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San Diego is Southern California's southernmost city, located along the coast just north of the Mexican border and along the Pacific coast. Weatherwise, it's one of the most perfect climates in the world, with few really hot or cold days, plenty of sunshine and the occasional rainshower to keep things green.
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The park also includes a museum, an old defunct lighthouse, a new lighthouse and various former military installations. There are also some beautiful cliffs just down the hill from the monument and fun rock pools for kids to explore.
Every year, various events are held at the monument. They include the annual Cabrillo Festival Open House; Kumeyaay, Portuguese and Mexican singing and dancing events; a historical reenactment of a 16th century encampment; and children's activities.
Address: Catalina Boulevard, Point Loma Peninsula, Hours: 9:00am to 5:00pm daily (entrance closes at 4:30pm.) Closed on Christmas., Price: $5 per vehicle. Walk-ins, cyclists and motorcyclists pay $3 per person.
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San Diego must have some of the world's most perfect climates. It rarely gets really hot or cold here. Average daytime temperatures vary from 19 °C during the December to March period to 25 °C in August and September. Nights vary between 10 °C and 19/20 °C respectively. The summer from May to September is dry and just a few days see rain at all. Average rainfall throughout the year is just around 275 mm (11 inches). Most of the rain falls from November to April with around 5-10 days of rain a month and precipitation averaging around 30 mm a month in November and December to around 60 mm from January to March, which are by far the wettest months, accounting for around two thirds of the annual amount.
|Avg Max||18.8 °C||19.2 °C||19.1 °C||20.2 °C||20.6 °C||22 °C||24.6 °C||25.4 °C||25.1 °C||23.7 °C||21.1 °C||18.9 °C|
|Avg Min||9.4 °C||10.4 °C||11.6 °C||13.1 °C||15.1 °C||16.6 °C||18.7 °C||19.6 °C||18.7 °C||16.1 °C||12.2 °C||9.3 °C|
|Rainfall||45.7 mm||38.9 mm||45 mm||20.1 mm||4.8 mm||1.8 mm||0.5 mm||2.5 mm||6.1 mm||9.4 mm||36.8 mm||39.9 mm|
San Diego International Airport (SAN) is just about 5 kilometres from downtown San Diego. Around 20 airlines serve San Diego, with the main destinations being Mexico City, Calgary, Toronto, Vancouver, Portland, Atlanta, Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, New York, Los Angeles, Cleveland, Houston, Detroit, Honolulu, Memphis, Minneapolis-Saint Paul, Salt Lake City, Denver, Maui, Boston, Albuquerque, Austin, Boston, Baltimore, El Paso, Kansas City, Las Vegas, Nashville, Oakland, Phoenix, San Antonio, San Francisco, St. Louis, Tucson, Washington, D.C., Charlotte and Philadelphia.
It's the second largest single-runway airport in the world, after London Gatwick Airport and is the largest metropolitan area in the USA without an airport being a hub or secondary hub for any airline.
The Pacific Surfliner operated by Amtrak travels between San Diego and Paso Robles stopping en route in places like Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo. Trains are reasonably frequent, running every two hours or so and very comfortable. Just north of San Diego, the tracks travel right alongside the ocean providing really great views.
If you are coming from Los Angeles Airport, you can catch a Flyaway shuttle bus to Union Station (roughly 40 minutes, $7 one way). From there you can take Amtrak to San Diego.
Check the Port of San Diego for options of organized trips or cruises. There is no regular passenger service.
Although San Diego is not a difficult city to get around by car, the traffic can be slow going during rush hours and parking can be expensive as well.
Many international rental companies have a wide selection of rental cars and these include Hertz, Avis, Dollar, Thrifty, Enterprise, Budget and Alamo/National. Most companies will require you are at least 25 years of age, although younger people might be able to rent cars at slightly higher rates and with some insurance differences as well. A national driver's license is usually enough, but an additional international one is recommended. Also note that it usually costs more to include lots of other extra things. For example extra drivers, GPS, the first full tank, SLI (Supplemental Liability Insurance), PAI (Personal Accident Insurance, usually covered already at home), road assistance/service plan, and drop-off costs for one-way rentals.
If you want to book a car, it is recommended that you book your car before arriving in the USA. This is almost always (much) cheaper compared to just showing up. Also, try and book with a so-called 'broker', which usually works together with a few or many car rental companies and can offer the best deal. Some examples include Holidayautos, Holidaycars and Sunny Cars. Some of the cheapest deals to book from Europe, includes Drive-USA, which also has a German version.
For more information and tips about renting cars and campers, additional costs, insurance, traffic rules, scenic routes and getting maps and fuel it is advised to check the USA Getting Around section.
The Metropolitan Transit System provides buses in the wider metropolitan area of San Diego County. It also operates the San Diego Trolley which is of importance for both travellers as well as people commuting between Downtown and the eastern and southern suburbs. Standard one-way fares run from $1.25 to $3 depending on how far you go, and if you are planning to use them quite a few times, there are also publci transport passes (which include bus service) starting at $5. There is the choice between 2, 3 and 4-day passes, which give you unlimited excess on the metro and bus.
