San Diego is often called “America’s Finest City,” and it isn’t difficult to see why. The eighth largest city in the United States offers heaps of attractions, culture and an undeniable cosmopolitan vibe, but you’d never guess its size by the emphatically laid-back feeling you get from this Southern California city, its people and of course its famously wonderful weather. With year-round temperatures in the 70s (21°C) and almost constant sunshine, there is no such thing as the wrong time to visit it and enjoy world-class museums, 5-star dining, internationally famous beaches and an unbeatable hospitality.
US Dollar, $1 = 100 cents
San Diego Reader
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Independent stores are usually open from 10h to 18h daily. Major malls and shopping centers stay open until 21h or longer.
1,419,516 (July 2017)
San Diego Visitor Information Center
996 N Harbor Dr.
San Diego, CA 92101
Phone: +1 (619) 737-2999
With an estimated population of a bit more than 1.4 million people, San Diego ranks as the second-largest city in California and the eighth-largest in the United States. The city is home to the nation's largest military community that together with a diversity of neighborhoods provide San Diego with a unique flavor.
The heart of San Diego is the historic Gaslamp Quarter where Victorian-style buildings and modern skyscrapers meet. Here, you will also find the city's coolest restaurants, theaters, art galleries, concert venues and fashion boutiques. Neighboring the Gaslamp Quarter is East Village, San Diego’s largest downtown community and home to PETCO Park, San Diego Padres' baseball stadium. It is also the center for luxury hotels, foodies and live music.
North of downtown is Old Town, which has preserved the city’s Spanish and Mexican heritage, where some of the its first houses can be seen. Adjacent to Old Town is Uptown, a pedestrian-friendly area that consists of North Park, University Heights, and Hillcrest. This area, particularly Hillcrest, serves as a center of the city’s gay and lesbian community.
Further west, between the airport and La Jolla, is the scenic coastal area, which encompasses beach communities such as Mission Beach and Pacific Beach, both famously popular with surfers and students. If you continue north, you will eventually reach a stunning piece of coastline that belongs to La Jolla, home to some of the most beautiful and safest beaches in Southern California. It is also where you will find one of the region’s most affluent communities and some of the best – and most expensive – dining.
Unlike the sprawling L.A., San Diego has the feel of a compact city, and it can be tempting to stay downtown. A lot of people, however, think of San Diego in terms of the whole county, which leaves a lot more to be explored.
The regional terrain is extraordinary in itself and varies from the Pacific coastline in the west to the Sonoran Desert in the east. Those who travel to the northeast will come across snow-capped mountains, while travelers who visit the south will find themselves just 15 minutes away from the Mexican border.
This impressive landscape variety makes the city a top spot for outdoor activities that include: hiking, surfing, biking and sailing. Plus, the long list of family-friendly attractions - LEGOLAND, the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, the New Children's Museum - proves that San Diego has something for everyone.
SeaWorld San Diego
San Diego Zoo
The Gaslamp Quarter
Cabrillo National Monument
Sunset Cliffs Natural Park
Old Point Loma Lighthouse
La Jolla Cove
San Diego Bay Waterfront
USS Midway Museum
Botanical Building and Lily Pond
Top Boat Tours in San Diego
Pacific Surf School
Torrey Pines Gliderport
Knott's Soak City USA
Torrey Pines Golf Course
Street food in San Diego is synonymous with fish tacos, and most locals couldn’t enjoy a Padres game without one. There are quite a few food trucks dedicated to them, but it doesn't stop there. The city offers too many exciting dining options to pass up. Little Italy is an obvious choice for contemporary Italian cuisine, while the Gaslamp Quarter continues to attract cutting-edge chefs who are eager to make a culinary statement. Feeling like some Mexican food? Try the Old Town area. To experience local drinking culture, make sure to also visit the wine-making district (the vineyards are located in the North County, just 45 minutes from downtown) and the abundant artisan breweries.
The Oceanaire Seafood Room
Las Cuatro Milpas
Island Prime & C Level
Bali Hai Restaurant
Tom Ham's Lighthouse
Aroma Thai Restaurant
Blue Wave Bar & Grill
Charles + Dinorah at The Pearl
Top of the Market
Whether you just want a regular black coffee or a signature espresso with a pastry to-go, San Diego knows how to please its coffee crowd. The city is known for its abundance of coffee houses and it has everything from simple and inexpensive cafés to well-established coffee chains, with some of the best and most loved places concentrated around Balboa Park.
