San Diego is renowned for its sunshine – which comes at a price. The city has a reputation as an expensive location, but you don’t have to break the bank to have a good time in the popular Southern California destination. The fact that many of San Diego’s attractions involve mother nature help keep the potential cost of a visit within reason. There are several ways to keep your visit within a tight budget.
San Diego is renowned for its sunshine – which comes at a price. The city has a reputation as an expensive location, but you don’t have to break the bank to have a good time in the popular South-ern California destination. The fact that many of San Diego’s attractions involve mother nature help keep the potential cost of a visit within reason. There are several ways to keep your visit within a tight budget.
1. Don’t stay in a hotel on the beach. Sure, you may want to spend a considerable amount of time on the sand, but if you are willing to stay about 10 miles inland you can save money on your hotel rate. Mission Valley is one such neighborhood with hotel options, as well as proximity to shopping and restaurants. As long as your hotel is within a few miles of I-8, it won’t take more than about 15 minutes to get to the coast with no traffic.
2. Take in the local parks. San Diego enjoys a plethora of established parkland, much of which includes bicycle and hiking trails with free access to the public. Balboa Park, located just north of downtown San Diego, also has gardens and museums that offer no or low admission fees.
3. Ride the trolley whenever you can. The trolley system in San Diego is not extensive, but it will get you to many popular spots, such as Old Town and downtown San Diego. Not only will a trolley ticket spare you the price of gas and any mileage costs incurred when driving a rental car, but you won’t have to pay for parking or circle for a spot in a neighborhood with which you are not familiar.
4. Eat at local restaurants. Some of the best food in town can be found at tiny Mexican taco shops and Thai eateries, most of which will feed you for less than $10.
5. Go to Cabrillo National Monument. There is a nominal fee ($5 as of 2011) to drive in, but the fee is assessed by car, not by individual passenger. Once in the park, you have access to perhaps the most stunning views in all of San Diego. The park overlooks downtown San Diego as well as the Pacific Ocean. You can also tour the Old Point Loma Lighthouse for free and experience a self-guided two mile walk.
6. Stay away from the major malls if you want to do a significant amount of shopping. If you are looking to buy souvenirs, clothes or other goodies while you are in town, you’re better off staying near the beach. Many small local boutiques offer clothes for a fraction of the cost you’ll see at the mall, particularly on Garnet Avenue. Old Town is known for T-Shirt shops, and you’ll find cheap flip-flops and bathing suits on the boardwalk of Mission Beach.
Don’t be afraid to visit San Diego because you think it will cost you a fortune. If you plan ahead, you’ll find that there are many no-cost or low-cost ways to enjoy your time there. Best of all, you can enjoy the outdoors in the city nearly year-round, so if you book a vacation in the off-season – say, September – you can still get some sun and save on your hotel rate. +