San Diego is a place of outstanding conservation and research activities related to the preservation of the world’s rarest flora and fauna. This dedication is personified in the efforts of the San Diego Zoo, which has dedicated a substantial portion of its territory to preserving and preventing the extinction of endangered species. At the Torrey Pines State Park, rare plant species and stopovers for migrating birds are protected. Known primarily as an entertainment destination, SeaWorld is in fact a major funder of marine animal conservation and protection activities. These themes of conservation and preservation reverberate in the work being done in Quail Botanical Gardens, San Diego Wild Animal Park, Anza Borrego Desert State Park, and the California Wolf Center. A trip to San Diego is an experience in good stewardship of our world.
Slightly Active. May involve some walking and climbing.
Often compared to the climate of the Mediterranean, California has warm, dry summers and mild, wet winters. On the coast, temperatures range between the low 40s to the high 80s. Farther inland, summers are hot and dry, and at higher altitudes you can encounter the four seasons with cold, snowy winters. The three largest cities that are included in this program have very different climate. San Francisco is famous for its fog — especially in the summer, Los Angeles is known for its consistently sunny, desert-like, coastal climate, and San Diego for its ideal climate year-round. For our Culinary California program, given the alpine setting of Lake Tahoe and the extreme weather patterns that can be expected in the winter, the best time to travel is between April and October. For our San Diego program, it is a year-round destination, but the desert is best visited in the winter months, and in particular in February/March when you could see the wildflowers blooming.
Arrive in San Diego and make your way to your hotel, where at 3:00 PM the same afternoon, you will meet with your local guide in the lobby, who will then take you on an exciting city tour. Afterward you will attend a Welcome Dinner at the Harbor House Restaurant. COURTYARD MARRIOTT SAN DIEGO DOWNTOWN. (D)
This morning, visit the San Diego Zoo, home to 4,000 rare and endangered birds, mammals and reptiles, and 6,500 varieties of exotic plants. Highlights of your guided tour are the Ituri Forest, Giant Pandas, and Polar Bear Plunge. An 1,800-acre exotic animal and botanical reserve within the zoo is dedicated to the preservation and protection of endangered species. After lunch at the Zoo, drive to the 2,000 acre Torrey Pines State Reserve. Located within San Diego city limits, it remains one of the wildest stretches of land on the Southern California coast and protects the rare and elegant Torrey Pine, miles of unspoiled beaches, tide pools and a lagoon that is vital to migrating seabirds. The viewing platforms built at the bluff’s edge are excellent sites for observing the yearly migration of the Gray whales between December and March, as well as the dolphins that patrol the shores year round. Your evening will be at leisure. Enjoy dinner at one of the nearby restaurants or venture downtown to picturesque San Diego Bay. In the Gaslight Quarter, restored Victorianera buildings are home to theaters, nightclubs and more than 70 restaurants. COURTYARD MARRIOTT SAN DIEGO DOWNTOWN. (B,L)
Visit SeaWorld San Diego which has been honored by the American Zoo and Aquarium Association (AZA) many times for significant achievement in education, breeding and research of marine wildlife. Enjoy an informative behind-the-scenes tour of areas like the Animal Care Facility, the Dolphin or Killer Whale Training Facility, Wild Arctic or the Shark Laboratory. Make your way to Balboa Park for a tour led by the author of Discover Balboa Park, Pam Crooks. Pam’s tour will cover the history, architecture, horticultural and cultural aspects of the park. Afterwards, you may remain and explore the other Balboa Park museums at your own pace. You’ll marvel at the bevy of botanical delights to be found within Balboa Park. When the museums close at 5:00 PM you will be picked up and transferred back to your hotel. COURTYARD MARRIOTT SAN DIEGO DOWNTOWN. (B)
Drive to Quail Botanical Gardens today to discover one of the world’s most diverse and botanically important plant collections. Within this 30 acre park, California native plants, exotic tropical plants, bamboo and other unusual plant collections thrive. Afterward go on safari at the San Diego Wild Animal Park where animals roam in enclosures measured in acres rather than feet. This wonderful park was designed to maximize the comfort of the animals as well as to offer visitors an exceptional wildlife viewing experience. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes tour to off-exhibit animal compounds and a 55-minute guided Wgasa Bush Line Railway tour that will take you through deepest Africa and Asia. COURTYARD MARRIOTT SAN DIEGO DOWNTOWN. (B,L)
Travel east two hours into Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, the largest desert state park in the contiguous United States at just over 600,000 acres. 500 miles of dirt roads, two huge wilderness areas and 110 miles of riding and hiking trails, provide visitors with an unparalleled opportunity to experience the wonders of the Colorado Desert. On foot, bicycle, or by car see washes, wildflowers, palm groves, cacti, and sweeping vistas. You will take a guided 45-minute garden walk around the grounds of the Center to look at some of the vegetation found in the park. Afterwards, enjoy a box lunch at a nearby picnic area before exploring the park by vehicle and on foot. You may see roadrunners, Golden Eagles, kit foxes and of course, bighorn sheep. Afterward, take an expedition to the California Wolf Center, located in the mountains of San Diego County. The California Wolf Center is a unique education and conservation center focusing on the North American Gray Wolf. They promote conservation of gray wolves and other wildlife through education, exhibitions, participation in captive breeding programs, and studies of captive-wild wolves. North American Gray wolves, Alaskan Gray Wolves and the rarest of all, Mexican wolves, are all subjects of the Center’s conservation and research activities. COURTYARD MARRIOTT SAN DIEGO DOWNTOWN. (B,L,D)
Before leaving for home, take a last day to explore the diverse neighborhoods of San Diego on your own. There are many wonderful restaurants and shops within walking distance of your hotel. For sights further away, board the San Diego Tram that passes near your hotel. You will receive a list of suggested activities from your guide. (B)
Continue your Southern California adventure in Los Angeles, entertainment capital of the world and home of world class chopping, art museums and stunning architecture. Begin at the architectural marvel of the J. Paul Getty Museum, a work of art itself, housing a brilliant collection of art that ranges from fanciful to practical. Enjoy a day of delving into the art of movies with a trip to Paramount Studios, where they are made, then to the Dolby Theatre and Manns Chinese Theatre where stars are honored, then see stars of another sort at Griffith Observatory. Shop at LA’s expansive farmer’s market then prepare and enjoy a meal for a gastronomic end to this SoCal adventure.
Does not include international or domestic flights. Prices are based on 10 or more travelers, and are subject to change.
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