They arrive as soon as the sun comes out. The never-ending multitudes,
migrating beachward from every state, with lounge chairs, diaper bags, and SPF
45 in tow. They seek suntans, the smell of salt, the sight of elusive pandas
and beluga whales at our amusement parks.
Likely, you and your family are among them.
There’s many reasons San Diego is deemed America’s Finest City,
and the secret has been out for decades. Indeed, tourists keep the city fine.
But on certain summer weekends, San Diego’s attractions become so inundated,
all you’ll really see at Sea World is the back of some stranger’s head. The
freeways become clogged, the beaches a patchwork of towels. Vacations become
more of a hassle than a holiday.
Clang Went the Trolley
The best way to beat the crowds is the utilize public transportation. Public
transportation in San Diego?
Sure, we don’t have a subway, but the citywide transit offerings are much
broader than people realize. The benefits are huge-instead of behind-the-wheel
migraines, wear on your car, and daunting gas prices, you get to curl up with a
book or a newspaper, or chat with your company.
Visitors can purchase one to four-day transit passes, the latter only
fifteen dollars. If you’re a local, you can purchase a monthly transit pass for
the price of one tank of gas; however, the amount of stress saved is truly
invaluable. All passes include countless bus routes all over the city, as well
as unlimited trolley trips. Visit the Metropolitan Transit System’s website at www.sdcommute.com
for more information.
The Master Cards
The worst part of visiting San
Diego attractions on busy summer days is waiting in
line. Luckily, you and your family can avoid the crunch by prepaying admission.
Although there are many all-inclusive city passes to choose from, the best by
far is the Go San Diego Card, available at www.gosandiegocard.com.
The full list of admissions covered by the card would take forever to
transcribe, but among them are Legoland, Knott’s Soak City, both the San Diego
Zoo and Wild Animal Park, all Balboa Park museums, the Birch Aquarium at
Scripps, a Temecula Wine Tasting Tour, and a Belmont Amusement Park Unlimited
Ride Wristband. Depending on the length of your vacation, rates range from $39
The Early Bird Pays No Cover
This one sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s surprising how few people follow
through. As more and more Manhattan-esque nightclubs disperse velvet ropes
downtown, the cover charges are only growing. Just stepping through the doors
of one of the Gaslamp
Quarter’s super-clubs like Belo or Stingaree
will set you back $25 to $30, and that’s not even including a single $12 drink.
Besides knowing somebody, the only way to waive these exorbitant covers it to
arrive early. Most clubs start charging at nine. Sure, it’s a little awkward,
meandering through an empty dance floor. But once the crowd filters in, who’s
to know you didn’t make a late, expensive entrance as well?
Arriving early also goes for daytime attractions. The most difficult part is
rousing the kids at ungodly hours, but lines at the San Diego Wild
and Sea World, for example, can be so atrocious the resultant whining is well
When people vacation in San Diego,
the make the same rounds every time. The zoo. Legoland. Sea World. Mission Beach. But the city is also home to a
whole host of attractions that haven’t yet been tainted by teeming tourists.
Naturally, locals don’t spend every weekend at the Wild Animal
Park. Where else is there
For starters, there are several beaches you can visit to avoid the worst of
the crowds without sacrificing beauty. Black’s Beach in La
Jolla is a fine example, offering jaw-dropping vistas, if you can
stand the lengthy downhill trek to reach it. Immediately north of Windansea, a
series of tide pools and broad rocks create a perfect place to sunbathe. Dog Beach in
Ocean Beach is an animal-lover’s paradise.
Other things to do: walk through a less-known neighborhood like artsy North
Park, beautiful Bird Rock, or fun-and-funky Ocean Beach.
Visit a flavorful locals bar like the Princess
Pub in Little Italy, the Whistle Stop in South Park,
or Wine Steals in Hillcrest.
There’s more to San Diego
than a zoo, a beach, and a ballpark, and a simple step off the well-traveled
path will result in a treasure trove of hidden jewels.