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Green Vacationing

Exploring San Diego without a car

If you visit San Diego and want to easily of get around without the hassle of driving and parking—plus save precious natural resources—we’ve got just the itinerary for you!

Ideas for the Ecologically-Minded Traveler

For anyone who favors traveling without a car, we've got just the itinerary for you! All you need to do is book a hotel near a San Diego Trolley station or major transit center (that covers almost every hotel in downtown, Old Town or Mission Valley). With a train, bus or trolley pass in hand and a spirit of adventure, you’ll be good to go.

Note: Up to two children age 5 and under are free with a paid adult on the Metropolitan Transit System. AMTRAK takes you to the Santa Fe Depot and from there you can board the Trolley to points north, east and south. Trolley routes begin at 4:00 AM and service continues until midnight or later on weekends and for special events. Key bus routes also run later in the evenings. For more details, visit the Metropolitan Transit System.

Day 1: Balboa Park, the Nation's Largest Urban Cultural Park

Home to 17 major museums, renowned performing arts venues, beautiful gardens, and the world-famous San Diego Zoo. Balboa Park has an ever-changing calendar of museum exhibitions, plays, musicals, concerts and classes.

From downtown catch Route 7 or 215 along Broadway or take a Blue or Orange Line trolley to the City College Station. On Park Boulevard, Routes 7 and 215 stop at Presidents Way, in front of the Natural History Museum at the Rose Garden, and at Zoo Drive. Once in the park, you can also board an internal park tram.

In Mission Valley, take the trolley's Green Line to the Fashion Valley Transit Center and board Route 120 that runs limited-stop service to Fourth & Laurel, just two short blocks from the entrance to the park.

Day 2: Downtown, the Gaslamp, Embarcadero, Little Italy and Petco Park

Ride around Downtown on the trolley's Blue or Orange lines, or if you feel energetic, most downtown destinations are an easy walk from one another, so you can visit historic neighborhoods, dine at great restaurants and enjoy great shopping at Horton Plaza or Seaport Village, see the Museum of Contemporary Art or catch a concert at Symphony Hall. During the spring and summer you can catch a baseball game at Petco Park when the San Diego Padres are at home, or an open-air concert at the San Diego Symphony's beautiful new Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, just west of the San Diego Convention Center!

Day 3: Old Town State Historical Park or SeaWorld

Take the Green Line to Old Town. Either walk one block east into San Diego's birthplace or hop on Route 9, which departs every 30 minutes from the west side of the Transit Center for the 10-minute ride to SeaWorld.

Day 4: Beaches: Coronado, Mission Beach and La Jolla

San Diego is synonymous with sun, surf and sand. You don’t have to go far from downtown San Diego to hang 10 and experience firsthand our Southern California beach culture. Our bus and trolley routes are beach friendly, so surfboards (up to 6 feet) are welcome aboard.

Coronado, the Silver Strand and Imperial Beach: You can catch the Coronado Ferry from the B Street pier (departs on the hour) 2 blocks west of the Santa Fe Depot in downtown, or from the docks just west of the Convention Center (departs on the half-hour), and take the 15-minute scenic ride to the Ferry Landing in Coronado. You can rent bikes, walk or catch a cab to the historic Hotel Del Coronado. Or you can ride a 901 bus (stops all along Broadway in downtown), which will take you across the bridge and into Coronado and then down the Silver Strand to the Imperial Beach Pier.

Mission Beach and Pacific Beach:  Take a trolley to Old Town and hop on Route 8 or 9 buses that depart every 15 minutes on the west side of the Transit Center. At Belmont Park in Mission Beach, rent a surfboard, bodyboard, bike or skateboard; take a dip in the Plunge; or ride the Giant Dipper coaster. Mission Beach and Pacific Beach are connected by a three-mile boardwalk crowded with inline skaters, skateboarders, runners, bikers and sun worshippers. The surrounding streets, stores, restaurants and bars bustle with activity.

From Old Town take Route 28 to Shelter Island and then Route 84 to the Cabrillo National Monument in Point Loma and or take Route 35 to the epic surf spots of Sunset Cliffs and earthy Ocean Beach, home of the Ocean Beach Pier, Dog Beach and the Ocean Beach Antique District.

La Jolla: Ride the Green Line to Old Town and catch the Route 30 express to La Jolla. Or, hop on the new UC San Diego Blue Line trolley extension, which will take you all way to the University of California, the Westfield UTC mall and other spots in the eastern part of La Jolla. Located about 20 minutes north of downtown San Diego, La Jolla is a seaside village nestled along seven miles of gently curving coastline. The community (whose name is pronounced "La Hoya") is known as "the jewel" of San Diego, and it's an appropriate description for this beautiful hamlet graced with spectacular scenery, outdoor recreation, world-class shopping, fine dining and an eclectic mix of museums, theaters and art galleries. You can also kayak the sea caves with Bike & Kayak Tours, Inc. - La Jolla or dive/snorkel in San Diego-La Jolla Underwater Park, the first coastal underwater preserve on the West Coast.

Day 4: Alternate Ideas:

Mission Valley is a great place to "Shop 'til you Drop," take a tour of San Diego State University, take a nature walk along the San Diego River or go on side trips to interesting nearby neighborhoods.

Take the Green Line from Old Town to any of the great shopping centers along the Mission Valley corridor, such as Fashion Valley, Hazard Center, Westfield Mission Valley, Rio Vista and Fenton Marketplace. You also can walk along the San Diego River on trails from the Hazard Center to Rio Vista trolley stations.

In the fall, the San Diego State University (SDSU) Aztecs football team plays its home games at the brand-new Snapdragon Stadium, on the site of the former SDCCU Stadium. SDSU itself is just two trolley stations away from Qualcomm. And the university, a beautiful place to explore, offers cultural and arts events throughout the campus, plus sporting events and concerts at Viejas Arena.

To visit some of San Diego's older, walkable communities, take bus Route 120 south from the Fashion Valley Transit Center to the center of the trendy Hillcrest neighborhood at Fourth Avenue and University. The Mission Hills neighborhood is a few blocks north and west along Washington Street. And the North Park community is east on University via Route 10 to 30th Street. All offer great restaurants and unique, boutique shops.

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