The San Diego International Airport
(SAN), also known as Lindbergh Field, is conveniently located on the edge of Downtown and is the easiest way into the area. Though it only has one runway, the airport handles nearly 600 arrival and departure flights a day. American, Delta, Jet Blue and Southwest are four of the 24 airlines that get you to and from San Diego. Taxis, car rentals, buses and hotel shuttles are all readily available outside the airport baggage claim. If your hotel doesn’t provide transportation in San Diego, the Cloud 9 SuperShuttle
is a great option—a ride from the airport to Downtown on the shuttle costs $13, while a taxi would be closer to $20.
’s Pacific Surfliner offers 12 round trips daily between San Diego, Los Angeles and farther up the coast. The Downtown San Diego Station is staffed from 5:15AM to 10:30PM; there are paid parking lots near, but not at, the station. The Pacific Surfliner train travels from San Diego to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo, so it’s perfect if you’re coming in from the California mid-coast or if you’d like to take a mini-trip within your trip. Tickets can be purchased on the Web, at the station, or even on the train. Taxis and the Cloud 9 SuperShuttle all serve the station, and rental car depots are not far down the road.
Around town, the Metropolitan Transit System
’s Trolley operates on three lines across 51 miles and 53 stations, with special service for Padres and Chargers games. It’s a great way to travel throughout Downtown and out to Old Town, Mission Valley and the international border. Tickets can be purchased on site at any of the ticket kiosks in a one-way or day-pass rate. Day passes (about $5) are valid on any MTS Trolley or Bus, and one-way tickets (around $2.50) are valid only for the trolley two hours from the time of purchase. Transfers between trolleys on one ticket are allowed to complete your trip. Be sure to hold on to your ticket as trolley officials and San Diego police make frequent checks en route.
The Metropolitan Transit System
(MTS) operates 100 fixed bus routes throughout all of San Diego, including North County. While not always the most efficient way to navigate San Diego's transportation system, it certainly is convenient and inexpensive. Exact change is required to purchase fare on the bus, and the easiest option is to purchase a $5 day pass that encompasses the trolley and bus system. The San Diego Association of Governments offers a handy trip planner website in English and Spanish to get you from point A to point B using bus, trolley and walking combinations. www.sdcommute.com
Multiple companies offer taxi service throughout the city and it’s great for short journeys and after-hour rides back to the hotel. All charge standard metered fares, about $2.20 for the first 1/10 mile and $2.30 each additional mile. Cash is always best, but most taxis accept credit cards, as well. Cabs are easily hailed Downtown and are always available outside bars and nightclubs, and by phone, and, these days, some cabs can even be ordered via text message. www.orangecabsandiego.com
San Diego is a big, spread-out city, and car is by far the best way to get around. Be sure to study your map before heading on a San Diego transportation adventure, as major streets have multiple lanes, some of which end suddenly in turn lanes. Neighborhoods are generally connected by San Diego’s ample highway system. For a big city, traffic is blessedly light any time other than rush hours, generally between 7AM-9AM and 4PM-7PM. Parking can be expensive Downtown, with street meters active between 8AM and 6PM, and many parking lot options offering spaces for anywhere from $5 to $20 depending on the time and day of the week. Elsewhere, street parking is the way to go.
The Coronado Ferry
operates every hour every day from 9AM to 9PM (10PM on Friday and Saturday) between Broadway pier in Downtown, Coronado Ferry Landing on the island, and the 5th Avenue Landing behind the San Diego Convention Center. The trip takes about 15 minutes, costs $3.75 each way and offers an unforgettable view of the Downtown skyline.