SAN DIEGO -- With more than 90 venues in the San Diego area, there's no shortage of good golf. That alone would be good reason to take a golf vacation to the eighth largest city in America.
But as anyone who's been there can tell you, there's so much more to San Diego than its golf courses. There's great restaurants and bars, beaches, culture, festivals, history and, of course, the weather.
Simply put, San Diego is one of the most pleasant cities in America, and the golf courses and resorts fit that motif perfectly. Here are seven reasons to take a golf trip to San Diego.
1. The very best golf weather in the world
For golfers -- and tourists for that matter -- it doesn't get any better than San Diego weather. Sunny most every day and with an average temperature of 75 degrees, there really isn't a location on earth with better golf weather than San Diego.
The old adage that it never rains in southern California must have been about San Diego, which doesn't get rain for stretches of six to eight months. The three wettest months are January to March, and San Diego only gets around 10 inches of rain a year (less than that in the desert), so getting rained out is rare.
You can wear shorts or slacks, but rarely do you have to bundle up, and the only sweat you're likely produce will be over that five-footer on 18 to decide an eight-skin carryover.
2. Variety of golf courses
The San Diego area offers every kind of golf at every imaginable price point.
From resort golf courses such as Barona Creek, La Costa and the Park Hyatt Aviara Golf Club to fantastic municipals such as Torrey Pines South, Balboa Park and Coronado Golf Course (which is right on the water), San Diego offers tremendous variety.
There are courses with elevated tees, such as Maderas Golf Club, or hidden gems, such as the Tom Fazio-designed Rams Hill Golf Club in the high desert. There's also great value at courses such as Salt Creek in Chula Vista or Encinatas Ranch, which affords views of the Pacific Ocean from a terrific layout.
3. Gaslamp Quarter
With more than 200 restaurants, bars, nightclubs and lounges, and countless boutiques, art galleries and shops to peruse, the Gaslamp Quarter -- which goes back to the mid-19th century -- is a favorite for tourists and hip locals alike.
Check out Croce's Restaurant and Jazz Bar (owned by Ingrid Croce, widow of the late, great Jim Croce), refresh your stogie supply at the Cuban Cigar Factory or stay at the luxurious boutique Keating Hotel.
4. Torrey Pines Golf Course
Even if you don't play Torrey Pines, site of the 2008 U.S. Open and Farmers Insurance Open on the PGA Tour, you should at least drop by and see the Lodge and the two golf courses, both of which were renovated by Rees Jones.
It's not Pebble Beach, but the park and the golf courses are still pretty scenic, perched on the bluffs high above the Pacific Ocean.
Stay in the Lodge, and you can really boost the experience. The Lodge can also guarantee tee times for its guests.
5. Terrific beaches
San Diego has dozens of them, and most of them are good, although most don't allow alcohol. For that, you have to duck into one of the nearby restaurants or bars.
Coronado Beach is one of the most famous, with excellent surf, volleyball and a dog-run-free policy. Secluded Black's Beach, once known for its nudity, supposedly banned the practice in 1999. Proceed at your own risk.
6. World-class spas
It starts with the La Costa Resort & Spa, home of the Chopra Center, founded by physician/philosopher Deepak Chopra, where getting a massage is just the beginning.
If you're looking to get whole again, this is your place, whether its 36 holes of golf or in a Yoga class. Other choices include the Park Hyatt Aviara and Grand Del Mar Resort, also located near the coast just north of San Diego.
There's only one world-famous San Diego Zoo, located in Balboa Park. With more than 4,000 animals and 800 species, the San Diego Zoo is also one of the few in the world that houses the giant panda.
There's also the original Sea World, and if the zoo isn't enough, be sure to check out Safari Park, where you can drive through for up-close experiences with African wild animals such as giraffes, lions, rhinos, elephants and zebras.
From the historic downtown areas to the ports, naval vessels, parks and missions, there's no shortage of sites to see. You can also go whale watching, bird watching, check out the area's great parks or just take a stroll on the beach. And you can do it by trolley, boat, car or even a Segway. Tours are available year-round.