Now a major travel destination and attractive place to call home, San Diego grew in fits and starts. In 1869, Miners struck gold in its hills, but the gold rush was short-lived, and after the hype passed the town sunk into economic depression. The city never developed a real economic foothold until the 1920s and 1930s, when several military and naval bases were established there. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the United States installed its Pacific Fleet in San Diego, and the area's integral role during wartime put the city in the national spotlight. After the war, San Diego's naval and military bases continued to flourish, and it now boasts the largest military complex in the world.Tourism also helped San Diego become a major U.S. city. With an average daily temperature of 21 degrees Celsius and very little rainfall, travellers find the weather hard to beat. Golf enthusiasts will find many courses within driving distance, including La Jolla's famous Torrey Pines Golf Course, which hosts the PGA Tour Buick Invitational each year. La Jolla is a beach community offering a lot more than golf: Black's Beach - one of the largest nude beaches in the U.S. - is located there, as are Windansea and the People's Wall, both hot spots to watch surfers catch waves.Balboa Park is another popular destination in San Diego. This urban cultural park features a promenade lined with Spanish Revival-style buildings, as well as an array of museums including the San Diego Museum of Art and Museum of Contemporary Art. The acclaimed San Diego Zoo, famous for its giant pandas, is also found in Balboa Park. The Gaslamp Quarter - named for the replica gas lamps lining its streets -- is a quaint historic district downtown, and home to many shops, eateries, and bars.There are not many direct international flights to San Diego's Lindbergh Field airport, so you'll likely be routed through Los Angeles. From L.A. you can catch a quick commuter flight, or pick up your rental car there and drive the two and a half hours down the coast to San Diego. There are also, of course, car hire pick-up locations at the San Diego airport.
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