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National City

Visit this South Bay gem known for its vibrant community culture, waterfront fun and an impressive marine terminal — noted as the most advanced vehicle import/export facility on the West Coast.

Located on the south end of gleaming San Diego Bay, the city attracts many natives and newcomers to its busy shoreline — most notably Pepper Park. This 5 ½-acre facility sits along the Sweetwater Channel and has picnic areas and a playground, a boat launch ramp and a fishing pier equipped with lighting for night fishing. The park, named in honor of National City businessman and civic leader Leonard Pepper, is also home to the Port of San Diego's new aquatic center, with two multi-purpose classrooms, storefront/office space, locker rooms with showers and restrooms, and boat and equipment storage. Programs offered at the aquatic center include kayaking, rowing, stand-up paddle boarding on weekends and youth camps.

The waterfront also features eye-catching public art pieces, like the 17-foot-tall "Sea Dragon" sculpture located near the park's boat ramp and the National City Marina. The sculpture was originally created by artist Deana Mando for the Port’s “Urban Trees 3” exhibition in 2006 and later purchased by the Port for its Tidelands Collection. Other interesting art pieces can be enjoyed on a walking tour around the marina and park.

Not to be missed is a look at National City Marine Terminal, owned by the Port of San Diego, and operated by Pasha Automotive Services. Pasha imports and processes approximately 420,000 vehicles a year, including Audi, Bentley, Honda, Isuzu, Mazda, Lotus, Mitsubishi Fuso, Porsche, Volkswagen, Hyundai and Kia. The Port of San Diego is offering a rare opportunity to get a behind-the-scenes tour of the cargo facility, as well as its Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal, in the second half of 2018. Four free public bus tours are set: July 25, Aug. 22, Oct. 24 or Nov. 14. Register here: https://www.portofsandiego.org/port-tours.

Other National City activities include cycling the Bayshore Bikeway, a 24-mile bikeway with spectacular views of the San Diego waterfront that runs through Imperial Beach, Coronado, National City, Chula Vista and San Diego; and shopping at Westfield Plaza Bonita, a retail center with dining, entertainment and recreation options. Car lovers and/or locomotive enthusiasts will also enjoy the National City Mile of Cars, one of the world's first auto malls; and the National City California Southern Railroad Depot, built in 1882. The depot at 900 West 23rd St. served as the first Pacific Coast terminus station of the Santa Fe Railway system’s transcontinental railroad.

For more information, contact the Port of San Diego online or by calling (619) 686-6200.