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Frequently Asked Questions

San Diego visitor information centers answer more than 250,000 questions a year from visitors to the San Diego/Baja region. This section lists some of the most frequently "answered" questions to assist our visitors in planning their trips to San Diego.

How far is Downtown San Diego from the airport?

San Diego International Airport is conveniently located approximately 3.5 miles from the heart of the Downtown area. Several shuttle companies offer shared rides to and from Lindbergh Field and to other areas of San Diego County. There are numerous limousine and chauffeur services available for hire upon arriving at the airport. The airport is also served by the Metropolitan Transit System bus route #992. Most rental car agencies have airport facilities and/or provide service to arriving visitors.

How long will it take me to drive to various places around the San Diego region?

A lot of people say that everything is "20 minutes away" in San Diego. While that's not exactly true, most everything is conveniently located in San Diego. The table below will give you an idea of travel times that can be expected under normal circumstances.

Drive Times from Downtown San Diego:

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park - 2 hours
Coronado - 7 minutes
Escondido - 30 minutes
Hotel Circle - 10 minutes
Julian - 90 minutes
La Jolla - 20 minutes
Mission Bay - 15 minutes
Oceanside - 40 minutes
San Diego International Airport (Lindbergh Field) - 10 minutes
Tijuana - 30 minutes
Ensenada - 2 hours
Rosarito - 1 hour

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I will not have a car while I'm in San Diego. Is there a public transportation system?

San Diego offers plenty of convenient public transportation options that are safe, clean and efficient, from the San Diego Trolley to the Coaster train to the metropolitan bus system. Please visit the Metropolitan Transit System's web site for information on the bus, trolley and Coaster (local train service). There you will find current fare and schedule information.

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What is the approximate taxi or rideshare fare from San Diego International Airport to Downtown San Diego?

The typical fare via taxi or rideshare from the airport to Downtown's Gaslamp Quarter is $16-$18. (Bear in mind that some area hotels provide complimentary shuttle service to and from the airport.) Numerous companies provide these transportation services; check the airport's information pages on taxis and rideshares for more details and contact info.

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What is the customary amount to tip?

A tip or gratuity is common in the United States. In restaurants it is customary to tip 15% of the bill or 20% for above-average service. Gratuities are not necessary in cafeterias with self-service. At hotels and airports, a $2 tip per bag or suitcase is customary for the bellhop or porter. Taxi drivers are usually tipped 15% of the total fare.

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What is the sales tax rate for the City of San Diego?

The current combined sales tax rate for San Diego is 7.75%.

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What is the most cost-effective way to see the museums in Balboa Park?

A Balboa Park Explorer Pass is your ticket to experience Balboa Park Museums. A One-Day Explorer Pass offers admission to four out of 16 available museums in the park for $56; children ages 3-12 are $35. A Parkwide Pass, which is good for seven consecutive days, offers admission to 16 participating museums in the park for $67; the rate for children ages 3-12 is $43. An Annual Explorer Pass offers admission to 16 participating museums for a full year at $129; the rate for seniors (65+) and full-time college students is $99; and family passes (up to two adults and up to four children ages 3-17) are $229.

All the Explorer Passes are available for purchase online at the Balboa Park Visitors Center, at participating attractions or at the MTS Transit store downtown. Prices subject to change.

The Go City Card includes admission to more than 35 top attractions for one low price! Attractions include the San Diego Zoo, LEGOLAND California, all the museums in Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo Safari Park, San Diego Harbor Excursions, Birch Aquarium, USS Midway Museum and many more! Do what you like at your own pace on an unlimited basis. Cards are available in 1-, 2-, 3-, 5- and 7-day increments and a guidebook is included for free. The 3-, 5- and 7-day passes also include admission to SeaWorld San Diego.

Visit our dedicated discount passes page for a full roundup of available deals.

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What is the admission cost to the San Diego Zoo?

We suggest you contact the San Diego Zoo Wildlife Alliance directly for pricing specific to your group. However, an insider's note: October is Kids Free Month at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, and all children ages 11 and under are admitted free.

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What professional sports teams are playing in San Diego?

The top local professional sports teams include the San Diego Padres (Major League Baseball), San Diego Wave (National Women's Soccer League), San Diego Legion (Major League Rugby, San Diego Seals (National Lacrosse League), the San Diego Gulls (American Hockey League), and the San Diego Sockers (Major Arena Soccer League). Find more details at our Spectator Sports page.

