Dangers & Annoyances
San Diego on the whole is a pretty safe place to be, especially touristy areas. As with any big city, you should use common sense. It's common to see beggars and people high/drunk on street corners in Gas Lamp and Ocean Beach. Pacific Beach's bar scene can get lively, but bouncers are usually on top of any issues before they happen.
- Be street-wise when walking around at night, especially when alone.
- Consider taking a taxi if traveling home after dark.
- Don't leave your valuables on the beach; thefts, while rare, do happen.
Emergency & Important Numbers
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San Diego has a sizable gay population. Historians trace the roots of San Diego’s thriving gay community to WWII. Amid the enforced intimacy of military life, gay men from around the US were suddenly able to create strong, if clandestine, social networks. Postwar, many of these new friends stayed.
In the late 1960s, a newly politicized gay community made its unofficial headquarters in Hillcrest. Today, on the stretch of University Ave north of Balboa Park you'll find scattered rainbow flags and plenty of LGBTQ-friendly bars, restaurants and shops. The scene is generally more casual and friendly than in San Francisco or LA. San Diego LGBT Pride takes place in July annually with concerts, parties and a parade. For current events, visit the San Diego Gay and Lesbian News (www.sdgln.com).
All public libraries and most coffeehouses and hotel lobbies in San Diego offer free wi-fi. Libraries also offer computer terminals for access.
San Diego Main Library The city's new main library branch is an architectural dazzler and has all the services you could want (including wi-fi).
Free listings magazines San Diego Citybeat (http://sdcitybeat.com) and San Diego Reader (www.sdreader.com) cover the active music, art and theater scenes. Find them in shops and cafes.
KPBS 89.5 FM (www.kpbs.org) National public radio station.
San Diego Magazine (www.sandiegomagazine.com) Glossy monthly.
San Diego Union Tribune (www.sandiegouniontribune.com) The city’s major daily.
You’ll find ATMs throughout San Diego.
TravelEx Foreign-currency exchange.
Shops in San Diego are generally open between 9am and 6pm, with many at the larger malls opening until 9 or 10pm. Many of San Diego's restaurants open for lunch and dinner, but will take a break in between. Locals tend to eat early, most eateries will be looking to close around 10pm, but fast-food outlets and hole-in-the-wall Mexican joints are open at all hours. Bars and clubs tend to have 2pm closing times, unless they have a special licence.
The city of San Diego is covered by four area codes. 619 covers southern San Diego and the eastern suburbs, while 858 covers the northern city of San Diego. 442 and 760 cover the northern suburbs, including Ramona, Santa Ysabel, Warner Springs and Julian.
Travel with Children
Tiny hands down, San Diego is one of America's best destinations for family travel. Here are some highlights to jump-start your vacation.
Do the zoo; it’s everything they say and more, and while you’re there spend another day enjoying the rest of Balboa Park, one of the nation’s best collections of museums. The Reuben H Fleet Science Center, Model Railroad Museum and Natural History Museum are all tailor-made for kids, and the plazas, fountains and gardens offer plenty of space for them to let off steam.
Kids elementary-school age and older will appreciate Old Town San Diego State Historic Park and the Mexican restaurants nearby.
Along the coast, SeaWorld is another national landmark (look for specials and combo tickets to keep costs down). Coronado is a calming getaway for the Hotel del Coronado and the kid-friendly public library. Views from Cabrillo National Monument inspire awe and its museum tells of the Spanish explorers, key to local history.
Teens will be in their element among the surfers, bikers and bladers in Mission and Pacific Beaches, while up the coast in La Jolla the Birch Aquarium entertains as it teaches. More active kids can go snorkeling off La Jolla Cove.
In northern San Diego County, Legoland is the place for the 12-and-under set (and their parents will thrill at the workmanship of the millions of little bricks). Inland, the San Diego Zoo Safari Park will have the kids roaring.
Travelers with Disabilities
Free beach wheelchairs are available at seven of San Diego's beaches, including some of the prettiest and most popular of them all – La Jolla, Ocean Beach, Mission Beach and Coronado. Both Del Mar Racetrack and the annual Comic-Con International conference provide services for their disabled visitors. It's also possible to book accessible San Diego sightseeing tours both on land and water. At Balboa Theatre there's wheelchair seating and restrooms, transfer seating is available, and they offer infrared audio-assistance systems. Guide animals are allowed in the theater, as long as there are no disturbances. For further info on accessible travel around the city visit www.sandiego.org/plan/visitors-information-services/accessible-traveling.aspx