How to Visit San Diego for Less

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Assignment Content

San Diego is a beautiful city with well-known attractions that bring tourists from all corners of the globe. Because it’s a holiday hot spot, however, it can be an expensive place to vacation. That doesn’t mean you can’t visit, though—it just means that you have to spend your money wisely and save everywhere you can.

Travel During Shoulder Season

Image via Flickr by beeron2003

Off-season travel is always less expensive than vacationing during tourist season. Not only are plane tickets and room rates cheaper, but the crowds are smaller and less hectic, too. In San Diego, the shoulder season is from January through March and from October to November. You won’t give up any of the city’s beautiful weather, but you’ll save a substantial amount of money, and you may have the chance to take advantage of package deals. Hotels, restaurants, bars, museums, and tourist attractions are eager to turn a profit during down times, even if that means slashing prices and creating discounts.

Skip the City

Just because you want to visit San Diego, that doesn’t mean you have to stay there. It’s a beautiful city, but centering your vacation there gets expensive in no time. It’s smarter to pick a spot nearby and then travel to San Diego each day. Check out accommodations in Pacific Beach, for example, and you get to enjoy the proximity to the city without the higher rates. Look for a town that has its own attractions, too, even if it’s just a stretch of beautiful coastline or a fascinating museum.

Hop on Public Transportation

Image via Flickr by Alan & Flora Botting

Rental cars are expensive. Even if you snag a deal or a discount, renting a car is still a costly expenditure. It’s also a huge hassle. Filling up your tank is the last thing you want to do during vacation. City driving isn’t kind to your gas tank, anyway. You also have to worry about messing up the vehicle all the time, plus there’s the tedium of making sure that your insurance covers rental cars.

Public transportation is much more affordable, and it so happens that San Diego has excellent public transport options. Rather than stressing out on the Interstate 5, hop on the trolley and enjoy the view of the city through its open windows. If you can’t take the trolley or walk to a particular destination, just call a cab or a Lyft.

Eat Well but Cheap

All too often, vacationers in San Diego make the mistake of foraging for food in the tourist areas. As a result, they spend their holiday eating average food at restaurants with above-average prices. Forget that. Be kind to your budget and avoid high-priced areas such as the Gaslamp Quarter and Old Town. Those are stunning areas of the city, but aside from snacks or a cocktail, avoid most of the restaurants in those neighborhoods. Save your appetite for Hillcrest, Kensington, or North Park, where the restaurants are plentiful, the food is superb, and the prices are reasonable.

With the right planning, you can easily have a memorable and budget-friendly trip to San Diego. How do you cut costs on vacation? Do you have any tips for navigating San Diego on a budget?