San Diego is seamlessly divided into districts comprising each of charming individual neighborhoods.
This list of districts is by no means an official breakdown of the city, but one that is meant to make sense from the standpoint of a visitor, based on the number of attractions the average visitor will find in each area.
In addition, there are many communities and suburbs in the San Diego area that are not actually part of San Diego (such as [wiki=995a9da5a08e410d2299e19c55c0deee]Coronado[/wiki]). See the [wiki=b7ec8f614549d43d51c9eafc2399d2d9]San Diego County[/wiki] article.
Although alternatives are being created, San Diego is Southern California, so renting or having a car available will increase your enjoyment to this city if you really want to cover some distance. If you would like to use public transportation, it can be done. Some buses run late into the evening, but this doesn't apply to all routes! Trip planning is advised; read the Bus section below. Taking the bus will also increase the amount of time you spend traveling from place to place however you will be able to get a great feel of this remarkable city by traveling with the locals.
Like much of California and the Southwestern United States, English is the predominant language with Spanish the second most widely spoken. Store signs are written in English or both languages, and many businesses have bilingual employees that speak both English and Spanish.
See '[wiki=d690e753abc2ed4ca2ccea7223ae3187]San Diego with children[/wiki] for travelers with children.
A couple of discount passes offer admission to a number of places:
*Go San Diego Card [url=http://www.gosandiegocard.com/]]- This enables free admission and express entry to over 50 attractions, including Sea World, Legoland, San Diego Zoo, Universal, and all Balboa Park museums.
*Southern California CityPass [url=http://www.citypass.com/city/socal.html[/url]]- Gives you one day each at SeaWorld San Diego and the San Diego Zoo, another day at [[Universal City|Universal Studios Hollywood[/url]], and a 3 day park hopper ticket for [wiki=eee86e9b0fe29b2d63c714b51ce54980]Disneyland[/wiki].
These are just the most significant sights. More specific information may be found under the individual [wiki=a1edff17ec0464c4c048d25d25bce75a#Districts]District[/wiki] articles.
* [wiki=09b8b7c2cc1eef6ab516289391a53751]Balboa Park[/wiki] - Here you'll find an expansive campus of museums, parks, gardens and arboretums. Neo-classical Spanish architecture, flowering gardens, a beautiful tower soon to be opened for public tours, and intriguing museums make visiting Balboa Park a must.
** - Located in Balboa Park. Possibly the premier zoo in North America, the San Diego Zoo encompasses over 100 acres of displays and habitats. Animal shows run constantly, and there are creatures here that aren't visible in any other zoo on the planet. Definitely worth a visit, but you need a full day to really do it justice.
* - The sister park to the San Diego Zoo. The park covers 1800 acres and is located about 30 miles north of San Diego near [wiki=a3164c6841fcecb69a07fb5a7bd28f07]Escondido[/wiki], in the San Pasqual Valley in [wiki=c81407967f34d9403298776c46be02e4]Northeastern San Diego[/wiki].
* - Home of Shamu. Sea World San Diego allows visitors a chance to interact with aquatic animals in an exciting way. Through shows, displays and enclosures people can learn about the world's oceans and the creatures that inhabit them. See the [wiki=18ccac956bfbcd1d72031be4c2ee0aa3]Mission Beach[/wiki] article.
*[wiki=e81c58e8fc017d439e9f3daf8fbada1c]La Jolla[/wiki] - An upscale coastal community of San Diego, La Jolla includes secluded coves, beaches and ocean cliffs to explore. There are dozens of coffee shops, restaurants and high-end shopping outlets to be explored in La Jolla.
** Harbor seals, Children's Cove. Originally a small beach built for children, this scenic little spot has become a breeding ground for harbor seals.
** Birch Aquarium - Fantastic exhibits include physical oceanography, standard aquarium fish, and a massive kelp tank.
*Point Loma Lighthouse, Cabrillo National Monument - From the high vantage point of [wiki=c72233e01c2856c798be0201ff0d7ba0]Point Loma[/wiki] visitors can get a panoramic view of the Naval Air Station, downtown San Diego, the Coronado Bridge and the distant mountains. The lighthouse is a short walk and allows stunning sunset views of the Pacific Ocean and off-shore islands. Cabrillo National Monument commemorates the landing of Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo's expedition for Spain of California in 1542.
