori Escalera in San Diego, California

I love murals so I was thrilled to see so many great examples of street art in the Little Italy neighborhood of San Diego. This one, called “Blowing Bubbles,” was on the side of the former Zia’s Bistro on India Street. It was created as part of the ArtWalk 2006 program. The artist, Lori Escalera, is famous for her large street paintings in Southern California and major cities in the U.S., Mexico and China.

1845 India St, San Diego, CA 92101
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19 U.S. Grant Hotel Building Facade in San Diego, California

In 1910, fifteen years after the death of President Ulysses S. Grant, his son built this eleven story hotel for $1.25 million as a tribute to his father. “Buck” as he was known, had moved to San Diego after his Wall Street bank and brokerage firm collapsed in 1884. He subsequently became wealthy from real estate investments. Since 2006, the U.S. Grant has been managed by the Starwood Hotels and Resorts.

326 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
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20 Balboa Theater Marquee in San Diego, California

In the Roaring Twenties, elaborate movie palaces were built across the U.S. to create a fantasy venue for showcasing big budget films and, after The Jazz Singer in 1927, “talkies.” It was during this heyday that the Balboa Theater was built in 1924. After years of success, it fell on hard times, began to decay and then remained vacant until the City of San Diego purchased it in 1985. It was converted it into a live theater in 2008.

868 Fourth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
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21 Former San Diego Trust & Savings Bank Ceiling in San Diego, California

The ceiling and walls of the former San Diego Trust & Savings Bank’s headquarters were designed in 1928 using an Italian Romanesque Revival style normally reserved for European churches. Pilasters accent the 35 Corinthian columns that now surround the 32 foot high, stenciled ceiling of a Marriot Hotel lobby.

530 Broadway San Diego, CA 92101
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22 Trolley Light Rail in Downtown San Diego, California

San Diego has an excellent system of public transportation which makes it easy and inexpensive to get around. This red trolley is part of the light rail service, but the Metropolitan Transit System or MTS also offers buses, rapid transit, commuter rail and streetcars that collectively serve over 250,000 passengers a day.

Fifth Avenue Station San Diego, CA 92101
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23 Santa Fe Depot in San Diego, California

From a distance, the Spanish Colonial design of the Santa Fe Depot makes it look like an old mission particularly because of its twin towers with their beautiful tiled domes. This train station was built in 1915 to accommodate the influx of visitors to the Panama-California Exposition. The Union Station now serves as a terminal for Amtrak and the San Diego Trolley light rail system.

1050 Kettner Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
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24 Petco Park Field in San Diego, California

Petco Park has been the home field of the Padres baseball team since it opened in 2004. The stadium has also hosted star-studded concerts such as Madonna and the Rolling Stones. This photo was taken from a grassy area called “Park at the Park.” For only $5, fans can watch a game with this centerfield view while technically sitting outside of the ballpark.

100 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
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25 Convention Center Sails Pavilion View in San Diego, California

In order to celebrate its ideal location on the San Diego Bay in the Marina District, the center exhibition halls of the Convention Center is the Sails Pavilion. Its roof consists of fiberglass sheets that look like the billowing sails of a passing ship. The colorful graphics in the foreground are from the concrete sound barrier along West Harbor Drive.

111 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
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26 Gaslamp Quarter Archway Over 5th Avenue in San Diego, California

Most people visit the Gaslight Quarter in downtown San Diego for its shops, restaurants, bars and nightclubs. I, however, enjoyed touring some of the nearly 100 historic buildings within this 16 block district, many of which have been restored to their 19th century Victorian splendor.

4900 Fifth Ave San Diego, CA 92101
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27 Wyatt Earp’s Gambling Hall and Saloon in San Diego, California

Years after the gunfight at the O.K. Corral in Tombstone, Wyatt Earp and his dance hall wife moved to San Diego around 1885 and opened four gambling halls in the Stingaree District, a lawless red light neighborhood. The most famous, or perhaps infamous, was the Oyster Bar which offered drinks and gambling on the first floor and The Golden Poppy brothel upstairs. Today, the building is Georges on Fifth steakhouse in the Gaslamp Quarter.

837 Fifth Ave, San Diego, CA 92101
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28 Keating Building and Hotel St. James Sign in San Diego, California

When the George J. Keating Building opened in 1890, the distinguished office space had the first elevator in San Diego. This red brick, Romanesque revival building is now the Keating Hotel. A more famous hotel was the St. James Hotel which was the city’s first skyscraper when it was built in 1885. It redefined opulence and luxury during the late 19th century until the real estate boom went bust. The hotel was demolished in 1912 and a new one with the pictured sign was built in 1913.

