The major-league San Diego International Airport (3665 N. Harbor Dr., www.san.org), a.k.a. Lindbergh Field, is stuffed right along San Diego Bay, convenient to downtown, Coronado, and almost every major San Diego attraction. Short-term parking sits adjacent to the terminals and costs $1 per hour on average. Long-term lots surround the airport; check the airport website for specifics. A 60-minute maximum, free “cell phone lot” lets drivers wait for incoming passengers without having to drive endlessly around the airport.
If you’re flying a light plane in, the most convenient general aviation airports to downtown San Diego are Brown Field (8,000-foot runway) and Montgomery Field (4,600-foot runway). Eight additional general aviation airports are scattered throughout the county. For information, check www.miramarairshow.com/airports.html.
To get to San Diego by train from the north or the east, find your way aboard the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner (www.amtrak.com), a train that runs a dozen times a day from Paso Robles along the Pacific Coast down to San Diego. Boarding is easy from most major California destinations in the area, including San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, and Anaheim.
Check into transfers from the Coast Starlight and the Capitol Corridor routes as well. Amtrak services the Santa Fe station (1050 Kettner Blvd.) and the Old Town Transit Center (4005 Taylor St.).
For a reliable local commuter train, jump on board The Coaster (www.sdcommute.com). The Coaster runs from Oceanside into downtown San Diego and back a dozen times a day Monday–Friday, with five trains running Saturdays, plus special event and holiday service. Fares run $4–5.50 for adults one-way ($2–2.75 for seniors/disabled, children under 6 ride free). Purchase tickets from the vending machines in every train station.
In the North County, NCTD Coaster Connecter bus routes can connect to the train station. In San Diego proper, catch the trolley or the bus from either the Old Town Transit Center or the Santa Fe station.
Most visitors drive into San Diego via the heavily traveled I-5 from the north or south. I-805 runs parallel to I-5 at La Jolla and leads south into Mission Valley. To drive between the North County and San Diego, take I-15, which runs north–south farther inland. Be sure to avoid rush hour, as the back-up on I-15 can become extensive after Poway.
Both I-805 and I-15 cross I-8, which runs east–west through Mission Valley. The smaller yet surprisingly pretty Route 163 runs north–south from I-5 in Balboa Park north to I-15 in Miramar.
© Liz Hamill Scott from Moon California, 2nd Edition