*[wiki=e905b8a563ce2b89a3362c66ac3f6895]Old Town[/wiki] - This area includes preserved buildings and icons of the Spanish heritage of San Diego and the Old West, from 19th century cannons to the haunted Whaley House. Shopping and restaurants dot this historic district and living history performances regularly take place.
*[wiki=eb1a83ec1b989181d1810f330f097fdb]Downtown[/wiki] - The urban center of the city, with plenty of restaurants, shopping, and nightlife.
**San Diego Maritime Museum - Home to a collection of 19th century sailing ships including the Star of India, the world's oldest active sailing ship, as well as a steam ferryboat and a former Soviet Union attack submarine.
**USS Midway Museum' - A former aircraft carrier of the US Navy, it is now open for tours and home to a collection of former naval aircraft housed on her expansive flight deck. Guided tours and displays offer the public a unique look into the life aboard a powerful, old warhorse.
* - Located in [wiki=9627a35bbe8be2df90de481ca4541f6d]Mission Valley[/wiki] Mission San Diego is the oldest of the California missions.
* - Located in [wiki=995a9da5a08e410d2299e19c55c0deee]Coronado[/wiki], this gorgeous hotel was constructed in the late 1800's and is located at the beach. Offers high class shops and service on one of San Diego's most beautiful and clean beaches.
* - Located in Mission Beach, Along with the Coaster, Plunge swimming pool, [url=http://www.belmontpark.com/restaurants/wavehouse]Wave House[/url], [url=http://belmont-rentals.com]Beach Rentals[/url], [url=http://www.draftsandiego.com]Draft[/url] & [url=http://www.cannonballsd.com]Cannonball[/url]. The park is styled after the Spanish Renaissance style buildings that were erected in San Diego’s Balboa Park between 1915 and 1916. [url=http://www.belmontpark.com]Belmont Park[/url] is located at the beach with multiple free parking lot locations. Offers high class shops and service on cost one of San Diego.
Beaches - Along San Diego's coast one can find miles of beaches for swimming, surfing, and general beach-going. In the San Diego area, one can find good beaches at Imperial Beach south of San Diego, [wiki=995a9da5a08e410d2299e19c55c0deee]Coronado[/wiki], the beach towns of [wiki=60d09a536ec2a4159b59bbe25e0bac6d]Ocean Beach[/wiki], [wiki=18ccac956bfbcd1d72031be4c2ee0aa3]Mission Beach[/wiki], [wiki=ecf8a74e51064d1f243174c989b785a8]Pacific Beach[/wiki], [wiki=e81c58e8fc017d439e9f3daf8fbada1c]La Jolla[/wiki], and up the coast of [wiki=f05050ad578c5b93af6d851835ab3079]Northern San Diego County[/wiki]. Each beach is unique, ranging from popular white sand beaches to harsh surf spots to the clothing-optional Black's Beach in La Jolla.
*Beer Tasting - San Diego has a bustling microbrewery scene with 44 breweries and growing every month. Some of the breweries feature large restaurants but most are "hole in the wall" micro or nanobreweries located in industrial parks. For a complete listing of breweries go to [url=http://www.drinkupsandiego.com]San Diego Brewery Guide[/url].
*Surfing - San Diego's miles of beaches provide excellent opportunities for surfing. Conditions vary by beach. There are also numerous surf schools throughout the San Diego area.
*Sailing - [wiki=18ccac956bfbcd1d72031be4c2ee0aa3]Mission Bay[/wiki] and San Diego Bay are excellent places for sailing, windsurfing, and jet skiing.
