Getting Around San Diego Without A Car
*Prices/rates listed are subject to change.
Public transportation in San Diego isn't easy, but there are other ways to get around.
If you plan to spend a lot of time in the Gaslamp District, East Village or Harbor areas, you can use various modes of transportation. If you really need to rent a car, save money and check out these car rental coupons from Fox Rent A Car
Walking is your best best downtown. Taxi's and pedicabs are easy to find. This not New York, so cab fares can eat at your wallet. A good three mile ride can cost (inc. tip) approximately $12-15.00. Parking can also be very expensive. That is to say, to San Diegans, the prices are too high. Most restaurants have valet services available but that, too, will set you back. If you don't mind paying, have a valet service park your car and have a great time. It would be a lot easier!
Beach Areas and Most Other Areas
Beach areas, inland areas, and generally, every other area is difficult to get to in a timely, convenient manner with Public Transportation. You would have a better time renting a car and having the freedom to roam and not have to face limited schedules.
San Diego Trolley
The red trolley is very helpful in getting to some good locations. It can get you to Old Town, to the outer boundaries of the downtown (Gaslamp and East Village) areas, Petco Park (Padres baseball), Tijuana, San Diego State University, Mission Valley and other less known communities. Schedules are frequent and it is a nice way to travel. The most it will cost one-way is $3.00. In the downtown area, you can get on and off the trolley as many times as you'd like in a 2 hour period. Tickets are purchased at Trolley Stations. It would be best to have cash with you when buying a ticket.
Day Passes/Compass Card
One-Day Tripper $5.00
(allows use for the rest of the day from time purchased)
Two-Day Tripper $9.00
(allows use on 2 consecutive days from date of purchase)
Three-Day Tripper $12.00
(allows use on 3 consecutive days from date of purchase)
Four-Day Tripper $15.00
(allows use on 4 consecutive days from date of purchase)
The bus service is San Diego can get you to some places but not all and it can present connection and schedule challenges. The other not-so hidden secret is that it is pricey for short trips at $2.25 per trip. You can have the option of buying a $5 Day Tripper Pass in case you want to ride to various places in one day. These passes can be purchased on board from one of the friendly bus drivers.
The Airport Flyer is a hidden secret. It can be grabbed at the airport and picks up and drops riders around the downtown area. Clean buses and frequent schedules make this a great option if you don't mind buses. These buses make a few stops along the harbor and then swing into the downtown area. San Diego Transit
Other Rail Links
The Coaster is a great way to take a ride up the coast. It is a commuter train and it stops at the beach cities. The schedule has limitations, unfortunately. This is a great way to do some "day-trips" without renting a car. The trains link communities and travelers from Oceanside to San Diego, with additional stops in Carlsbad, Encinitas, Solana Beach, Sorrento Valley and Old Town
Fares vary based on the distance traveled:
$4.00 - $5.50 for a one-way regular fare
$2.00 - $2.75 for Senior (60+)/Disabled/Medicare Recipient passengers
One child, under age 6, per adult can ride free.
Tickets and passes are available from ticket machines at each station; each ticket must be validated before boarding (validators are next to each ticket machine). More information:
North County Transit District - Coaster
The "Summer Nite" Coaster train is perfect for visitors headed to the San Diego County Fair, the Gaslamp Quarter, local beer and wine festivals, music performances downtown or in North County, the Big Bay Boom 4th of July Festival, or any of the other hundreds of events taking place this summer up and down the coast.
NCTD has added two late COASTER trips every night:
· Southbound leaves Oceanside at 10:30 p.m. and arrives at Santa Fe Depot at 11:34 p.m.
· Northbound leaves Santa Fe Depot at 11:45 p.m. and arrives in Oceanside at 12:45 a.m.
Great way to go!
Amtrak: (800) USA-RAIL
Amtrak provides service in and out of San Diego from 3 stations, Santa Fe (Downtown), Solana Beach and Oceanside (North County). Riding the train to and from San Diego from Los Angeles is a painless 2 hours. There is no traffic to contend with and you can even have a beer without fear of being pulled over by the Highway Patrol. Riding the train to San Diego is a great beginning to any day trip whether for business or pleasure.
Amtrak Santa Fe Station
Amtrak Solana Beach Station
Amtrak Oceanside Station
Weekend Convenience: Amtrak stops at the San Diego Old Town Station (near downtown San Diego) on weekends ONLY. Check with Amtrak for current arrival and departure times. Old Town has ample FREE parking and is an easier location than the historic Santa Fe Depot in downtown San Diego (just a couple of miles south of Old Town Station).
More Transportation Options:
Smart Cars (Mercedes-Benz makes them) are all electric marvels that are the newest transportation option available in San Diego. You have to sign-up for a membership, they check your driver's license (International Driver's License is valid), and then send you a special car card that lets you drive these 2-seaters. You drive, park, and leave the vehicle. You can choose to go round-trip or not.
For example, let's say you want to walk downtown but don't feel like walking back to your starting point. You can find an available Car2Go, hop in and ride back. It's that easy. You pay for the time that you are in possession of the car and best of all, insurance is included in the price of the rental.
Please be sure to look at the website and understand all the rules before you join the Car2Go club!
San Diego Harbor Excursions does a good job getting folks across the water. They provide water taxi service for $5.00 per person. The usual pick-up points for the taxi are the Coronado Ferry Landing and the 5th Avenue dock off of Seaport Village. Approx. $7.00 one-way
San Diego Ferry
The Ferry to Coronado is a great way to get to Coronado and enjoy walking around it. The Ferry can get you on the water inexpensively.
The Ferry takes 15 minutes to ride across the bay and frequent runs makes this something that you should try to fit into your schedule. This company also conducts regular 1 and 2 hour harbor tours. Boats run every 1 hour on the hour from San Diego and every hour on the half-hour from Coronado. At the bargain price of $7.00 roundtrip, you cannot lose. Catch the Bay Ferry at the foot of Broadway and the Harbor Drive.
Pedicabs are all over the downtown area. To get a ride, just hail a driver but generally, they will try to approach you and entice you to take a ride. Tours for 2 people cost in the $20-$55 range. One-person can get around for $3-$7 one way. Call: Original Bikecab Co. 619.595.0211 or San Diego Pedicab 619.237.1245
Segways are available in Coronado and Pacific Beach. Coronado is the best place to use the Segway, if you opt to try one. Coronado is less crowded and there is more room to roam.
Coronado Segway Coronado Bayside Tour-90 minutes/$59 per person & San Diego Bayside Tour-2.5 hours/$70 per person. For more information: 619.522.9011
Segway Pacific Beach $45 p/hr ($30 per additional hour and $150 for 24-hours) For more information: 858.270.2881
Sight-Seeing Bus Tours
Double Decker Bus - For those of you who prefer to sightsee while sitting down, then get aboard the red double-decker bus of City Sightseeing San Diego. They provide narrated tours with on/off privileges. Over a 48 hour period you can paint the town for $25; kids 4-12 have their parents pay $15.
Old Town Trolley Tours - Another popular tourist option is the rubber tire trolley of Old Town Trolley Tours. Again, fully narrated with designated stops (8). They operate from 9am-4pm. One adult day-pass is $30; children run $15.
PRICES SUBJECT TO CHANGE. BE SURE TO CHECK WITH OLD TOWN TROLLEY TOURS FOR CURRENT PRICES.