Travel by Trolley, Coaster (coastal train) or bus with fares ranging from $1.25 to $3 each way depending on how you travel and where you are going. The Coronado Ferry runs every hour on the hour between Coronado and downtown, costing just a couple of dollars. Water taxis also operate on the San Diego Bay for around $8 per person per trip.
If you're willing to tackle the heavy traffic of downtown and the challenge of finding a parking spot, one option is to rent your own car. It gives you the flexibility to explore the city and discover well-kept secrets beyond the city limits. All major car rental companies have a base in San Diego, although shop around at the independents for a lower price.
San Diego is a large city, with many neighbourhoods dotted along the coast. If you don't want to make use of the many public transport options available, your best bet is to jump in a taxi. It's easy to hail a cab downtown but outside of the main tourist areas you might need to call ahead.
San Diego, like Los Angeles, is a difficult city to navigate on foot or bike unless you stick to exploring just one area. There are however some great places for strolling and cycling, such as the boardwalk along Mission Bay, the nature trails of Balboa Park and the waterfront downtown. There are dozens of places to hire bikes in the CBD and even the airport.
It is claimed that San Diego has the best weather in the United States. The city has almost year-round sunshine, with a balmy average temperature of around 22°C. Even in winter the thermostat barely drops below 16°C. In May and June, sea fog can roll across the beaches and make them less appealing to sunbathers and surfers.
Tipping is essential in the US. You're expected to tip between 15-25% for almost any service, so keep plenty of $1 bills in your wallet. Tip taxi drivers about 10-20%, porters around a dollar a bag and bar staff a dollar a drink. Remember to check your bill to see if you've already been charged service.
Australian and New Zealand citizens who hold biometric (scannable) passports must apply online for an Electronic System for Travel Authorisation (ESTA) at least 72 hours prior to their flight. All other passport holders need to apply and pay for a visa from a US embassy. Tourists are issued with a 90-day visa provided they have proof of departure.
Don't make the mistake of thinking the price on the tag is what you'll pay. State tax is added at the till. In California the tax rate is 8.5%. In a restaurant you'll then have to add service on top (15-25%). A good way of figuring out how much to tip is to double the tax on your receipt and round up.
Take one of five daily flights from Sydney to LA with Qantas or Virgin Australia. Take a 45-minute connecting flight for a total time of just under 14 hours.
Flying from Perth to San Diego will mean stopovers in either Brisbane or Sydney, and either Los Angeles or San Francisco. Get there with Qantas in around 17 hours.
Fly via LA or San Francisco with Virgin and Qantas on one of several daily flights out of Melbourne. Get there in less than 15 hours total flight time.
There are no direct flights from Australia or New Zealand to San Diego. Airlines stopover in Los Angeles. Alternatively, you could enjoy a few days in LA or San Francisco before heading on to San Diego. Just 45 minutes by plane, American Airlines, Alaska Air and United all fly there. If you are connecting from San Francisco, San Diego takes an hour by plane.
A cheaper option is to take the train or bus. The train takes three hours from LA and delivers you right into the heart of downtown San Diego. From LA you can also take a shuttle bus which costs around $88 return. Greyhound buses depart from LA and San Francisco and are even cheaper, but do take longer.
For a more scenic option, consider renting a car from LA and driving the legendary Pacific Coast Highway. It takes between two to three hours depending on traffic to get to San Diego, and seven hours if you are driving from San Francisco, though you might want to spread it over a couple of days to make the most of the stunning views.
Many private companies offer transfers from the airport in air-conditioned luxury. Alternatively, you can jump in a taxi or take a shuttle bus. There's no need to book in advance, simply head to the cab ranks outside each terminal. Buses make the journey every ten minutes from the airport to the San Diego CBD.
It would be easy to spend a week hanging out in Balboa without getting bored. The park is home to 17 fascinating museums, one of the best zoos in the world, magical gardens to explore, a Samba school and several theatres and restaurants. And you shouldn't forget to hike along some of its 65 miles of paths.
What trip to San Diego would be complete without a visit to the world famous SeaWorld? Take advantage of the 22-acre underwater fantasyland as you get up close and personal with dolphins, whales and turtles. After seeing the magical creatures, top your adventure off with a few rides on the rapids and rollercoasters spread throughout the massive park.