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How do I find accommodations in San Diego?

Please visit our Stay section to find lodging that suits your needs.

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What kinds of accommodations can I expect to find in San Diego?

Travelers will find a wealth of lodging options available. They include full-service hotels offering room service and well-appointed health clubs; cozy bed & breakfasts; clean and comfortable motels and hotels to suit the budget-conscious; hostels offering the backpacker a bed for the night; and condominium and house vacation rentals for those who wish to be independent.

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Which hotels in San Diego are children friendly?

San Diego is very much a family destination, and children are welcome. Several of the larger resort-style properties offer seasonal activities for children, while the more modest properties may offer a children's play area.

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What is the room tax for San Diego Hotels?

The Transient Occupancy Tax (10.5% in the City of San Diego) is levied on hotel and motel room stays here, as in many other destinations. It helps fund numerous key public services, including police and fire protection, parks maintenance and other important needs.

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What type of clothing do I need to pack?

With an average daily temperature of 70.5 degrees Fahrenheit (21.4 degrees Celsius), San Diego will place few demands on your wardrobe. Casual sportswear and layering options are ideal for San Diego's temperate weather. You'll rarely need a topcoat or raincoat, even in winter months. Evenings are cooler, even in the summer, so be sure to bring a jacket or a light sweater. The temperatures are typically on the warm side during the day so make sure to have shorts and swimming attire handy. Most San Diego restaurants welcome casual attire.

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What can you tell me about beaches in the San Diego area?

If "life's a beach," then San Diego County is the place to experience it to the fullest, with 70 miles of sand and sea stretching from Oceanside at the northern end of the county to Imperial Beach near the Mexican border. Within those limits lie more than 33 beaches, each with distinct features and personalities. San Diego has the ideal beach for every person in your group — youngest visitors included. For further information on locating the perfect beach, visit our comprehensive Beach and Sea Guide.

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Where can I find theater listings for San Diego?

San Diego has a thriving theatrical community, offering an exciting and enriching mix of musicals, comedies and drama for your enjoyment. Visit the Arts & Culture section of our website for a complete listing. For bargain hunters, the San Diego Performing Arts League offers half-price tickets to many theater, music and dance performances, both online and at the league's ArtsTix Booth near the Balboa Theatre in Downtown San Diego.

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How many golf courses are in San Diego County?

With more than 70 golf courses and a temperate climate, San Diego is a golf enthusiast's dream year-round. Check this page for golf courses in San Diego. If you are looking for a golfing vacation, several lodging establishments are closely associated with or have their own golf courses. Want to try something unique? Play a course in San Diego in the morning, cross the international border, and play a round of golf in Tijuana, Mexico, in the afternoon. Or play a round where the pros tee off, at the world-renowned Torrey Pines Golf Course — home to the 2008 and 2021 U.S. Open tournament as well as the annual Farmers Insurance Open.

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How do I travel to Tijuana and Baja California, Mexico, from San Diego?

Tijuana is approximately 16 miles south of downtown San Diego. The recommended method to travel to Tijuana is to take the Trolley to the border and walk across. Crossing the border by car generally takes longer, with long lines at the border crossing. You will need a valid passport to travel across the border. Check this page for more information on crossing the Mexican border.

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Are there casinos in the San Diego Region?

San Diego is home to numerous Indian gaming casinos that offer Vegas-style accommodations, amenities and gaming activities. Just 30-45 minutes from Downtown, San Diego's Indian casinos provide 24/7 Las Vegas-style action and entertainment, and some also offer full-service resort facilities, popular outlet centers, luxury spas, golf courses and museums, along with showrooms and live entertainment.

Developed by Native Americans on their tribal lands, these casinos reflect another facet of San Diego's rich cultural diversity. With a thriving community of 18 tribes, San Diego has the largest tribal concentration of any single county in the U.S. While the casinos help many tribes to be financially self-sufficient, they also enable tribal governments to support charities and social programs serving the entire San Diego community. For guides to San Diego’s casinos, visit the Casinos and Gaming Section of the website.

Speaker Request

The San Diego Tourism Authority engages with industry partners and broader audiences alike through speaking events that discuss the importance of tourism marketing and sales and its impact on the local economy. Do you have a conference or an event that would benefit from the San Diego Tourism Authority's participation and would like to request a speaker? Please complete this form.

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