Summer, San Diego-style

With beaches, baseball, and a recharged downtown, the sunny city makes an ideal August getaway

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Pacific Beach

Surf's up at Pacific Beach.

Andrea Gomez

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  • Pacific Beach

    Home run: The Padres' Petco Park launched the city's downtown revival.

At the end of Crystal Pier along San Diego's Pacific Beach, a pod of dolphins surfaces near surfers waiting on boards that rise and fall with the swell. A set comes in, and the first wave surges through the pilings, sending tremors up to the pier that cause it to shimmy and shake.

The surfers paddle hard to catch the wave, and as the face builds, the sun turns it a glassy jade, revealing the dolphins as luminous silhouettes within the rolling wall.

Nine hundred feet away at the foot of the pier, Ocean Front Walk, the strand that links the city's beach neighborhoods, is rocking and rolling too. It's a Sunday in August, and this boardless boardwalk is approaching Times Square density, hardly a surprise in a city where life is so famously lived in the sun, the sand, and the ocean.

We all know San Diego, right? Endless summer and endless tourist attractions: the zoo, Shamu, and all that coastline too. But summer in San Diego isn't just about the beach.

The opening of the San Diego Padres' new ballpark has helped reinvigorate downtown, which bustles with clubs and restaurants. And few cities anywhere in the world can boast of an urban oasis with the architectural and botanical grandeur of Balboa Park.

Cool waves, baseball, and a touch of Europe too. Welcome to summer, San Diego-style.

San Diego plays ball

Petco Park is buzzing as legendary Astros pitcher Roger Clemens gets ready to face the Padres' young ace, Jake Peavy. Fans arrive by light rail or walk to the ballpark past the Victorian buildings of the Gaslamp Quarter and the onetime warehouses of downtown's East Village neighborhood.


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