San DiegoEarth : North America : United States of America : California : Southern California : San Diego County : San Diego
- San Diego is a huge city with several district articles containing sightseeing, restaurant, nightlife and accommodation listings — have a look at each of them.
|Government||City of California & Seat of San Diego County|
|Currency||US dollar ($)|
|Language|| Official: English|
|Electricity||120V/60Hz (US plug)|
San Diego is a large and pleasant coastal city right on the Pacific Ocean in Southern California. It's home to 1.3 million citizens and the second-largest city in the state with many universities and good swimming beaches. It's also known for its ideal climate, bio and communications technologies, long history, nightlife, outdoor culture and ethnic diversity.
The city sits just north of the Mexican border, across from Tijuana. Though a large city, San Diego has a somewhat slower paced atmosphere and, when visiting, some may find it provides a soothing break from the typical hustle-bustle of a city of its size.
San Diego is seamlessly divided into districts comprising each of charming individual neighborhoods.
This list of districts is by no means an official breakdown of the city, but one that is meant to make sense from the standpoint of a visitor, based on the number of attractions the average visitor will find in each area.
| Downtown |
Situated on the bay, downtown is a hub of business and nightlife. It also has many tourist attractions amongst its gleaming office and hotel towers.
| Balboa Park-Hillcrest |
Located in the heart of the city, Balboa Park is the second largest urban park in the world. It is home to many amazing museums and the renowned San Diego Zoo. Next door is Hillcrest, a happening urban neighborhood. Or for a quieter experience there are cute cafés and some renown drinking establishments in South Park.
| Old Town-Mission Valley |
The site of the first Spanish settlement in California, Old Town today is a historic district popular with tourists and locals for sampling the Mexican culture.
| Point Loma-Ocean Beach |
Located on a scenic peninsula curving around the bay, this area offers gorgeous views of San Diego, and its beautiful coastline. Ocean Beach is a quiet, laid-back beach neighborhood. Its hippie roots show on its beaches, organic food market and reggae clubs.
| Mission Beach-Pacific Beach |
Two extremely popular beach communities with plenty of shops, restaurants, and nightlife, alongside a man-made inlet known as Mission Bay with its variety of water sports including kayaking, sailing, kite surfing. It is home to Sea World.
| La Jolla |
An elegant beach community and the home of some of the most picturesque coastline and lovely beaches around, the exceptional. Birch aquariums, the Scripps institute, the University of California at San Diego (UCSD), the La Jolla playhouse, Museum of Contemporary Art of San Diego, Torrey Pines golf course, natural reserve and glider port. The downtown area houses many art galleries, restaurants, souvenir and coffee shops.
| Mid-City |
A set of neighborhoods in the heights east of Balboa Park. There isn't much in the way of tourist attractions out here, but one can find trendy districts with locally-oriented restaurants, shops, and theaters. To get a sample of the local life, from university students to shopkeepers and young professionals, this is where you can sample them all in one neighborhood.
| Northeastern |
A large region of the city is composed of many suburban neighborhoods stretching far inland to the hills of the north, with few tourist attractions and schools, Cal State San Marcos and the popular Safari Park.
| San Ysidro |
Home to the world's busiest land border crossing, where one can travel between San Diego and Tijuana, Mexico.
The area was long inhabited by the native Kumeyaay people (also known as the Diegueño by the later Spanish settlers), who lived off the land and created a proud culture. The first time Europeans visited the region was in 1542, when Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo, sailing under the Spanish Flag, claimed the bay for the Spanish Empire and named the site San Miguel.
In November of 1602, Sebastián Vizcaíno was sent to map the California coast. Arriving with his flagship "San Diego", Vizcaíno surveyed the harbor and what is now Mission Bay and Point Loma, renaming the area for the Spanish Catholic Saint, St. Didacus (more commonly known as San Diego).
San Diego was established in 1769 as the first Spanish mission in California, at the present site of Old Town. However, due to the poor nature of soils in the Old Town area, the mission was eventually relocated about five miles up river in Mission Valley.
In the 19th century, San Diego passed from Spanish to Mexican to American hands. In 1850, a few years after the United States gained control of California, San Diego was officially designated a city. But with much of the westward expansion to California centered on the gold rush and San Francisco, American influences were slow to come to San Diego. Eventually they did, however, and in the later decades of the 19th century the railroad came to San Diego, resulting in further growth of the city and the establishment of Downtown and its surrounding neighborhoods.
The U.S. Navy discovered San Diego in the early 20th century, and constructed a coaling station on Point Loma in 1907. Ten years later, the Naval Air Station on Coronado island was established, and in later years the Navy would take on an increasingly important role in the city's economy. Today San Diego is home to the Navy's Pacific Fleet, and is a favorite leave location for sailors.
San Diego has over 1.3 million people and serves as a hub for bio technologies and communication tech. San Diego's also benefits from tourism and conventions. The city is also becoming a favorite for those who are looking to take advantage of the climate for athleticism, and using a bicycle as a means of transportation, see By Bike section.
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|Nightly lows (°F)||46||51||54||56||60||63||66||70||66||61||54||49|
Check San Diego's 7 day forecast at NOAA
The San Diego area can be an incredible place to visit almost any time of the year, with its mild Mediterranean climate. With coastal temperatures around 75 degrees (24°C) most of the time, the weather is ideal, with very low humidity. The climate of Southern California is rather complex, however, and temperatures change rapidly as one travels from the coast eastward. In the summer during the day, the temperature might increase as much as one degree Fahrenheit for each mile going east. In the winter, especially at night, eastern areas are usually relatively cooler. Some valleys and other areas have significantly different weather due to terrain and other factors. These are often referred to as "micro-climates".
If you're coming to San Diego expecting sunny weather, avoid coming in May or June, when San Diego is covered in clouds most days, a phenomenon referred to by the locals as "May Grey" or "June Gloom". September is usually the hottest month of the year in the daytime. Mid-September through October are labeled as the most at-risk months for wildfires, because of the long absence of any substantial rainfall. Along the beach during the warmer half of the year, it can get surprisingly cool after dark, even when it's not too cold a short distance inland. The months of March and April typically see the strongest winds. Along the coast, fog is most common September through April; it is not uncommon to experience 3-7 foggy days per month.
During the late summer and fall there is a reversal of the usual climate conditions, when hot, dry air blows from the desert to the coast. These winds are called the Santa Ana winds. Milder Santa Ana winds can result in excellent dry air conditions, but powerful ones can last days on end, significantly raising temperatures, creating tremendous fire danger, and making the outdoors unpleasant.
Winter in the city is also very pleasant, but you might need to bring a jacket, especially for the night. Low temperatures are around 50°F (10°C) and high ones around 65°F (18°C). Also, keep in mind that almost all precipitation falls from November to March and that the coldest month is December not January. Despite being at the same latitude as Atlanta and Dallas, snow is extremely rare in the San Diego metropolitan area, having been observed only 5 times in recorded history (the most recent case involved flurries that reached the upper areas of El Cajon in 2008). Light snowfalls do occur almost every year in the surrounding mountains and may ocassionally be seen in inland places with low altitudes, but in the downtown it almost never happens. The lowest recorded temperature is 25°F (-4°C).
When Spaniard Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo sailed his ship into the area on September 28, 1542, he and his crew became the first Europeans to set foot on what would eventually become part of Southern California. Prior to his arrival, San Diego was home to around 20,000 Native Americans from various tribes. Today, Native Americans account for less than 1% of San Diego's population.
