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World-class zoo, other 'must' sites to see in San Diego

From the March 1998 ACP Observer, copyright 1998 by the American College of Physicians.

By Jennifer Fisher Wilson

San Diego is best known for its beautiful beaches and temperate climate, but it is also the preeminent American metropolis for animal attractions. Plus, the city also has top-notch shopping, museums and cultural attractions.

All telephone numbers are in the 619 area code unless otherwise noted.

The wild side

The San Diego Zoo (2020 Zoo Drive, 234-3153), recognized as one of the world's finest, houses animals in habitats like Hippo Beach, Polar Bear Plunge, Tiger River and Gorilla Tropics. Giant pandas on loan from the People's Republic of China draw the biggest crowds. Admission—$16 for adults and $7 for ages 3 to 11—includes a guided bus tour and entrance into the children's zoo. Open 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. daily.

Zoo lovers will also appreciate the San Diego Wild Animal Park (15500 San Pasqual Valley Road, Escondido, 760-747-8702), a 2,200-acre nature preserve where more than 3,000 wild animals, including many endangered species, roam freely. Animal environments resemble native habitats and include the Hidden Jungle butterfly exhibit, a bird show, an elephant show and a petting kraal. Located 30 miles north of downtown San Diego. Admission is $19.95 for adults and $12.95 for children ages 3 to 11. Open 9:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. daily.

The famed Sea World(1720 S. Shores Road, 226-3901), home of the trained killer whale, Shamu, is a 150-acre marine park that also features seals, dolphins, sea lions, sea otters and penguins. Five major shows are staged throughout the day at outdoor and indoor auditoriums. Admission is $34.95 for adults and $26.95 for children ages 3 to 11. Open 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. daily.

More than 3,000 fish swim in the Birch Aquarium at Scripps Institution of Oceanography (2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, 534-3474). Admission—$7.50 for adults, $5.00 for college students and teenagers, $4.00 for children ages 3 to 12—includes an interactive oceanographic museum and a great view of the Pacific coast. Open 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. daily.

Museums and sites

The San Diego Museum of Art (1450 El Prado Way, 232-7931) includes collections of Italian Renaissance, Dutch and Spanish Baroque, and American, Asian and Modern art. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for college students with identification, $2 for children ages 6 to 17 and free for children ages 5 and under. (Rates are slightly higher on Fridays.) Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The Timkin Museum of Art(1500 El Prado, Balboa Park, 239-5548) features the works of the European Old Masters, 18th- and 19th-century American paintings and Russian icons. Admission is free. Open Tuesday through Sunday, 10:00 a.m.-4:30 p.m.

The Museum of Contemporary Art (1001 Kettner Blvd. at Broadway, 234-1001) has an international reputation for its permanent collection and consistently high-quality exhibitions. Admission is $2 for adults and $1 for students, seniors and individuals with military identification. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m.- 5:00 p.m.; Sunday from noon to 5:00 p.m.

The Museum of Photographic Arts (1649 El Prado, Balboa Park, 238-7559) is devoted exclusively to the photographic arts and hosts exhibitions from around the world. Admission is $4 for adults and free for children under 12. Open 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. daily.

Visitors to San Diego can also visit the first of the chain of Father Junipero Serra's 21 missions along the California coast, the Mission Basilica San Diego De Alcala (San Diego Mission Road, 281-8449). Admission is $2 for adults, $1 for teenagers and seniors, and 50 cents for children under 12. Open 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. daily.

Another remarkable site is the Hotel del Coronado (1500 Orange Ave., Coronado, 435-6611), built in 1888 and now a National Historic Landmark. One-hour guided tours are available Thursday through Saturday at 10:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Each tour costs $10.

Shopping

The Gaslamp Quarter (410 Island Ave., 233-4692) is located downtown near the convention center and packed with galleries and shops, restaurants and theaters. Historic walking tours are available Saturdays at 11:00 a.m.; self-guided audio walking tours are also available. Each costs $5 for adults and $3 for students and seniors.

Horton Plaza (324 Horton Plaza, 238-1596)—San Diego's most popular shopping center-is located adjacent to the Gaslamp Quarter. Consuming seven city blocks, the plaza is filled with more than 140 stores, 20 places to dine and a 14-screen movie theater.

Also downtown is the Seaport Village (W. Harbor Dr. at Kettner Blvd., 235-4014), which features not only 75 one-of-a-kind places to shop but also the opportunity to ride the Looff Carousel, which was built around 1890. Seaport Village sits on the bay.

If it's truly upscale shopping you're looking for, visit the downtown Paladion (777 Front St., 232-1627), where shops include Tiffany & Co., Cartier and Gianni Versace. Ritzy shops are also located across the San Diego Bay on Coronado's Prospect Street, dubbed the "Rodeo Drive" of San Diego.

San Diego area events

April 3-5: The 11th Annual Santa Fe Market (Bazaar del Mundo, Old Town State Park, 296-3161) celebrates the culture of the American Southwest. Events are held Friday and Saturday from 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. and Sunday from 10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m..

April 3-5: The 12th annual America's Schooner Cup (223-3138) starts at 1:00 p.m. at Harbor Island in the San Diego Harbor and continues past Shelter Island to the tip of Point Loma.

April 4-5: The 9th Annual Borrego Springs Grapefruit Festival (Christmas Circle in Borrego Springs, 760-767-5555) celebrates the Borrego ruby-red grapefruit with live music, food, arts and crafts. Open 9:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m.

April 4-5: The United States, Canada and Europe are represented in the 25th annual San Diego Crew Classic (488-0700), where more than 3,000 rowers will participate in classic rowing competitions. The competition starts at 7:00 a.m. at Crown Point Shores in Mission Bay.

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