It may not have the Hollywood hype of LA or hipster status of San Fran, but San Diego certainly packs its own punch when it comes to California’s mega cities. From the incredible beaches, delicious Mexican food, historical richness, endless lookouts and a buzzing nightlife, here are some reasons why you need to put San Diego on your travel radar…

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1. The marine life is abundant

And no, we aren’t talking about the creatures in captivity at Sea World. Wake up early and head to La Jolla to go kayaking along the bay. La Jolla cove is a part of San Diego’s Underwater Park Ecological Reserve due to its abundance of marine life, and is home to dolphins, sea lions, seals and even whales. Kayaking is a great way to get up close and personal with this majestic marine life, and also gives you a chance to marvel at La Jolla’s incredible sandstone cliffs and caves. Once you are done, head around the corner to Seal Cove to get up close and personal with these gorgeous creature.

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2. The sunsets are sublime (as are the happy hour cocktails)

Head over to Sunset Cliffs (it appears everything is very aptly named in California) for the perfect spot to watch the sun descending beneath the ocean. Make the most of the experience by putting together a picnic and sitting on the edge of the cliff to soak it all. Alternatively, check out El Agave in Del Mar for the perfect spot for cocktails at sunset. This place boasts a lively atmosphere, quirky décor and a nice assortment of cocktails. The watermelon margarita is particularly delicious. Once you’ve had your tequila fix, walk down along the beach to watch that golden ball set beneath the ocean.

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3. You can experience a taste of Mexico without crossing the border

If you want to find out about the real history of San Diego, head to the Old Town, historic centre of the city. Located only 30 minutes away from the border of Mexico, there is a massive cultural influence to the town, making it the perfect place to experience a little taste of Mexico without having to brave border control. Wander the streets and explore the many historical sites in Old Town, including the Church of the Immaculate Conception, the Alvarado House and the Whaley House, which is supposedly the most haunted house in California. Pick up a sombrero, ukulele or sugar skull from one of the many souvenir shops or markets, and indulge in some delicious Mexican food from Casa de Reyes.

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4. The beaches are as Californian as its gets

You might have to brave the sight of fake-tanned skin and teeny-weeny bikinis, but immersing yourself in San Diego’s beach culture is all a part of the Californian experience. If sitting on a crowded beach isn’t your cup of tea, my advice is to head to Mission Beach and hire bikes. With an abundance of bike rental shops in the area, for as little as $10 a day you can take a leisurely cycle along the Pacific Beach Boardwalk or do a more intense ride around Mission Bay like this one. Once you are done, hit up WaveHouse for the most gigantic icecream cone of your life, then ride the famous roller coaster at Belmont Amusement Park located along the beachside.

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 5. It is home to the largest urban park in North America

Balboa Park isn’t like your average inner-city green space. Spanning a massive 1,200 acres, this urban cultural park is more than just a shady spot for a picnic. Wander through open space areas, gardens and natural vegetation zones, check out the many museums and theatres in the area or take a trip to the renowned San Diego Zoo. You’ll find stunning Spanish architecture dotted the park, such as the Casa de Balboa, which is located along the main strip of the park and is definitely worth checking out.

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6. There are some REALLY good spots for brunch

Head downtown to Mister A’s for a brunch you will not forget in a hurry. If the delicious food and unbelievably good service isn’t enough to convince you, Mister A’s boasts one of the best views over San Diego city! Sit and watch planes land scarily close to the city whilst you eat. The Carrot Cake French Toast was enough to send me in to a heavenly food coma. Be sure to make a reservation in advance and the place is quite fancy, so be aware of the dress code.

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7. You can stay in a Hollywood-famed hotel

Hotel del Coronado is unlike any hotel you’ve seen before, for more reasons than one. A unique example of American architecture, the building is one of the few surviving Victorian wooden beach resorts. In fact, it is the second largest wooden structure still standing in the United States! If fascinating architecture isn’t enough for you, perhaps Hotel del Coronado’s Hollywood status will get you to its doors. In 1958, Marilyn Monroe graced the hotel with her presence as the setting was used for Bill Wilder’s classic comedy, Some Like It Hot.

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8. It is apparently a pretty classy place

That was about the only thing I learnt from Anchor Man. Stay Classy San Diego.