San Diego Flights and Travel Guide

San Diego

General Information

San Diego



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San Diego - Introduction

San Diego is California’s second largest city. It is positioned on the coast of the Pacific Ocean and mostly built on top of mesas that tower above deep canyons and hills, giving the city a low-density feel.

San Diego has a mild climate without extremes ranges of temperature and the city offers many opportunities to enjoy the great outdoors. There are several places to enjoy surfing, diving, boating, hiking and biking, from the miles of beaches and promenades, to the footpaths of Balboa Park.

Some of the city’s most prominent landmarks are the San Diego Zoo, renowned for being one of the world’s most progressive zoos, and Balboa Park that boasts over 15 museums and cultural venues, as well as nature trails and serene gardens. The Downtown hosts several art events and festivals, such as the colorful Mardi Gras, the music festival of Street Scene, and the art fair ArtWalk.
The nearby Coronado Island is home to the Silver Strand Beach, one of the finest beaches in the US, and to the famous Hotel del Coronado. This iconic building is a byword for Old World elegance and has attracted celebrities and crowned heads throughout its history.

San Diego is also a popular family destination. There are various attractions to please the kids, from the aquatic theme park SeaWorld to the famous San Diego Zoo.

Next: San Diego Climate »

San Diego - Climate

San Diego is blessed with mild weather throughout the year. Summers are dry and warm and winters mild. There is little temperature variation between the seasons. Rainfall is rare and most annual precipitation falls between November and March. May and June are prone to fog, resulting in the coastal fog nick-named May Gray and June Gloom.

January average temperature 13 deg Celsius 56 mm rainfall
February average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 41 mm rainfall
March average temperature 15 deg Celsius, 48 mm rainfall
April average temperature 16 deg Celsius, 20 mm rainfall
May average temperature 17 deg Celsius, 5 mm rainfall
June average temperature 19 deg Celsius, 3 mm rainfall
July average temperature 21 deg Celsius, 0 mm rainfall
August average temperature 22 deg Celsius, 3 mm rainfall
September average temperature 21 deg Celsius, 5 mm rainfall
October average temperature 19 deg Celsius, 10 mm rainfall
November average temperature 16 deg Celsius, 28 mm rainfall
December average temperature 14 deg Celsius, 36 mm rainfall

Next: San Diego Getting There »

San Diego - Getting There


San Diego is served by San Diego International Airport (SAN), located just 10 minutes from downtown. It mostly handles flights within the US and there are only limited international flights to Mexico and Canada.


Various Airport shuttle companies handle transportation to and from the airport and cost around $15 per person.
Metro bus 992 travels to the Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego, where it connects to the Coaster commuter train, the Trolley, and Amtrak.


Getting Around


MTS (Metropolitan Transit System) serves most of the county although some areas are not well attended.
The majority of areas useful to tourists are served well and run approximately every 15 minutes.


The trolley system connects the southern and eastern parts of the city with downtown. There are three lines: blue, green, and orange. Services operate between 5:00 am and midnight daily.


San Diego is a large, sprawling city, and a car is the most efficient way of getting around. The city roads are mostly on a grid and therefore easy to navigate.
Parking is metered in the downtown and beach areas.


Cycling is the ideal way of exploring San Diego’s beach communities. There are many bike hire shops, and the city is equipped with bike lanes. The Coronado Ferry and some bus and trolley routes allow free bike transport.


The water taxis and Coronado Ferry offer transportation to the nearby Coronado Island but it is also connected to the mainland via a bridge.

Next: San Diego Activities »

San Diego - Activities


San Diego’s coast sparkles with miles of sandy beaches ideal for swimming and surfing.
Some great beaches to explore: Imperial Beach located south of San Diego, Coronado Island’s award-winning Silver Strand State Beach, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, and Torrey Pines State Beach and Park. There are even more beaches further up the coast in North San Diego County.



San Diego’s position along the ocean makes it a perfect spot to enjoy all the usual water sports.


San Diego is all about surfing. There are miles of excellent beaches in close vicinity, and there are many devotees of this sport.
Visitors can easily rent equipment from hire shops at all popular San Diego beaches. Instruction is also available at several licensed venues.
Surf shops selling and hiring all the latest gear and accessories can be found on Mission Blvd.

Sailing & Boating

Mission Bay and San Diego Bay are perfect spots for sailing, boating and windsurfing.
There are several marinas located at Point Loma, Downtown, Coronado and Chula Vista, to name a few.


During February the annual grey whale migration passes by the California coast. There are several places on shore to watch this natural phenomenon, such as Point Loma. For a nautical vantage point, private companies organize sailing trips to watch the whales from close vicinity.


