San Diego: 10 Useful Travel Tips For First Time Visitors
The mansions in San Diego might be intimidating for some, but inside are people who know a lot of insider secrets to the city that first-time visitors will be eager to know. If you’d like to know some of them, here are ten highly useful San Diego travel tips all first-timers will need to know.
What to pack?
Going to San Diego, you might not know what to pack for your trip. Underwear is already a given, but what else? Bring along sunscreen to protect your skin from burning, and sunglasses to shield your eyes from the sun. Clothing can be a bit tricky since San Diego’s weather can be a bit moody. Pack clothing you can layer to solve this problem. Grab a pair of pants, a light jacket or cardigan, sandals, shorts and of course, swimwear. Oh, and flip flops are a must year round.
Wherever you go, there will always be the “when” factor, which is mainly based on the weather of your destination. With San Diego, such a thing does not exist since it has a consistent, ideal climate. If what you wish is to avoid crowds, then schedule your trip during the academic year. This way there will be lesser visitors and traffic in San Diego.
Book everything in advance
One of the biggest events in San Diego happens to be the San Diego Comic-Con, which is officially recognized by the Guinness World Records as the largest annual comic and pop culture festival on the planet. An event of that size means people flocking in from all over the country, so make your hotel and car rental reservations immediately after you decide to go. If you are not planning to tour the city during the con, the same idea still applies since San Diego is a “convention city”, meaning it is a favourite location among organizers for their conventions.
Read about the history
They say Rome wasn’t built in one day and the same goes for San Diego and all other cities around the world. Before San Diego became the prosperous metropolis everyone knows today, it was something else. It was once part of Spain then a Mexican territory then a part of the United States after the US annexed California in 1846. In the late 19th century, it was a rapidly growing city and even became a major naval base in the early 20th century. Remember to read about San Diego’s history before heading over to learn more about its background and the sites you plan to visit.
One of the biggest concerns of any traveller is getting around an unfamiliar city. Cycling is one of the best ways to get to know the city, but it is not advisable for long distances due to the hilly terrain. If you’re in the downtown area, you can hop on a trolley to get where you need to go. The bus can also be an option; however, do note that the bus is available only for most of the city’s major routes and central San Diego. If public transportation does not bring you to where you need to go, then either rent a car, hail a taxi or go for Uber.
Ride a wave
If you don’t have the finances or time to travel to Hawaii but you’ve always wanted to learn how or simply love to surf, now is your chance. Surprise surprise, San Diego is one of the best places to learn how to surf on the west coast. You have 70 miles of open coastline, more than enough space for any surfer. You can opt for Oceanside, which is known for the jetties situated on both sides of the harbour entrance or Del Mar, where you’re sure to find your own wave.
Monkey around in San Diego Zoo
There are zoos and then there’s the San Diego Zoo. This multi-awarded establishment houses more than 3,700 animals of more than 650 species. Included among these animals are Polar Bears, Kangaroos, Tigers, and Okapi. The zoo is also just one of four US zoos that has a giant panda display. Get yourself familiarized with the zoo by going on the 35-minute bus tour of the zoo. Take the skyfari to save some energy and to have an eagle’s view of the zoo.
Chug some craft beer
If Napa Valley has wine and Kentucky has Bourbon, then San Diego has craft beer. Dubbed “the Craft Beer Capital of America”, San Diego has 125 licensed craft breweries calling it home. But with so many beers to choose from, which one should you go for? Look for the Double India Pale Ale, also known as San Diego Pale Ale, which has become the city’s speciality.
Don’t drink on the beach
Check the concessionaires on the beach and they will be selling you anything from a scuba mask to hats to energy drinks, but the one thing they will never have in their storage rooms are alcoholic drinks. This ban covers coastal parks too. If you are caught swigging a bottle, you will need to pay a $250 fine, but if you’re a repeat offender this can mean jail time for you.
Go out in the Gaslamp Quarter
You may be in San Diego, but you can’t say you truly have been there unless you visit the Gaslamp Quarter. This 16 block piece of history has a little bit of everything for everyone. You’ll want a photo in front of one of the many restored 19th century buildings and you’ll definitely have a hard time picking a place to eat out of the more than 70 restaurants here. Plus if you’re into spooky stuff, you might want to go on a ghostly tour.
It’s no wonder why San Diego is constantly on the lists of best places to visit in California. Your trip to this city with its perfect weather, rich history, and incredible beer will definitely be worth it.