For several centuries after Cabrillo's arrived and claimed San Diego for Spain, San Diego's population grew and shrank and grew again. In that time wars were fought, various armies came and went, emigrants began to arrive from Central and South America and elsewhere in the United States, economies boomed and went bust, and San Diego was passed from Spain to Mexico and eventually to America.
Today, San Diego is home to over one million people and is considered one of the more ethically and culturally diverse places in the United States. The majority of people (close to 60% of the population) identify as being White.
People of Hispanic and Latino origins comprise much of the remaining population. San Diego also has a strong community of Mexican laborers who commute from their home in Mexico to their jobs, typically as farm workers or domestics. A sprinkling of Asians, African Americans, Pacific Islanders and those identifying as being "Other Race" make up the rest.
San Diego's cultural diversity does not translate into religious diversity. Catholicism is the dominant religion at 32%, with 22% identifying as Protestant. Over a quarter the people in San Diego however, claim not to affiliate with any religion.
English is the primary language spoken, with Spanish coming in a strong second. While not as common, it's also not unusual to hear conversations in Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and a variety of other Asian languages.
San Diego is also a relatively young city, at least as far as residents' ages are concerned. The median age of those who call San Diego home is 35.6. Slightly over 11% of the population are over the age of 65.
San Diego has a rich culture and a storied past. It's a place that has inspired writers throughout the centuries.
- Good Night San Diego, Adam Gamble. Written by the author of the "Good Night Our World" series, this book walks children through a full-day of sightseeing in San Diego. Stops include The San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld and, of course, the beach.
- San Diego Noir, Maryelizabeth Hart (Editor). This book is a compilation of short mysteries all written by San Diego authors. The editor is the co-owner of an independent based bookstore located in San Diego, and is an author in her own right.
- Raymond Chandler was an author and screenwriter considered to be one of the founders of the "hardboiled" detective genre of fiction. Born in Illinois, Chandler moved to La Jolla in 1946. While living there, he wrote the last two of his novels that featured his protagonist Philip Marlowe. In Playback, the city of Esmeralda is assumed to be La Jolla renamed.
- Johnston McCulley was a prolific author and screenwriter. He is best known for his creation of the masked outlaw Zorro. McCulley frequently used Southern California as the setting for his books and screenplays. His pulp fiction book Sanded in San Diego begins in the Hotel Del Coronado, a hotel that still welcomes guests today.
- The Pump House Gang, Tom Wolfe. After publishing his first book, Wolfe went on a cross-country jaunt. During his travels, he met a gang of surfers living and playing in La Jolla. They called themselves "The Pump House Gang." His encounter with them left such an impression that he not only included it in this collection of experiences, but used their name as the title for his book.
- I Cover the Waterfront," Max Miller. Miller was a reporter who, for six years in the 1920's, covered San Diego's waterfront. His book consists of a series of sketches about his experiences. It became an unexpected bestseller when it was released in 1932.
- Theodor Seuss Geisel, better known to the world as Dr. Seuss, purchased an old observation tower in La Jolla shortly after World War II. Sitting in that tower, he would write for up to eight hours a day. Some of his best known books, including: How the Grinch Stole Christmas!", Horton Hears A Who! and The Cat in the Hat were written at this time.
- L Frank Baum, author of 'The Wonderful Wizard of Oz' and its many sequels, made his "home away from home" in Coronado. He first started wintering in Coronodo in 1904, and wrote several books while staying at the Hotel Del Coronado. His books featuring Trot and Cap'n Bill have been identified as clearly referencing La Jolla.
- Edgar Rice Burroughs, creator of Tarzan, lived in San Diego and Coronado during the years 1913-1914, at which time he wrote some of the books in his Tarzan, Mars, and Pellucidar series. His time in San Diego inspired his satirical poem about southern California, "The Climate and the View."
- International Visitor Information Center, 1040 1/3 West Broadway (at Harbor Drive), ☎ +1 619 236-1212, . Daily 9AM-5PM (June-September). Daily 9AM-4PM (October-May). edit
- La Jolla Visitor Center, 7966 Herschel Ave (at Prospect), ☎ +1 619 236-1212, . Daily 10AM-6PM (June-August). M-Th 11AM-4PM, F 11AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-5PM, Su 10AM-4PM (November-March). M-F 11AM-5PM, Sa 10AM-6PM, Su 10AM-4PM (September-October and April-May). edit
San Diego International Airport, better known as Lindbergh Field,(IATA: SAN) is 2.5-3 miles (4-4.8km) NW of downtown San Diego and is less than 10 minutes drive (or taxi ride) along Harbor Dr to get to downtown. The descent into the airport from the east is remarkably close to downtown buildings, which can be a bit alarming for first-time visitors. It is served by:
- Air Canada Express/Air Canada Rouge: (Toronto-Pearson, Vancouver)
- Alaska Airlines/Horizon/Skywest: (Boise, Boston, Fresno, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Honolulu, Kahului, Kailua-Kona, Lihue, Newark, Mammoth Lakes, Monterey, Orlando, Portland (OR), Puerto Vallarta, Salt Lake City, Salt Lake City, San Jose (CA), San José del Cabo, Santa Rosa, Seattle/Tacoma)
- Allegiant: (Bellingham, El Paso, Provo, Stockton)
- American/American Eagle: (Charlotte, Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami, New York-JFK, Philadelphia, Phoenix-Sky Harbor)
- British Airways: (London-Heathrow)
- Delta/Delta Connection: (Atlanta, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York-JFK, Salt Lake City, San José del Cabo, Seattle-Tacoma)
- Frontier: (Denver, Orlando)
- Hawaiian: (Honolulu)
- Japan Airlines: (Tokyo-Narita)
- JetBlue: (Boston, Fort Lauderdale, New York JFK)
- Southwest (Albuquerque, Atlanta, Austin, Baltimore, Chicago-Midway, Dallas-Love, Denver, Houston-Hobby, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Oakland, Orlando, Phoenix-Sky Harbor, Portland (OR), Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, San Antonio, San Francisco, San Jose (CA), St. Louis, Seattle/Tacoma, Tucson)
- Spirit (Chicago-O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Las Vegas, San José del Cabo)
- Sun Country (Minneapolis/St. Paul)
- United Airlines/United Express: (Chicago-O'Hare, Denver, Houston-Intercontinental, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Newark, Washington-Dulles)
- Virgin America: (San Francisco)
- WestJet: (Calgary, Vancouver)
Currently direct international flights are offered by British Airways from London; Japan Airlines from Tokyo Narita; from Toronto and Vancouver by Air Canada; from Calgary on Westjet and from several cities in Mexico with Spirit, and Alaska.
Southwest, Alaska/Horizon and Frontier are at Terminal 1; and everything else including international flights are at Terminal 2.
To get into downtown San Diego from the airport locally:
- A taxi from the airport will cost around $14 + 15% tip to get to the downtown Santa Fe Depot from the airport.
- The Airport Flyer Bus Rt#992, costs $2.25 for a single ride or $5 for day ticket/pass if requiring to transfer to the trolley or another bus, and takes 20-22 minutes to travel from the airport to downtown (depending on traffic). The last bus leaves the airport at 11:25PM Monday through Friday and 10:59PM on weekends. There are two stops in front of Terminals 1 and 2 and one stop at the commuter terminal. Click here for a list of other shared shuttle companies that handle door to door transportation.
- By car. Driving out of the airport can be a little confusing. Unless you're headed to Point Loma or Harbor Island, you want to go east towards downtown. The first left turn after the airport is Laurel Street to Balboa Park. The second one is Grape Street, and this has access to the I-5 freeway. For the I-5 north freeway, stay in the left lane of Grape St., or the right lane for I-5 south. The 163 north and 94 east freeways are via I-5 south (remain in the right freeway lanes for the 163 and 94 as these exits will come very quickly). If going downtown, just stay on Harbor Drive from the airport.