Trains travel between 5:00am-12:00am every day with varying frequencies: every 15 minutes, with service reduced to every 30 minutes for late-night, weekend, and holidays. It has 3 lines:
There are also boats travelling between various parts within San Diego. The most useful connection is between downtown San Diego or the Embarcadero and Coronado.
For a US city, San Diego is surprisingly walkable, and if you don't mind a bit of walking even the old town and the San Diego Zoo are within reach. At least it saves the hassle of finding out about public transport or car issues like parking. No matter what, downtown (including the Gaslamp Quarter) and the Embarcadero are easy for walking and you can walk from north to south or east to west within 10-15 minutes. Northeast from downtown, the Balboa Park connects the city to the zoo and botanical gardens, while more to the north/northwest, the old town is reachable by walking through Little Italy.
The weather in San Diego is ideally suited for bicycle riding, although a good lock is a necessity.
Bikes are a good way to explore the beachside communities. Many of the beach side community's residents use bikes to get around their neighborhood because parking is tight. 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 is much more difficult with numerous difficult-to-cross freeways, as well as hills, valleys and older streets, but is possible for the avid cyclist. A bicycle map of San Diego is available online.
Like any large metropolitan area, San Diego offers a wide variety of national and international cuisine. Food representing almost every world cuisine can be found somewhere in the city, and major restaurant chains are found in almost every district. Some of the best districts for fine dining are Downtown, Hillcrest, and La Jolla, which all offer extensive options that cater to both a local and tourist crowd. Pacific Beach also has a bustling, albeit more laid-back, dining scene, while the neighborhoods of Mid-City (particularly Kensington and North Park) have plenty of great restaurants that cater to a more local crowd. Other food scenes of note in San Diego are the concentration of Italian restaurants and delis in Little Italy in Downtown and the numerous Southeast Asian restaurants and markets that serve the large Asian-American population in Kearny Mesa.
Given the proximity to the border, it should come as no surprise that Mexican food is abundant in San Diego. Be sure to look beyond the touristy (and generally overpriced) concentration of Mexican restaurants in Old Town; this city offers endless options for Mexican food, from hole-in-the-wall taco joints to fine dining. Ask a local for their opinion; every San Diegan has their favorite place. A local specialty is rolled tacos, which consist of beef or chicken tightly rolled into a corn tortilla and fried until crispy, then served with guacamole and shredded cheese piled on top. You can find them all over Southern California, but the best ones are to be found in San Diego, where they're ubiquitous. Other quintessential San Diego menu items not to be missed are fish tacos and the carne asada burrito; unlike other regional burrito varieties that tend to use rice and beans as filler, the San Diego variety is typically jam-packed with chunks of carne asada steak with some guacamole and pico de gallo mixed in, making for an immensely satisfying meal. A variant of the carne asada burrito is the California burrito, which contains carne asada, French fries, cheese, and some combination of cilantro, pico de gallo, sour cream, onion, or guacamole.
Bars and clubs can stay open past 2am but are not permitted to sell alcohol after this time. Expect beer bars to be open until midnight and bars and clubs to call last call around 1:30-1:50am. A medium-sized beer generally costs $4-5 in a restaurant. The best bar scenes in San Diego are in the Gaslamp Quarter area of Downtown and in Pacific Beach.
San Diego is well-known for its craft-brewing scene, with an emphasis on highly-hopped beers. Local brewers of distinction include AleSmith Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, Karl Strauss Brewing Company, Green Flash Brewing Company, Coronado Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing Company, and Port Brewing Company. Craft beer can generally be found at nearly every bar in San Diego. In addition, many specialty craft beer bars are scattered throughout San Diego, boasting some of the best and most unique selections of beer in the country.
Happy hour specials are very popular in San Diego, offering some of the best and cheapest deals on food and drink in the city. The Pacific Beach and Downtown areas are particularly known for their numerous bars and restaurants offering significant deals during happy hour.
San Diego offers a wide range of accommodations and a wide range of price levels. If one doesn't mind splurging, there are a number luxury highrise hotels in Downtown and numerous beachside (and bayside) hotels and lavish resorts along the coast in Coronado, Ocean Beach, Point Loma (along the bayside), Mission Beach/Bay, Pacific Beach, and La Jolla.
There are also many vacation rentals/beach cottages available for the traveler, most of which can be found along the shores of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.
