Just 16 miles (26km) north of the Mexico border, San Diego presides over a large natural harbour that’s home to a third of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet. The Tom Cruise-classic “Top Gun” was filmed here. And while you may feel like you’re flying on the sleek Coronado Bridge (tall enough for aircraft carriers to pass beneath), you’re feet-on-the-ground in a lively, multi-faceted city that’s unlikely to fit anybody’s picture of a military town. North of harbour-flanking Point Loma, manmade Mission Bay is a landscaped aquatic playground. Balboa Park tucks 15 museums into 1,400 lush acres while nightlife rocks in revitalised Victorians and Edwardians in the Gaslamp Quarter downtown.