Beware that even discounted coach airfares between San Diego and Los Angeles (about 120 miles/190 km) can cost nearly as much as a trip to the east coast. Flying will usually be greatly discounted or even free for connecting flights if it's part of the overall routing, but you must leave LAX within four hours for domestic flights or 24 hours for international. Direct fixed point ground transportation between LAX and San Diego is extremely limited and taxi/van service is more costly than flying (except for groups of about six or more).
If arriving into Los Angeles (LAX) here are a couple of options to get to San Diego without flying and without a car:
- Take the LAX Fly-Away bus to the downtown Union Station and transfer to the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train which goes to the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego with some stops in Orange and N San Diego Counties. Likewise, one can also take the Metrolink Orange County Line to Oceanside and transfer to the NCTD Coaster Train the rest of the way. The fare in the latter option may be a few dollars cheaper than Amtrak but the Metrolink and Coaster trains make more stops and the timing for one to arrive and the other leaving in Oceanside is NOT coherent thus leaving the traveler somewhat stranded in Oceanside.
- From the downtown Union Station (in Los Angeles), after getting off the LAX Fly Away bus, take a taxi to the nearby Greyhound station (@ 1716 E 7th St) and take the bus the rest of the way. They make fewer or NO stops in comparison to Amtrak but are subject traffic conditions along I-5. In San Diego, the bus arrives into downtown at 120 W Broadway, a few blocks east of the Santa Fe Depot (train station). If going straight to Tijuana take the InterCalifornias bus from downtown Los Angeles (@ 655 Maple Ave) instead. The area between downtown L.A. and the industrial areas where the bus stations are located in Los Angeles is sketchy, especially at night, so take a taxi. Greyhound and InterCalifronias do NOT make stops at either airport.
Tijuana Gen. Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport (IATA: TIJ) in Mexico is in the vicinity of San Diego, and maybe an option as it offers numerous flights and recently added long-haul service from Shanghai. This allows many tourists from the Pacific Rim the option of bypassing the Los Angeles or San Francisco airports and putting them closer to San Diego or to transit from the Pacific Rim to Latin America to avoid the extra bureaucratic hassles associated with entering the US (which is required to even transit). However, closer is not necessarily easier. As this airport is not in the United States, travelers need to make sure that they have the proper documentation such as passports or visas for their respective nationality to traverse through Mexico into the United States. Also, one should be aware that border crossing by private vehicle from Tijuana to the United States involves very long lines. As such, changing planes in Los Angeles or San Francisco then continuing on to San Diego is usually the easier option for travel. Likewise, travel from Mexico City (and/or other Mexican cities further south) to Tijuana may be a cheaper option as a domestic flight then as an international flight to Los Angeles or San Francisco.
With the opening of the Cross Border Xpress bridge and terminal, Tijuana is now the only airport in the world to have terminals in two countries. Passengers can walk across a bridge spanning the U.S.-Mexico border between the terminal on the U.S. side and the main facility on the Mexican side. This allows air travelers using the Tijuana Airport the option to clear US customs and immigration at a separate US Terminal building thus avoiding crossing the border at either Otay Mesa or San Ysidro. To use it you must have in your possession an airline boarding pass, passport (and/or visa where required), and a CBX ticket which can be either purchased online or via their website. There are also car rental offices and taxi services available at the US terminal plus there is a shuttle service from the CBX Terminal to San Ysidro (cost is $5.00 USD) and Downtown San Diego at the Santa Fe Train Station (cost is $10.00 USD).
Private pilots will prefer the nearby general aviation airports, Montgomery Field (ICAO: KMYF) in Clairemont Mesa, Gillespie Field (ICAO: KSEE) in El Cajon, or Brown Field (ICAO: KSDM) east of San Ysidro. There are several more in the North County. If flying to the San Diego area from the east, be aware of the 5,722 foot (1,744m) Volcan Mountain near Julian. Private aircraft have flown straight into the mountain at night, often with deadly results. Some air taxi and air charter firms offer specials to the San Diego area from local airports, including from many smaller Los Angeles airports and from the San Luis Obispo area.
Amtrak, Santa Fe Depot @ 1050 Kettner Blvd, ☎ +1 800 872-7245, . Amtrak operates from the historic Santa Fe Depot, located in downtown at 1050 Kettner Blvd. The station is the southern terminus of Amtrak's frequent Pacific Surfliner  route, which runs north to Los Angeles and San Luis Obispo. The depot is within walking distance of downtown hotels and situated near San Diego Bay. The city operates a bus line (Route 992, the "Airport Flyer") between the train depot and San Diego International Airport. edit
There is also a secondary rail station located at the Old Town San Diego Historic Park. It is used mainly for travel within San Diego County, although Amtrak also serves it on weekends and holidays.
The other rail service is COASTER, ☎ +1 800 262-7837, , a commuter train that runs north from downtown along the coast through northern San Diego County all the way to Oceanside where it meets the Metrolink (Orange County Line) rail service from Los Angeles and the Sprinter  rail service from Escondido. Service is mostly limited to the weekday rush hours, with limited service on Saturdays and Sundays. Fares are based on how far you ride; a one-way fare will be in the range of $4-$5.50. Tickets must be purchased from the ticket vending machines located at each station.
The Blue Line Trolley  goes between downtown and the US/Mexican border in San Ysidro via National City & Chula Vista. SENTRI pass (for locals who cross every day) helps you bypass the lines. All others have to wait in line to get through immigration. The stop for the Blue & yellow Line Trolley is across the street (Kettner Blvd) at the American Plaza. The Green Line Trolley going northeast to Santee and southeast to PetCo Field stops along the other trains at the Santa Fe Depot.
San Diego is easily accessible by car using any one of the three major interstate roadways, the 5, 8, and 15 Freeways.
- I-5 begins in San Ysidro, at the US-Mexico border crossing, and continues northward through Los Angeles and Central California to Oregon and Washington, terminating in Blaine, Washington at the US-Canadian border crossing. Continues north as BC Hwy 99 into Vancouver.
- I-8 begins near the coast in Ocean Beach and continues eastward through eastern San Diego and Imperial Counties into Arizona, where it connects with Interstate 10 about halfway between Phoenix and Tucson. From the Phoenix area, AZ Hwy 85 to I-8 at Gila Bend is often faster, except the eastern suburbs (Chandler, Scottsdale, Tempe, Mesa & Queen Creek). There is a mountain pass of about 4,200 ft. between the desert and coastal area. Closures or restrictions due to snow happen on rare occasion.
- I-15 begins, from along I-5 at Exit #13A as CA-Hwy 15 just south of downtown. I-15 officially begins at the I-8/15 junction and continues northward into the California deserts, through Nevada, Utah, Idaho, and Montana and eventually terminating at the US-Canadian border in northern Montana. Continues north to Lethbridge, Alberta as AB Hwy 4.
Additionally, there are numerous other freeways that crisscross the county, making access to most places in San Diego relatively easy. However, be advised that traffic is frequently congested during the weekday morning and evening commuting hours.