The San Diego coastline is a haven for scuba diving. The best is La Jolla Cove and La Jolla Shores, where Leopard Sharks are to be found.
Other diving sites in the area include Pipes, San Elijo State Beach, HMCS Yukon and Ruby E.
Coronado Island and sites off the Mexican coast are served by diving tour operators and offer diving amongst sea lions.


San Diego has several great areas to be explored by kayak: Mission Bay, Sunset Beach, Kearny Mesa, Oceanside and La Jolla.
Along the La Jolla Shores are the famed Seven Caves and the potential to encounter leopard sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions and pelicans.



The climate in San Diego is ideal for outdoor activities. There are tons of biking, hiking and walking trails and plenty of climbing routes. Some of the areas available for exploration are Hot Springs Mountain near Warner Springs, Mission Gorge in Mission Trails Regional Park, Sweetwater Regional Park and Agua Caliente, located within the Anza Borrego Desert State Park.



Sunny San Diego is an increasingly popular golfing destination and any number of public and private courses can be found to suit almost any budget.
The most famous are the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla and the La Costa Golf Resort & Spa but there are plenty of other links to choose from.

Torrrey Pines Golf Course


This world-renowned golf course has stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and is home of the Buick Invitational PGA TOUR event.

Next: San Diego Attractions »

San Diego - Attractions

Balboa Park

Address: 1549 El Prado

Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the US. It contains a range of different cultural experiences and outdoor spaces, including 15 major museums, housed in splendid Spanish-Mexican mansions, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens and the San Diego Zoo.
The park holds an array of events; its cultural calendar is filled with museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts, and classes.
The Spanish Village Art Centre recreates an ancient village setting where visitors can observe the craftsmen at their work, albeit sculpting, painting, glassblowing and making pottery.
The park is also a popular sporting area including golf courses, hiking trails and cycling routes.


San Diego Zoo

Address: 2920 Zoo Drive, Balboa Park

One of the city’s top attractions, the San Diego Zoo, has a reputation as one of the world’s most progressive wildlife reserves. It is home to over 4,000 animals belonging to 800 species, most of which dwell in simulated natural habitats.
The Zoo is extremely active in conservation and species-preservation efforts. Most notable is their success at breeding endangered species in captivity that can be returned to the wild.
The 40 hectare park can either be explored on foot, or cruised in trams, buses and even hot air balloons.



Address: 500 SeaWorld Drive, Mission Bay

SeaWorld is an animal theme park, an oceanarium and marine mammal park, located on the shores of Mission Bay. It was founded in 1964 and is one of San Diego’s best known landmarks. It is famous as the home of Shamu the Orca, or killer, whale. The park is an important conservation and rehabilitation center for animals as well as a marine entertainment park, popular with families with children.



The downtown is lively and full of high end commerce, hip eateries and a happening nightlife.
The compact center can be easily navigated on foot. It includes the business district, the older Gaslamp quarter, and the waterfront Embarcadero.
The Gaslamp district is a historic neighborhood where visitors can stroll among old iron-wrought street lamps and antique shops. The area also offers lots of trendy cafés, bars, art galleries and stores.
The best time to visit is during summer evenings, when the district is full of people sitting in outdoor bars and hopping between clubs.

The art scene is very much alive in and around downtown. The Gaslamp District is also the site of the annual San Diego Street Scene music festival that brings a variety of acts to several stages throughout the town. Little Italy hosts the annual ArtWalk festival, during which artists open their studios to passers by.


Coronado Island


Coronado Island is located just 3 km from downtown San Diego. It can be accessed by car via the imposing Coronado Bay Bridge or by ferry, which runs from San Diego’s Broadway Pier.
In reality Coronado is a peninsula connected to the mainland by a narrow isthmus measuring 16 km and aptly named Silver Strand Beach.

Coronado is feted for its beautiful beaches, warm, sunny climate and laid-back atmosphere. It had already become a major resort destination in 1888 when the local landmark, Hotel del Coronado was built to host, among other dignitaries, celebrities, kings and sheiks.

Today two additional major resorts, Coronado Island Marriott and Loews Coronado Bay Resort, as well as several other smaller hotels and inns, have sprung up on the small but sought after piece of prime real estate.
The Coronado Beach is considered Southern California’s best beach. It is several hundred meters wide, is surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and glitters with fine, sparkling sand. Restaurants, shops and theaters line the Coronado streets to add further luxury to this haven of the well-to-do.


