From the city to the sea, San Diego lures visitors with its year-round sunny disposition. Whether you’re headed there for work, fun, or a little bit of both, here are our tips for making the most of your time in San Diego.
Where to fly in
Located a quick three miles from downtown San Diego, San Diego International Airport (SAN) serves as the main airport for the city. What can you expect flying into SAN? When our friends at TripIt analyzed over one million flight ratings to determine which factors impacted traveler happiness in 2018, San Diego International Airport ranked #11 in the country for best arrival airport and #14 for best departure airport. The city of San Diego also ranked #10 on the happiest hometown list, meaning San Diego-based flyers are among the happiest travelers in the country.
Once on the ground, a taxi or shuttle is a quick and easy way to get to your destination. Both can be found outside of each terminal. Taxi base fare and rates are displayed on the meter and include a per-mile and/or a per-hour charge. If you are traveling from the airport, taxis add $1.50 to your final total. Alternatively, Lyft and Uber are also available in San Diego and have access to service the airport. And, if you manage your travel and expenses with Concur or Concur Hipmunk, your Uber trip receipt will automatically populate into your expense report. Instead of a taxi or rideshare, you can opt for a free airport shuttle. Shuttles run between the airport and the Sycuan Green Line Middletown trolley station every 10 to 15 minutes.
Where to stay
Good news for business travelers craving a bit of luxury but working with a fixed travel budget: according to Hipmunk’s data, 5-star hotel prices in San Diego average just $329/night—essentially, you’re getting a 5-star hotel at a 3-star price. For instance, you can experience the iconic Hotel del Coronado with room rates starting at $320/night. Built in 1888 and frequented by stars like Frank Sinatra and Marilyn Monroe, Hotel del Coronado is ideally situated along the Pacific coastline and offers luxurious accommodations, first-class amenities and exceptional service. Modern amenities more your style? The 5-star Pendry San Diego, located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter, has six on-site bars and restaurants, an aptly named Spa Pendry, a rooftop pool and lounge, and even a beer hall. Room rates start at $295/night.
Whether you opt for luxury or prefer to save your budget for another business trip, here are our picks for where to stay in San Diego:
- If you’re all about location, the Manchester Grand Hyatt San Diego is perfectly situated in Downtown San Diego, close to both the San Diego Convention Center and popular tourist attractions. We recommend ending your work day at the Top of Hyatt Lounge and Bar—the hotel’s 40th floor rooftop bar with views of San Diego Bay. (Plus, Concur Hipmunk users receive exclusive discounts when staying at a Hyatt property.)
- Andaz San Diego offers a unique guest experience in its Lounge—a dedicated lobby space for guests to relax, get some work done, or catch up with a client. Located in the Gaslamp Quarter, this hotel is also well-situated for business travelers attending an event at the Convention Center or Petco Park.
- In need of event space? The Hilton San Diego Gaslamp Quarter offers 10,000 square feet of event facilities. Amenities also include a 24-hour fitness center, outdoor pool, and on-site restaurant offering innovative California cuisine.
How to get around
There are four Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) trolley lines that service the downtown San Diego communities and beyond: UC San Diego Blue, Orange, Sycuan Green and SDG&E Silver. Trolleys run an average of every 15 minutes; every seven minutes during peak hours and every 30 minutes during off-peak hours. If you’re staying in Southern San Diego, Downtown, or Mission Valley, the trolley is a convenient way to get to places like the Santa Fe Depot and the San Diego Convention Center. Before you board, simply download the Compass Cloud app to purchase a one-day pass right from your smartphone. Don’t need a full day pass? One-way Compass Card tickets are available at all trolley stations.
If you prefer a faster mode of transport, hailing a cab, Uber or Lyft is likely your best option for getting around San Diego in a jiffy.
Pro tip: Use TripIt’s Navigator feature to search transportation options available to you. It will show you the estimated costs and travel times for each option, so you can decide which works best. You can find Navigator within your flight, hotel and rental car details screens. Plus, if you add a restaurant reservation to your itinerary (more on where to eat below), Navigator also helps you find the best transportation options for getting to your table.
Where to eat
Top Chefs. Urban wineries. Food festivals. Farmers markets. What do all of these things have in common? They’re all found in San Diego’s Little Italy—and exactly where you should head at least once during your trip (or every day, if you’re so inclined!). Little Italy’s Kettner Boulevard is home to hot spots like Juniper & Ivy, Born & Raised, Kettner Exchange, and Herb & Wood. You’ll also find authentic Italian eateries lining India Street.
For breakfast, The Cottage in La Jolla and Broken Yolk with locations in Downtown and Pacific Beach are great options. Just need a cup of joe? Coffee and Tea Collective has two great locations in North Park and East Village. You could also swing by Communal Coffee, a combo coffee and flower shop with locations in North Park and South Park.
What to do
Looking to get some sightseeing in while you’re in town? Rent a Pedego electric bike and pedal your way around the city’s landmarks. First, head to Balboa Park—a beautiful, 1,000 acre park with 15 museums, botanical gardens, and the San Diego Zoo. Then, make your way to the historic Gaslamp Quarter—San Diego’s epicenter for art galleries, trendy boutiques, rooftop bars, gastropubs, and fine dining restaurants. Old Town, Coronado, Liberty Station and Harbor & Shelter Islands are all within biking distance, as well.
If you’re visiting San Diego during baseball season, be sure to catch a Padres game at Petco Park. More interested in the social aspect of the game (read: beer over baseball)? The area surrounding Petco Park offers loads of great places to grab a drink or bite to eat both before and after games at places like Mission Brewery and East Village Tavern and Bowl.
If your family tagged along on your business trip, there are plenty of kid-friendly things to do, too. Start your day at the San Diego Zoo, then head to The New Children’s Museum for a hands-on art experience. Families will also love learning about San Diego’s maritime heritage at the USS Midway Museum and the Maritime Museum of San Diego.
Adults-only? By day, visit the Museum of Contemporary Art, or for retail therapy, head to the shops of Seaport Village. By night, visit the East Village, a revitalized warehouse district now known for its vibrant nightlife, cafes, and craft beer bars.
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