About San Diego
Do we even need to explain why San Diego is so popular with college students? San Diego was, quite simply, made for Spring Break! Long, sunny days spent topping up your tan on the beach, strolling through the beautiful and historic San Diego Old Town, playing beach volleyball or learning how to surf. Exciting, fun-filled nights spent checking out the famous Pacific Beach club scene or enjoying the very trendiest clubs and lounges in the Gaslamp district. What could be more perfect?
San Diego is huge. It's the second largest city in California, and the eighth largest in all of the USA. Divided into many individual neighbourhoods rather than easily definable districts, it's a real melting pot of diversity, activity, style, and international flavors. Located on the Mexican border, right across from Tijuana, San Diego has a rich and varied culture, and is one of the favorite Spring Break vacations in all of the United States. From relaxing beach life to crazy parties, from tasty food to copious amounts of alcohol, from surfing and swimming to dancing the night away, San Diego's got it all - and that's why thousands of fun-seeking young Anericans flock there for Spring Break every year. Check it out: you'll love it!
Historically, the area was inhabited by the Kumeyaay Indians, whose influence and proud culture gave them a strong sense of identity. San Diego was first claimed for the Spanish Empire in 1542, when it was named San Miguel, but it was renamed San Diego in 1602 bySebastiĆ”n VizcaĆno, who had been sent to map the California coast.
San Diego changed hands in the 19th century - first going to Mexico, and then ending up under American control. It didn't actually become an official city until 1850, a few years after Calfornia came into American hands, and even then it took a while for American influences to reach San Diego. Nevertheless, they eventually did, and when the railroad reached the city at the end of the 19th century San Diego's future was sealed. Downtown was established, and the city grew rapidly throughout the 20th century, boosted by the growing presence of the US Navy. Nowadays, San Diego is the home of the Navy's Pacific Fleet, and is probably the most popular leave location amongst sailors.It has a proud and rich heritage of sailing and naval history.
Today, San Diego is bursting with life, activity, variety and energy. It is a modern, vibrant city, and a favorite vacation destination for young people.
Obviously, San Diego has a thriving beach scene - whether you want to join the crowds soaking up the sunshine on one of the popular white sandy beaches, or head to a famous Californian surf spot to take on the harsh waves, Spring Break in San Diego would not be complete without some serious beach time. Every beach is unique, and has built up its own individual character and reputation. It's fun to check out more than one and find one that suits you perfectly.
There are plenty of watersports and activities available from the beaches, too. San Diego is particularly recognized for its great scuba diving locations: there's Ruby E, the Yukon, and others in Wreck Valley. In addition to the beach dive sites, there are several official boat trips on offer, the most popular of which is to the Coronados Islands (just off the coast of Mexico) for diving with sea lions!
From hang gliding to rock climbing, from whale watching to hiking and cycling, you can work off a lot of energy in San Diego. But you're by no means restricted to beach life, of course - San Diego is a major tourist hotspot, which means you have tons of fun attractions to choose from if you want to do a bit of sight-seeing! A walk through the beautiful Old Town district is a must, as is a visit to the famous Balboa Park. And don't forget the obligatory trip to Sea World. . .
The shopping in San Diego is also worth a mention. It's world class and world famous, quite simply! Full of major shopping centers, malls, boutiques, outlet centers, unique markets, vintage stores, and numerous smaller shops, it's a shopper's paradise.
Ah, San Diego - where the nightlife is just getting up as the sun goes down. San Diego is the perfect Spring Break destination, because it is party central and full of young people all out for a good time! And the choice is endless. Casual beach clubs and beach parties; hip and upscale clubs and lounges; bars and karaoke nights; concerts and live entertainment. Whatever your idea of a great night out, San Diego has it covered.
There are three main areas to choose from for your San Diego night out. The Gaslamp Quarter is, as its name suggests, a pretty and sophisticated area. Full of beautifully restored 19th century buildings, it's a great place to spend the evening, with over 70 restaurants and numerous bars and clubs to choose from. Then there's Downtown, which is, as you would expect, a busy and lively hub of entertainment and people. And of course, there's Pacific Beach - the ultimate party destination for students seeking that San Diego beach atmosphere. This is the favorite college party scene, famed for its easy-going feel and casual bars and restaurants like the PB Bar and Grill.
The climate in San Diego is best described as Mediterranean. The weather is mild and mostly dry, with little temperature variation throughout the year, and lots of beautiful Californian sunshine.
By day, casual beachwear is the usual attire in San Diego. Shorts and t-shirts are perfectly fine, and if you feel like wandering into the food market in your swimsuit and flip-flops, that's not a problem. At night, though, if you're heading out, dress up a little bit - shorts aren't acceptable in more upmarket areas like the Gaslamp Quarter, but you can still keep it fairly informal. This is California - relax!
San Diego is in the USA, and shares entry requirements with the rest of the United States.
Like most of California, English is the official and most widely spoken language, although Spanish is also commonly used. Signs are often written in both languages, and most businesses employ bilingual staff who speak both English and Spanish. There's also a large Filipino population in San Diego, amongst whom Tagalog is commonly spoken.
Public transportation is useful for getting around effectively in San Diego, so it's worth finding out how it all works. For the most part, you can rely on the buses until late evening - some continue to run late at night (until around midnight) but as this doesn't apply to all routes you should check your route first! For travel in and around downtown, the buses are a decent enough option, although the system is certainly not perfect. The fare is $2 for local/neighborhood routes, $2.25 for urban routes, and $2.50 for express routes. Day passes - which also include rides on the Trolley - are $5, making them a really good option if you're going to be moving around a lot. The Trolley is great for tourists needing easy access to various destinations in downtown.
Public transport is useful, and taxis are readily available - however, if you want to "see it all" when you're in San Diego, it's definitely worth hiring a car to get around with minimum hassle.
One of the benefits of choosing to stay within the US for your Spring Break vacation is that you're spared the hassle of changing money! San Diego uses US dollars.
The same as in the rest of the U.S.A. and Canada: 110 Volts, 60 cycles, A.C.
Just like any other city in America, tipping is expected on all services. As is normal, you should tip 15% for lunch and 20% for dinner. A few dollars will suffice as a tip for a cab ride.
San Diego uses PST (UTC-8) and PDT for Daylight Savings Time (UTC-7).
Dining and Drinking
Because San Diego is such an enormous metropolitan city, the variety of restaurants, cafes and other eateries is practically inexhaustible. It would be easier to make a list of types of cuisine not available in San Diego (that list would not be very long!) than to start listing the fantastic array of international flavors you can find here. Practically every country in the world has its cuisine represented in San Diego's restaurants - American and British, Mexican and Chinese, Italian and French, Vietnamese and Moroccan. . . basically, whatever you like to eat, you're pretty much guaranteed to be able to find a restaurant specializing in that particular type of food!
Bars and clubs can stay open until after 2am, but they are not permitted to sell alcohol after this time. For the most popular bars and drinking hotspots, the Gaslamp Quarter and Pacific Beach are the places to go.
About the Water
The tap water in San Diego is technically fine to drink - treated and safe. However, it's generally thought of as rather unpleasant to taste! Residents tend to use filters, and you might prefer to drink bottled water during your stay.