Next: San Diego Events »

San Diego - Events


Location: Gaslamp Quarter
Date: last day before Lent; annual

Annual open air celebrations in the Gaslamps quarter celebrated annually on the last day before Lent. It is a lively block party dotted with many stages for live music. The mainstays of Mardi Gras are dancing, Cajun food, and colorful costumes and everywhere there are the predominant three colors: purple for justice, green for faith and gold for power.
The definitive highlight of the festival is the Masquerade Parade complete with music, dancers, and colorful floats, and lots and lots of beads thrown in the air.



Location: Gaslamp quarter, downtown
Date: August

The two-day Street Scene is Southern California’s premier music festival, attracting concert-goers of all ages and shows an amazing line-up of over 40 bands and entertainers, ranging from Hip Hop to Indie Rock and from Electronic to Acid Jazz.
The festival has a 25 year tradition of shaping the cultural calendar of San Diego.



Location: Little Italy, near downtown San Diego
Date: last weekend in April

The region’s largest outdoor art festival, Artwalk showcases works by more than 350 artists and attracts 100,000 visitors each year. The two-day festival provides access to hundreds of artists as well as interactive art activities for the kids.



Location: Japanese Friendship Garden, San Diego
Date: March 19

San Diego’s spring is ushered in with a celebration at the largest cherry tree grove in the Japanese Friendship Garden in the beautiful Balboa Park. The festival offers delicious Japanese food, arts and crafts, unique gifts, entertainment, cultural demonstrations and the crowning of a new ‘Little Miss Sakura.’



Location: Torrey Pines Golf Course
Date: June 14 - 20

The United States Open Championship, known simply as the US Open, is the annual open golf tournament and the second of the four major championships in men's golf in the country.


Next: San Diego Etiquette »

San Diego - Etiquette

Tipping: tipping is widely used and expected everywhere in the United States and is an important social convention in the USA.

An appropriate tip is between 15 & 20% for good service, more for exceptional service or less for poor service. Leaving no tip means that you found the service horrible.

As a general rule, tips are as follows:
Bartenders: $1 per drink if inexpensive or 15% of total
Hotel doorman: $1 per bag (if they assist), $1 for calling a cab
Food delivery: $2-5, 15-20% for larger orders
A tip of 10-20% is expected in both yellow taxis and livery cabs
Full-service restaurants: 15-20% (some restaurants already include service charge, especially for larger groups, so check the bill)

Smoking in public places is highly restricted. It is banned in the indoor sections of restaurants and bars, as well as train and subway stations, outdoor stadiums, and many other places. The outside areas of sidewalk cafes and restaurants are usually exempt from this rule.


Next: San Diego Safety »

San Diego - Safety

San Diego is one of California’s safest cities. Violent crime is rare, but petty crime still exists. Use sensible travelers’ precautions as in any large city.

Thefts occur on the beaches. Do not leave any valuables on the beach or in the car.
Many sports equipment rental shops offer safety boxes.

Remain vigilant in certain areas. Do not wander around alone and in dark alleys, especially downtown and around Coronado Bridge.

Beach Safety:
Sudden strong rip currents occur so swimming is not recommended without lifeguard supervision and especially at night. Most major beaches have lifeguards during the summer but only a few popular beaches have them on duty all year round.
Check the weather and other notices to learn if the water is safe for swimming. After rainfall, most people keep away from the beaches for 24 to 72 hours due to a rise in bacteria and chemicals washed out from the drains.

Travel within the USA is generally safe but visitors are nevertheless advised to practice general precautions. Valuables should be left in a hotel safe. Expensive jewelry and watches should be kept out of sight. Avoid pickpockets and purse-snatchers by carrying purses across the shoulder and wallets in front pockets. Valuables should not be left in cars, especially those parked in the street. If necessary, leave anything loose in the trunk.

Due to the threat of terrorism, security checks at airports have been much increased. Allow enough time for connecting flights.
Medical facilities are excellent but very expensive. It is essential to secure good travel insurance before travel. Note that only emergencies are treated without prior payment. Treatment can be refused without evidence of insurance or proof of funds.

Emergency Phone Numbers

Emergency: 911

San Diego non-emergency number: (619) 531-2000


Next: San Diego When To Go »

San Diego - When To Go

San Diego has a sunny mild climate around the year. Each season has something in store. Spring (Feb-March) boasts a green landscape and blooming flowers, but the sea is not yet warm enough to swim. Early summers are known for May Gray and June Gloom, a layer of low-lying clouds or fog along the coast. Summers are very busy and hotels and beaches are usually packed. Autumns are pleasantly warm during the day and cooler at night.

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