S.D.: In the city, 225 hotels and 37,425 rooms, by count of hotel trade analyst STR. In the first 11 months of 2009, the average room rate was $130.97.
What's this on my hotel bill?
S.D.: Hotel tax is 10.5% if you're in a lodging with fewer than 70 rooms, or 12.5% if you're in a city hotel that's larger.
S.F.: Taken together, hotel taxes and a new "assessment" add up to 15% or 15.5%, depending on location.
What's that out in the water?
S.D.: On Coronado (an isthmus, not an island), a grand old hotel has held hundreds of guests at a time since the late 19th century. Annual number of tourists: more than 2 million.
S.F.: On Alcatraz, a gloomy old prison held hundreds of inmates at a time from the late 19th century until 1963. Annual number of tourists: 1.35 million.
S.D.: Balboa Park, 1,200 acres, includes the San Diego Zoo, more than a dozen museums, the Old Globe theater complex and a big, old, brown, wooden Botanical Building. There's also a butterfly habitat in Zoro Canyon that was a nudist colony during the Panama California Exposition of 1935.
S.F.: Golden Gate Park, 1,017 acres, includes the California Academy of Sciences, the De Young Museum and a big, old, white, wooden Conservatory of Flowers building. Also two windmills and a bison paddock.
S.D.: The San Diego Zoo and the rest of Balboa Park. The Wild Animal Park in Escondido. SeaWorld San Diego. Legoland in nearby Carlsbad. The New Children's Museum downtown. All that tourist stuff around the Embarcadero. A 2008 study found that 19% of the county's hotel guests were traveling with children.
S.F.: The California Academy of Sciences and the rest of Golden Gate Park. Cable cars. The Exploratorium. The San Francisco Zoo. All that tourist stuff around Fisherman's Wharf. A 2004 study found that 8.7% of hotel guests were traveling with children.
S.D.: In Balboa Park, you find the S.D. Museum of Art, the Museum of Photographic Arts, the Timken (Old Masters), the Mingei (folk art) and museums of natural history, man, science and aviation. Beyond, there's the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego (in La Jolla and downtown), the Maritime Museum's waterfront Star of India, said to be the world's oldest active ship.
S.F.: The S.F. Museum of Modern Art, the De Young, the Legion of Honor and the Asian Art Museum get attention, but dozens more museums include a Jewish Museum, Cable Car Museum and Cartoon Art Museum.
S.D.: In the county, 70 miles of shoreline. Perhaps 150 surf shops, about 90 golf courses. The county's inland mountains often get snow (Julian), the desert gets wildflowers (especially Anza-Borrego Desert State Park) and there's four-wheeling in the dunes (especially Ocotillo Wells).