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America’s Finest City

Americas Finest City

by Greg Burnham

America’s Finest City

In general, Southern California probably offers a greater variety of easily accessible outdoor activities than any other part of the United States. San Diego acquired the nickname: Americas Finest City because it arguably embodies the spirit of Southern California better than any other southland city. It’s no wonder that houses for sale in San Diego sell relatively quickly.

I remember packing several highlights all into a single day nearly 25 years ago. I recruited two of my friends who lived in L.A. to accompany me on a day long extravaganza.

America’s Finest City

It was one of those familiar years when the weather in the mountains allowed snow skiing due to a heavy early snow while the deserts enjoyed an extended heat wave. I began my adventure in San Diego by packing up the gear I would need for the day. Then I drove to one of our local point breaks (Pacific Beach) and met with my accomplices at 6:00am where we hit the surf for about 90 minutes. The air temperature was in the mid to high 60’s as was the ocean water.

When we’d had our fill of sand and surf we stowed our equipment and cleaned up just a bit. Then we piled into my International Scout and drove all of a mere 2 hours to a lake in the Mojave Desert where the temperature was a toasty (for that time of year) 85 degrees. We rented a speed boat and skis and spent the next 3 hours taking turns slaloming to our heart’s delight. Then we basked in the sun on the dock for a half hour before enjoying a late lunch.

Afterwards, we again piled into my Scout and headed south for about an hour to the mountains of Big Bear, where we snow skied until dusk. When we had spent all of our energy we drove back to my house, arriving in San Diego’s 70 degree weather well before 9:00pm.

America’s Finest City

These days, I’m not all that interested in exerting such effort to do so much in a single day, but the fact that it can, in fact, be done at all–and without taking a flight–is definitely a testimony to the diversity of activities available in Southern California as well as the ease of access afforded by San Diego’s location.

Considering what we managed to accomplish that day the distances and the travel time required to enjoy those activities were actually quite minimal. Indeed, the beauty of the scenery as we drove to those locations was breathtaking in its own rite…even if all we had set out to do was sight see.

America’s Finest City

It isn’t difficult to make a rather extensive “short list” of things to see and do in San Diego. Let’s face it, in a land where 99% of the time one has literally no concern whatsoever as to the weather conditions from day to day, week to week, and season to season–the possibilities seem endless. That isn’t simply a hedonistic view of San Diego’s climate: it is reality. While the rest of the country needs to be concerned from day to day with what the weather will bring–from far too many hot and muggy days of summer to far too many freezing, ice cold snowy blizzards in the winter–San Diegans are afforded the luxury of dedicating their time to things that matter far beyond the weather. Granted, some of those pursuits are “just for the fun of it” –and we’ll get to those shortly.

But first…imagine if it was possible to reclaim the hours upon hours of  wasted time, albeit out of necessity, that was spent shoveling snow from your driveway, scraping ice from your windshields, applying snow chains to your tires, and literally crawling to and from your destinations on icy roadways just to travel (somewhat safely) to work, school or church, to name just a few of the weather based challenges faced by most Americans? What if you were to add up all of those hours and be able to utilize them in a more pleasing and perhaps more productive way?

That local residents here need not be bothered with such concerns doesn’t, in and of itself, make San Diego “America’s Finest City”, but it is a good place to start to understand why San Diego has come to be known by that nick-name.

America’s Finest City

Americas Finest City

America’s Finest City

Twenty five years ago I was on a mission to prove that I could endure the extremes of surfing, water skiing and snow skiing in a single day. That goal is silly in retrospect, but only because I have already done it. Today, I enjoy San Diego–and everything it has to offer (minus snow skiing)–to its fullest. What other city’s downtown allows you to visit the world’s largest zoo (Balboa Park), spend the day on an Aircraft Carrier (USS Midway Museum), visit the historic Gaslamp Quarter, take a yacht across the bay to the Del Coronado Hotel on Coronado Island (where presidents stay when visiting), tour the Star of India (a “Tall Ship” in San Diego Harbor), and attend a major league baseball game (PETCO Park) — all within walking distance to be enjoyed in 65 to 75 degree sunshine nearly year round?

Almost unique to urban America, San Diego is an amalgam of cultural diversity, outdoor recreational activities, deep and enduring historical context, boasting perhaps the best climate on the entire planet. Until one has enjoyed living here themselves, the constant reference to the weather might seem redundant and annoying. However, once experienced first hand, the climate of San Diego is the key that allows enjoyment of everything else this hidden jewel has to offer. Indeed, similar climate conditions would transform even the most desolate location on Earth into Paradise.

 

Greg Burnham is a native of San Diego who has lived in the region continuously since 1989.  He and his wife / business partner, Julie, have lived in downtown since 2005.

Topic: America’s Finest City