Unfortunately, there is no central bus terminal nor are they located next to each other in the same area. Each company have their own stop(s) or station all over the city. In San Ysidro there is a SDMTS transit center & taxi stand (including light rail stop) just north (or after walking out) of the US immigration & customs station. The long distance bus station is behind McDonalds to right (east) when exiting the border station. Major operators include:
- Greyhound, Crucero USA, Autobus Americanos, 120 W Broadway (Entry is a small door w/ canopy closer to 1st & Broadway), ☎ +1 619 515-1100 (toll free: 1-800-231-2222), . Travels primarily on Interstate 5 (San Diego-Los Angeles & San Diego-Tijuana on two separate routes), 8/10 (Calexico-Yuma-Tucson-El Paso. Some variations of the route diverge from Yuma to Phoenix instead) & 163/15 (San Diego-Riverside-San Bernardino). Passengers transfer to other buses in Los Angeles, San Bernardino, Tucson, El Paso or Phoenix to get to other cities in the U.S. and in Tijuana, Calexico/Mexicali, and El Paso/Ciudad Juarez to get to other cities in Mexico. edit
- Hoang Express, Lucky Seafood Supermarket @ 9326 Miramesa Blvd, ☎ +1 714 839-3500 (toll free: 888 834-9336), . offers service from Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area to southern California. edit
- InterCalifornias, 751-A E San Ysidro Blvd., San Ysidro CA 92173 (In parking lot behind McDonalds by the US border inspection station), ☎ +1 619 428-8259, . goes up to Los Angeles, San Fernando, Bakersfield, Fresno, and San Jose/Stockton. (route splits/joins in Madero) edit
- LuxBus, (Various hotel pick up locations on request), ☎ 1 800-610-7870, . offers four daily trips to and from Anaheim or Los Angeles. They no longer offer a direct route to Las Vegas edit
- Mexicoach, 4570 Camino de la Plaza, San Ysidro, CA 92173 (Parking lot west of I-5 just before crossing into Mexico), ☎ +1 619 428-6200, . Picks up at the parking lot west of I-5 and then go down to their own terminal in downtown Tijuana and Rosarito Beach. Drops off at the US border inspection station going north. edit
- Volaris Airlines Shuttle Services  operates direct buses to Tijuana's General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport to connect with onward Volaris flights south. Buses leave from the (Amtrak) Santa Fe Depot .
The Cruise Ship Terminal  in downtown San Diego currently only services excursions departing from San Diego to Baja Mexico and Los Angeles. These include dinner cruises, three-day gambling cruises and 'party excursions' to the Mexican coastal ports of Baja.
By limousine or limo bus
There are numerous companies throughout San Diego who provide luxury transportation and/or car service. Vehicles range in size from 4-door sedans to 50 passenger luxury limo buses. Limousine Rental is also common for brewery tours, wine tasting tours, and corporate events.
- San Diego Hotlimos and Party Bus: (San Diego County)
Although alternatives are being created, San Diego is Southern California, so renting or having a car available will increase your enjoyment to this city if you really want to cover some distance. If you would like to use public transportation, it can be done. Some buses run late into the evening, but this doesn't apply to all routes! Trip planning is advised; read the Bus section below. Taking the bus will also increase the amount of time you spend traveling from place to place however you will be able to get a great feel of this remarkable city by traveling with the locals.
The San Diego metropolitan area is sprawling. Car travel is the most efficient way of getting around the metro area. Throughout the downtown and beach communities, on-street parking is metered. Parking meters accept coins, pre-paid Parking Meter Cards, and some newer meters accept credit cards. For more information parking meters and enforcement, or to purchase a pre-paid meter card please visit the City of San Diego Parking Administration  website. Gas/petrol prices tend to be higher than much of the U.S. The outlying communities of El Cajon, Santee, Lemon Grove, Poway, and Chula Vista are the least expensive in the area for filling your tank.
All the major rental car companies operate at the San Diego Airport, though most require you to take a shuttle which goes behind the terminal and runway (about 2.5 miles). To get to the I-5 freeway, turn right at Sassafras Street, then cross the railroad tracks. Do not mistake the railroad crossing for Kettner Blvd./I-5 south as a few visitors have done (mostly after dark) over the years. These tracks are heavily used by Amtrak and other rail services, and there's a good chance of being hit by a train if you make a wrong turn.
By public transit
The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS)  operates bus service to large portions of the county, although service in many areas is sparse and infrequent. The weakest points in the transit system are suburb-to-suburb travel and poor links between some of the individual coastal communities, both of which often require long trips to one of the transit hubs, then back out. If you will be mainly in the areas around downtown, the bus may be suitable, but service generally gets weaker the farther you are from the central area.
There is bus service every 15 to 30 minutes or so (at least on weekdays) between downtown San Diego and a number of tourist-oriented destinations. These include the airport, the zoo, and neighborhoods such as Hillcrest, North Park, and La Jolla, check a routing website for timetables. There is adequate service to Sea World from the Old Town Transit Center, where the trolley stops. Service from downtown to Coronado and Ocean Beach is about once every 30 minutes.
The fare is $2.25 for local/neighborhood routes, $2.25 for urban routes, and $2.50 for express routes. Transfers are not available. Day passes (which also include rides on the Trolley and a $2 discount on Coaster fares) cost $5. All downtown buses intersect with Broadway at some point. During the day many locals and tourists alike will be taking the bus. At night some people might feel a little less comfortable, but generally not unsafe on the main parts of downtown. The MTS has offices in downtown, on Broadway.
Trolley (light rail)
The San Diego Trolley  is a light rail system operated by the MTS which mainly serves tourists and people living in the southern and eastern parts of the city that need to get to downtown areas. There are three trolley lines: blue, green, and orange. The Blue Line operates from the US-Mexico border at San Diego/San Ysidro and runs to Old Town, via Chula Vista, National City, and Downtown. The Green Line travels from Old Town east to Santee, via Mission Valley and SDSU. The Orange Line connects the eastern cities of El Cajon and La Mesa with Downtown (generally not as usable for tourists except for getting around parts of downtown). Trains run from at least 5AM-12AM every day. Frequency varies, but the trolley usually runs every 15 minutes, with service reduced to every 30 minutes for late-night, weekend, and holiday service.
Standard one-way fares run from $1.25 to $3 depending on how far you travel. Day passes (which include bus service) run at $5, and there are 2, 3 and 4 day passes available. Tickets have to be purchased from the vending machines at the station before you board the train. The fine $120 for not having a ticket. Although it is not available today, the trolley system will eventually connect with the airport.
The weather in San Diego is ideally suited for bicycle riding, and bikes are a good way to explore the beach side communities. Many of the beach side community's residents use bikes to get around as it is ideal weather and a good way to alleviate finding parking. The beach areas are flat and some beach cruiser rental spots can be found along the boardwalk areas in Mission/Pacific Beach. In other parts of the city, cycling has not been prioritized until the 2030 San Diego regional transportation plan (SDRTP) is implemented, starting [insert date] . Cycling around the greater city area is not recommended for the tourist until the SDRTP has been implemented, but is possible for a habitual cyclist. A bicycle map of San Diego is available.
Like much of California and the Southwestern United States, English is the predominant language with Spanish the second most widely spoken. Store signs are written in English or both languages, and many businesses have bilingual employees that speak both English and Spanish.
See San Diego with children for travelers with children.
A couple of discount passes offer admission to a number of places:
- Go San Diego Card  – This enables free admission and express entry to over 40 attractions, including Sea World, Legoland, San Diego Zoo, Universal, and all Balboa Park museums.
- Southern California CityPass  – Gives you one day each at SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo, another day at Universal Studios Hollywood, and a 3 day park hopper ticket for Disneyland.
From historic landmarks to world-class zoos and parks, San Diego has a lot to see.
