Facebook Page
Car Free San Diego, California

Car Free San Diego, California

Where to Stay, What to Do, Where to Eat, and Where to Drink in San Diego without a car,

Using the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, San Diego Coaster, and San Diego Red Trolley.

Photos by Carl Morrison,   E-mail:

Gallery Quality prints of these photos are available at or by contacting Carl at his e-mail above.

When I think of a nice city to take a train trip to, San Diego, California, immediately comes to mind, with its "perfect weather."

United States Weather Bureau describes San Diego's weather as the closest thing to perfect in America. Holiday Magazine described San Diego as the "only area in the United States with perfect weather." Pleasant Weather Rating Service Poll voted San Diego as the best year-round weather in the nation, and the second best in the world. [Las Palmas, Canary Islands, comes in first.]

If you Go:

Take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner (above).  It picks up passengers from as far north as Paso Robles, California, including Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, Fullerton, Oceanside, and many other stops along the way, much of it an ocean view, to the final destination of San Diego.  The Surfliner follows Hwy. 101 most of the way and just watching the automobile traffic while you ride the train makes the cost of the ticket worth it.

For getting around San Diego, the Red Trolley (below) is your best bet.  The America Plaza Terminal is just across the street, east, from the Santa Fe Station.

The Pacific Surfliner, Coaster, and Trolley all stop at the Santa Fe Station.

America Plaza, across the street from Santa Fe Station, is the place to catch the Blue and Orange Line on the Trolley System to reach all destinations in this report.

Santa Fe Station sign

Santa Fe Station Grand Hall

Santa Fe Station from 40th Floor of the Hyatt

San Diego bus #7 from downtown to Balboa Park and the Famous San Diego Zoo.

Where to Stay:

We chose the Best Western on Ash Street, because you can walk from the San Diego Santa Fe Station to the hotel, or they have a van that makes the trip regularly.

To walk to the hotel, when you detrain, do not go into the Station.  Stay on the platform and walk north until the platform comes to a cross street, that will be Ash.  Turn right and walk 2 blocks to 555 West Ash.  You will see the Best Western sign high on the 14-story hotel (10 rooms per floor) from the platform.

Best Western Bayside Inn

555 West Ash Street
San Diego, CA 92101     

Phone: 619-233-7500
Fax: 619-239-8060     

Toll-Free Hotel Reservations

Free Wi-Fi in the rooms (ask at the desk for the logon and password).  Free hot breakfast in the restaurant in the same building.

    Photo from Trip Advisor    

What to Do:

I had gone online ahead of time and found that a number of photography exhibitions were taking place at various venues all in Balboa Park.  Ask at your hotel's  desk as to where to catch Bus 7 to Balboa Park (one stop before the Zoo).  Check to see if the San Diego Padres are playing baseball at Petco Park.

Balboa Park was the location of the 1915 Panama-California Exposition and 1935 California Pacific International Exposition.  Each created architectural landmarks for the Park.

Balboa Park's site was placed in reserve in 1835, and so is one of the oldest sites in the United States dedicated to public recreational use. Besides open space areas and natural vegetation green belts, it contains a variety of cultural attractions including many museums, theaters, gardens, shops and restaurants, as well as the world famous San Diego Zoo.

I love the elaborate Spanish Revival architecture.

Shots inside the arboretum

This exhibition was a big draw for me.

We paused downtown to watch this "Urban Landscape" in motion.  It was the beginnings of a Court Building.

Where to Eat:

Little Italy's southern border is Ash Street.  Walk to India St., just one block from the hotel, and turn north.  Little Italy takes up about 5 or 6 blocks.  Many Italian restaurants line both sides of the street.  We asked locals which restaurant they'd recommend and they all said, Fillippi's (1747 India Street
San Diego, California 92101  Phone: (619) 232 - 5094).  

We arrived about 6 pm and enjoyed a fantastic, authentic Italian dinner.  As we left about 7 pm, the line was through the market and out the door onto the street!  Since we walked, there was no parking problem, nor valet parking fees!  

Chianti bottles on the ceiling of Fillippi's and the author (right) after a delicious spaghetti and meat ball dinner.

The next day we ate lunch across the street from the hotel at Petrini's (610 W. Ash Street, Suite 100, San Diego, CA 92101.

Another place to eat and drink is "Wine Steals".  It is within walking distance of the Hyatt, on the west side of Petco Park.  (Wine Steals East Village, 795 J Street, San Diego, CA 92101 Phone: 619 255-7452)   It is also less than a block from the Orange Line.

Wine Steals, wine and food.

They have several different rooms, and TVs for sports.  Where we were seated, they even honored our request for a different channel.

For Breakfast or Lunch, I'd recommend the railroad-themed Grand Central Cafe on the first floor, SW corner of the 500 West Hostel on Broadway.  Address:  500 West Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101-3506, (619) 234-2233

Grand Central Cafe

Where to Drink:

"Top of the Hyatt"- 40th Floor Lounge, with a great view of San Diego Bay, opens at 3 PM.  Find the Concierge and ask which elevator goes to the 40th floor.  Take the Orange Line Trolley to the first stop south of America Plaza and you will see the Hyatt across the intersection.  Or stay on the Orange Line Trolley farther to Petco Park to "Wine Steals" just outside the entry fence at Petco Park.

Top of the Hyatt

The first stop south of America Plaza is the Kansas City Barbeque, or walk across the street to the Hyatt and take the express elevator to the 40th Floor Lounge.

The 'Top of the Hyatt' opens at 3 pm.  Get there soon thereafter to get a window seat.  

The table above is the far right window of the five windows on the top right set of windows in the photo to the right.  

The angled structure shaded our window so no sun reflections for photos westward.

Yours Truly, high on the 40th floor.

Traveling companion, Don Roe.

Terrific Views from the "Top of the Hyatt"

Northward, The Santa Fe Station is sandwiched between high-rise condo and office buildings.

Hotels and Petco Park Eastward along San Diego Bay.

Coronado Bridge and the Carnival Splendor which caught fire on its last voyage and was being repaired at this spot.

I found an interesting perspective eastward from the Top of the Hyatt, the Trolley runs across a reflecting pool reminding me of the old turntables of yesteryear.

Westward is the attraction, The Midway flat-top carrier.  Right, a giant statue of a couple kissing on V-J Day in Times Square.  The couple on the grass next to the sculpture give you a size indicator.  Below is the original photo.

Below the Hyatt is Seaport Village.  Shops, restaurants, and a carousel.

Right, a faux lighthouse in Seaport Village.

So, Take the Train to San Diego, then the Trolley to Eats, Drinks, Hotels, and Entertainment in a fair weather city.

Please visit my personal photography page at:

[ Top of the Page | Other Rail Travelogues by Carl Morrison | | Silver Rails Country ]