“It’s certainly not the first time we’ve gotten recognition from editorial media or travel sites or even public opinion polls,” said Candice Eley, director of communications at San Diego Tourism Authority. “I think it’s pretty clear from anyone who lives here, that’s part of why we live here — the amazing landscapes, how diverse the city is, how you can go from the beach to the desert foothills in the span of an hour.”
According to the Tourism Authority, visitors passing through San Diego spend roughly $11.5 billion every year. That amount of cash might make sense since the city also hosts 35.8 million visitors annually. Jam-packed to the brim with seaside taco shops (and trucks), breweries and beaches — not to mention the ample wine country hot-spots and historic towns — San Diego’s daytime and nighttime activities are virtually endless.
“Something we also hear a lot from visitors is how clean our city is,” said Eley, who has lived in San Diego since 2004. “For the size of a major U.S. city, it can be really a really surprising thing to visitors how nice the streets and buildings are. I think that, plus how culturally dynamic our city is, helps a lot with our reputation.”
The Flight Network, which asked the opinions of more than 1,000 travel writers, travel bloggers and travel agencies from all around the globe, raved about historic Balboa Park, home to “several different museums (as well as the famous San Diego Zoo) and tons of green spaces for biking, walking, or just frolicking around.”
Eley says that while San Diego has always been known for its beaches and margaritas, in the last few years it’s starting to be more recognized for its musical performing arts and culinary expertise.
“It’s something that’s been long overdue,” she said.
But despite being the eighth-largest city in the country, San Diego is a surprisingly cozy, coastal, laid-back, beach-goer paradise with ample fine dining and tourist attractions, from Little Italy to Old Town, to Gaslamp Quarter to La Jolla.
“That’s actually part of how we describe San Diego when we’re doing marketing promotions as a travel destination,” said Eley. “We talk about San Diego being a beach-city so it’s a combination of that easy-going, coastal, chill lifestyle vibe that you’d expect from a small-town beach destination, but it’s paired with great nightlife. It’s that combination that makes us special and unique.”
Flight Network’s The World’s 50 Most Beautiful Cities
2. New York
7. Cape Town
8. San Francisco
15. Rio de Janeiro
20. Buenos Aires
22. San Diego
23. Quebec City
24. Hong Kong
35. St. Petersburg
39. San Miguel de Allende
42. San Sebastian
For more information, visit flightnetwork.com/blog/worlds-most-beautiful-cities.