San Diego

Overview

Situated on the southwest coast of the golden state of California, San Diego is a beautiful, sunny and friendly destination just 32 km north of the border town of Tijuana, Mexico. And with everything from sandy beaches and desert, to lush valleys and breathtaking mountain ranges, this city has all the makings of a fabulous vacation.

Aside from its world renowned harbour and fantastic water sports options, San Diego is probably best known for its golf courses. Golf is one of the most popular pastimes here and there are more than 90 golf courses in San Diego County to choose from. The most famous, Torrey Pines Golf Course, is where the PGA Tour plays the Farmers Insurance Open (formerly the Buick Invitational).

There are also plenty of family-friendly attractions in San Diego, including major draws such as Legoland California, the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park. For three days each July, San Diego also hosts Comic-Con International – the world’s largest comic book and popular arts convention.

For couples, San Diego is also a romantic getaway, perfect for honeymooners or those just simply looking for a vacation in the sun. From its sun-kissed beaches to the beautiful boardwalks of Pacific Beach, you're sure to find plenty of spots to share an intimate walk – or perhaps even a bike ride.

Rent cruiser bikes or rollerblades from beachside kiosks and glide for hours along San Diego's peaceful shores. The boardwalk is best during weekdays if you want to avoid the crowds. When you want to take a break from cycling, toss a Frisbee on the beach or dip your toes into the warm ocean water. 

Fans of Dr. Seuss books will appreciate how San Diego inspired the author and cartoonist's artwork. After the Second World War, Theodore Seuss Geisel and his wife moved to the quirky, gorgeous neighbourhood of La Jolla on the northwest tip of San Diego. It was here that he wrote and illustrated books such as The Cat in the Hat and How the Grinch Stole Christmas. Look at Seuss’s drawings and you'll notice the same fanciful landscapes of strangely twisted trees with shaggy tops found right here in La Jolla.

But whether you come to San Diego to laze around during its sun-warmed winters or to sip white wine on summer patios next to the beach, you'll never be far from the sounds, sights and smells that make this city so unique.

San Diego is a fantastic destination for:

  • beaches
  • romance
  • shopping and dining

Airport served by: SAN

Destination basics

Sun-worshippers, this is the city for you, year-round. San Diego is a mellow, sun-splashed town with a mild, dry climate. Here, you'll find clear blue skies and warm, salt-scented air. It's easy to see why The Weather Channel ranks San Diego as one of the top two destinations for best summer climate in America (the other destination being Maui).

San Diego has an average of 201 sunny days a year, with average daytime temperatures of 21 C – and remember, that's a year-round average! Summers are warm and dry and the winters are gentle. Winter temperatures rarely fall below 4 C and when that does happen, it only happens at night. Humidity is typically quite low, even during the summer and average annual rainfall is less than 25 cm. When it does rain, it is typically between December and March.

The end of spring brings a thick marine layer cloud that keeps the air cool and damp near the harbour. About 8 km inland, the layer yields to cloudless sunshine.

Average monthly temperature and average monthly rainfall diagrams for San Diego

San Diego is the birthplace of California. On September 28, 1542, Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo landed in San Diego Bay and claimed the area for Spain. He named the city after the Catholic St. Didacus, whose name in Spanish was San Diego de Alcala.

Today, you can experience San Diego’s border town culture just about everywhere you go. Popular restaurants such as El Take It Easy serve unique creations like fried chicken necks and nuggets in mole sauce – not exactly Californian cuisine and not exactly Mexican either. At the New Children’s Museum, visitors climb into an enormous two-headed Trojan horse that simultaneously faces the U.S. to the north and Tijuana to the south.

Like so many border cities, San Diego exists within what the late Chicana poet Gloria Anzaldúa once described as a “Third Country” – a place neither here nor there. A vast international metropolis with a border fence running straight through its middle.

You can see the fence at San Ysidro, the last stop on San Diego’s Blue trolley line. It is the world’s busiest land border, where more than 100,000 people cross every day to and from Tijuana.

Or, visit Border Field State Park and hike along the beach to where the fence ends at the Pacific Ocean. No fence can keep the music, spice and Latino flavours from spilling over.

In San Diego, north and south collide, creating a sort of kinetic energy that will leave you feeling at once excited to partake in new adventures and relaxed enough to leave all your troubles on the beach.

It is advisable to carry some U.S. cash with you for general expenses. For entertainment and shopping, your credit card will give you the exchange rate at the time of purchase. There are also numerous ATMs inside banks and public spaces where you can withdraw funds at your convenience. Just be aware that transaction fees vary by ATM.

