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Welcome to the San Diego Region, one of America's friendliest and desirable visitor destinations. We hope that you'll experience as much of the sights and attractions that our beautiful destination has to offer. These suggestions and hints should help ensure that your visit to San Diego is a safe one.

San Diego Safety Tips

Beach & Ocean Safety

  • Check with the lifeguards about safety conditions around the beach and water areas and tell your kids about any unsafe conditions or non-swimming areas.
  • If your children become separated from you, have them contact a lifeguard or police officer for help.
  • Observe posted signs around the beach area. Beach communities are generally more restrictive because of the number of people they attract.
  • For safety and the preservation of wildlife, do not touch wildlife on the beach or in the tidepools.
  • Do not carry glass containers to the beach.
  • If you're going to leave valuables in your car, place them in your trunk or conceal them before you arrive at your destination.
  • Alcohol is illegal at all beaches and many of our parks. Check signs and/or ask lifeguards or police.
  • Fire rings could contain hot coals or sharp objects. Please don't let kids play in fire rings.
  • If you want to enjoy a cool alcoholic beverage during your beach vacation, be sure to step off the sand and into one of the many restaurants and bars that line the shoreline. As of January 2008, alcohol is no longer allowed on San Diego beaches. Click here to find the restaurants near your favorite stretch of sand.


  • Remove badges when leaving convention area.
  • Walk "smart" when you leave your convention site; know your destination and the best way to reach it. Travel along sidewalks in lighted areas at night, and don't walk alone.
  • Establish a "buddy" system with another delegate to the convention, share schedules and check up on each other periodically.
  • Build your awareness of unknown surroundings by reviewing information on the community you are visiting (included in your registration packet), especially maps and guides.
  • Jackets with pockets provide a convenient alternative for women to reduce the chance for lost or stolen handbags.
  • Laptop computers are attractive, easy targets for thieves. Be sure your laptop is in a secure place.
  • Downtown San Diego businesses initiated a successful Clean and Safe program with trained ambassadors to assist visitors. They are visible in khaki and blue ballcaps and white logo shirts. Identification cards are visible.

To Enter the United States

Please note: All persons entering the U.S. are subject to inspection. The burden of proof is on the citizen.

  • U.S. Citizens must have proof of citizenship: Passport or U.S. naturalization papers. (Drivers License is not proof of citizenship, but it will serve as a photo ID.)
  • U.S. Residents must show their Resident Alien card (green card).
  • Canadians must show a valid passport - U.S. Visa not required.
  • All other foreigners must show a valid passport with: 1) a valid, multiple entry, unexpired, U.S. visa and a valid I-94 form or 2) a valid passport with an ESTA (Electronic System for Travel Authorization) stamp with the date of entry and WT or WB written on it. (See Notes on ESTA Program.)
  • Dogs must have current rabies certificate required to enter the U.S. For other animals, contact the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service: 1-800-358-2104.

Homeless Citizens

  • Every major city in the world has a homeless population. This social problem is common to urban areas. Their presence need not prevent people from enjoying San Diego and its amenities.
  • Most homeless people are harmless, however, some transients are chronic law violators who often infringe upon the rights of others. We suggest using a combination of caution and respect around panhandlers and other strangers.
  • Contributing to panhandlers will not help the problem. If you wish to help, contribute to a charity, mission, food bank or social service agency that assists the needy.

Hotel Motel Security

  • Determine the most direct route to and from your room to the fire escapes, elevators and nearest telephone.
  • Use all auxiliary locking devices on doors and windows.
  • Use the door viewer to identify anyone requesting entry. Open the door only if you are certain the person has a legitimate reason to enter your room. If in doubt, call the front desk.
  • Report any lost or stolen items to the management and to the police.
  • Never leave money, checks, credit cards, jewelry and other valuables, extra room keys or car keys in the room. Take valuables with you or leave them in the hotel safety deposit box.
  • Report to the management any suspicious activities in the corridors or rooms. Remember - the only way to stop crime is to get involved in crime prevention.

Kids Safety

  • When visiting local attractions, dress kids in bright clothing and designate a meeting site for lost family members. For small children, write down their names and where they're staying and put it in their pockets.
  • Instruct kids not to open hotel room doors to people they don't know.
  • Make sure kids are familiar with hotel/motel escape routes. Discuss which adult is responsible for which child/children in an emergency.
  • In California, when in a car, children under the age of 8 MUST use a child safety seat, a booster seat or other safety restraint system in the back seat. (Booster seats are special seats designed to make adult seat belts properly fit older children. Correct use of a booster seat will fulfill the new law requirement. Children under 8 who are 4' 9" or taller may be secured by a safety belt in the back seat.) Kids must not be left alone in a car.
  • Curfew in San Diego is 10:00 pm - it is strictly enforced for people under 18 years of age.