Get your skates on, hire a bike or opt for a gentle stroll along the three-mile boardwalk of Mission Bay, soaking up the sun's rays and stopping to people-watch or catch a friendly volleyball game. For even greater thrills, ride the wooden rollercoaster on Mission Beach before you stop for lunch at one of the many cafes along the way.
Join a walking tour with a range of companies throughout San Diego to experience the history and culture of this great coastal city. Urban Safari is one such vendor that allows you to discover the secrets of San Diego known only to locals. Find unique shops, tucked-away cafes and stunning architecture – all off the beaten track.
This seafood, steak and crab house has won too many awards to count. Famed for its crab claws and the all-you-can-eat stone crab buffet on Mondays, it's a favourite of locals and visitors alike. Expect to pay in the region of $150 for a three-course meal for two, but the quality of food and service more than makes up for the price tag.
Voted the most romantic spot for dinner in San Diego, The Marine Room has fed more than its fair share of celebrities. With award-winning food, this is the perfect restaurant for that very special occasion. The food is spectacular, but it may well be upstaged by the setting: the restaurant's panoramic windows overlook the pounding waves of the Pacific.
Being so close to the border, it's no surprise that San Diego is home to some fine Mexican eateries. Fidel's is perhaps the most famous of them all. It's a taco bar, cocktail lounge and award-winning restaurant all in one. There's happy hour four days a week and a regular mariachi band. It's simple, unpretentious and serves a mean margarita. Well worth the 30-minute drive from downtown.
You'll need to reserve a table at Urban Solace but it's worth it to experience its modern, affordable take on classic American dishes, including meatloaf and burgers. Both food and beer are locally sourced here, with an emphasis on healthy dining – there are plenty of salads and vegetarian dishes to appease the non-beef eaters. It's perhaps most famous for its mouth-watering Bluegrass Brunch menu.
If underground music is your thing and you like the intimacy of small music venues, then The Casbah is the place to check out. Famous acts like Nirvana and Smashing Pumpkins have played here in the past, and live music takes centre stage most nights. Head down if you love live music and a good drink.
The boutique Andaz Hotel is something of a popular destination at night. Admire the view from the rooftop lounge or get cosy at the wine bar. When you're ready to dance the night away, Envy Nightclub plays host to many international DJs. The cover charge is pricey but the atmosphere is one-of-a-kind in San Diego.
This bustling Jazz hangout is one of the most vibrant in the Gaslamp Quarter. It's a restaurant as well as a jazz bar and there is live music to enjoy every night of the week. Stroll down for brunch on the weekends if live acts during the day are more to your liking.
An exceptionally cool hangout for the beautifully hip. Onyx Room's inventive cocktail menu and varied sounds make this a popular club for locals and visitors – especially for those with ambitions to party until the early hours. Come for the music, stay for the service.
Begin the morning by gliding through beautiful Balboa Park on a Segway Tour. Pop into the Museum of Man or the Natural History Museum before sitting down to lunch at The Prado. Sleep off your food in the Zen calm of the Japanese Garden or head to the world famous San Diego Zoo for a few hours of education and relaxation.
First thing in the morning head up to Torrey Pines State Reserve. You'll forget you're still within the city limits as you explore the miles of wild coastal cliffs, windswept beaches and magical lagoon. For lunch move on to La Jolla, a Mediterranean style neighbourhood on the beach. With turquoise sea and hidden coves, La Jolla is a haven for surfers, snorkelers and divers.
Walk the waterfront, taking in the dramatic skyline of the city before stepping aboard the USS Midway aircraft carrier, now a museum complete with a flight simulator. In the afternoon join a harbour cruise, and if you're lucky you might even spot some sea lions. For evening entertainment head to one of the restaurants or bars in the Gaslamp Quarter.
Here's one for the kids, or just the kid-at-heart. These two attractions sit right next door to one another so first head to the magical underwater world of the Sea Life Aquarium before spending the afternoon building castles at Legoland. With its mix of rides, shows and Lego models you might want to book a hotel within the resort and explore over a couple of days.
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