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World Travel Guide > Guides > North America > United States of America > California > San Diego

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Local time San Diego

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Getting around San Diego

Public transport

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (tel: +1 619 557 4555; www.sdmts.com) operates the city's buses and trolley system. You need exact change on buses. A trolley ticket is valid for two hours in one direction. Passes are available for one, two, three or four days. You can load passes onto a Compass Card smartcard. 

The Coaster train service (tel: +1 760 966 6500; www.gonctd.com/coaster) provides increased transport to outlying areas, linking coastal communities as far north as Oceanside. 

The San Diego-Coronado Ferry (tel: +1 619 234 4111; www.flagshipsd.com/cruises/coronado-ferry) shuttles commuters and visitors between the Broadway Pier at the intersection of Broadway and Harbor Streets and the Ferry Landing shopping and dining centre on Coronado. 

Taxis

Yellow Cab (tel: +1 619 444 4444; www.sandiego.driveu.com) operates throughout San Diego County. It is best for visitors to request a taxi by telephone, although it is possible to hail them in the street in Downtown. A 10-15% tip is appropriate for good service.

Driving

San Diego is well laid out with several well-maintained highways that serve as major arteries to outlying districts. Highways are generally easy to follow, although California's Interstate highways maintain high speeds and can be unnerving for first-time visitors.

As in most Southern California cities, early morning (0630-0900) and late afternoon (1500-1900) are peak rush-hour times and driving during these periods should be avoided. Areas such as Downtown, Mission Bay, Coronado Bridge and the major beach areas are high congestion areas during rush hour. 

The high occupant vehicle lanes (HOV) are designed for vehicles carrying two to three passengers or more (highways differ in their minimum limit of passengers). There are stiff fines for vehicles carrying less than the stated minimum number of passengers. Left lanes that are not HOV lanes are reserved for passing vehicles.

Public parking in the Mission Beach and Pacific Beach areas is usually at a premium on weekends and holidays. A few residential areas have signage indicating the days and hours that visitors are allowed to park on the street. Vehicles that do not obey the regulations may be towed away. Most hotels provide parking to guests for a fee.

If you have abundant free time, it is best to use the bus, trolley or train to reach most areas. Public transport doesn't reach some popular attractions however. If time and efficiency are issues, driving is the best way to get around.

Car hire

Car hire agencies in the USA require a credit card or cash deposit when hiring out a car. The minimum age to hire a car is usually 25 years and you must be in possession of a valid national driving licence. Insurance is mandatory when driving and car hire companies normally carry their own optional insurance. Customers who have their own US car insurance are normally covered while driving a hired vehicle.

There are several major agencies located in the city. These include Avis (tel: +1 619 688 5000; www.avis.com), Budget (tel: +1 619 542 8001; www.budget.com) and Hertz (tel: +1 619 767 5700; www.hertz.com).

Bicycle hire

Cycling is a popular pastime in San Diego and the city has no shortage of bicycle shops to accommodate this.

Cheap Rentals, at 3689 and 3715 Mission Boulevard (tel: +1 858 488 9070; www.cheap-rentals.com), has all kinds of bikes (as well as skating and surfing equipment) for hire from their shops in Mission Beach, close to the boardwalk and parks.

DecoBike San Diego (tel: +1 619 297 0433 www.decobike.com/sandiego) is the city's bikeshare scheme. Short-term memberships are available, and there are more than 1,800 bikes across the city.

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Featured Hotels

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La Valencia

Beauty, elegance, and charm live inside the pink stucco walls of this property, known locally as La V. Stunning views of La Jolla Cove and the ocean act as backdrops in the richly appointed La Sala room (where martinis and tapas are served in the evening) and many of the 100-plus original guest rooms and 15 villas, each boasting a whirlpool tub, king-size bed, and personalised butler service. The hotel's exclusive =Sky Room , with just a dozen or so tables and a small bar, is one of the most elegant restaurants in San Diego. The sidewalk level Whaling Bar is a La Jolla institution where local nabobs mingle over steaks and martinis.

Gaslamp Plaza Suites

The Gaslamp Plaza Suites is a European-style, San Diego hotel built in 1913, with many elements of the original décor intact such as the sculpted Corinthian marble, Australian gumwood carpentry, hand-cut mosaic tiles and bronze and brass embellishments which can be seen throughout the hotel. The location is as central as it could get - in the heart of the Gaslamp District. Complimentary continental breakfast is served daily on the rooftop terrace overlooking the beautiful Downtown area of the city.

Sofia Hotel

One of the oldest hotels in San Diego's Downtown has been transformed into a chic boutique inn with 212 rooms that have the feel of urban studios with efficient Wi-Fi and access to Currant, one of lower downtown's most happening cafes. Some rooms are dark and noisy - ask to see a few before unpacking.

Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

Set smack at the foot of Fifth Avenue, across the street from the San Diego Convention Center at the edge of the Gaslamp Quarter, the 12-story Hard Rock attracts awe-struck sightseers ogling The Rock Shop (collectable Hard Rock gear), Nobu (chef Nobu Matsuhisa's entree into the SoCal dining scene), Maryjane's diner-style coffee shop and the Sweetwater Saloon - a sidewalk bar by day and happening dance club at night. Guests in the 420 rooms and suites are greeted with their choice of music drifting from speakers on the flat screen HDTVs. Red leather chairs and low white couches, swirly patterned rugs and square showerheads in the ceilings set a fun-loving mood, enhanced by Sleep Like a Rock beds.

Tower 23

Named for the lifeguard tower it faces, this ultra-hip Pacific Beach hotel has 44 slick rooms with rain showers, Egyptian cotton bedding, LCD screen TVs and H2O toiletries. Some suites overlook the boardwalk and beach and have private balconies. Wi-Fi is available throughout the property - checking your e-mail from a cafe table by the sand is just about as SoCal techie as you can get. The hotel's JRDN restaurant serves the freshest regional seafood and produce in a casual setting.

Town and Country Resort

The resort features 1,000 guestrooms, four swimming pools and whirlpool, five restaurants and three lounges, in addition to 16 hectares (40 acres) of beautifully landscaped grounds. There is also a spa, salon and fitness centre. The 27-hole Riverwalk Golf Club and Mission Valley Regional Conference Center are adjacent. Premier shopping is also available nearby.