San Diego's roots can be dated back to 8200 BCE, when the prehistoric La Jolla and San Dieguito peoples inhabited the area. Pressing forward to around 1000 CE, the La Jolla and Dieguito were superseded by the Kumeyaay people, who built scattered villages across the region.
It wasn't until 1769 that Spanish Europeans first colonized San Diego. Even then, it would only last just over 50 years before the city was overtaken from Spain by Mexico during the Mexican War of Independence. Following the Mexican-American War and the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo, San Diego was incorporated into the Union as part of the State of California in 1850.
Today, as home to more than 1.3 million people, San Diego is the eighth-most populous city in the United States, and the second-most populous city in California, after Los Angeles. Known as America's Finest City for its perfect weather, more than 70 miles of pristine coastline, and its thriving cultural and art scenes, San Diego welcomes over 35 million visitors annually.
Are you considering visiting San Diego for your next vacation? If so, continue reading below to find out everything you need to know about America's Finest City before you arrive.
Luggage Storage near San Diego's Train Stations
The primary means of transport for more than 80 percent of the population is the automobile. However, San Diego also offers public transit via the San Diego Metropolitan Transit Bus System, light-rail trolley, and railway.
Santa Fe Train Depot
The Santa Fe Train Depot, the third-busiest station in California, sees more than 2,100 passengers boarding or detraining on its platforms in a typical day. An essential stop on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner, the San Diego Trolley's Green Line, and the COASTER
commuter line, the Santa Fe Train Depot, serves passengers.
First opened for business in 1916 for the Panama-California Exposition, the Santa Fe Depot is listed on the United States' National Register of Historic Places. The station consists of two island platforms and two side platforms that regularly serve scheduled routes on six sets of railway tracks.
Sometimes known colloquially as Union Station, the Santa Fe Depot is on Kettner Boulevard in the heart of the city's Downtown area. If you're arriving via the station, take a moment to check out the beautifully restored tile work in the building's entryway. And, stop for a rest on the incredibly maintained original oak benches that have lined the terminal for over 100 years.
Old Town Transit Center
Old Town Transit Center, an intermodal transportation station, is located at the intersection of Rosecrans Street and Taylor Street. Situated in the neighborhood of Old Town, the station is about 4 miles (approximately 6.4 kilometers) from Downtown San Diego. Also known as Old Town San Diego Station, the Old Town Transit Center is only a short walk away from many of the city's biggest attractions, including Mission Bay, Old Town San Diego State Historical Park, and SeaWorld San Diego.
The Old Town Transit Center consists of five platforms, including one island platform and four side platforms, serving four tracks on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner and the COASTER commuter line. Furthermore, the station connects passengers to the San Diego Metropolitan Transit System bus routes and the San Diego Trolley.
While Old Town Transit Center is a small station with limited facilities, it offers Quik-Trak kiosks, an on-site ATM machine, and a vending machine bank. If you're visiting the Old Town Transit Center, keep in mind that the station is set up as a platform only. That means that outside of its main building, there's no shelter, so you'll want to bring an umbrella should you drop by on a rainy day.
Poway - Midland Railroad
Run entirely by a group of volunteers, the Poway-Midland Railroad is a heritage railway smack dab in the middle of Old Poway Park. Just 23.6 miles (almost 38 kilometers) outside of San Diego's Downtown area, the facility is dedicated to the restoration, preservation, and continued operation of antique railroad equipment.
The railway is currently in ownership of 11 pieces of historic railway equipment, most notably, a 1907 Baldwin Steam Locomotive and a San Francisco Cable Car that dates back to 1906. Visitors to the Poway-Midland Railroad can ride the cable car, the speeder train, or the steam locomotive on most Saturdays and Sundays for a nominal fee.
Poway-Midland Railroad also has a company store on-site. You can pick up commemorative souvenirs like mugs, tee shirts, and train-related toys at the store. Or, you can even sign up the whole family to join the volunteer crew at the railroad and get a truly hands-on experience with the locomotives and equipment.
Luggage Storage at Airports in San Diego
San Diego is home to two international airports, five military airfields, and more than a dozen general aviation airports and airfields.
San Diego International Airport
The primary international airport serving the greater San Diego area, the San Diego International Airport, first opened to the public in 1928. The airport, previously known as Lindbergh Field, sits only three miles (4.8 kilometers) away from Downtown San Diego and provides domestic and international aviation services.