*Boating - San Diego Bay offers amble opportunities for sailors to enjoy the water, with plenty of anchorages and marinas catering to all boaters (see [wiki=c72233e01c2856c798be0201ff0d7ba0]Point Loma[/wiki], [wiki=eb1a83ec1b989181d1810f330f097fdb]Downtown[/wiki], [wiki=995a9da5a08e410d2299e19c55c0deee]Coronado[/wiki] and [wiki=5d732b773764684770d48b9249c90905]Chula Vista[/wiki] for specific places). Boat launch ramps are located at Shelter Island (Point Loma), Coronado, National City and Chula Vista. Some anchorages require a permit, while others do not. If a permit is required, it can be obtained at the Shelter Island Harbor Police Facility, 1401 Shelter Island Drive (Point Loma), +1 619 686-6272. There are also several moorings located throughout the Harbor for vessels ranging from two to 65 feet in length. See the SD Mooring Company Office, 2040 N. Harbor Island Drive (Point Loma), +1 619 291-0916, [url=http://www.sandiegomooring.com/]]for a mooring application.
*Whale-watching - California gray whales migrate south along the coast each February. There are some great places along the coast to view the migration, such as the overlook in Cabrillo National Monument (in [[San Diego/Point Loma|Point Loma[/url]]), and several private companies offer sailing tours during the migration season that bring you much closer to the whales.
*Scuba diving - San Diego features some [wiki=99fc08de044e25310baeb8afca1f79cc#Places_to_Dive]great dives[/wiki] including the Yukon, Ruby E and others in Wreck Alley. You'll see kelp beds and much more. In addition, several dive boat operators have regular runs to the Coronados Islands off the Mexican coast where you can dive with sea lions. Please be aware that diving here is usually considered cold water diving and the visibility is not always the greatest.
*Hang gliding - At the edge of cliffs towering above the Pacific Ocean, the Torrey Pines Glider Port in La Jolla allows anyone to soar over one of the most pristine sections of coastline in southern California. Training and tandem glides with an expert are offered.
*Golfing - There are many public and private golf courses scattered throughout San Diego that suit nearly every budget. The Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla hosts the PGA Tour Buick Invitational annually in Jan or Feb.
*Hiking & biking - San Diego’s near perfect climate, unique landscape, and low-crime rate make it one of the most pleasant places in the country to enjoy outdoor exercise. Because of this, visitors and locals alike will have no trouble finding a biking, hiking, or walking trail to suit their needs. There are numerous hiking trails and bike paths to choose from - big and small, highly visible or hidden. Information on some of the most popular individual trails can be found in the district articles.
*Rock climbing - San Diego offers some unique opportunities for rock climbing both outdoor and indoor. Although San Diego is rarely considered a destination climbing area, specialist climbing companies offer guided rock climbing from professional climbers for the beginner to the experienced climber. All the climbing companies provide all the required equipment such as helmets, shoes and harnesses, and usually require an orientation meeting the week of the climb for all participants. Most good climbing spots are located either in [wiki=c81407967f34d9403298776c46be02e4]Northeastern[/wiki] San Diego or [wiki=2f1def702c3a702996ff15f862c69325]Inland[/wiki] San Diego County.
*Kayaking - San Diego Co. has numerous areas to kayak including Mission Bay, Sunset Beach, Kearny Mesa, Oceanside and La Jolla. Kayaking La Jolla Shores is great for all ages. You can see leopard sharks, dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions and pelicans. The area is famous for its seven caves and overall beauty.
Universities & military (training) installations in the area:
*University of California, San Diego [url=http://www.ucsd.edu]]- State public university.
*San Diego State University [url=http://www.sdsu.edu[/url]]- State public university.
*University of San Diego [url=http://www.sandiego.edu[/url]]- Private, Catholic university.
*Point Loma Nazarene [url=http://www.ptloma.edu[/url]]- Private, Protestant Christian university
*California Western School of Law [url=http://www.cwsl.edu/[/url]]- Private law school.
*New School of Architecture [url=http://www.newschoolarch.edu[/url]]- Private architecture school.
*The Salk Institute for Biological Studies [url=http://www.salk.edu[/url]]- Prestigious nonprofit research institute.