432 F St, San Diego, CA 92101
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29 Yuma Building in Gaslamp Quarter in San Diego, California

When the Yuma Building was built in 1882 or 1888, the neighborhood now called the Gaslamp Quarter was known as the Stingaree District and this brick building was a brothel. The area was rampant with vice, including gamblers and prostitutes. Today, this restored Victorian gem is a store along the 5th Avenue level with a townhouse property on the upper two floors.

629 Fifth Ave San Diego, CA 92101
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30 Immaculate Conception Church in Old Town San Diego, California

On November 12, 1602, Spanish explorer Sebastián Vizcaíno docked three ships near the current Old Town. After naming the area San Diego de Alcala, he asked Carmelite Fathers to celebrated the mass for the first time in California. This historic event occurred near the site of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church. The Old Adobe Church was built in 1858 and the current one opened in 1917.

2540 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
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31 Rust General Store in Old Town in San Diego, California

The Kumeyaay people lived in present day San Diego for about 9,000 years before the first Portuguese explorer, Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, arrived in 1542. Where his ships landed is now a State Historical Park which claims to be the “Birthplace of California.” Old Town features recreated buildings from the years 1821 through 1872 that includes a blacksmith shop, a stable, houses (called casas), a one room schoolhouse, an adobe chapel and several museums.

Calhoun St & Mason St, San Diego, CA 92110
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32 Catrina Day of the Dead Skeleton in San Diego, California

Catrina is the most famous of the Day of the Dead skeletons. She first appeared in a 1913 etching by José Guadalupe Posada. The three-day Mexican holiday honors the dead. On October 31, the day this photo was taken in Old Town of San Diego, the spirits of children are invited back for a visit. If you look closely in the upper right corner, a meteorite is streaking by. It was part of a meteor shower that occurred during a series of photos I took within a few seconds. A coincidence?

2754 Calhoun St, San Diego, CA 92110
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33 Old Town Trolley Sightseeing in San Diego, California

A great way to get around San Diego to see its historical sites and attractions is to purchase a day pass on the Old Town Trolley. During your ride, the conductor will share interesting details and antidotes about the landmarks of California’s second largest city. Plus, you can hop on and off as many times as you wish.

4010 Twiggs St, San Diego, CA 92101
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34 John Wayne as Cowboy Mural by Mando in San Diego, California

The actor John Wayne appeared in about 80 westerns so The Duke’s cowboy persona coming through these saloon swing doors is immediately recognizable. Frank Mando, an accomplished muralist, painted this tribute to the legendary movie star on the door of the Old Town Saloon in San Diego in 2013.

2495 San Diego Ave, San Diego, CA 92110
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35 San Diego Skyline from Coronado Island in California

Across from San Diego, California, is Coronado Island. It technically is a peninsula. The locals, who pay a high price for their homes, call it The Strand. Visitors call its beaches beautiful. At Coronado Ferry Landing is an impressive view of the San Diego Bay and the downtown skyline.

1201 1st St, Coronado, CA 92118
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36 Waterfalls, Pond and Beach Umbrellas in Coronado, California

A delightful daytrip awaits you after boarding a ferry in downtown San Diego and floating across the bay to Coronado. There are several reasons this small, affluent community has earned the nickname “The Crown City.” It has numerous shops and restaurants, well-groomed bike trails along the shore, top-rated sandy beaches and plenty of benches beneath palm trees to idle away your afternoon.

1st St & B Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
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37 Hotel Del Coronado in Coronado, California

Since this Victorian hotel and resort was built in 1888, The Del’s guests have included a who’s who of Hollywood stars, celebrities, socialites and 16 U.S. presidents. However, you do not need to be a guest of the luxury Hotel del Coronado to appreciate this landmark’s sprawling views of the Pacific Ocean along a sandy beach, its lush gardens and its delicious restaurants.

1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, CA 92118
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38 Old Point Loma Lighthouse in San Diego, California

On a clear day, plan a visit to the Cabrillo National Monument for a spectacular view of San Diego Bay, Coronado Island and the downtown skyline. The park is named after the Spanish explorer Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo who discovered the area in 1542. Also explore the Old Point Loma Lighthouse and the Assistant Keeper’s Quarters. They provide a wonderful glimpse of what it must have been like for a keeper to work 365 days a year to help ships navigate between 1855 and 1891.

Point Loma, Humphreys Rd San Diego, CA 92106
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39 Eastern Pacific Gray Whale Mural in San Diego, California

This life-size mural of an Eastern Pacific Gray Whale is on Point Loma within the Cabrillo National Monument. During certain months, you can watch from this 422 foot overlook as up to 25,000 of these giant mammals make their migration from the Artic to Baja California Sur. This 10,000 mile trek is called the “Whale Highway.” In the background is the Old Point Loma Lighthouse.

