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San Diego
This sunniest of U.S. cities is known for its gorgeous beaches and revitalized downtown.

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San Diego
Beyond the Sea: Port Mini-Breaks
San Diego: Pre- or Post-Cruise Mini-Break
Visiting a city for the first time, one of my tried-and-true habits is to embark on a city motorcoach tour. In this case, my maiden visit to San Diego, I took the Old Town Trolley Tour, which makes the obligatory stops at major tourist areas such as Balboa Park, the Gaslamp District and the Old Town. Each time I hopped off -- and then on again -- I'd be greeted by a different tour guide/driver. Though each had a distinctive personality, there was one trait they all shared: an unabashed enthusiasm for San Diego's weather.

The more time I spent in San Diego, the more apparent it became that this obsession with the near-perfect weather (average daily temperature of over 70 degrees, an equal percentage of sunny days per year, very little rainfall -- just ask anybody) extends far beyond tourists lured for a visit. People reveled everywhere, cycling and strolling along the waterfront, strolling through Balboa Park, or simply lying prostate on any part of the city's 70 miles of beaches.

At times, San Diego actually seems to be sparkling in the sunlight. This can be explained, at least partially, by the fact that despite its rich history, so much of the city is new. San Diego wasn't always the postcard-pretty city it appears to be these days. Indeed, it wasn't until the 1980's that city leaders, dismayed at how seedy and run-down San Diego had become, embarked on one of the largest redevelopment projects in its history. Today's Gaslamp District was created when city officials began restoring what was left of San Diego's historic Victorian bulidings, designing new structures to fit in with the existing architecture, and pushing to eliminate the seedy element that had so dominated the area. The creation of the Gaslamp Quarter helped revitalize and energize the entire city -- and a major, more polished metropolis was reborn.

New, old or in between, the city truly offers something for everyone. Fun junkies will love the plethora of theme parks in and around San Diego; the city boasts some of the most famous and modern in the country. The Gaslamp District -- the ostensibly historic area near downtown -- is a thriving after-sundown hub, with more than 200 restaurants as well as a whole host of music clubs and performance venues. And the city's dedication to its museums, from those grouped together in Balboa Park to the ones aboard ships docked in the harbor, offers a chance to experience a wide range of eras and interests.

So it's not a huge surprise to learn that San Diego is consistently one of America's most popular cities for tourists overall -- and a growing destination for cruise ship departures. The cruise pier is right in the heart of town, with the airport just two miles away. Low-cost airlines, such as JetBlue, Southwest, Midwest and Frontier, have expanded the possibilities for budget-minded cruise travelers.

No question, San Diego is an excellent city in which to spend a few days pre- or post-cruise because there is, simply speaking, plenty to enjoy here. Especially the weather.

--by Genevieve Brown, Cruise Critic Contributor.

Photo is copyright Charlie Manz/San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau.
San Diego: Family Mini-Break San Diego: Couples Mini-Break San Diego: Senior Mini-Break
San Diego: Family Mini-Break
Kids can build sandcastles on the beach, catch a puppet show in Balboa Park or build their own car at LEGOLAND.
San Diego: Couples Mini-Break
In La Jolla, the "Palm Springs" of this stretch of California, go sea kayaking, shopping or even paragliding.
San Diego: Senior Mini-Break
San Diego's great weather makes it easy to spend time outside, and its wide range of things to do means you can be as active or as sedentary as you like.
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