Relocating to San Diego – Plan Your Trip

What You Need to Know When You Visit San Diego

Are you planning a visit to San Diego? You’re going to love it. Are you already here? Welcome!

Maybe you’re shopping for a house in North Park or a condo in Little Italy. Or a rental in Coronado. San Diego’s a beautiful place to live and visit that’s full of friendly people — and their dogs. It’s really a magnificent experience (especially coming from colder climates) to step through those airport doors into a luminous afternoon, palm trees swaying in the breeze… The California dream lives on.

If it’s your first visit to San Diego, you’ll want to know how to get around. And you’ll need a couple lodging options. You might want to know how to take public transportation from the airport to downtown, the fact that jaywalking tickets are real here, and where to find a good gym with a day pass option. Read on!


To get from the airport to downtown San Diego on public transportation, take bus 992. It will cost you $2.25 for a one-way trip (Metropolitan Transit System doesn’t provide transfers). It’s a short ride that follows the water on its way to the center of town.

You can also take a taxi or shuttle. For taxis  and shuttles, go to the airport Transportation Plaza. Follow either of those airport hyperlinks for information about rental cars and bicycling as well.


Hostels. There’s at least one hostel in most San Diego neighborhoods. In downtown, the Gaslamp Quarter has a few. Lucky D’s is one. It’s near the intersection of Market and 8th Avenue. Amenities include common rooms, television, wifi and computers, kitchen (with free cooked meals almost every day of the week) and dining area, laundry room with ironing board and iron. You can get a private or shared room. The visitors are mostly international but staff will make exceptions. One caveat: Spring Breakers head to this Quarter around March, and stay up late. Lucky’s is directly above a club. And there’s no curfew. Plan accordingly.

If you’re looking for a quieter hostel experience outside downtown, look to Pacific Beach’s

Beach Bungalow (formerly Banana Bungalow). “PB” is known as a destination for surfers, students, young people, and the adventurous-minded. The Bungalow hosts parties nightly; tours to Tijuana, Mexico; free meals, and free entry at bars in PB. They also provide boogie boards and other beach gear (frisbees, volleyballs, etc.).

Hotels. If hostels are more adventure than you’re looking for, San Diego’s hotels will suit you. Downtown, the W Hotel is centrally located at 4th and West B Street. It’s elegant, spacious and intimate (with a small, heated, outdoor pool), and — best of all — a rooftop bar. The bar has private cabanas, open-air seating, a bonfire sculpture (the flames are real), and of course an amazing view.

Pacific Beach also has 4-diamond lodgings: the Pacific Terrace Hotel. It’s rooms overlook the PB boardwalk and have ocean views. Like the W Hotel downtown, it also has a heated pool. Pacific Terrace is in a line of hotels along the beach that range from those catering to the party crowd to those like Pacific Terrace. It’s between a condominium high rise and another, much smaller, hotel. There are plenty of long-term renters and homeowners in the area — they really comprise the majority. So, while PB has a reputation for a little craziness, it has a calmer side too.

If you’re the really adventurous type, you could even explore couchsurfing options. People on build profiles, gain credibility and trust, and both share their couches with travelers and use others’ couches when traveling. It isn’t for everyone but a good solution for some.


San Diego has enough travel options that it’s unnecessary to bring a vehicle. For example, public transportation serves all the major areas and costs only $2.25 per ride locally. You can buy an MTS Compass card for $5.00 and then load that card with $5.00 (at a kiosk or on a bus) for unlimited rides all day. You can buy one at the Transit store downtown or at kiosks throughout the city.

Have a lot of energy? If you’re near a beach community like Pacific Beach, Ocean Beach, or Coronado, rent a bike from a local business. They have great rates and are really friendly. DecoBikes is another bike rental option. They’re relatively new to town, having established locations in coastal Florida cities. Just use a credit card to unlock a bike from a station (or become a member) then return the bike to any station by a certain time. My vote? Support the community and rent locally when possible.

If you want to drive, try car2go or Zipcar. Both are used often for short-term car rentals. With car2go, just pick up a car wherever one is parked (use an app, the website, or call the company), then when you’re finished just park it anywhere in the city! A caveat: don’t lose the key; it’s a $400.00 charge.

Want to get a workout in while you’re in town? Most hotels have fitness facilities but San Diego’s an active town, so there are a lot of additional options. Aside from a jog around Balboa Park or pick-up volleyball game at the beach, you could try these: South Park Fitness offers $10.00 day passes (good for workouts and classes). SP Fitness is the best kind of local gym — if you stick around, everybody will know your name. Fit Athletic, downtown, which markets itself as a lifestyle brand, offers free day passes and many classes.

You might discover that the beach is more your speed. Head over to Surfari Surf School in Mission Beach for lessons. An alternative (among many) is Surf Diva Surf School just up the beach in La Jolla.

Oh right, jaywalking. Yes, police here ticket for jaywalking, even when people cross together. If the red hand stops flashing, wait. A few intersections are malfunctioning lately, so the white hand never appears. You’re best off walking to the next intersection if possible.

Stay safe and enjoy your visit!

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