So we’ve spent a week here in San Diego, our first stop in California. I haven’t had a car here and instead have been using buses and taxis.
We stayed at the Dolphin Motel, Garrison St, near Point Loma. Clean, friendly, good wifi and good basic breakfast. Would stay again. Staff very helpful with directions and printed out bus routes and coupons for places like the Zoo and Seaworld. Very close to restaurants, supermarket, post office and laundrette.
First we explored Old Town, got there via the 28 bus, took 15 minutes. Good place to start. The buses are $2.25 each way or $7 for a day pass – you need the exact money for the machine as the drivers don’t carry change. The Old Town station is a large bus depot where you can transfer to lots of other routes as well as getting the Amtrak, Trolley or Coaster, so it’s a good place to be near if you’re using public transport.
So the Old Town State Park has a visitors centre and a few museums as well as shops, which are in line with the Mexican/American history. We ate in a Mexican restaurant here, kids are free to eat and the food is really good, ha a big fajita lunch for $20! The park is nice for a chilled out wander. As we got to the edge of the State Park I noticed an Old Town Trolley Tour so we jumped on that, which was $36 for an adult, Faye (3) went free. The loop is 2hours but you can get off at 11 stops throughout the day. This is a fun tour, the drivers are knowledgable and witty. We thoroughly enjoyed it – although not highly exciting for children but the drivers all made a fuss of Faye and gave her stickers. We got off the bus in Coronado by the famous Hotel del Coronado and got some fab ice cream and wandered the grounds of the hotel.
Also in San Diego we checked out Mission Beach/Belmont Park. We saw dolphins swimming in the sea from where we were sitting which was exciting – however there are jellyfish at this beach! This beach is quite touristy; tat shops, amusement rides – I’d try and find somewhere nicer next time.
San Diego Zoo. One of the must do things and make sure you leave a whole day for it and start early! $49 adults, $39 children 3-12. Summer hours are 9am-9pm. Lots of walking as its a big place, very stroller friendly but make sure you can collapse it. Start by going on the Guided Bus Tour which takes you around a large percentage of the park and helps you get an idea of the size and where’s where. The 4D ice age show was good fun! Eating wise we stopped into the cafe nearest to the Panda’s, a child’s lunch is under 8 bucks and comes in a cute Panda bag with a reusable cup and lots of goodies, adults meals around $10.50, soft serve cones $6. They do all day free refills if you buy a $9.99 cup to begin with – definitely worth it. Pack hats and sunscreen as some areas are pretty open. The zoo is based in Balboa Park and it was more straightforward to get a taxi from the motel than a bus. It cost around $25 each way otherwise I would of had to get four buses each way and that was the last thing I wanted after walking around the zoo for 11 hours!
On the last day of being in San Diego we collected a rental car from Dollar based back near the airport. Airport $12 in a cab from motel. The car not in as good condition as the one from Sixt in Florida. California also charge an under 25 fee of $25 per day for ‘young’ drivers. Gas also seems more expensive here. The guy from the Dolphin Motel said Fox car rental is the best in the area, but we had already booked and paid for ours with Dollar.
Now having a car we were able to easily visit a couple of places before embarking up the West Coast. We visited the Cabrillo Monument, an explorer who founded San Diego. $5 per car to get in the state park. Lots to see and lovely views. Then on recommendation of the hotel staff at the Dolphin, we went to La Jolla, to Mount Soledad, which holds a memorial for war veterans and looks over the whole of San Diego. We then came back down and parked the car to visit the beach at La Jolla which is a natural Sealion habitat. This area has a good vibe and was pretty busy with people visiting the beach, can be tricky to park. Best to park slightly away from the beach and walk down.
I wish I had done a bit more research on San Diego to plan a trip to Mexico as it can be reached in 20 minutes via the Trolley train.