Parks and Beaches
- Cabrillo Park and National Monument — Here visitors can stand on a piece of history. In September of 1542, Juan Cabrillo and his crew landed at San Diego Bay. This was the first time a European expedition had set foot on the United States' west coast. Cabrillo National Monument memorializes this moment. The park also offers gorgeous views of San Diego’s harbor and skyline. Migrating whales can be spotted in winter.
- Balboa Park — Home to the famous San Diego Zoo, the park also encompasses myriad botanical gardens, over a dozen museums and several family-friendly attractions.
- Ocean Beach and Mission Beach — Ocean Beach still sports a laid-back hippie vibe. Mission Beach in Mission Bay, is a popular place for young people. It's a great place to spot sea life amongst the throngs of rollerbladers and cyclists.
- Old Town State Historic Park — This “birthplace” of California features original Spanish establishments, beautifully restored Victorian homes and Whaley House.
Zoos and Aquariums
- San Diego Zoo — Located in Balboa Park, No visit to San Diego would be complete without seeing its famous zoo. The 100-acre zoo houses over 3,700 rare and endangered animals and boasts a botanical collection of over 700,000 exotic plants.
- San Diego Zoo Safari Park — This 1,800-acre park allows visitors to see animals like giraffes, rhinos, condors and more. These animals are not behind bars but are free to roam.
- Sea World — Visitors can ride a roller coaster, swim with dolphins, see a show and go underwater at Explorer’s Reef while they learn about the world’s waters and their creatures.
- Birch Aquarium — This La Jolla attraction lets visitors see where the ocean comes alive. Visit a massive kelp tank, see tropical fishes and learn about the important role oceans play in everyone’s lives.
- La Jolla — This upscale coastal community is called the jewel of Southern California. Shop, eat, relax, explore and get a glimpse of seals and sea lions at La Jolla Cove.
- Downtown — The urban center of the city, with plenty of restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Highlights include the San Diego Maritime Museum and the USS Midway Museum. Tucked into downtown is the historic Gaslamp Quarter. This area is a history lesson by day and, as it features many restaurants, nightclubs and theaters, an adult playground at night.
San Diego is a museum lover's dream. Travelers can walk with the dinosaurs at the San Diego Natural History Museum, or soar into space at the San Diego Air & Space Museum in Balboa Park, catch a wave at the California Surf Museum in Oceanside or reclaim childhood at The New Children's Museum in Downtown.
- Individual listings can be found in San Diego's district articles
- Beaches – Along San Diego's coast one can find miles of beaches for swimming, surfing, and general beach-going. In the San Diego area, one can find good beaches at Imperial Beach south of San Diego, Coronado, the beach towns of Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, and up the coast of Northern San Diego County. Each beach is unique, ranging from popular white sand beaches to harsh surf spots to the clothing-optional Black's Beach in La Jolla.
- Beer Tasting - San Diego has a bustling microbrewery scene with more than 100 breweries and growing every month. Some of the breweries feature large restaurants but most are "hole in the wall" micro or nanobreweries located in industrial parks. For a complete listing of breweries go to San Diego Brewery Guide.
Many visitors come to San Diego to visit its famous attractions, tour the museums and get a glimpse of history. Those looking for a little more action and adventure can explore San Diego by air, land or sea.
San Diego Sky Tours offers scenic sightseeing tours, biplane rides, aerobatics thrill rides and dog fighting air combat rides in the San Diego skies.
Torrey Pines Gliderport in La Jolla offers those wishing they had wings the chance to try paragliding and hangliding.
Activities on Land
- Biking — San Diego has miles of flat, paved terrain; perfect for touring bikers. A popular ride is the 24-mile Bayshore Bikeway which begins at the Coronado Ferry Landing and ends in Downtown. The shorter 12-mile loop around Mission Beach is also a popular choice. Mountain bikers can find plenty of trails in the more than 7,220 acres that make up Mission Trails Regional Park in the Northeastern district. Bikers have the option of renting a bike and exploring on their own, or of joining a guided tour.
- Golf — Golf Digest calls San Diego one of "The Top 20 Cities for Golf". Golfers can tee off in Point Loma, Downtown, La Jolla, [Mission Valley-Old Town|Mission Valley and Old Town]].
- Hiking — Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla and Mission Trails Regional Park in Northeastern San Diego offer a good variety of trails.
- Rock climbing - San Diego offers some unique opportunities for rock climbing both outdoor and indoor. Although San Diego is rarely considered a destination climbing area, specialist climbing companies offer guided rock climbing from professional climbers for the beginner to the experienced climber. All the climbing companies provide all the required equipment such as helmets, shoes and harnesses, and usually require an orientation meeting the week of the climb for all participants. Most good climbing spots are located either in Northeastern San Diego or Inland San Diego County.
- Guided Tours — San Diego offers just about every type of guided tour imaginable. Zip along on a San Diego Segway Tour. Ride in a pack on a bike tour. Hop aboard a GPS-guided “storytelling” car. Or explore the breweries that help make up San Diego's burgeoning beer scene. Most tour companies have headquarters in La Jolla and Downtown.
- Surfing — Surfing dominates the San Diego scene. La Jolla Shores in La Jolla is a great spot for beginners to learn the craft. Along with traditional surfing, wakeboarding and kitesurfing have become popular with the locals. Pacific Beach is a good place to watch kitesurfers attempt to master this challenging sport.
- Jetpacking — In Mission Beach, those who dare can strap on a jet pack and literally fly up to 30 feet above the water.
- Sailing — If you prefer to experience the ocean under sail, hop on over to Mission Bay in Mission Beach, Point Loma or Downtown. Experienced sailors can rent and sail their own small craft. Those who prefer to let others do the navigating can join pre-scheduled cruises or charter their own trip.
- Kayaking — Kayaking is a great way to see kelp beds, marine life and even sea caves from sea level. La Jolla Shores in La Jolla is one of the most popular sites for kayakers and kayaking tours. The calm waters of Mission Bay in Mission Beach also make for good kayaking.
- Scuba Diving — Those wishing to explore San Diego’s underwater world can make a splash in La Jolla or Point Loma. Wreck divers can hop aboard charters in Mission Beach.
- Boating - San Diego Bay offers amble opportunities for sailors to enjoy the water, with plenty of anchorages and marinas catering to all boaters (see Point Loma, Downtown, Coronado and Chula Vista for specific places). Boat launch ramps are located at Shelter Island (Point Loma), Coronado, National City and Chula Vista. Some anchorages require a permit, while others do not. If a permit is required, it can be obtained at the Shelter Island Harbor Police Facility, 1401 Shelter Island Drive (Point Loma), +1 619 686-6272. There are also several moorings located throughout the Harbor for vessels ranging from two to 65 feet in length. See the SD Mooring Company Office, 2040 N. Harbor Island Drive (Point Loma), +1 619 291-0916,  for a mooring application.
- Whale-watching – California gray whales migrate south along the coast each February. There are some great places along the coast to view the migration, such as the overlook in Cabrillo National Monument (in Point Loma), and several private companies offer sailing tours during the migration season that bring you much closer to the whales (be advised: motion sickness on water)
- San Diego Padres – PETCO Park (in Downtown, near the Gaslamp district), . See the Major League Baseball Padres play at PETCO Park in downtown. Price ranges for seats vary widely, from $5 for a spot on the grassy lawn beyond the outfield wall to nearly $50 for a seat behind home plate. $5-$60.
- San Diego State University Aztecs – Viejas Arena (formerly Cox Arena, in Mid-City; exit I-8 at College Avenue and turn right on Canyon Crest Drive), . The college basketball team plays their home games at the Viejas Arena in the SDSU campus. The Aztecs college baseball team plays at Tony Gwynn Stadium (also on the SDSU campus) and the college football team plays at Qualcomm Stadium.
