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San Diego

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Travel Guide North America USA Western United States California Southern California San Diego

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Introduction

Museum Of Man,San Diego

Museum Of Man,San Diego

© All Rights Reserved -reece-

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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Neighbourhoods

  • Downtown - located near the ocean, also includes the Embarcadero and the Gaslamp Quarter
  • Balboa Park-Hillcrest - Balboa Park, Botanical Gardens, San Diego Zoo
  • Old Town-Mission Valley - Old town ambiance and some good restaurants
  • Point Loma-Ocean Beach
  • Mission Beach-Pacific Beach
  • La Jolla - The charming seaside town of La Jolla has lots to offer. The town is expensive and filled with stunning mansions. Shopping malls and dining restaurants are situated along Prospect Street. Stroll along Coast Boulevard for the most scenic views and stop at La Jolla Cove to look at the colony of seals that has made it their home.
  • Mid-City
  • Northeastern
  • San Ysidro

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Sights and Activities

Balboa Park

Balboa Park - Balboa Park is America’s largest urban cultural park. It contains a large number of museums, performing arts venues, gardens and horticultural institutions and attractions (including the famous San Diego Zoo). There's something for everyone at Balboa Park.

Some highlights in the park include

  • Mingei International Museum
  • Reuben H Fleet Science Center
  • San Diego Natural History Museum
  • The Old Globe Theater
  • San Diego Zoo
  • United Nations Building
  • Japanese Friendship Garden
  • Botanical Building with Lily Pond

There is so much to see and do here that you could easily spend your entire visit to the city just at Balboa Park. Address: 1549 El Prado, Phone: (619) 239-0512, Hours: Grounds are open 24 hours a day. Individual attractions have their own operating hours.

San Diego Zoo

San Diego Zoo - The world-famous San Diego Zoo is divided into two parks; one located in Balboa Park is a traditional Zoo, and the other is a Wild Animal Park located north of the city. Expect to spend a full day exploring the zoo. The entire San Diego zoo accommodates more than 4,000 creatures ranging from giant pandas, kangaroos, and gorillas all housed in natural environments. Address: 2920 Zoo Drive, Phone: (619) 231-1515, Hours: Open from 9am, every day of the year. Closing hours vary between 5pm and 9pm depending on the time of the year., Price: Adults: $42. Children: $32 (aged 3-11).

Cabrillo National Monument

Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

Statue of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo

© All Rights Reserved NuMexiKan

Cabrillo National Monument - The Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo at San Diego Bay on 28 September 1542 - the first time that a European expedition had set foot on what is currently the west coast of the United States. Located at a park at the southern tip of the Point Loma Peninsula in San Diego, California, the monument is a 14-foot-tall sandstone sculpture of Cabrillo donated by the Portuguese Government in 1939. There is a very nice view of the city from the monument.

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: 9am to 5pm daily (entrance closes at 4.30 pm.) Closed on Christmas., Price: $5 per vehicle. Walk-ins, cyclists and motorcyclists pay $3 per person.

Hotel del Coronado

Coronado Island - Hotel Del Coronado

Coronado Island - Hotel Del Coronado

© All Rights Reserved jcsc

Hotel del Coronado - The Hotel del Coronado is located in the southern part of San Diego, just across the bay on the island of Coronado. It is one of the few surviving examples of a wooden Victorian beach resort, a typical American architectural type and is also one of the oldest and largest all-wooden buildings in California. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, after being open since 1888. During that time it was the largest hotel in the world and the first one to use electrical lighting. It also has its own ghost: a woman that killed herself in 1890, after her husband left with 20,000 dollars they won and she now waits for her love to return. Also take a leisurely walk along Coronado Beach and enjoy the sunset. Address: 1500 Orange Ave, Coronado, Phone: 800-468-3533

Other Sights and Activities

  • Sea World is home to the famous killer whale named Shamu and several other stunning marine animals. Watch the acrobatic skills of Shamu and her buddies. There are various exciting and spine-tingling rides too like Journey to Atlantis, Shipwreck Rapids, and many more. Located at 500 Sea World Drive. Phone: (619) 226-3900.
  • If you are a history lover then head to Old Town. This is considered the birthplace of California and was the site of the state's first permanent Spanish settlement. It is now home to a selection of historic buildings and a lot of Mexican restaurants and shops. It may feel a little gimmicky at times, but it is a fun outing and an enjoyable part of the city. Great place to have some lunch while enjoying the mariachi players strumming the sounds of Mexican music.
  • Belmont Park - Check out Belmont Park, an amusement park at the Mission Beach boardwalk. It features two major landmarks: the Plunge and the Giant Dipper.
  • Birch Aquarium at Scripps - Attached to the highly respected Scripps Institution of Oceanography, this aquarium has an abundance of great sealife to admire. Exhibits include the Hall of Fishes, Shark Reef, a 70,000 gallon kelp forest tank, Tide Pool Plaza and more. Over 380 species can be seen at the aquarium. Address: 2300 Expedition Way, La Jolla, Phone: (858) 534-3474, Hours: 9am - 5pm daily, Price: Adult: $14. Child (3-17): $9.50. Under 3: Free.
  • Roam around the Embarcadero, home to watercrafts, aircraft carrier, Seaport village, and a maritime-themed shopping area.
  • Enjoy San Diego nightlife at The Gaslamp Quarter. It is lively and always buzzing. Enjoy live music after dinner at restaurants which are mainly housed within restored Victorian commercial buildings.

