Do you really need to rent a car if visiting San Diego?

Staying in Hillcrest area, will need a way to get to Gaslamp area (convention center). Would public transport be enough?

Would you recommend renting a car to visit other touristy parts of San Diego? How bad is the traffic? How accessible is parking? And how costly is parking?

7 Answers

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    I live in downtown San Diego near the Convention Center. The public transportation is not all that bad and is an easy trip from Hillcrest. There's buses that run down Fourth Avenue from Hillcrest to downtown (and back up Fifth Avenue to Hillcrest) and will get you to within a few blocks of the Convention Center and they run very early morning to late at night. In the actual Hillcrest are you can walk to almost anything, especially if you are close to Fourth and Washington or near there.

    Hillcrest is also very close to the Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. You can take a bus down Washington ST in Hillcrest to the Washington St trolley station and catch a trolley there that will get you connections to the beaches, Sea World and so on.

    There's also the Old Town Trolley tours that will get you to all of the popular tourist stops, worth it if you've never been here before.

    Having said all that, a car is definitely a plus to get to the more out of the way, or farther away spots. Weekly rental deals are common with unlimited mileage.

    Traffic can be challenging in downtown, mainly because the street are alternating one-ways and people get really confused and then do, well, dumb things...

    Outside of downtown traffic isn't bad except for the freeways at morning and afternoon rush hours.

    But downtown parking...

    There's parking at the Convention Center but is fills up fast with big conventions. There's plenty of parking in downtown, but it's going to cost you from $5 to $20 a day depending on where you park. Avoid the on-street meter spots if you can, the parking enforcement predators show no mercy. There's several parking lots within two-three blocks of the Convention Center.

    I put links below to the the Trolley Tours, SD buses and downtown parking ) although the map is outdated already, it's close)

    Have fun in SD and don't bring bad weather with you :-)

  • 5 years ago

    You probably could get by with public transportation. Since you mention the Gaslamp Quarter....it is easy to take the San Diego Trolley to this area. Get off at the Gaslamp Station or the 5th Avenue Station. However, one of the things I like best about San Diego is that it is a large city that doesn't seem quite so large because of it being spread out into different smaller communities. A car would be best for many of these places. Parking is usually easy....many places have free parking lots. The exceptions are downtown San Diego and downtown LaJolla around Prospect Avenue. You will need to park in a garage in these areas. Traffic gets backed up during rush hour, but otherwise is not too bad. Have fun in San Diego!

  • CK
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    San Diego DOES NOT HAVE good public transportation. You'll be sitting next to the dredges of society-normal people DO not take the bus here & the trolly is a joke!

    You do need to rent a car because everything is spread out. Traffic is not that bad, parking is ok most places that you'll go. Parking in gaslamp costs about $8-$15/night-a true bargin compared to other big cities.

    Source(s): 4th generation San Diegan
  • 1 decade ago

    You can get to the convention center from Hillcrest without getting on the freeway. Public transportation is fine if you don't mind waiting longer. Overall, I would recommend you rent the smallest (most inexpensive) vehicle since you mentioned that you may visit tourist locations. Parking under the convention center is $8/day (cheapest for the area). Hillcrest has some popular restaurants as well as downtown (Gaslamp Quarter). Places worth visiting include Old Town, Coronado (Hotel Del), La Jolla (Prospect & Coast Streets), Cabrillo Monument.

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  • 1 decade ago

    I would renting a car. San Diego is a very big place for someone not familiar with the place and for someone trying to get someplace in a hurry.

  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You can take a cab wherever you want to go.

  • 1 decade ago

    take a cab, take the trolley, take public transit!!

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