Casey Makovich

San Diego Tourist Traps & Things to Do Instead

Planning a trip to San Diego? Avoid the following "tourist traps" and consider visiting our alternative suggestions for a memorable experience in this fun and vibrant city.

Image of City, Urban, Metropolis, High Rise, Downtown, Cityscape, Water, Waterfront, Condo, Housing, Office Building, Skyscraper, San Diego Harbor at night

Overpaying for Transportation

Why it's overrated: Many San Diego visitors rely on taxi rides for getting around town. San Diego and its surrounding areas have accessible and affordable public transit systems that include trolleys, buses, trains, and shuttles. What to do instead: Within San Diego: The trolleys provide services from key locations in the downtown area while buses are great for navigating San Diego beyond downtown. The Big Bay Shuttle runs seasonally (between Memorial and Labor Day) and provides hop-on hop-off service along San Diego’s Embarcadero with an all-day pass. Beyond San Diego: The Amtrak California trains run to areas beyond San Diego. The Pacific Surfliner travels along the ocean with daily service to cities north of San Diego including Anaheim, Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, and San Luis Obispo while the Sprinter rail travels east out to Escondido.

Day Trip to Tijuana

Why it's overrated: Although it's tempting to tack a visit to another country onto a trip to San Diego, visiting the tourist trap that is Tijuana is not worth the trip (and risk). What to do instead: Take a day to ride up the scenic coast on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner where you can hop-on and hop-off at the various beach towns for sun bathing, shopping, and dining along the way. You'll see more of the California coast and get a better feel for the SoCal lifestyle. Do you have any San Diego tourist traps to add to the list?

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