From December through April, visitors to San Diego have the opportunity to glimpse the migration of California gray whales from Alaska to the warm water lagoons of Baja California where they birth and rear their young.
According to the San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau, each winter, tens of thousands of these giants of the sea come within a few miles of the San Diego coast on their 5,000-mile southern journey, the longest known distance any mammal migrates on an annual basis. During the peak migration season in mid-January, as many as 200 whales per day have been counted off of San Diego’s shores.
During late December through March, the Birch Aquarium at Scripps celebrates the gray whale season with educational activities and whale exhibits. The aquarium's outdoor tide-pool plaza, overlooking La Jolla's shoreline and the Pacific Ocean, offers a vantage point for viewing the gray whales.
Guests can enjoy the 2nd annual Big Bay Whale Days on January 23 – 24 along San Diego Bay’s downtown waterfront Embarcadero. During the festival, adults who purchase whale watching tickets from Hornblower Cruises & Events or San Diego Harbor Excursion receive complimentary tickets for a second San Diego Bay tour, while kids cruise free throughout January. In addition, Anthony's Fish Grotto and The Fish Market are offering specials for families to dine for lunch or dinner, and the USS Midway Museum and San Diego Maritime Museum are offering reduced admissions during the weekend.
Cabrillo National Monument, San Diego's picturesque national park, is situated on the panoramic Point Loma peninsula and offers a newly renovated glass enclosed observatory from which to spot whales during migration season. Visitors can also explore whale exhibits and listen to a taped narration. Cabrillo's annual Whale Watch Weekend and Intertidal Life Festival on February 6 – 7 from 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. features presentations, exhibits and films. Rangers are also on hand throughout the weekend to assist visitors in spotting the whales and explore the park’s magnificent tide pools.
A variety of whale-watching day excursions are also offered. Among these is a whale-watching experience aboard the America, a historic replica of the first America’s Cup Winner. Hornblower Cruises and Events offers 3.5-hour cruises in partnership with the San Diego Natural History Museum from December 12 through mid-April. H&M Landing also offers whale watching cruises during mid-December through April. OEX Dive and Kayak Centers offers visitors a one mile whale-watching kayak tour during December 19 – March 28. Adventure RIB Rides offers tours aboard a 30-foot Navy SEAL rigid inflatable boat (RIB).
For more information, visit the San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau's Web site, www.sandiego.org,