For travelers with a smaller budget, San Diego also has a few downtown hostels and many chain motels scattered across the city. A high concentration of the chain motels are located along Hotel Circle in Mission Valley.
|AAE Hostels & Hotel San Diego||500 W.Broadway Street||HOSTEL||69|
|Banana Bungalow San Diego||707 Reed Ave||Hostel||-|
|Hostelling International San Diego, Point Loma||3790 Udall St||HOSTEL||83|
|Hostelling International - San Diego Downtown||521 Market St CA 92101||Hostel||86|
|Lucky D's||615 8th Avenue||Hostel||82|
|Old Town Western Inn||3889 Arista Street||Hotel||-|
|San Diego's Ocean Beach International Hostel||4961 Newport Ave. CA 92107||Hostel||90|
|Quality Inn Sea World Zoo Area||445 HotelCircle South||HOTEL||-|
|USA Hostels San Diego||726 5th Avenue San Diego CA||Hostel||87|
|AAE Hostels San Diego Travel Inn||425 W Main St San Diego, CA US||Hotel||-|
|St. Christopher International Hostel Downtown||2420 India Street||Hostel||75|
|Vagabond Inn Hotel Circle||625 Hotel Circle South San Diego, CA 92108||Hotel||-|
|Marina Inn and Suites||1943 Pacific Highway San Diego, CA 92101||Hotel||-|
|Pacific Inn and Suites||1655 Pacific Highway, San Diego,CA||Hotel||-|
|Quality Inn Near Qualcomm Stadium San Diego||5399 Adobe Falls Road||Hostel||-|
|Rodeway Inn - Pacific Beach||4345 Mission Bay Dr||Hotel||-|
|Big 7 Motel||333 Broadway Chula Vista||Hotel||-|
|Point Loma Inn and Suites||2933 Fenelon St||Hotel||-|
|R.K.Hostel||642 W. Hawthorn St. San Diego, CA 92101||Hostel||-|
|Sun Harbor Motel San Diego/Airport||1510 Rosecrans Street San Diego||Hotel||-|
|Heritage Inn San Diego||3333 Channel Way San Diego CA 92110||Hotel||77|
|Rodeway Inn||5399 Adobe Falls Rd||Hotel||-|
|Pacifica Hotel||551 Fourth Avenue San Diego||Hotel||79|
|Super 8 Seaworld-Airport||3275 Rosecrans Street||Hotel||-|
|Traveler Inn & Suites San Diego South Bay||235 Woodlawn Ave Chula Vista||HOTEL||-|
|Days Inn San Diego Chula Vista South Bay||699 E Street Chula Vista||HOTEL||-|
|California Dreams Backpacker's Hostel||743 Emerald Street||HOSTEL||-|
|International Travelers House Adventure Hostel||1658 Front Street San Diego, CA||HOSTEL||-|
|Hostel on 3rd||542 3rd Avenue||HOSTEL||-|
|Harborview Inn & Suites San Diego Harbor||550 West Grape Street||Hotel||-|
|San Diego Downtown Lodge||1345 10th Ave||Hotel||-|
|RK/Buckner hostel||765 10th Avenue||HOSTEL||-|
|International Travelers House Zoo Hostel||3751 6th ave||HOSTEL||81|
|500 West Hotel||500 West Broadway||Hotel||-|
There is a very small internet bar/cafe culture in the USA. Even then most of the internet bars/cafes tend be located in major urban centers. Accessible WiFi networks, however, are common. The most generally useful WiFi spots are in coffee shops, fast-food chains, and bookshops, but also restaurants and hotels more and more have a network to connect on. Some of them might require you to buy something and you might need a password too, especially in hotels.
See also International Telephone Calls
The general emergency phone number is 911. The USA has a great landline phone system that is easy to use. The country code for the U.S. is +1. The rest of the telephone number consists of 10 digits: a 3-digit area code, and a 7-digit number. Any small grocery store or pharmacy has pre paid domestic or international phone cards. These phone cards are very cheap and offer good rates. The once ubiquitous pay phone is now much harder to find. Likely locations include in or near stores and restaurants, and near bus stops. The cellphone network in the states is slowly getting better but is still not as good when compared to other western countries. Cell phones tend to operate using different frequencies (850 MHz and 1900 MHz) from those used elsewhere in the world (2100 MHz). This used to prevent most foreign phones from working in America. Phones must be tri- or quad-band to work in the U.S. Fortunately, technology has meant that most phones should now be able to pick up one of the U.S. networks. Prepaid phones and top-up cards can be purchased at mobile phone boutiques and at many discount, electronics, office supply and convenience stores. A very basic handset with some credit can be had for under $40.
The US Postal Service is a very good and well priced mail system. There are post offices in every small and large town for sending packages internationally or domestically. Although some might keep longer hours, most are open at least between 9:00am and 5:00pm. If wanting to send a letter or postcard it is best just to leave it in a blue mail box with the proper postage. First-class international airmail postcards and letters (up 28.5 grams) cost $1.10. There are also private postal services like FedEx, UPS, TNT and DHL, which might be better value sometimes and are generally very quick and reliable too.
We have a comprehensive list of accommodation in San Diego searchable right here on Travellerspoint. You can use our map to quickly compare budget, mid-range or top of the range accommodation in San Diego and areas nearby.
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Ask Toponym a question about San Diego
I have lived in Southern California for most of my life (over 50 years). I currently work in San Diego County at a popular resort and have visited just about every popular tourist destination here. I have also camped and hiked and explored many lesser known areas of San Diego County.
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I've lived here since birth... I know all there is to know about holidays/festivals, great little restaurants, transit tips, etc.
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