It’s sometimes easy to forget that San Diego is a vacation destination when you live here and it’s even easier to forget how spoiled we are for living in here. I originally moved down here for college and never felt a need to leave after graduating. So, if you’re in the mood for some laid back fun, here are some tips for visiting “America’s Finest City”.
Getting here –
This one is pretty simple. For being the 2nd largest city in California, the airport is fairly condensed and easy to navigate. There are 2 terminals with basically all notable air traffic arriving and departing in terminal 2. Terminal 1 was basically only used by Southwest until recently and now Frontier and Alaska operate out of there as well. The problem is going to be getting here from overseas. Although SAN (not to be confused with SNA) is an international airport, it doesn’t have much in terms of nonstop international flights. Depending on your origin, you may find it easier/cheaper to connect in Mexico City and take the 3 hr flight to Tijuana instead.
Getting around is easy…with a car. Depending on what you want to do, this really isn’t a city that’s suited for walking. Unless you really want to figure out the bus system, the only main metro system is the trolley and it services a very small portion of SD. If you’re staying near the convention center and want to visit La Jolla, you won’t be doing it on the trolley. However, driving is easy enough since there are only a few freeways to know. Also, much like LA, the basic rule of thumb is that the North/South freeways are odd numbered and the East/West freeways are even. It’s not a rule set in stone but it’s fairly consistent.
If the beach is on your to do list (and it should be), know that smoking and drinking are not allowed on public beaches and you’ll want to follow the crowd in terms of where to go. Each beach community is unique so if you want the college crowd, Pacific Beach (PB) is your spot. Bohemian vibe?…definitely Ocean Beach (OB). Perfect photo location to make friends and family jealous back home? Coronado.
Hungry? I would argue we have the BEST Mexican food…hands down. You also won’t get very far without seeing a small mom and pop Mexican restaurant since they’re on every corner. I would avoid the tourist traps like the restaurants in Old Town or the Gaslamp district. The food is good but overpriced and catered to tourists in my book. Just walk into any shop and order a California burrito like a local you’re set. It may not be specified on the menu but trust me, they’ll serve it. It’s a combination of fries, carne asada meat, and salsa….and it’s the perfect meal for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. For fish tacos, check out the original Rubio’s in PB.
Finally, this is a Navy city and you’ll see the military presence almost immediately so don’t be alarmed. You won’t get very far without bumping into military personnel around here so if you’re in the mood, buy a round of drinks for the young marines. You’ll earn karma points for it.
Hopefully this will get you started on a vacation here. Arguably, the “San Diego Uniform” is a hoodie, jeans, and flip flops…and we wear those year round, except when we’re in board shorts.