True to its name—meaning “beautiful view” in Spanish—Chula Vista is the second largest city in the San Diego metro area. It offers a diverse local community and robust economy in addition to its breathtaking landscape. Just 7.5 miles from the Mexican border and situated between the San Diego Bay area and the foothills, it’s no wonder that more than 250,000 people have chosen to call this scenic city home.
More than 50 percent of Chula Vista’s residents identify as Hispanic or Latino. The population in Chula Vista continues to grow at a rapid pace, and new neighborhoods are springing up to house the influx of newcomers. Tourism drives the economy, with numerous attractions, shops, restaurants and cultural offerings drawing scores of visitors to the area each year. The city is home to Southwestern College, a two-year institution that enrolls as many as 19,000 students annually and feeds into schools such as the University of California: San Diego.
Chula Vista itself is divided neatly into east and west, with the west side being the “original” portion of the city and the east side constantly experiencing growth. Those in search of public transportation can hitch a ride with the San Diego Trolley, take a bike or simply walk—Chula Vista is known for its abundant trails. San Diego is nearby for those craving the bright lights of an even bigger city, but don’t miss the opportunity to take in the natural beauty of the area. Hike the foothills of the Jamul and San Ysidro Mountains (including Lower Otay Reservoir) or explore the Sweetwater and Otay Rivers.
Chula Vista is home to many appealing shopping and dining options. Check out one of the only U.S. Olympic Training Centers in the nation or the Living Coast Discovery Center for a nature fix. Try your acting chops at OnStage Playhouse, the only community theater in the South Bay of San Diego, or polish your putting on one of the city’s gorgeous golf courses.
Sea World ? See marine mammals of all kinds at this world-famous theme park. Aquatica ? Beat the heat at this water park that's associated with SeaWorld. San Diego Zoo ? This popular zoo, which is a part of 1,200-acre Balboa Park, features 3,700 animals from around the world. The Living Coast Discovery Center ? Located at the Sweetwater Marsh National Wildlife Refuge, the center offers close-up encounters with endangered sea turtles, shore birds, owls, sharks and more. Sleep Train Amphitheater ? This outdoor concert venue seats about 20,000 people and presents 26 events per year. OnStage Playhouse ? Theater buffs can support the arts while being entertained by local plays here. Bayside Beach Park in Chula Visa. (Courtesy of Port of San Diego) Downtown Chula Vista (Third Avenue). (Courtesy of Allan Ferguson)