Bread & Cie
San Diego’s nightlife suits a wide variety of tastes, and there is no shortage of hip hangouts. From the legendary jazz clubs to jet-set bars, many venues are just waiting to be discovered. During the summer, the night comes alive even further when the usual bars and clubs are complemented by tons of outdoor concerts, theater and cinema, and since you're in one of America’s best microbrewery scenes, why not taste some local beers? Just remember that the legal age to consume alcohol in the U.S. is 21, and under California state law, alcoholic beverages may only be sold until 2 a.m. (sales start again at 6 a.m. of the following day).
The Tipsy Crow
House of Blues San Diego
The Tower Bar
The Waterfront Bar & Grill
Craft and Commerce
ALTITUDE Sky Lounge
The Shout! House
San Diego is a great city for heart-warming retail therapy. The very accommodating climate provides the perfect backdrop for open-air shopping centers, and there is an endless variety of top quality malls, luxurious brands, and vintage shops to choose from. Hipsters are also very well served with many small designer boutiques, retro bookstores and record shops.
Westfield Horton Plaza
Ms Vintage Clothing
San Diego Old Town Market
Boomerang For Modern
San Diego Zoo Gift Shop
Bazaar del Mundo
South Coast Surf Shop
Coronado Ferry Landing
Africa and Beyond
San Diego International Airport (SAN)
San Diego International Airport (SAN), also known as Lindbergh Field, is located three miles northwest of Downtown San Diego. The Airport is served by I-5 with connections to State Route 163, I-8 and I-15.
Terminals 1 and 2 serve major airlines and are situated close to Transportation Plaza, where you can find all ground transportation including taxis and shuttle vans.
A taxi ride to the city center usually takes 10-15 minutes. If you prefer public transport, look for the red and blue-striped buses.
Address: 3225 North Harbor Drive - San Diego, CA
Phone: +1 619 400 2404
Passport / Visa
Citizens of the Schengen countries, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and the Kingdom of Brunei can visit the United States for up to 90 days without applying for a visa (as well as citizens of Andorra, Lichtenstein, Monaco and San Marino). Citizens of these countries must obtain an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) before traveling. All other travelers must obtain a visa before visiting the United States. International travelers need a passport that is valid for at least 3 months after the end of their intended trip in order to enter the country.
Best Time to Visit
Although the sun is known to always shine over the Golden State, the best times recommended to visit San Diego would be from March to May, and from September to October, when you can expect great weather and moderate rates. Watch out for the cloudy skies in May.
Summertime is always recommended for hot temperatures and countless events taking place around the city. However, hotel fares are more expensive. Be aware of the gray skies in June.
For best hotel rates, winter months are the best option. Even though the winter in San Diego is far from freezing, expect rain showers and water a tad too cold for swimming.
San Diego’s bright-orange trolleys are great for exploring the city and operate from about 5h - 24h, seven days a week. Fares are based on trip distance. San Diego Transit also provides local bus services throughout the county. Most buses have bike racks, making it easy to pedal around the city.
For most visitors, driving in Southern California is an adventure, but it can also be stressful. Make things easy on yourself by avoiding the freeway during the morning and afternoon rush hours (6h - 8h30 and 15h30 - 18h)
Downtown San Diego is pretty simple to navigate, and finding on-street parking can be easy. Just remember to feed your parking meters.
Taxis are easily available at shopping malls, hotels and the airport. Other options for lower fares are the rideshare companies Uber and Lyft. Any questions about the flat rate, call the following numbers:
Airport Yellow Cab of San Diego
Phone: +1 619 234 6161
Phone: +1 619 223 5555
San Diego Cab
Phone: +1 619 226 8294
You can buy stamps at many newsagents or at the post office. Official United States Postal Services (USPS) mailboxes are usually blue steel containers on city sidewalks. Many post offices or private mail companies like UPS or FedEx are open from 8h - 17h.
Address: 3911 Cleveland Avenue - San Diego, CA
Phone: +1 619 295 5091
In San Diego, many pharmacies are open 24 hours. Some are even drive-through. To locate a store near you, contact a national drugstore chain such as Rite Aid or CVS/pharmacy.
Phone: +1 800 748 3243
Phone: +1 800 746 7287
Country code: +1
619 - Southern half of San Diego metro, including downtown San Diego, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach, National City, Santee, La Mesa
858 - Northern half of San Diego metro, including La Jolla, Pacific Beach, Clairemont, Del Mar, Poway
442, 760 - Northern and western parts of San Diego, including Encinitas, Escondido, Oceanside, Ramona
US electrical power is 110V/60 cycles AC with two flat parallel prongs.