Operating in one of the busiest airspaces in the world, the San Diego International Airport is the busiest airport with a single runway on the planet. The runway is served by two terminals with a total of 51 gates, 19 in Terminal 1 and 32 in terminal two. Furthermore, each terminal contains two concourses designated East and West.
In addition to more than 20 cafes and restaurants, passengers at San Diego International Airport can use the 'At Your Gate' service to have food from anywhere in the airport delivered directly to their gate. Passengers can also browse over 20 shops and kiosks conveniently located in the airport before heading out to explore San Diego.
Tijuana International Airport
Situated on the Mexican / American border, about 26 miles (42 kilometers) from Downtown San Diego, the Tijuana International Airport is less than an hour's drive from the city. Sometimes called the General Abelardo L. Rodríguez International Airport, Tijuana International Airport can be directly accessed by passengers on either side of the border.
The Tijuana International Airport consists of four terminals: the Main Terminal, with 23 gates, the GAB Terminal, Old Airport Terminal, and the Cross Border Xpress, also known as Terminal 2 or CBX. Currently, five airline companies provide regular passenger services to locations throughout Mexico and a variety of international destinations, including Beijing, China.
Despite only having a single runway, the Tijuana International Airport sees more than 5 million passengers in an average year through its terminals, making it the 5th busiest airport in Mexico. The airport also houses more than 25 shops and restaurants, so passengers can stop in for a quick bite and some light shopping before departing from the facility.
Brown Field Municipal Airport
One of San Diego's primary general aviation airports, the Brown Field Municipal Airport, is just 12 miles (21 kilometers) southeast of San Diego's Downtown district and 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) north of the Mexico / United States border. Previously a naval auxiliary airfield, the airport now serves as a port of entry from Mexico, a civilian reliever airport for San Diego International Airport, and a general aviation facility.
After initially opening under the control of the U.S. Army under the name East Field, the airport eventually was taken over by the U.S. Navy and continued to switch hands, in terms of ownership, until 1962 when the city of San Diego took over the site. However, to this day, the United States military maintains a strong presence at the airport.
What to do in San Diego
- Behold the incredible architecture of more than 20 missions dotted throughout San Diego. The Mission Basilica San Diego de Alcalá, in particular, is a favorite of locals and visitors alike.
- Ride the big dipper at Belmont Park, a historic slice of Americana packaged into a small seaside amusement park.
- Cheer on the San Diego Padres' in a home game at Petco Park while taking in the gorgeous views of the ocean and the city's skyline.
- Experience a once-in-a-lifetime encounter at San Diego Zoo, a 100-acre (over 40 hectares) zoo housing more than 3,700 endangered and rare animals.
- Step into history at Balboa Park, where you can see over 2,100 beautiful, lush flowers and plants in the Botanical House.
- Visit the Old Town San Diego State Historical Park, home to five original adobe buildings, including the almost 200 years old Casa de Estudillo.
- Sit back and relax for an hour while getting a unique look around the city aboard a San Diego Harbor Cruise.,
San Diego's Weather
Somewhere between an arid subtropical and Mediterranean climate, San Diego experiences relatively rainy winters and sunny, temperate summers. Throughout the year, though, the temperature in San Diego remains moderate, rarely dipping below 50 Farenhieght (10 Celcius) in the winter or rising above 76 Farenhieght (about 24.4 Celcius) in the summer.
Since the weather is often moderate to mild, San Diego doesn't have a traditional tourist season. The weather is just that nice all year! However, San Diego sees the most rain from December to March and experiences morning mists in May and June. So, you'll have a higher chance of a dry vacation by visiting in January and April or between July and November.
Fun Facts About San Diego
- San Diego is the number one producer of avocados in the United States and has the largest amount of small farms in a U.S. city, with more than 7,000 within its borders.
- There are only two places on the planet where the rare Torrey Pine Tree can thrive, and San Diego is one of them.
- The city is home to the world-renowned Comic-Con, an annual convention celebrating all things related to movies, shows, games, and comic books.
- There are more dog-friendly restaurants in San Diego per capita than in any other city in the country.
- A colony of over 200 seals can be seen regularly, soaking in the sun at The Children's Pool Beach, located in La Jolla, San Diego.
- The Whaley House Museum in San Diego has been named "the country's most haunted house" by multiple media outlets, including the Travel Channel. The museum is so legendary for its ghostly residents that it's been featured as the subject of numerous publications, television shows, and even several movies.