Point Loma, Humphreys Rd San Diego, CA 92106
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40 Pacific Ocean Tidepool in San Diego, California

At the base of Point Loma in the Cabrillo National Monument is access to the tidepools. It’s trilling to watch the Pacific Ocean pound and flow across the shoreline but please be cautious. Immediately after I took this photo, a huge wave crashed against the cliff and knocked over the young man on the left. He struggled not to be swept off the edge and, when the water receded, he crawled across the sharp rocks towards safety.

Cabrillo Rd San Diego, CA 92106
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41 Pacific Ocean Tidepool Close Up in San Diego, California

At high tide, the Pacific Ocean relentlessly slams into the rugged, sandstone coastline along the peninsula known as Point Loma and then churns into white foam. At low tide, the receding waters reveal an amazing intertidal zone that includes colorful plants and animals. Visiting this tidepool will be among the highlights of your visit to Cabrillo National Monument.

Cabrillo Rd San Diego, CA 92106
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42 La Jolla Cove in La Jolla, California

Perhaps one of the finest beaches within San Diego is La Jolla Cove. Although it is small, the water is clear with up to thirty feet of visibility so this Pacific Coast shoreline is a favorite among snorkelers. At the top of the sandstone cliff is the grassy, tree-lined Scripps Park.

1160 Coast Blvd, La Jolla, CA 92037
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43 California Sea Lion Adult Male Sleeping in La Jolla, California

The herd or raft of California sea lions near La Jolla Cove were in constant motion and barking loudly along the shoreline. But this adult male with his graying white face seemed content to take a nap. Occasionally he would open one eye to see if I was finished taking his photo and then shuffle with a grunt when he saw I was still there.

1160 Coast Blvd La Jolla, CA 92037
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44 La Valencia Hotel, The Pink Lady, in La Jolla, California

The Village is the “downtown” of La Jolla, a very affluent community of San Diego. Since 1926, this Spanish building with its pink dome has been a local landmark. It is La Valencia, a hotel whose nicknamed is “The Pink Lady.”

1132 Prospect St, La Jolla, CA 92037
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45 Gray Whale Sculptures at Birch Aquarium in La Jolla, California

Before entering the Birch Aquarium, which is part of the University of California’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography in La Jolla, the visitor is treated to these three gray whales that are either breeching or diving into a water fountain. These life-size bronze statues called “The Legacy” are almost 40 feet tall and were created in 1996 by Randy Puckett. The hilltop aquarium showcases over 3000 animals.

2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, CA 92037
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46 Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla, California

In 1955, Jonas Salk proved that he had successful developed a polio vaccine that would soon end the crippling epidemic. Five years later, he founded the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in La Jolla. Today, it is a prestigious campus for scientific research that focuses on molecular biology, neurosciences and plant biology. Among the diseases they hope to cure are cancer, AIDS, diabetes and Alzheimer’s.

10010 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
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47 Torrey Pines State Beach in La Jolla, California

Near the northern boundary of San Diego is the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve which is a 2,000 acre park with eight miles of wilderness hiking trails along the Pacific Coast. Or if you want to feel the ocean mist in your face and the sand between your toes, then descend down the cliff to Torrey Pines State Beach.

12600 County Hwy S21 La Jolla, CA 92037
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48 Jogger at Torrey Pines State Beach in La Jolla, California

Torrey Pines State Beach, which is technically part of San Diego, offers something for everyone. Joggers like to run along the seawall. It is also a favorite among swimmers, surfers, bird watches and, for the naturalists, there is the clothing optional Black’s Beach nearby.

13020 County Hwy S21, La Jolla, CA 92037
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49 Carlsbad Village Train Station in Carlsbad, California

Carlsbad is an affluent town of about 100,000 people in San Diego County. The “Village by the Sea” has a quaint downtown, great resorts, seven miles of beaches and over 260 days of sun a year. Locals and tourists use the COASTER rail system to quickly commute the 35 miles to San Diego while enjoying wonderful views of the Pacific coastline along the way.

2775 State St, Carlsbad, CA 92008
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50 Landmark Victorian Mansion in Carlsbad, California

This blue Victorian mansion has been a landmark in Carlsbad since it was built in 1887 by Gerhard Schutte. After 1919, it became an inn, then a restaurant and now a surf shop. Notice the ghost in the window? It was Halloween so this decoration is understandable, but apparently the mansion is haunted with frequent paranormal sightings near the secret room and the trap door leading to the tower.

2978 Carlsbad Blvd #120, Carlsbad, CA 92008
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