- University of San Diego Toreros – Jenny Craig Pavilion (in Mission Valley; exit I-8 at Morena Blvd and turn right on Linda Vista Road), . The Toreros have college basketball, baseball, and football teams which play at facilities located on the USD campus.
Universities & military (training) installations in the area:
- University of California, San Diego  – State public university.
- San Diego State University  – State public university.
- University of San Diego  – Private, Catholic university.
- Point Loma Nazarene  – Private, Protestant Christian university
- California Western School of Law  – Private law school.
- New School of Architecture  – Private architecture school.
- The Salk Institute for Biological Studies  – Prestigious nonprofit research institute.
- The Scripps Research Institute  – Private research institute.
- The Scripps Institution of Oceanography  – Famous marine biology institute.
- The Burnham Institute for Medical Research  – Private research institute.
- La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology  – Nonprofit research institute.
- Thomas Jefferson School of Law  – Private law school.
- US Marine Corps Recruit Depot  - Military. Male recruits from the west of the Mississippi River are sent here for 12 weeks of Basic Recruit training (boot camp) upon joining the Marines. All female recruits report to Parris Island, SC for boot camp. Other functions include training Marines to be recruiters and drill instructors and overseeing the 8th, 9th, & 12th Recruiting Districts in the western part of the U.S.
- US Naval Special Warfare Command  Military. They operate training schools and recruitment to US Navy personnel seeking to become US Navy SEALS.
San Diego is a major technology and defense hub of California and the United States. Major industries include defense, telecommunications, technology, biotechnology, computers and scientific research. With five major military bases located within fifty miles of San Diego, defense related services and support are a key part of San Diego's economy.
- Individual listings can be found in San Diego's district articles
For those who prefer brand names like Bloomingdales, Gucci and Apple, Old Town-Mission Valley has an open-air mall that covers 1.7 million square feet. Old Town-Mission Valley, located at the western end of Mission Valley, is an ideal spot if you're searching for items related to San Diego's history. Much of what San Diego has to offer shoppers can be found by strolling the streets of its various districts. Each district offers souvenir hunters a wealth of unique shops to explore and treasures to be found. Owing to its warm weather and sunny climate, even most of San Diego's traditional shopping centers are set in beautifully-landscaped settings.
Souvenir hunters, eclectic buyers and even window shoppers will all find something to appreciate when they wander the streets of Downtown. The famous Gas Lamp Quarter offers everything from unique boutiques to mainstream fashion brands. The Maritime Museum of San Diego and USS Midway Museum are great places to find gifts with a nautical theme. Take a stroll through Little Italy for a bit of everything — this section of Downtown offers everything from jewelry and antiques to art and furniture.
Continuing the theme of the unique and the eclectic, Balboa Park-Hillcrest boasts a varied array of shopping options. This is the place to find stores offering vintage books and clothes mixed in amongst those with more current offerings. Nearby [[Balboa Park|Balboa Park-Hillcrest] is stuffed with museums and attractions, each offering its own gift shop and unique brand of toys, gifts and souvenirs.
The upscale shopper will enjoy spending time browsing in La Jolla. This is where buyers will find high-end clothing stores, fanciful toy stores, a variety of art galleries and even a boutique pet store for those who need to bring a gift home for furry family members.
Antique hunters and lovers will want to head over to Point Loma-Ocean Beach. This district offers its own antique shopping area known as Ocean Beach Antique District.
- Individual listings can be found in San Diego's district articles
When your stomach starts rumbling, it's time to decide what type of food will satisfy. Practically every district in San Diego offers bits of everything, from Thai to tacos.
- La Jolla features many upscale restaurants and is considered the place to go for fine dining.
- Not surprisingly, owing to its proximity to the ocean, seafood places abound throughout San Diego. Ocean Beach and Mission Beach are great to places to go to satisfy a seafood craving. Fish tacos are an immensely popular choice and many beach restaurants also offer hearty burgers and cold beer.
- Travelers in Old Town will find plenty of restaurants offering up Mexican fare. Don't make the trip there just for the food though. While many of the restaurants are good, the general consensus among locals is that the food is not sufficiently authentic. Head instead to Downtown to seek out truly authentic Mexican food.
- Downtown, like any good metropolitan center, offers diners everything from Jack in the Box (which got its start in San Diego) to five star dining. Some of the most varied offerings are in Little Italy, where hungry foodies can find everything from authentic Italian to "refined American food with left coast edge," which describes the offerings at The Juniper & Ivy. What makes The Juniper & Ivy unique is that the head chef is Top Chef All Star’s winner Richard Blais.
Many restaurants in San Diego specialize in Cali-Baja, a style of cooking unique to San Diego. The "Cali" is derived from the fact that California chefs are beginning to place a premium on using fresh local ingredients. And San Diego County has more small farms than any other county in the nation. As a result, chefs are able to source many of their ingredients direct from the growers themselves.
"Baja" may be a bit of a misnomer since this part of the trend originated in Tijuana, a Mexican city just south of San Diego's border. It was in Tijuana that chefs revolutionized Mexican cooking. They took traditional Mexican ingredients and mixed them with the flavors and bounty of the Mediterranean. This new style cuisine came to be known as Baja Med. Cali-Baja, therefore, combines the use of fresh, local produce with the flavors and techniques developed by Baja Med chefs.
- Individual listings can be found in San Diego's district articles
Like most metropolitan cities, San Diego has its fair share of clubs and bars. On any given night, travelers looking to slake their thirst can do so while listening to jazz, rubbing shoulders with local biker gangs, or drinking and dancing in themed nightclubs that rival anything the Las Vegas Strip has to offer. Here's a secret that only locals typically know — in San Diego, it’s all about the beer.
Beer and Breweries
When the New York Times calls a city a “sunny haven for suds lovers,” craft beer drinkers everywhere take note. Prior to the 1980s, visitors to San Diego could find places that offered beer, but it was the same beer typically found anywhere in the United States. Craft beers and microbreweries, which were starting to come on the radar elsewhere, were unheard of in San Diego. Entrepreneurs Chris Cramer and Matt Rattner were determined to change things. The two teamed up with Chris’s cousin, award winning master brewer Karl Strauss and together they opened Karl Strauss Brewery. This was the first time San Diego had seen beer locally brewed and created since Prohibition. And the trend took off. Those interested in sampling history can head to La Jolla to visit the Karl Strauss Brewery, and taste their offerings.
Today, San Diego has over 100 breweries. The biggest clusters of breweries are in Downtown in general and The Gaslamp Quarter in particular, and in Mission Valley and Old Town. Stone Brewing's location in Point Loma, Ballast Point and Half Door Brewing Co. in Downtown are considered worthwhile stops.
Clubs and Cocktails
As with the breweries, Downtown in general and The Gaslamp Quarter' in particular offer the most options for visiting night owls. This section of San Diego teems with clubs offering both live and recorded music, rooftop bars where drinkers can sip cocktails while enjoying the view, and places with decor that ranges from the basic to the sublime and the utterly strange. If you're looking to see and be seen you'll want to drop in at The Tipsy Crow, Onyx Room or Fluxx. Those looking to recreate the experience of the speakeasies of yore — and drink some amazing cocktails in the bargain — need to search out Noble Experiment. Reservations are by text message only and patrons will first need to find the secret and rather cleverly-hidden entrance.
Travelers might also enjoy drinks with a view. Perched 22 stories above the ground, ALTITUDE Sky Lounge is the highest bar in San Diego. Rooftop600 offers not just drinks and views, but also a pool and the option of a private cabana.