San Diego is one of the prettiest harbour cities in the world. It's located in the southwest corner of California, 193 km south of Los Angeles and just 32 km north of Tijuana, Mexico.

It’s the eighth largest city in the U.S., with over 100 neighbourhoods and a population of more than 1.3 million within city limits. San Diego County includes 17 additional incorporated cities, bringing the total county population to 3 million. But even as a relatively large city, San Diego is ranked among the top 10 safest cities in the U.S. by Forbes magazine.

The city overlooks lush parkland, deep canyons and the Pacific Ocean. In fact, you'd never guess by looking at it that it's so close to the desert (Anza-Borrego State Park).

Its canyons divide San Diego into hillside bluffs, giving it a segmented, low-density feeling with neatly divided neighbourhoods. The city is further separated by the San Diego River. The river flows from east to west and cleanly divides the city into southern and northern sections. However, as a result of these natural divisions, it’s tricky to walk between neighbourhoods, so cars and trucks are common modes of transportation here.

The city’s most notable peaks are Mount Soledad, Black Mountain and Cowles Mountain – the highest point in the city at 486 metres tall. Rising to the city’s east are the Laguna Mountains and Cuyamaca Mountains, sometimes dusted with snow. Make the half-an-hour drive northeast and you’ll also discover the gorgeous Cleveland National Forest.

Above all, San Diego is where people meet water – a navy town, of sorts. Locals and travellers enjoy more than 112 km of coastline and a natural deep-water harbour. The city’s total land area is 551 sq. km, while San Diego County encompasses 11,036 sq. km, stretching as far north as Orange County.

If you’re looking to explore the many exciting neighbourhoods of San Diego, a car rental is a must. Just sticking to downtown? Renting a car isn’t needed. In the city’s core, you’ll find great shopping, restaurants, theatre and nightlife all within walking distance or a short cab ride.

If you’re planning to travel around the city and surrounding areas, keep in mind that driving distances between neighbourhoods, attractions and beach communities vary widely depending on distance and time of day. Driving from one attraction to the next can take as little as 10 minutes or up to an hour. Due to variable travel times, renting a car can often save you money. Just make sure you avoid rush hour.

For those on a budget, San Diego also offers a number of public transit options. The San Diego Trolley services all of downtown, as well as other major connection points, including Old Town, the International Border and East San Diego County. For those visiting North San Diego County, the Sprinter light rail service is available.

Looking to visit multiple cities? Getting to Los Angeles and Northern California is easy when you take the passenger rail train, Amtrak. WestJet Vacations also includes transportation packages to major attractions in the San Diego area, as well as a variety of city tours and day tours that you can book in advance.

To get to and from the airport, there are several transportation options available. Scheduled shuttle vans, buses, taxis and limos run often – as does public transportation. If you haven’t booked transfers with WestJet Vacations, check with your hotel to see if they offer complimentary shuttle service.

Arrival

Before taking off for San Diego International Airport, you’ll pass through U.S. Customs. Once through, you’ll be on your way to gorgeous San Diego. After landing, pick up your bags from the baggage claim area.

To access the Transportation Plaza from baggage claim, just take the pedestrian crosswalk located directly outside of the building. From there, you can catch a shuttle to your hotel, a shuttle to a car rental agency of your choice, or a taxi or limousine.

Departure

Smiling WestJetters will greet you at the WestJet counter in Terminal 2. Have some time before your flight? Browse the numerous shops and restaurants conveniently located inside the airport terminals.

From beaches to museums, to boardwalks and boats, San Diego really seems to have it all. But one of its most unique attractions is Balboa Park.

What makes it different cont'd?

An easy walk from downtown San Diego, Balboa Park is the largest urban cultural park in the U.S. and the largest cultural complex west of the Mississippi. Inspired by the numerous cultural institutions within its 1,198 acres, Balboa Park is often referred to as the Smithsonian of the West.

You could spend weeks exploring San Diego's rich cultural landmarks here. There are museums on every subject. If you enjoy the arts, visit the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego Museum of Art and Timken Museum of Art.

Science buffs should check out the San Diego Natural History Museum, San Diego Museum of Man or the Reuben H. Fleet Science Center. There’s also the San Diego History Center and the Veterans Museum and Memorial Center.

Balboa Park is also a horticulturist's paradise, home to eight lush gardens and 350 different species of trees, including 58 species of palm trees.

Departing from:

ˆTotal price one-way per guest. See terms and conditions. *Prices are per guest, based on double occupancy and are limited; may not reflect real-time pricing or availability. See terms and conditions.

Explore our world.

or find your dream vacation with our Vacation Finder