*The Scripps Research Institute [url=http://www.scripps.edu[/url]] - Private research institute.
*The Scripps Institution of Oceanography [url=http://www-sio.ucsd.edu[/url]]- Famous marine biology institute.
*The Burnham Institute for Medical Research [url=http://www.burnham.org[/url]]- Private research institute.
*La Jolla Institute for Allergy & Immunology [url=http://www.liai.org[/url]]- Nonprofit research institute.
*Thomas Jefferson School of Law [url=http://www.tjsl.edu[/url]]- Private law school.
*US Marine Corps Recruit Depot [url=http://www.mcrdsd.marines.mil/[/url]] - Military. Male recruits from the west of the Mississippi River are sent here for 12 weeks of Basic Recruit training (boot camp) upon joining the Marines. All female recruits report to Parris Island, SC for boot camp. Other functions include training Marines to be recruiters and drill instructors and overseeing the 8th, 9th, & 12th Recruiting Districts in the western part of the U.S.
*US Naval Special Warfare Command [http://www.public.navy.mil/nsw/Pages/default.aspx[/url] Military. They operate training schools and recruitment to US Navy personnel seeking to become US Navy SEALS.
San Diego is a major technology and defense hub of California and the United States. Major industries include defense, telecommunications, technology, biotechnology, computers and scientific research. With five major military bases located within fifty miles of San Diego, defense related services and support are a key part of San Diego's economy.
San Diego is dotted with major shopping centers and upscale boutiques catering to nearly every style of dress and expression. The most well-known shopping centers in the area are Horton Plaza in [wiki=eb1a83ec1b989181d1810f330f097fdb]Downtown[/wiki], Fashion Valley and Westfield Mission Valley in [wiki=9627a35bbe8be2df90de481ca4541f6d]Mission Valley[/wiki] and Westfield UTC near [wiki=e81c58e8fc017d439e9f3daf8fbada1c]La Jolla[/wiki]. In addition to these, one can find numerous other malls and outlet centers across the city.
If you're more interested in smaller shops and more local businesses than you'd ordinarily find in your average mall, Downtown, [wiki=6d7243b82346349dac83a7853aae0c64]Hillcrest[/wiki], and the beach neighborhoods (Ocean Beach, Pacific Beach, La Jolla, etc.) offer a slightly more unique shopping scene. San Diego county has some unique antique markets, with a treasure trove of high end stores, as well as a host of second hand shops, bric a brac, and vintage stores.
The district sections of San Diego offer more details on local places to eat. Food representing almost every world cuisine can be found somewhere in the city.
Like other large metropolitan areas, San Diego carries a wide variety of national and international food. Major restaurant chains are found in almost every district.
San Diego is well-known for its craft-brewing scene, with an emphasis on highly-hopped beers. Local brewers of distinction include AleSmith Brewing Company, Stone Brewing Company, Green Flash Brewing Company, Coronado Brewing Company, Ballast Point Brewing Company, and Port Brewing Company.
Bars and clubs can stay open past 2AM but are not permitted to sell alcohol after this time. Expect beer bars to be open until midnight and bars and clubs to call last call around 1:30-1:50AM A medium-sized beer generally costs $4-5 in a restaurant. The best bar scenes in San Diego are in the Gaslamp Quarter area of [wiki=eb1a83ec1b989181d1810f330f097fdb]Downtown[/wiki] and in [wiki=ecf8a74e51064d1f243174c989b785a8]Pacific Beach[/wiki].
San Diego offers a wide range of accommodations and a wide range of price levels. If one doesn't mind splurging, there are a number luxury highrise hotels in [wiki=eb1a83ec1b989181d1810f330f097fdb]Downtown[/wiki] and numerous beachside (and bayside) hotels and lavish resorts along the coast in [wiki=995a9da5a08e410d2299e19c55c0deee]Coronado[/wiki], [wiki=60d09a536ec2a4159b59bbe25e0bac6d]Ocean Beach[/wiki], [wiki=c72233e01c2856c798be0201ff0d7ba0]Point Loma[/wiki] (along the bayside), [wiki=18ccac956bfbcd1d72031be4c2ee0aa3]Mission Beach/Bay[/wiki], [wiki=ecf8a74e51064d1f243174c989b785a8]Pacific Beach[/wiki], and [wiki=e81c58e8fc017d439e9f3daf8fbada1c]La Jolla[/wiki].
