SDtoday City Guide Live Banner

15 interesting facts about San Diego

Test your knowledge of America’s Finest City

Balboa Park architecture

Balboa Park is full of fun history.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

Did you know San Diego is located next to the Pacific Ocean?

Nah, just kidding. If you know us, you know we’re here for the deep cuts — and there are plenty of interesting factoids to go around. As connoisseurs of the quirky and unconventional, we put together a list of San Diego’s history, oddest characteristics, and more. Maybe you’ve lived here your whole life and know some of this, or maybe you’ll learn something new.

Either way, test your local knowledge with these 15 interesting facts.

1. Don’t listen to Ron Burgundy, San Diego was named for St. Didacus of Alcalá (aka Diego de San Nicolás). He died on Nov. 12, 1463, but his feast day is celebrated on Nov. 13.

2. In 1942, Balboa Park was temporarily closed to the public and renamed “Camp Kidd” during World War II. The space was used for military training, housing, education, and medical needs — and it wasn’t the first time — the park was used by the military for WWI.

3. San Diego loves Christmasuntil Feb. 2, when it becomes a real Grinch. If homeowners leave lights up past that date, they’re subject to a $250 fine.

4. We all know the City of San Diego doesn’t get much snow, but there have been three officially-recorded instances — though there have been at least 10 reported instances. The last time there was measurable snow was on Dec. 13, 1967.

5. Comic-Con was first held in San Diego in 1970 in the basement of the US Grant Hotel with only about 300 attendees. Today, the event brings over 130,000 people to the San Diego Convention Center.

San Diego Zoo Elephant

City Editor Mike visited the elephants 17 years later.

Photo via Michael Beausoleil + SDtoday

6. The first YouTube video ever uploaded was “Me at the zoo,” posted on April 23, 2005, by user “jawed.” The 19-second clip was filmed at the elephant exhibit at the San Diego Zoo, and has been viewed 246+ million times.

7. In 1965, The Beatles performed at Balboa Stadium, becoming the first rock act to headline the venue. But, John Lennon had to imagine a packed show, because 10,001 tickets were left unsold.

8. San Diego may be known as the “Capital of Craft” for its 150+ breweries, but wine is our neighbor. East County has vineyards in Julian, head north and you’ll be crushing grapes in Temecula, and slightly south of the border you’ll find 20+ wineries in Valle de Guadalupe.

9. Not to be a pest, but San Diego has more fleas than any other city in the country.

10. Yes, the California burrito was invented in San Diego, but that’s not the only comida deliciosa born in our city. Legend has it, rolled tacos originated at El Indio in Old Town — if nothing else, its rolled tacos are legendary.

11. You probably know SDSU Aztecs football, but UC San Diego once had a gridiron team too. The Tritons played for a single season in 1968 — lost every game — and was discontinued prior to the 1969 season.

12. San Diego County has 5,000+ farms, more than any other county in the US. That makes a lot of green, and we’re not talking about money. The county produces 60% of all California avocados, making it the avocado capital.

13. San Diego may not have an NBA team, but the city has hosted two in the past. The San Diego Rockets played from 1967-1971, eventually becoming the Houston Rockets + the Buffalo Braves became the San Diego Clippers from 1978-1984 before moving to Los Angeles.

Bum the dog statue san diego

A tribute to Bum in Pocket Park in the Gaslamp Quarter.

14. In 1891, San Diego required all dogs to be licensed and issued the first license to a dog named Bum — despite the fact that he had no owner. The beloved St. Bernard + Spaniel mix befriended everyone, so he belonged to the city, and is honored with a statue in the Gaslamp Quarter.

15. Live long and prosper, San Diego. The average life expectancy for a San Diegan is 82.7 years, 3.9 years longer than the US average of 78.8 years.

Your turn. Think you can get one over on us? Let us know your favorite local trivia tidbit and you just might make it into the newsletter.

Check out our other Guides
We hope our SAN guide makes your traveling process plane and simple.
From the San Diego Padres to the San Diego Gulls, we’re sharing details of San Diego’s sports teams.
Explore these dog-friendly places in San Diego that span from places to eat, drink, shop, exercise, swim, and stay the night.
Whether you’re a history buff, art aficionado, or science fan, these 28 museums in San Diego have it all.
Dining in San Diego is always a fresh experience with new restaurants popping up all the time — and more on the way.
All of these writers have ties to America’s Finest City.
Dig into San Diego’s must-try pizza shops including unexpected combos, fancy offerings, and gluten-free options
Prepare for winter in San Diego, California, with these seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks.
This list includes everything from helping the hungry and mentoring local youth to helping animals and cleaning up local beaches.
From historic hideaways to beachfront gems, San Diego is full of special places to stay that offer guests a break from traditional motels and hotels.