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San Diego Basics

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Scenes of San Diego

Fast Facts: San Diego


San Diego is consistently ranked as one of the most pleasant cities in which to live and visit, deservedly so. San Diego is California's second largest city, with a population of 1.25 million people. The city is also a primary embarking and disembarking port for a number of cruise lines.

San Diego has a very diverse economy, focused on defense, commerce and trade, tourism, telecommunications, biotechnology and high tech industries. San Diego plays host to the University of California San Diego, in La Jolla; the cell phone technology company Qualcomm, and the US Navy, which maintains a home port in the harbor.

Folks in the snow belt are often jealous when they see what it's like in San Diego in the middle of winter. The city is renown for its pleasant year-round Mediterranean climate, with warm, sunny days and cool evening breezes. The city's average daily temperature is 71° F (21° C). But it's also fairly arid, as San Diego averages only about 12 inches of rain each year.


San Diego map


First Impressions


Horton Plaza
©2008 Coolcaesar, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license

Chances are that, since you're reading this San Diego Basics page, you're going to either start or end your cruise in San Diego. There's nothing wrong with that, and if you decide to tack on a day or two in San Diego before or after your cruise, you will be amply rewarded. And if you're visiting San Diego on a Pacific Coastal cruise

Cruise ships dock at the Broadway Pier Cruise Terminal, which is conveniently located on Harbor Drive at the west end of Broadway, a major downtown thoroughfare in downtown.

Spread out as the city is, the freeway system is pretty good, and getting from one place to another isn't the big deal it is in Los Angeles. You can even take the very accessible light rail trolley around town.

Despite what you may otherwise think, San Diego is a very walkable city; it takes only about 20-30 minutes to walk from the Horton Plaza outdoor shopping mall in downtown to Balboa Park and its numerous attractions. There's nothing like enjoying the view of the city from the park when seemingly being "strafed" by the low-flying aircraft on their final approach to the airport.

The city of San Diego has been doing a lot of renovation over the past 20 years, and in the process remaking itself. The Gaslamp Quarter redevelopment has transformed the center city area, offering a variety of unique restaurants, shops and boutiques. In addition, the Marina area has seen the building of the Convention Center, the Padres' Qualcomm Park, a number of high-rise hotels and a pedestrian shopping center adjacent to the water. But the city's beautiful Balboa Park and the world-famous zoo provide a traditional counterpoint to the city's new urbanization trend.


Time Zone


San Diego is on Pacific Time, eight hours earlier than Greenwich Mean Time during Standard Time, and seven hours later than GMT during Daylight Savings Time.

USA flag San Diego Local Time
 


Language


English is universally spoken in San Diego, and you'll find a lot of the locals speak Spanish as well.


Dealing with Money in San Diego


Currency



dollar bill

The currency of the United States is the U.S. dollar, and it is printed on bills in seven denominations: $1, $2, $5, $10, $20, $50 and $100. Coins include the penny, nickel, dime, quarter, fifty cent piece and dollar.

Banks and ATMs in Downtown San Diego

Finding an ATM machine is not a problem in urban San Diego, whether at a bank branch, shopping mall, pharmacy, supermarket or hotel. There are several bank branches with ATM machines on West Broadway, within short walking distance of the Cruise Terminal. These include:

  • US Bank, 600 West Broadway, downtown San Diego (3 blocks from the Cruise Ship Terminal).

  • City National Bank, 501 West Broadway, downtown San Diego (4 blocks from the Cruise Ship Terminal).

  • California Bank & Trust, 402 West Broadway, downtown San Diego (5 blocks from the Cruise Ship Terminal).

  • Torrey Pines Bank, 550 West C Street, downtown San Diego (4 blocks from the Cruise Ship Terminal).

  • Bank of America, 655 West Broadway, downtown San Diego (3 blocks from the Cruise Ship Terminal), and in Horton Plaza, downtown San Diego (9 blocks from the Cruise Ship Terminal).

San Diego Downtown ATM Map


Map icon

To see the locations of the above downtown San Diego's ATMs, see our San Diego Downtown ATM map.


Weather


Pacific Beach
©2004 Tim Shell, under cc-by-sa 3.0 license

San Diego is renown for its pleasant year-round Mediterranean climate, with warm, sunny days and cool evening breezes. The city's average daily temperature is 71° F (21° C).

Like its larger neighbor to the north, San Diego faces "May gray, June gloom," a phenomenon in which a persistent marine layer fails to burn off during the day, making for cool overall temperatures. In addition, the climate in the San Diego area varies dramatically over short geographical distances, due to the city's topography.

Rainfall is concentrated in the cooler half of the year, particularly during the months of December through March. San Diego averages only 12 inches of rain each year.

Average Temperatures

Average Precipitation



Keeping In Touch


Wi-Fi Access in San Diego

You can find tons of free Wi-Fi hotspots in San Diego; here are a few suggestions in downtown San Diego:

  • Balboa Park. All of the museums in Balboa Park offer free Wi-Fi, either in their facilities and sometimes outside as well. These include the Reuben H. Fleet Science museum, the San Diego Hall of Champions, San Diego Air & Space Museum, San Diego Museum of Art and San Diego Natural History Museum. There is also Wi-Fi access around five informational kiosks in the park and the House of Hospitality courtyard.

  • McDonalds offers free Wi-Fi at their store at 1280 12th Ave. in downtown San Diego.

  • Panera Bread offers free Wi-Fi in their store in Horton Plaza, at 225 Broadway in downtown San Diego.

