• Image about San Diego
San Diego, California's second-largest city, offers picture-perfect weather and pristine beaches, plus a vibrant cultural and nightlife scene. Add to that the new crop of design-conscious hotels and restaurants that have been springing up in hip neighborhoods like the Gaslamp Quarter, a 16-block district in downtown, and this becomes one city you just shouldn't miss. - Jill Fergus

Stay The historic US Grant Hotel (from $479, 800-237-5029, www.usgrant.net) has reopened after a $52 million makeover. This 1910 building near the Gaslamp Quarter was built by the son of president Ulysses S. Grant. The 270 rooms and 47 suites are decked out in Empire-style furnishings, and the Grant Grill, under executive chef Andreas Nieto, serves California cuisine.

Although the 35-room Keating Hotel (from $289, 877-753-2846, www.thekeating.com) is in an 1890 Romanesque Revival building, its interior is ultramodern, courtesy of Pininfarina, the Italian firm that designs Ferrari cars, among others. To see and be seen, head to the 159-room Ivy Hotel (from $450, not taking reservations until February, 619-814-1000,
www.theivyhotel.com), whose restaurant and four-story Envy nightclub are prime social spots, as is its sexy rooftop pool in the Eden bar.

See This month, the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (www.mcasd.org) will open its much-anticipated expansion. The 1915 Santa Fe Depot's landmark baggage building has been turned into an airy exhibition space for large-scale sculptures and installation art. Its Spanish Mission-Colonial Revival exterior was maintained and is complemented by a new contemporary building next door. Artists Richard Serra and Jenny Holzer are creating specially commissioned pieces for the museum.