San Diego, United States

Full of quirky shops, restaurants and bars designed with a cutting-edge aesthetic, San Diego is divided by its very American grid system into distinct and fiercely independent districts. The Gaslamp area with its traditional architecture draws the most tourists, but if you head west to Little Italy you'll discover chic shopping and edgy nightlife. There's a fresh-faced, surfy beach scene around Mission and Pacific Beaches, with bars and clubs to match; and in La Jolla (pronounced 'La Hoya'), you can rub shoulders with local millionaires as you gaze onto stunning, ocean-dominated vistas.

When to go

Spring and autumn are good times to visit the city, as they're warm without being too hot. December and January may see less of an emphasis on the beach scene, but everything's a bit quieter, and reservations at the top hotels and restaurants are easier to come by.

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Getting there

  • Planes

    With just one runway, San Diego International Airport (+1 619 231 2100; www.san.org) isn't the major hub that its name suggests. Bar a couple of flights to Canada and Mexico, you can only fly to other US destinations from here. Fly to LAX (+1 310 646 5252; www.lawa.org) and take a connecting flight to its downstate neighbour.
  • Trains

    Amtrak (www.amtrak.com) connects San Diego to other US cities. The main terminal is at Santa Fe Station at the west end of Broadway.
  • Automobiles

    This is America – you'll need a car. Especially if you want to get out of the city and cruise the Pacific Coast Highway.
  • Taxis

    Taxis are a good way to get around the city – you can hail them on the streets so long as they're displaying a light. If you want to book one in advance, try San Diego Cab (+1 800 368 2947) or USA Cab (+1 619 231 1144). Be prepared for the driver to impart his or her life story as they take you to your destination.