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San Diego

America's top family holiday destination

Things to See & Do in San Diego

San Diego is one of the most exciting, attractive and family-friendly destinations on the whole west coast of America. You can go from the colourful, cosmopolitan city of San Diego to the sunny beaches of the California coast, the mountain ranges in the east and the deserts of the Mexican border - all in a single day.

Where is it and how do I get there?
San Diego is located on the southern coast of California, close to the border with Mexico. From Australia you should fly to Los Angeles and then take a connecting flight to San Diego (35 minutes) or drive or take the bus down the coast (about 2 hours.)  Los Angeles is a 14 to 15 hour flight from Australia.

When to go, Weather
San Diego has a pleasantly warm climate all year round with lots of sunshine, so any time is a good time to visit. If you aim to do a lot of watersports and spend time at the beach, the best time to come is during the warmest months of May and October.

Where to stay
Visitors will find a wide range of accommodation available to them, from trendy beachside apartments to cosy bed & breakfasts. San Diego is a family destination and children are welcome. Most hotels, motels and apartments will have a children's play area and many of the larger, resort-style properties offer special facilities and activities for children.

Resorts with Kid's Clubs

Hilton San Diego Resort
Hilton San Diegois located in scenic Mission Bay, right next to SeaWorld. The hotel features a romantic bayside restaurant, private dock with boating and watersports facilities, spa, tennis courts and a fitness centre. The resort has its own Kids Klub with children's activities such as dive-in movies, and a special children's wading pool and playground.

Welk Resort San Diego
Welk Resort is located on 600 acres in the greater San Diego area and is a good choice for active families. There are fully-furnished family sized rooms and on-site facilities including a golf course, swimming pool, fitness centre, tennis, volleyball and basketball courts. On check-in kids will receive a pack of goodies containing games and puzzles and there's an interactive water playground including a waterslide, water cannons and a splash pad. Kids will also enjoy the games room, playground and children's activity room.

Food and Drink
San Diego offers an amazing international smorgasbord of wining and dining choices. There are glitzy five-star restaurants, homely diners, ethnic takeaway shops and of course plenty of famously greasy American fast food. Being close to the border with Mexico, there's still a great deal of Mexican influence in San Diego and its no surprise that the Mexican food here is fantastic.

San Diego is a world-class shopping destination. There are huge shopping malls, discount outlet centres and boutique specialty shops selling the ritziest international brands. American antiques and artworks are also interesting purchases that are fun to shop for. The price electronic goods, cameras, books and music are considerably cheaper than they are in Australia, so it might be worthwhile shopping around for these.

Most visitors from Australia will arrive via Los Angeles and take a connecting flight to San Diego or hire a car and drive. San Diego Airport has a good choice of shopping, food and beverage outlets, banks, currency exchange and tourist information. 

Transfers from Airport
San Diego International Airport is a 10 minute drive from downtown San Diego. Shuttle services operate 24 hours a day from the airport into town, and buses and coaches are available from the airport to many popular destinations in California and around the country. Plenty of taxis are available outside the arrivals area.

Getting around for families
San Diego has a well organised public transport system. Buses, trolleys and coasters provide convenient transportation throughout San Diego County. Buses stop at all major hotels and attractions every 15 to 20 minutes. The San Diego Trolley runs every 15 minutes throughout most of the day and 30 minutes in the evening. The North County Coaster runs 43 miles along the coast with station stops in downtown San Diego, Old Town, Solana Beach, Encinitas, Carlsbad and Oceanside. Taxi stands are located outside most hotels, attractions and shopping centres. Cabs are metered and the fare includes a flag-drop charge. There are three train stations along San Diego's coast. You can travel by train all the way to the Mexican border in Tijuana.

What to wear
Light clothes with a light jacket or jumper for evenings are fine most of the year. Warm sweaters may be needed in Winter, especially at night. San Diego is an outdoor, beach destination, so don't forget to bring swimmers, hats and sunscreen.

San Diego is a multi-cultural city with a large ethnic population of Mexican, Italian and Asian communities. San Diego was once settled by the Spanish and the Mexicans and the Latin influence is highly evident in San Diego's cultural communities, food, architecture and place names. You'll hear many people speaking Spanish on the street and Latin music being played in restaurants and cafes. San Diego natives enjoy a sporty, outdoor-based culture and the streets, parks and beaches are full of their own lively, unique atmosphere.

San Diego is 18 hours behind Eastern Standard Time. Link to world time on our site.

US Dollars

Tipping is expected in cafes, restaurants and better hotels. A tip of about 15% or more is expected. Taxi drivers, bartenders and hairdressers all depend on similar sized tips. 

120 volts 60Hz. An adaptor is required to plug in Australian appliances in the USA.

Health precautions
No vaccinations are required to enter the USA. 

Tap water
Tap water is treated and safe to drink

Passport and Visa Requirements
Australianís donít require a visa for stays of up to 90 days, but you must have a passport valid for at least six months from the date of arrival in the USA.  

HWK Travel Tips
San Diego is a great base for short trips across the border to Mexico. The main point of entry is the infamous town of Tijuana. Tijuana is one big, crazy tourist trap and not at all typical of the rest of Mexico, but it can be a fun excursion nonetheless. Police road-blocks and car searches on the border mean that driving across can be very slow and tedious. The best way to go to Tijuana for a daytrip is to take the Trolley line from San Diego to the border and walk across.


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