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Mr. Padre, old wooden ships and other must-see attractions of Winter Meetings host San Diego

San Diego was a mission founded in 1769, making it the first official European settlement in what would eventually become California. Nearly 200 years later, San Diego (and California at large) wound up under American control following the Mexican-American War. John O'Sullivan's "manifest destiny" was finally realized.


In the years since, San Diego has become the home of MLB's Padres as well as the NFL's Chargers. A longtime host of the U.S. Navy, the city diversified its industries after World War II, eventually evolving into a titan of the tuna and American craft-brewing industries. It also served as the setting for the iconic competitive cheerleading film, Bring it On.

Bring It On

This week, San Diego is hosting MLB's Winter Meetings for the third time. If you're lucky enough to be in "the Plymouth of the West" -- or are just living vicariously through baseball's brass -- these are the must-see sites in "America's finest city."

Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego


Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of the biggest names in attendance at baseball's Winter Meetings lament the notion that they're on vacation, positing that they'll be lucky to ever even leave the hotel.

There are worse situations to be in, though, as the Grand Hyatt is a 1,628-room hotel with bay views, tennis courts, a 30,000-square-foot ballroom and firepit overlooking San Diego Bay. Yeah, sounds like a real prison, guys.

The San Diego Zoo


The Zoological Society of San Diego was founded in 1916, but its permanent tract of land -- now 100 acres in the city's Balboa Park -- wasn't set aside until 1921. Known for its cageless exhibits, the San Diego Zoo houses more than 3,700 animals and was prominently featured as the private zoo at Xanadu in Orson Welles' Citizen Kane, as well as on the cover the Beach Boys album Pet Sounds.

SeaWorld San Diego


The original SeaWorld theme park was founded by four UCLA graduates and established along San Diego's Mission Bay in 1964. Half a century later, SeaWorld San Diego features 26 animal attractions, 10 rides, 20 shows, two play areas, four events and 11 "distinctive experiences." We dare you to go for an afternoon and not spend the rest of the week trying to get "Will You Be There?" out of your head.

Maritime Museum of San Diego


The Maritime Museum of San Diego boasts of "one of the world's finest collections of historic ships" and even hosts family sleepovers on the oldest active ship on the planet, the Star of India.

Founded in 1948, the museum grew out of the earlier efforts of a group of local historians and maritime enthusiasts who acquired the sailing ship Star of India in 1927. Now fully restored, the Star of India is maintained by a dedicated group of volunteers and skilled craftsmen and sets sail frequently.

The Tony Gwynn Statue

In 2007, the Padres unveiled a 9 1/2-foot, 1,200-pound statue of Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn that sits less than a mile away from the Grand Hyatt outside Petco Park. The statue served as an impromptu meeting place for those mourning Gwynn's untimely death at 54 in June. It's difficult to imagine so many baseball people spending a week in San Diego without at least stopping by to reflect or pay their respects.