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Events and Festivals

  • Cinco de Mayo (05 May 2014) - A celebration of Mexican heritage. There are lots of activities across the city, but the epicentre is in old town where a fiesta takes place over several days.

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Weather

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.

JanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDec
Avg Max18.8 °C19.2 °C19.1 °C20.2 °C20.6 °C22 °C24.6 °C25.4 °C25.1 °C23.7 °C21.1 °C18.9 °C
Avg Min9.4 °C10.4 °C11.6 °C13.1 °C15.1 °C16.6 °C18.7 °C19.6 °C18.7 °C16.1 °C12.2 °C9.3 °C
Rainfall45.7 mm38.9 mm45 mm20.1 mm4.8 mm1.8 mm0.5 mm2.5 mm6.1 mm9.4 mm36.8 mm39.9 mm
Rain Days4.74.45.22.81.10.30.10.20.91.43.84.5

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Getting There

By Plane

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.

If you are planning on flying to destinations in Mexico, it might be a good idea to check the Tijuana article.

By Train

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.

By Car

3 main Interstates start in or near San Diego. The I-5 runs north through California and Oregon and Washington, the I-8 runs east towards Arizona and the I-15 goes northeast towards Nevada.

By Bus

Greyhound has buses to other places in California. LuxBus serves Anaheim, Los Angeles and Las Vegas.

By Boat

Check the Port of San Diego for options of organized trips or cruises. There is no regular passenger service.

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Getting Around

By Car

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.

By Public Transport

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:

  • The Blue Line travels from the US-Mexico border at San Ysidro and runs to Old Town, via Chula Vista, National City, and Downtown.
  • The Green Line goes from Old Town east towards Santee, via Mission Valley and San Diego State University
  • The Orange Line connects El Cajon and La Mesa cities with Downtown San Diego.

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.

By Foot

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.

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Sleep

Budget

PropertyAddressTypePopularity
AAE Hostels & Hotel San Diego500 W.Broadway StreetHOSTEL76
Banana Bungalow San Diego707 Reed AveHostel83
Hostelling International San Diego, Point Loma3790 Udall StHOSTEL88
Hostelling International - San Diego Downtown521 Market St CA 92101Hostel86
Lucky D's615 8th AvenueHostel81
Old Town Western Inn3889 Arista StreetHotel83
San Diego's Ocean Beach International Hostel4961 Newport Ave. CA 92107Hostel85
Quality Inn Sea World Zoo Area445 HotelCircle SouthHOTEL-
USA Hostels San Diego726 5th Avenue San Diego CAHostel88
AAE Hostels San Diego Travel Inn425 W Main St San Diego, CA USHotel76
St. Christopher International Hostel Downtown2420 India StreetHostel80
Vagabond Inn Hotel Circle625 Hotel Circle South San Diego, CA 92108Hotel-
Marina Inn and Suites1943 Pacific Highway San Diego, CA 92101Hotel-
Pacific Inn and Suites1655 Pacific Highway, San Diego,CAHotel-
Quality Inn Near Qualcomm Stadium San Diego5399 Adobe Falls RoadHostel-
Rodeway Inn - Pacific Beach4345 Mission Bay DrHotel-
Big 7 Motel333 Broadway Chula VistaHotel-
Point Loma Inn and Suites2933 Fenelon StHotel-
R.K.Hostel642 W. Hawthorn St. San Diego, CA 92101Hostel79
Sun Harbor Motel San Diego/Airport1510 Rosecrans Street San DiegoHotel-
Heritage Inn San Diego3333 Channel Way San Diego CA 92110Hotel79
Rodeway Inn5399 Adobe Falls RdHotel-
Pacifica Hotel551 Fourth Avenue San DiegoHotel80
Super 8 Seaworld-Airport3275 Rosecrans StreetHotel-
Traveler Inn & Suites San Diego South Bay235 Woodlawn Ave Chula VistaHOTEL-
Days Inn San Diego Chula Vista South Bay699 E Street Chula VistaHOTEL-
California Dreams Backpacker's Hostel743 Emerald StreetHOSTEL-
International Travelers House Adventure Hostel1658 Front Street San Diego, CAHOSTEL-
Hostel on 3rd542 3rd AvenueHOSTEL-
Harborview Inn & Suites San Diego Harbor550 West Grape StreetHotel-
San Diego Downtown Lodge1345 10th AveHotel-
RK/Buckner hostel765 10th AvenueHOSTEL81
International Travelers House Zoo Hostel3751 6th aveHOSTEL-
500 West Hotel500 West BroadwayHotel-

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Keep Connected

Internet

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.

Phone

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.

Post

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.

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Quick Facts

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Coordinates
  • Latitude: 32.718834
  • Longitude: -117.163841

Contributors

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San Diego Travel Helpers

  • Toponym

    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.

    Ask Toponym a question about San Diego
  • kikichi619

    I've lived here since birth... I know all there is to know about holidays/festivals, great little restaurants, transit tips, etc.

    Ask kikichi619 a question about San Diego

This is version 40. Last edited at 12:50 on Jul 11, 13 by Utrecht. 32 articles link to this page.

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