No Car, No Problem: How to Get Around San Diego Without a Car
When visiting a new city, it’s important to make a plan for how you’ll be getting to everywhere you want to be. Despite Southern California’s reputation as a driver-centric destination, San Diego offers all the conveniences of any modern metropolis. With a growing public transportation system, bike paths, boardwalks, ferries, and more to take advantage of, it’s easier than ever to discover how to get around San Diego without a car.
Getting to Island Palms
First things first: you’re going to want to get to us at Island Palms! There are several ways available to reach us. If you’re flying into San Diego International Airport (which is only 2.3 miles from us!), you can make use of the skybridge from both Terminals 1 and 2, and make your way to the airport’s Transportation Plaza. At the Transportation Plaza, you will find rideshares, buses, and taxicabs — all of which are convenient, and staffed by helpful folks who know the ins and outs of the city better than just about anyone. However you reach us, we’re happy you did!
Catch the Trolley…
The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System is an easy and economical way to get around San Diego County. Known as “The Trolley,” San Diego’s metro trains service over 50 areas of the city and run on three lines — including the newly expanded Blue Line, which has recently added multiple stops. Riders can use the Trolley to reach many of the city’s most popular attractions. At just $2.50 for a one-way ticket to any station, and $8 for a Day Pass (which is good for the whole day), this option is both efficient and budget-friendly. Need to find a stop? The MTS offers a handy reference map right here.
…Or the Bus
MTS also offers an extensive series of bus routes that can take you just about anywhere you need to be all around the city. The best part? Your transit pass can be used all day on any route MTS offers — which includes both the bus, and the Trolley. So if there’s somewhere you’d like to go, MTS can get you there! And that includes within steps of Island Palms right here on Shelter Island.
Take a Trolley Tour
Speaking of trolleys — when you’re looking to do a little sightseeing, Old Town Trolley Tours offers excellent hop-on / hop-off “transportainment” tours through some of San Diego’s most can’t-miss areas. Every tour is narrated by friendly local historians who know the city inside and out, so expect fun stories, informative trivia, more than 100 points of interest, and a relaxing ride. Every tour also includes complimentary admission to 10 of the city’s best museums, so you’ll have something to look forward to even after you de-board!
Hop on Commuter Rail
Looking for a quick trip either to, or along the beach? You’ve got some very handy options in the form of light rail. The COASTER line offers both transportation, and breathtaking beachside scenery as it traverses between Oceanside and downtown. Trains depart the station at numerous points every day, so check here for pricing and schedules. Additionally, the Pacific Surfliner connects downtown and Old Town with the coastal communities north of the city (including Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad, and Oceanside). These trains offer visitors car-free access to some of the most charming beach communities in the region, as well as a relaxing ride with stunning views.
Take A San Diego Seal Tour
…And we don’t mean the adorable flippered animals (although you can visit them in La Jolla Cove, at SeaWorld San Diego, or at Birch Aquarium). San Diego SEAL Tours offers an experience you simply can’t have anywhere else. A “seal” is the term used to refer to an amphibious vehicle that’s half bus, half boat, and 100% fun! During a Seal tour, the whole family can climb aboard, drive directly into the water, and see the city sights. It’s truly one of the best times you can have on land and sea.
Explore by Bike
San Diego is ranked as one of the most bicycle-friendly cities in the nation, so getting around town on two wheels is a popular transportation option. Riders can enjoy the sunshine and sea breeze, and get some exercise while they’re at it. Going to the beach? Cruise the route known as the Bayshore Bikeway, a 24-mile path reserved for cyclists, providing riders with a convenient way to commute safely without having to worry about sharing the road with motor vehicles. Need a bike? You’re in luck! Island Palms offers guests complimentary two-hour bike rentals. Just ask the front desk, and we’ll get you on the road!
Take a Walk
Stroll along Shelter Island for scenic views of the marina, or head to the shore and discover the bustling stretch of boardwalk between Mission Beach and Pacific Beach. The Boardwalk connects these popular destinations and is brimming with restaurants, specialty shops, bars, and more. Wherever you stroll, you’ll find that stopping to smell the roses gives you time to enjoy just how spectacular San Diego’s scenery really is.
Hop on the Ferry
If you’re looking to venture across the bay to Coronado Island, be sure to hop on the Coronado Ferry. This 15-minute cruise is perfect for those who enjoy being on the water and offers a scenic, reasonably priced option for getting across the bay. Not only will you be able to enjoy panoramic water views, but you’ll also experience one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Pro tip: Grab a seat on the roof for better views of the bay.
Share the Ride
Ride-sharing is always a great option if you need to travel longer distances than a bike or your feet can take you. Uber and Lyft are the two most prominent, but upstart rideshare service Bounce is also making inroads in the San Diego market. A ride to just about anywhere in the metro can be ordered via smartphone apps in minutes. Ultimately, you’re never far from your next ride, and the fares are usually quite reasonable.
FRED (an acronym for Free Ride Everywhere Downtown) is a convenient shuttle that operates in San Diego’s downtown area. The hours and coverage area are a bit limited, but if you’re already downtown, these electric, open-air shuttles are easy to hop on and off from nearly any street corner. And if you need to travel further afield, FRED makes many stops that can connect you with other mass-transit options with a wider reach.
Electric scooters from companies like Bird and Spin have recently begun to pop up in many urban centers, and San Diego is no exception. These convenient and fun “last mile” transportation options are easy to ride, and even easier to access. Just download the corresponding app, use a GPS-linked map to find a scooter, and unlock it with your smartphone. From there, you can zip around to your heart’s content — you’re only charged for the amount of time you spend on-board.
In addition to ride-share services, San Diego is also home to many traditional taxi companies. Each is only a phone call away and will be happy to take you anywhere you’d like to be. Andy’s Cab (619-981-0621), AK Cab (619-306-9761), and City Captain Transportation (619-800-3515) are all highly rated by locals and visitors alike.
Explore San Diego From Island Palms
Want to take advantage of these convenient modes of transportation to get around our beautiful city? The team at Best Western Plus Island Palms will be more than happy to help you plan your car-free itinerary. Check out our latest offers and start planning your stay today!