Wines and Wineries
Wine and wineries might get less attention than their hoppy brethren, but San Diego has close to 100 wineries. While the majority of the wineries are situated away from the tourist attractions in San Diego’s North and East Counties, [Vin De Syrah] in The Gaslamp Quarter consistently makes the list of top wine bars.
- Individual listings can be found in San Diego's district articles
San Diego offers an immense range of accommodations. You will find everything from hostels — perfect for backpackers on a budget — to five star luxury resorts. Accommodations in all districts boast access to something San Diego has to offer. You can choose to be walking distance from Balboa Park, sleep in the historic Gas Lamp Quarter or find a place that lets you watch the surfers from your bedroom window.
Most of the truly upscale hotels and resorts are clustered in San Diego's Downtown or in and around the district of La Jolla. If location is more of a concern than luxury, visitors have their pick of hotels that offer easy access to SeaWorld, the San Diego Zoo, the Gas Lamp Quarter and La Jolla. There are also multiple accommodations that feature stunning views of San Diego's famous beaches. Mission Bay and Ocean Beach are two such beaches that boast seaside accommodations.
If you're looking for a more intimate setting, you can choose from amongst San Diego's vast selection of Bed and Breakfasts. These Bed and Breakfasts are more scattered than their hotel counterparts, but they can be found in almost all of San Diego's districts. If experience is more important than location, guests can choose to stay in B&Bs that range from converted houseboats to Victorian mansions.
Students, backpackers and those on a tight budget can stay at one of San Diego's hostels. Many are accessible by public transportation. Others recommend taking Super Shuttle to reach them. While a couple of hostels can be found in Point Loma-Ocean Beach and Balboa Park-Hillcrest, the bulk of San Diego's hostels are situated in Downtown. This makes them easily accessible to Balboa Park and are walking distance from a wide assortment of restaurants and shops.
Rentals are also available for families who want kitchens, people with pets or travelers looking for more home-like accommodations. Rentals are found primarily in Mission Beach-Pacific Beach and La Jolla. Rental companies abound in San Diego and travelers can use them to find the perfect spot.
For those who prefer to bring their own accommodations, Mission Beach-Pacific Beach offer RV Parks.
- Best Western Seven Seas, 411 Hotel Cir S, San Diego, California, 92108, ☎ 6192911300, . checkin: 12:00am; checkout: 11:59pm. The BEST WESTERN Seven Seas is the largest Best Western on the West Coast with over 300 guest rooms in beautiful San Diego, California. The hotel is situated on Hotel Circle in central Mission Valley, wWith affordable hotel rates, comfortable hotel rooms and facilities, and a convenient location near major San Diego attractions. (32.760659,-117.166069) edit
- The Bristol Hotel, 1055 1st Ave, San Diego, California, 92101, ☎ 6192326141, . checkin: 12:00am; checkout: 11:59pm. The Bristol Hotel is a boutique hotel located near San Diego's Gaslamp District and features a variety of amenities for business or leisure travellers. The hotel is a San Diego events and bridal shower venue and also offers meeting space, modern pet-friendly guest rooms, an on-site lounge, fitness center and valet parking. (32.716426,-117.163552) edit
The most common area code for San Diego Metropolitan area, including downtown, the southbay and the eastern suburbs is 619. North of I-8/Mission Valley uses 858, and the far northern suburbs (Escondido, Oceanside, Encinitas, etc.) use 760. Be sure to look when dialing a phone number that may be in a different area code. Most public telephones and hotel phones have the area code next to the phone number on the actual device.
There are numerous Wi-Fi hot spots in San Diego, many of which are at internet cafes. The San Diego Public Library system also offers wireless internet at many of its locations .
San Diego is considered to be one of the safest cities in California. Though crime is present, violent crime is on an overall decrease, but property crime still exists. You can now view real time crime reports of the area you plan to visit . One should use the same precautions as you would in any large metropolitan area. Avoid walking in Southeast San Diego or Barrio Logan (near or under the Coronado bridge) at night. If you do or must, avoid walking down dark alleyways or approaching unknown people. Most people do not encounter any problems if they avoid buying illegal drugs or prostitution. In addition, gangs do exist but you wont see them out as much in this area as in LA.
In an emergency (immediate danger to loss of life or limb), call 911. Calling 911 from a land line telephone will get you an immediate response from the local emergency agency such as San Diego Police/Fire. Calling from a mobile device will first be responded by California Highway Patrol. They will then determine which emergency service you will need from there which will take more time.
In many cases, when within the city limits, it may be more appropriate to directly dial the San Diego non-emergency number, (619) 531-2000. For example, to report a crime in progress when you are not in direct danger, it is probably best to call the San Diego Police (or other local municipality) directly.
Due to the proximity of this county being close to the US-Mexican border, safety should be within your knowledge. All residents in this area should be aware of the rules and use common sense
Due to California's proximity to the International Boundary with Mexico, visitors should be cautious while in areas near the border.
Know where you are at all times, follow good safety procedures and use common sense when making decisions.
Do not pick-up hitch hikers.
Keep valuables, including spare change, out of sight and lock your vehicle.
Avoid traveling in well-marked but unofficial "trails."
Avoid hiking or camping in areas of major border activity. If you are visiting a national or state park, consult park staff to help plan backcountry travel in safer areas.
Report all suspicious person and behaviors to U.S Border patrol,California Highway Patrol or other law enforcement agency.
San Diego is served by a professional police force  as well as a county sheriff department. Additional protection is offered on the major highways by the California Highway Patrol (CHP). To report a non-emergency within city limits, call (619) 531-2000 otherwise call 9-1-1 to report an emergency or a crime in progress.
The city of San Diego fire department offers fire protection, emergency medical care, hazardous waste cleanup, and search and rescue functions. If you dial 911 for an emergency the first responders will be the San Diego Fire Department. Urban brush fires are always a risk during the summer and fall, but rarely affect tourists.
Rip currents are notorious in San Diego for their strength and sudden appearance. Do not go out in the water without lifeguard supervision or at night. At La Jolla Shores, rip currents can be so strong that people standing (not swimming) in waist-deep water have been pulled out over their heads -- sometimes with deadly results (especially for non-swimmers). Except for sunbathing, avoid low tide like the plague at this beach. (This means the largest of the two daily tide cycles. Check newspaper weather page for Scripps Pier, or view the Weather Channel.) All of the major beaches have lifeguards on duty in the summertime, with only the more popular beaches having lifeguards year round.
Many of the ocean cliffs are made of a compressed sandstone and are prone to collapse, even in dry weather. If walking along the cliffs at the beach, try to be as far away from them as is practical. Obey all signs. Heavy rain may cause rising bacteria and chemical levels in the ocean waters. Care should be taken to read the newspapers or call the county health office to see if the water is safe for swimming. The Department of Enviromental Health recommends that people stay out of the water at the beaches for 72 hours after rain and to check water quality conditions on their website at www.sdbeachinfo.com.
Access to the beaches is safely made by using any of the public stairways provided; they are well maintained (except at Black's Beach) and free. The stairs at Black's Beach are in disrepair, so use at one's own risk. Wear sturdy shoes, and don't try unless you are in very good physical condition and able to climb the 300 ft. (100m) back from the beach. Beware of the false trails going down the cliffs, as every year a few people get stuck (or worse!). The trailhead begins at the southern corner of the unpaved glider port parking lot. Take a little time to familiarize yourself with the area and observe where others are going. Though a long walk, you can also get in from the north via Torrey Pines State Beach. (Parking $8 in the lot or free along the highway.) High tide will cut off this route, so plan ahead.