  • Starbucks offers free Wi-Fi in all of their stores in San Diego. They have several locations in the downtown area. The closest one to the Cruise Terminal is at Broadway & Kentner (600 West Broadway). Other locations include 2 stores in Horton Plaza, and another at 511 F Street, in the Gaslamp Quarter.

San Diego Internet Access Map


Map icon

To see the location of San Diego's Internet Cafes and Wi-Fi hotspots, see our San Diego Internet Access Map.


Internet Cafe

Cellular Phone & Data Services

Customers of U.S. wireless carriers can expect the following levels of service in San Diego:

Verizon

Cell service: Verizon's CDMA service provides digital coverage to the greater San Diego area.
Data services: Verizon offers extensive 4G LTE coverage in the greater San Diego area. Ranked #1.
See details on Verizon's cell and data services coverage in the San Diego area.

ATT Wireless

Cell service: AT&T's GSM service covers all of the greater San Diego area.
Data services: AT&T offers extensive 4G and 4G LTE service in the greater San Diego area. Ranked #2.
See details on AT&T's cell and data services coverage in the San Diego area.

Sprint

Cell service: Sprint's CDMA service provides digital coverage to the greater San Diego area.
Data services: Sprint offers extensive 3G service in the greater San Diego area. Ranked #4.
See details on Sprint's cell and data services coverage in the San Diego area.

T Mobile

Cell service: T-Mobile's GSM service is available in all of the greater San Diego area.
Data services: T-Mobile offers 3G/4G service in the greater San Diego area. Ranked #3.
See details on T-Mobile's cell and data services coverage in the San Diego area.

San Diego rankings per RootMetrics report, August 2012.


Samsung Galaxy S III

San Diego Telephone Information

Canadian cell phones used in the U.S. work seamlessly south of the border, and just like back home.

The Country Code in the U.S. is 1, just like in Canada.

The Area Codes for San Diego are 619 and 858. The 858 area code covers the northern half of the city proper and additional northern suburbs. Area codes 760 and 442 cover the areas north of San Diego from Encinitas to Camp Pendleton and cities east of San Diego.

Local Phone Numbers have seven digits: XXX-XXXX

Woman with a cell phone

Local Events, Holidays & Festivals


Look for the following local holidays, festivals and events taking place in San Diego in 2017:

  • San Diego Restaurant Week-Winter, Sunday, January 15 to Sunday, January 22. Some of the city's best restaurants offer 3-course prix-fixe menus; hosted at participating restaurants in the San Diego area.

  • Museum Month, February. Enjoy San Diego's exquisite museums at half price during February.

  • St. Patrick's Day Parade, Friday, March 17. The annual St. Patrick's Day Parade will make its way through beautiful Balboa Park on Saturday, March 17 at 11:00 am.

  • Easter Day Festivities, Sunday, April 16. Lots of activities around town, including Easter Brunch at most restaurants.

  • Mission Federal Art Walk, Saturday, April 29 and Sunday, April 30. Now in its 33rd year, San Diego's beloved ArtWalk Festival will return to downtown's hip and historic Little Italy neighborhood.

  • Sheep
  • San Diego County Fair, Friday, June 2 through Tuesday, July 4, in Del Mar. What's summer in San Diego without a visit to the fair?

  • Independence Day Celebrations, Tuesday, July 4. Fireworks, parades, BBQs, and the whole nine yards.

  • Racing at the Del Mar Racetrack, Wednesday, July 19 to Monday, September 4. The seven-week racing season will feature the nation's top horses, trainers and jockeys, and plenty of fun in the sun.

  • Bat man
    ©2014 Chris Favero, under cc-by-sa 2.0 license
  • Comic-Con International, Thursday, July 20 through Sunday, July 23. The largest comics and pop culture event in the United States attracts thousands of artists, celebrities and fans of comic books, movie memorabilia and all things related to pop culture to the San Diego Convention Center.

  • 25th Annual Sea Chanty Festival, TBA (either in July or August). The Maritime Museum of San Diego, along with San Diego Folk Heritage, presents the 25th Annual Sea Chanty Fest. A day of music aboard the Star of India.

  • Restaurant Week, Sunday, September 24 to Sunday, October 1. Many of the city's best restaurants offer 3-course prix-fixe menus; hosted at participating restaurants in the San Diego area.

  • Thanksgiving, Thursday, November 23. A day to look back and give thanks for all we've got.

  • 46th Annual Port of San Diego Boat Parade of Lights, Sunday, December 10 and Sunday, December 17. Dazzling boat parade of lights on San Diego Bay on the two Sundays prior to Christmas.

Cruise Port Schedules


Cruise Terminal
©2012 Port of San Diego, under cc-by-sa 2.0 license

San Diego is a popular embarkation port for Holland America ships traveling to and from the Mexican Riviera, Hawaii, plus Pacific coastal cruises to Ensenada and along the Pacific Coast offered by Disney and Princess, and Panama Canal voyages.

As a general rule, ships arrive at the city's cruise ship pier between 6:00 am and 8:00 am, and depart between 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm.

In 2017, San Diego is slated to host 153,200 passengers sailing on 84 ships. For further information, see our San Diego Cruise Ship Schedule - 2017.


Cruise Lines Making Port


The following cruise lines will make port in San Diego in 2017:

Celebrity icon Celebrity princess icon Princess
Holland America icon Holland America
Norwegian
Regent icon
Regent Cruises
Oceania Cruises
Disney icon
Disney Cruises
Crystal icon
Crystal Cruises
Azamara Cruises
Silversea
Hapag Lloyd
P & O Cruises
Cruise Ship


       
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