Recently, I shared some of my favorite attractions in eastern Texas  and southern Arizona . In my continuing effort to explore the U.S. cities and regions covered by my fellow Moon authors , I've decided to focus today's post on Ericka Chickowski's online interview about San Diego, California .
In this informative Q&A, the author of Moon San Diego  mentions several of my favorite attractions in and around this easygoing city by the sea (and international border town). Just reading her interview, in fact, reminded me of my first, wide-eyed visit to the San Diego Zoo  in Balboa Park , not to mention the time that my husband, Dan, and I toured the supposedly haunted Whaley House  in Old Town . Over the years, other memorable activities have included strolling through the gorgeous Hotel del Coronado , watching the sunset from Torrey Pines State Reserve , and unwinding at various bars in the Gaslamp Quarter .
As I've mentioned before on this blog, I'm also a big fan of the San Diego Zoo Safari Park  (formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park), an 1,800-acre wildlife preserve that lies near the town of Escondido, north of San Diego. In addition, no one should skip a chance to visit the Maritime Museum of San Diego  (1492 N. Harbor Dr., San Diego, 619/234-9153, 9 a.m.-8 p.m. daily in winter, 9 a.m.-9 p.m. daily Memorial Day-Labor Day, $14 adults, $11 seniors 62 and over, $11 students 13-17, $8 children 6-12) alongside San Diego Bay. Founded in 1948, this fascinating museum comprises one of the world's finest collections of historic ships, including the 1898 Berkeley , a steam-powered ferryboat that once operated in San Francisco Bay and is now a National Historic Landmark; the 1904 steam yacht Medea , the history of which includes time as a private Scottish hunting vessel, a French Navy gunboat, and a Royal Navy barrage balloon vessel during World War II; and the 1914 Pilot , once San Diego's chief pilot craft. The museum also features two intriguing underwater vessels: a Soviet-era B-39 submarine  and the U.S.S. Dolphin , the world's deepest diving submarine.
Other vessels here include the topsail schooner Californian , a replica of a mid-19th-century revenue cutter, an armed maritime law enforcement vessel that patrolled the coast during the California Gold Rush, as well as the H.M.S. Surprise , a replica of an 18th-century Royal Navy frigate, which was used in the Oscar-winning film Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World (2003). Of course, the museum's most celebrated ship is surely the 1863 Star of India , the world's oldest active sailing vessel. A general admission ticket allows you the chance to experience each of these vessels as well as browse five permanent exhibits  about the technology of sailing, the history of navigation, the history of San Diego's naval presence, the age of steam-powered vessels, and the rise and fall of commercial fishing in the San Diego area.
For an even more unforgettable experience, visitors can opt for one of the unique sailing excursions  that the maritime museum offers. Currently, these include a narrated, one-hour Historic Bay Cruise on the Pilot (included with general admission); a four-hour Adventure Sail aboard the Californian ($42 adults, $34 seniors, students, and military personnel, $31 children under 13), which, in 2003, was designated the state's official tall ship; and, through mid-April, a whale-watching trip on the historic yacht America  ($65-85 adults, $34-44 children under 13), a visiting replica of the vessel that won the first America's Cup. Sailing aboard such historic ships, even replicas, is definitely worth the extra time and money, especially on a sunny day in southern California. But, if your travel budget is a concern, particularly when vacationing with a large family or group, consider the fact that the prices quoted here also include general admission to the museum's other ships and exhibits.
If you're seeking more information about San Diego , consult the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau  (2215 India St., San Diego, 619/236-1212), the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce  (11650 Iberia Pl., Ste. 220, San Diego, 858/487-1767), or Ericka Chickowski's Moon San Diego  guidebook. Then, whenever you choose to go, I hope you relish your time in California's southernmost city.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below or contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Laura Martone is Moon’s American Nomad  and the author of Moon Florida Keys , Moon Michigan , Moon Baja RV Camping , and the upcoming Moon New Orleans, which will be published in Winter 2012.