When the Chamber of Commerce published a brochure entitled San Diego: 503 Things to See in 1930, its suggestions included activities still touted by guidebooks today: touring the bay on one of the daily harbor excursion boats (cost then: $1), visiting the Junípero Serra ("Hoo-nee-pair-oh Say-rah") Museum, boarding the Star of India ("now the property of the Zoological Society and...being preserved to house a Marine Museum"), venturing down to Tijuana ("'Tee-hwah-nah' — A blending of the quaint and the modern.... Visitors welcome and treated with courtesy.... Border opens at 6 a.m. and closes at 6 p.m.") and paying a call at the Whaley House (no ghosts were mentioned). However, a tourist might also drop in at the Theosophical Headquarters on Point Loma, see the oldest palm tree in California ("planted by Father Junípero Serra in 1769" and still alledgedly clinging to life in Old Town at the corner of Taylor and Chesnut Streets), or rent horses in Balboa Park for $2 an hour.
By 1941, Your San Diego was boasting that the San Diego Zoo was "one of the finest zoos in America," home to "Martin Johnson's world-famous Gorillas Ngagi and Mbongo...the only two Mountain gorillas exhibited in the United States." Polar bears were "kept comfortable throughout the year by specialized feeding," and the zoo was supplying "ninety per cent of the trained seal acts int eh world." Visitors might want to catch a baseball game at Lane Field ("The Padres have represented San Diego in the Pacific League for the past several years...") or make the trip south to Agua Caliente ("A glamorous setting in a foreign country, right at our doorstep almost").
Eight years later, with the 1949 publication of Seeing San Diego County and City, tourists were advised that "Within the confines of a single county are such oddly divergent items of interest as the world's greatest astronomical observatory and the nation's smallest national monument; the scene of the only really bloody battle in the American seizure of California, and the site of the first of the Mission chain established to being Christianity to the native Indians; the Navy's greatest air-base and the Marines' greatest training base; the world's largest sea-plane manufactory and the world's foremost Institute of Oceanography." Yet "with all this, it is just enough out of the beaten path to have remained a place of 'dolce far niente.' It is still the land of 'Mañana.'"
This author also pointed out that "Nothing is a more valued and picturesque characteristic of the streets of San Diego than the crowds of sailors, snugly uniformed in blue, and crowned with the traditional little white hat set at its precise jaunty angle. The same is true of the erect young Marines, conscious of the fighting traditions of their Corps, who throng the streets of Oceanside and San Diego when on liberty." Also winning positive positive mention were "thee men who man the hundreds of boats in the fishing fleet. Their catches are processed by teh canneries of San Diego, which pack 65% of America's tuna, with an annual value exceeding $50,000,000.00"
When he turned to the history of San Diego, however, the writer saw more repulsive characters. "it cannot be said that the aboriginal inhabitants of San Diego County were of the highest type of the human race.... Actually they seem to have been a rather degraded race of humans, with a stone-age culture which had not yet advanced to the stage of much organization beyond the family group.... Decidedly these were not the 'noble red men' of eastern America.... Yet they were a cheerful, carefree race who spent much of their time in dancing."
By 1969, with the publication of Leander and Rosalie Peik's Discover San Diego — Things to Do, Places to Go, City and County, Sea World (Admission $3.25) and Old Town State Park ("really just beginning to take shape") had made their appearance. But the Peiks also recommended outings to Bible Land ("a most unusual display of Biblical scenes...created entirely from sand...25 miles north of Escondido.... Children especially will enjoy a stop here") and Scripps Miramar Ranch (the 20,000-square-foot-mansion built by newspaper magnate E.W. Scripps, open to visitors willing to pay $2), among other attractions. They listed 15 different aviation companies, offering "scenic flights over the city" for prices as low as three dollars per person. And they pointed out that among the tours of San Diego business establishments, "Pacific Telephone and Telegraph will gladly five you a [free] tour through any of their exchanges [where] it is amazing to see the thousands of relays and electronic gadgets in action."