The bridge that connects Torrey Pines (north of Black's Beach) with Del Mar (former Hwy US 101) is old and in need of repair. Avoid walking directly underneath, as pieces of concrete occasionally fall off. It's still considered safe enough to drive over for now. If concerned, access this area from the south via I-5 and Genesee Avenue (exit #29) which soon becomes N. Torrey Pines Rd. Always supervise children very closely at places such as Sunset Cliffs and the Torrey Pines Glider Port above Black's Beach. It may be necessary to hold their hand at all times. If you have unruly kids, don't go there.
Thefts do occur at the beach and can ruin a perfectly wonderful day. Do not leave any purses or other personal items of value alone on the beach or in an open car. Vehicle burglaries are more prevalent in most beach communities and take place in broad daylight. If possible, do not leave anything of value in your car even when locked. Most kayak and beach rental shops offer safe boxes free of charge, and will store your valuables while renting.
In addition, take caution when around certain beach areas, as you may wander (inadvertently) onto a military instillation, where security is tight and beaches are either reserved for military patrons and their families or training centers.
Also note that as of November 2009, a temporary ban of alcohol on all public beaches and coastal parks in the city of San Diego was made permanent by San Diego voters. Violators can be given up to a $250 fine, with repeat offenders fined up to $1,000 and six months in jail. The alcohol ban applies also to any sidewalk or street in the city of San Diego.
- San Diego Union-Tribune,  – The Union-Tribune is San Diego's main daily newspaper.
- San Diego Daily Transcript,  – A daily business publication printed every business day.
- San Diego Reader,  – A free weekly publication and the largest alternative paper in the city.
- San Diego CityBeat,  – A alternative free weekly paper.
- Voice of San Diego,  – A nonprofit, independent online newspaper.
- UCSD Guardian,  – A free student-operated newspaper at the University of California San Diego, published twice a week.
- North County Times,  – A daily paper focusing on issues facing the communities of Northern San Diego County.
- Diario San Diego,  - A weekly Spanish newspaper.
- SanDiego.com,  - A free, independent online newspaper.
- San Diego Magazine,  - A monthly publication.
There are numerous public and private hospitals in San Diego. These range from state funded institutions such as UCSD-Hillcrest and Thorton to private, world-renowned hospitals of Scripps La Jolla and the Children's Hospital. Non-profit Sharp Health Care also owns several hospitals, and has many "Urgent Care" centers for non-serious injuries such as a broken arm (daytime and early evening only). First-rate, world-class medical care can be found at any of these hospitals, as well as interpreters for more than a dozen languages.
San Diego is home to some of the most cutting edge health research in the country. The University of California, San Diego Medical Center is known for it's world class research. Some residents head to Mexico for cheaper health care, but this can be risky, and it would be more wise to use San Diego hospitals and clinics. Many of the institutions have doctors of all nationalities so language may not be a problem for some whose English skills may not be so good.
Smoking is banned in all restaurants, bars, public offices, and other places by order of California law. Although in tobacco shops and in coffee shops where tobacco is sold, you may smoke within these premises. There is a county wide ban on smoking in all state parks and there are city wide bans in San Diego, Del Mar, and Solana Beach that forbids smoking on public parks and beaches. El Cajon bans ALL outdoor smoking in public places. A new law enacted in January of 2007 prohibits smoking within 25 feet of any MTS transit station or bus stop. Beginning July 1, 2007 those caught smoking near transit facilities will face a fine of $75. Marijuana has long been part of San Diegans vibrant cultural and economic history. Regardless of heavy fines, the population is peacefully smoking/trading marijuana in public: (beaches, parks, sidewalks). Smoking laws are enforced only to grant law enforcement with probable cause, for otherwise unreasonable search and seizure.
- Canada, 402 W Broadway Ste 400, ☎ +1 619 615-4286 ([email protected], fax: +1 619 615-4287), . edit
- Denmark (Honorary), 7705 Whitefield Pl, La Jolla, ☎ +1 858 459-5205 ([email protected], fax: +1 858 459-5433), . edit
- Germany (Honorary), 402 W Broadway Ste 1000, ☎ +1 619 544-1363 ([email protected], fax: +1 619 744-7463), . edit
- New Zealand (Honorary), 12555 High Bluff Dr Ste 175, ☎ +1 858 552-8454 (fax: +1 858 793-7120), . edit
- San Diego is probably the best city in America for making a quick trip to Mexico. Tijuana, which sits directly across the US - Mexico border, can be reached by public transit. The San Diego Trolley's Blue Line provides service from downtown San Diego to the border. The trip on the trolley takes about 45 minutes from downtown. Once you reach the end of the line (San Ysidro), follow the people and signs to the border crossing. It takes less than five minutes from the trolley stop to the border. Once across, it is either a 20 minute walk or a five minute cab ride to reach Av. Revolucion, the main tourist shopping street in Tijuana. If you take a car, avoid driving hassles and long waits when returning by parking in pay lots near the border and walking across. This also saves you the added expensive of purchasing Mexican insurance on the US side before you drive into Mexico. Be warned: you do not want to drive your car or a rental car into Mexico without this type of insurance. Otherwise, taxis, buses, and private car hires are all available. If traveling to Tijuana Airport, the Mexican airline Volaris operates a bus service between that airport and San Diego's Santa Fe Train Depot.
- For a delightful, low-key alternative, drive 60 minutes on the American side to the small border crossing of Tecate (home of the Tecate brewery). It's a short walk to the town square. Coming back, the line is usually shorter here at the pedestrian crossing. You can easily combine a trip to the train museum in nearby Campo with a quick trip across the border for lunch!
- The greater San Diego County has a lot of smaller, more private beaches to the north (e.g., Del Mar and Encinitas), and some great small towns to stay in and explore. Carlsbad, about 30 miles north on I-5, is home to the popular Legoland California theme park. Further east, the Imperial Valley and the California Desert give a change of scenery.
- Julian is the largest and most popular mountain community in San Diego County. Also, nearby is Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Palomar Mountain which has a large observatory. Beware, on hot summer days, the mountains are actually warmer than the city (as they're next to the desert).
- It's also relatively easy to get up to Los Angeles and other points in Southern California. Interstate 5 extends through the San Joaquin Valley of California, Oregon and Washington to the Canadian border. Although slower, California Route 1 (Highway 1 or Pacific Coast Highway in most of Southern California) and the US Route 101, through the Central Coast, Monterey Bay, and the San Francisco Bay Area, makes for more of a pleasant and fruitful trip. Be aware there's no gas/petrol or other services on I-5 between Oceanside and San Clemente for a distance of about 20 miles. (Entry to Camp Pendleton generally requires a DOD decal or military ID.) If you aren't driving, Amtrak's frequent, daily Pacific Surfliner can get you to Los Angeles Union Station just under 3 hours.
- There are no boats to Catalina Island (Avalon) within San Diego County. You'll have to go north into neighboring Orange County to the pier at Dana Point. By car, take I-5 to exit #79 Pacific Coast Hwy 1 (make reservations).
- Temecula Wine Country is located about 60 minutes northeast of San Diego and makes a good day trip. There are about thirty wineries (with tasting rooms) located fairly close to each other. One hour further is the mountain resort of Idyllwild which features shopping and outdoor activities in an alpine forest.
|Routes through San Diego|
|Santa Ana ← Del Mar ←||N S||→ National City → Tijuana |
|END ←||W E||→ La Mesa → El Centro |
|Riverside ← Escondido ←||N S||→ END|
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