When you visit San Diego, you’ll need to figure out how to get from point A to point B. The city and nearby communities are vast and spread out in a county that covers more than 4,000 square miles.
A little bit of planning can save you a lot of aggravation.
While many people still prefer to drive their own, rent cars, or use UBER and Lyft, smart visitors know that San Diego has given great thought to planning alternative ways to move about the region.
Here are some options to consider.
If you're staying in downtown San Diego, the iconic bright red San Diego Trolley provides convenient services to popular destinations, including the Santa Fe Depot, San Diego Convention Center, Old Town, Mission Valley, El Cajon, and San Ysidro on the Mexican border. The recently added UC San Diego Blue Line expanded service north to Clairemont and the UCSD/La Jolla area.
Overall, the Orange, Green, and Blue trolley lines traverse more than 50 miles of the city, with a reputation for regular and on-time schedules, affordable fares, and fantastic city views.
Buses are another economical and reliable option. The Metropolitan Bus System offers a comprehensive network of more than 100 bus routes that can deliver you to almost any neighborhood or destination in the area.
The North County Transit District's COASTER trains connect downtown and Old Town with coastal communities throughout the county, stretching from Encinitas to Oceanside. More than 20 trains run on weekdays, with additional service on weekends, and children five and under ride free.
San Diego has tied these three options together with the PRONTO fare system. This cloud-based integrated pass lets you seamlessly ride all three systems anytime by buying tickets with a simple tap of the card or phone at a station kiosk.
The east-west SPRINTER light rail connects Oceanside, Vista, San Marcos, and Escondido. This 22-mile rail system runs every 30 minutes along Highway 78, serving 15 stations. You can buy a regional day pass valid on the SPRINTER, Trolley, and buses throughout the county.
If you want to head to points north, the Pacific Surfliner lets you travel along the coast from San Diego to Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and the northern Pacific Coast.
Public transportation is not limited to land-based options. If you want to get across San Diego Bay, a passenger ferry can take you between San Diego and the Coronado Ferry landing.
If money is not a concern, San Diego is also well-equipped with dozens of private luxury and party bus operators that will take you anywhere you want.