There are also many vacation rentals/beach cottages available for the traveler, most of which can be found along the shores of Mission Beach and Pacific Beach.
For travelers with a smaller budget, San Diego also has a few downtown hostels and many chain motels scattered across the city. A high concentration of the chain motels are located along Hotel Circle in [wiki=9627a35bbe8be2df90de481ca4541f6d]Mission Valley[/wiki].
The most common area code for San Diego Metropolitan area, including downtown, the southbay and the eastern suburbs is 619. North of I-8/Mission Valley uses 858, and the far northern suburbs ([wiki=a3164c6841fcecb69a07fb5a7bd28f07]Escondido[/wiki], [wiki=8125591b5a4b47a54cf553e41703310b]Oceanside[/wiki], [wiki=f7fcc0df1723093ed31bafbc0af885e2]Encinitas[/wiki], etc.) use 760. Be sure to look when dialing a phone number that may be in a different area code. Most public telephones and hotel phones have the area code next to the phone number on the actual device.
There are numerous Wi-Fi hot spots in San Diego, many of which are at internet cafes. The San Diego Public Library system also offers wireless internet at many of its locations [http://www.sandiego.gov/public-library/searching-the-net/wirelessaccess.shtml].
San Diego is considered to be one of the safest cities in California. Though crime is present, violent crime is on an overall decrease, but property crime still exists. You can now view real time crime reports of the area you plan to visit [http://crimereports.com/map/index/?search=San%20Diego+CA]. One should use the same precautions as you would in any large metropolitan area. Avoid walking in Southeast San Diego or Barrio Logan (near or under the Coronado bridge) at night. If you do or must, avoid walking down dark alleyways or approaching unknown people. Most people do not encounter any problems if they avoid buying illegal drugs or prostitution. In addition, gangs are not as present as they are in Los Angeles, but they still exist.
In an emergency (immediate danger to loss of life or limb), call 911. Be aware that if you call from a cell phone, 911 calls are currently directed to the California Highway Patrol, which can result in delays in contacting city police. (911 calls made from land-line telephones are directed to the appropriate local agency.)
In many cases, when within the city limits, it may be more appropriate to directly dial the San Diego non-emergency number, (619) 531-2000. For example, to report a crime in progress when you are not in direct danger, it is probably best to call the San Diego Police (or other local municipality) directly.
San Diego is probably the best city in America for making a quick trip to [wiki=8dbb07a18d46f63d8b3c8994d5ccc351]Mexico[/wiki]. [wiki=f8abf41bf5d4f0064441e43046f7010f]Tijuana[/wiki], which sits directly across the US - Mexico border, can be reached by public transit. The San Diego Trolley's Blue Line provides service from downtown San Diego to the border. The trip on the trolley takes about 45 minutes from downtown. Once you reach the end of the line (San Ysidro), follow the people and signs to the border crossing. It takes less than five minutes from the trolley stop to the border. Once across, it is either a 20 minute walk or a five minute cab ride to reach Av. Revolucion, the main tourist shopping street in Tijuana. If you take a car, avoid driving hassles and long waits when returning by parking in pay lots near the border and walking across. This also saves you the added expensive of purchasing Mexican insurance on the US side before you drive into Mexico. Be warned: you do not want to drive your car or a rental car into Mexico without this type of insurance. Otherwise, taxis, buses, and private car hires are all available. If traveling to Tijuana Airport, the Mexican airline Volaris operates a bus service between that airport and San Diego's Santa Fe Train Depot.
*For a delightful, low-key alternative, drive 60 minutes on the American side to the small border crossing of [wiki=f5da0ce5e0d0d4822d536dac92671769]Tecate[/wiki] (home of the Tecate brewery). It's a short walk to the town square. Coming back, the line is usually shorter here at the pedestrian crossing. You can easily combine a trip to the train museum in nearby Campo with a quick trip across the border for lunch!