Traveling in Mexico

  • Click here for a complete list of acceptable documentation for crossing the U.S./Mexico border, effective June 1, 2009.
  • International travelers visiting Mexico need a valid passport and a multiple entry visa, or visa waiver, to re-enter the United States. New rules instituted January 2007 require all U.S. citizens traveling by air to present a valid passport. Beginning 2008, U.S. and Canadian citizens traveling by land and sea also must present a passport.
  • Minors (children under 18) traveling alone should have written permission. The note must be signed by both parents (or legal guardian) and be notarized. A minor traveling with one parent must have a notarized note signed by the other parent. If one parent has sole custody, or the other parent is deceased, minor must have papers stating this. Minors must also present a birth certificate issued by a federal, state, provincial, county or municipal authority.
  • Drinking on public streets is prohibited. The drinking age in Mexico is 18 years.
  • Possession/use of illicit drugs or firearms is strictly prohibited in Mexico.
  • Pets are allowed into Mexico with verification of a rabies vaccination within the past six months.
  • If driving into Mexico, purchase Mexican auto insurance on the U.S. side of the border.
  • Riding the trolley to the border and walking across is an alternate way to get there.
  • Should you require legal assistance in Mexico, contact your country's consulate office.
  • Remember, you may not enjoy the same rights and privileges you have in your native country.

On the Road

  • Photocopy all documents, including passport, credit cards and tickets before leaving home and store copies in the hotel safe.
  • Non-travel papers such as local credit cards and irreplaceable photos should be left at home.
  • Use traveler's checks and credit cards. Keep a record of their serial numbers in a separate and safe place in case they are lost or stolen.
  • Carry only the cash you need in small denominations and never discuss your plans or the amount of money you are carrying.
  • Carry your purse close to your body and your wallet in your front pocket.
  • Keep track of your plane, train or bus tickets - they are as good as cash.
  • While driving, respect and obey the traffic signs. Don't drink and drive, and always use your seat belt.
  • Never pick up hitchhikers.
  • If your car breaks down, turn on your flashers and raise the hood. If you must abandon your car, park safely and keep all passengers together. Freeway call boxes are spaced one-half mile apart and are programmed to identify your location.


  • When parking your car at visitor attractions or around the city, note curbside regulations and park within marked stalls. If your car is missing from where you parked it, call 619-531-2844 to see if it has been towed. 
  • Note the following curb markings which are strictly enforced: 
    • White: Three-minute maximum (10 minutes at hotels), for active loading only, 24 hours a day, unless otherwise noted. Exception: Airport/Hospital - the driver must stay with the car.
    • Green: Short-term parking for the posted duration or unlimited time with a visible disabled placard.
    • Yellow: Twenty-minute loading zone for vehicles with commercial plates only, 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. except Sundays and certain holidays, unless otherwise posted.
    • Red: No stopping, standing or parking. Be especially observant of the marked fire lanes.
    • Blue: Reserved for physically disabled persons only with vehicles marked by a California or out-of-state officially issued placard or plate. These violations are vigorously enforced and costly.
    • Parking Meters: Some meters only accept quarters and are enforced Monday-Saturday, 8:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Port meters with yellow poles are also enforced on Sundays, 10:00 am - 8:00 pm and accept coins or credit cards.
    • Tow Away Zone: Any location is potentially a tow away zone if you park illegally. Tow away zones are clearly marked and the regulations are strictly enforced. Having your car towed can be expensive. 
  • Contesting a citation: If you do get a ticket, and you feel it is a mistake, you may contest it in person, by telephone or by mail within 30 days of issuance.

    By Mail:
    P.O. Box 129043
    San Diego, CA 92112-9043


Public Transit

  • Have a current bus or trolley schedule. This info can usually be obtained from the hotel concierge or front desk.
  • Know when the last scheduled pick-up at major attractions will occur.
  • Always make sure the taxi driver starts the meter; never pay more than the meter amount. Gratuities are acceptable.
  • Have exact fare for public transportation.
  • Report bus, trolley and taxi concerns or compliments to MTDB, 619-231-1466. Please note the vehicle number.
  • When at a terminal for public transportation, never leave your luggage unattended.
  • Accept no items from persons unknown to you to be carried on board an aircraft.
  • Suggestions and hints should help ensure that your visit to San Diego is a safe one.


  • Ask for directions at your hotel/motel or an info center to those attractions you want to visit.
  • Looking lost may make you look like an easy target for crime. If you get lost, find an open business and ask for directions.
  • Be wary of strangers who seem overly anxious to help you.
  • Visitors are major targets for pickpockets in many cities throughout the world. Stay alert to what's going on around you.
  • When traveling in any unfamiliar place, avoid driving isolated highways at night and, if possible, avoid traveling alone.
  • Whether you're biking, skating or riding the waves, don't forget the protective gear, sunscreen and drinking water.

Vehicle Security

  • Do not advertise you are a visitor. Place maps, travel brochures and valuables in the glove compartment or trunk before you get to your destination. Carry wallets, checkbooks and purses with you.
  • Check the back seat before getting into your car.
  • Always lock your car and take the keys. Don't hide a spare key on your vehicle, a thief is sure to find it.
  • Never leave your vehicle with the engine running.
  • Park in well-lighted, busy areas.
  • Whenever you stop overnight, remove bags and other valuables from the car and take them inside your room.

Free Visitor Planning Guide

Free Visitor Planning Guide

Order a free visitor planning guide to help plan your San Diego vacation.

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