*The greater [wiki=b7ec8f614549d43d51c9eafc2399d2d9]San Diego County[/wiki] has a lot of smaller, more private beaches to the north (e.g., [wiki=99a7c7ea3dcdede3f50e63a39420df94]Del Mar[/wiki] and [wiki=f7fcc0df1723093ed31bafbc0af885e2]Encinitas[/wiki]), and some great small towns to stay in and explore. [wiki=70b02b43fad559f56f186e7a383e5ae3]Carlsbad[/wiki], about 30 miles north on I-5, is home to the popular Legoland California theme park. Further east, the [wiki=955ea82857bac80b3c310877d3e4a5b7]Imperial Valley[/wiki] and the California [wiki=092d949c2dda016fbdd86e1338b8c7df]Desert[/wiki] give a change of scenery.
*[wiki=60659cfda992013e610f285c46692d28]Julian[/wiki] is the largest and most popular mountain community in San Diego County. Also, nearby is Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Palomar Mountain which has a large observatory. Beware, on hot summer days, the mountains are actually warmer than the city (as they're next to the desert).
*It's also relatively easy to get up to [wiki=d0aa2dffa0da83f1f34681308d04db5d]Los Angeles[/wiki] and other points in [wiki=68731e74eac6e5073e7034c81f1f1fd7]Southern California[/wiki]. Interstate 5 extends through the [wiki=5f44f6572b293e3c4a6dde1dd1ac1e7b]San Joaquin Valley[/wiki] of California, [wiki=da4d1129a255f83fb03bf32fde034ecc]Oregon[/wiki] and [wiki=11d9591c9feee10969173c347e551a9a]Washington[/wiki] to the [wiki=445d337b5cd5de476f99333df6b0c2a7]Canadian[/wiki] border. Although slower, California Route 1 (Highway 1 or [wiki=7a0713485a328ef1b483c82767923a1e]Pacific Coast Highway[/wiki] in most of Southern California) and the US Route 101, through the [wiki=8f10aa708ee75025cf5eaa947e1c953f]Central Coast[/wiki], [wiki=5a3d8e5bb22acf7322cf8b0bf124f352]Monterey Bay[/wiki], and the [wiki=9696e5377238098a3d700726d090e927]San Francisco Bay Area[/wiki], makes for more of a pleasant and fruitful trip. Be aware there's no gas/petrol or other services on I-5 between Oceanside and San Clemente for a distance of about 20 miles. (Entry to Camp Pendleton generally requires a DOD decal or military ID.) If you aren't driving, Amtrak's frequent, daily [url=http://www.amtrak.com/pacific-surfliner-train]Pacific Surfliner[/url] can get you to Los Angeles Union Station just under 3 hours.
*There are no boats to [wiki=e2e5b404b089ab5a1e153ff87d046567]Catalina[/wiki] Island ([wiki=76dbe559f557d065613840d49fd0c7a8]Avalon[/wiki]) within San Diego County. You'll have to go north into neighboring [wiki=d12772770c19469d138ceb58feb55dcf]Orange County[/wiki] to the pier at [wiki=3d7c8a75fd412c552ce5abb60bb3a1a8]Dana Point[/wiki]. By car, take I-5 to exit #79 Pacific Coast Hwy 1 (make reservations).
*[wiki=c20712efdf2eff699ee9471a761eaf9f]Temecula[/wiki] Wine Country is located about 60 minutes northeast of San Diego and makes a good day trip. There are about thirty wineries (with tasting rooms) located fairly close to each other. One hour further is the mountain resort of [wiki=eef2e9822943fa0bfa13676d10a9605c]Idyllwild[/wiki] which features shopping and outdoor activities in an alpine forest.
[[WikiPedia:San Diego, California]]
[wiki=fa74493ec7e01679d44f49539f0341b3]Dmoz:North America/United States/California/Localities/S/San Diego/[/wiki]