No Car? No Problem—A Guide to San Diego’s Alternative Transportation

If you’ve ever visited San Diego, you know that parking is at a premium in popular areas like the Gaslamp Quarter and downtown Oceanside. But you don’t need to worry about it if you plan your trip right.  With a little foresight and minimal expense, you can use San Diego’s public transportation system to zip all over the county.

Explore downtown San Diego on the trolley, discover South Ponto Beach via the Carlsbad beach trolley, or cruise in between North County and downtown San Diego on the Coaster. All three offer a fun and even scenic way to travel. Here is our guide to these three alternative forms of transportation.

San Diego Trolley

The trolley has a long and storied history in San Diego. Horse-drawn, electric, and steam-powered streetcars first appeared on the streets of America’s Finest City in the late 19th century, according to the Metropolitan Transit System. They became an important part of San Diego’s tourism industry, and today you can still ride the trolley all around downtown

The trolley system is a great way to skip the expense of parking in the city. If you’re headed to a big event downtown, park at Fashion Valley or Old Town and take the Green and Orange Lines to any number of stops, including Seaport Village, the Convention Center, Petco Park, and the Gaslamp Quarter. You can purchase a day pass at any station for $5.00 or a one-way pass for $2.50.

Carlsbad Beach Trolley

This adorable coastal town may be one of San Diego’s best-kept secrets, but when the weather is warm locals and tourists alike flock to the shore and the hunt is on for free, convenient parking close to the sand.

Chris Draper, General Manager at the Sheraton Carlsbad Resort & Spa, found a creative solution for guests at three resorts near LEGOLAND. In mid-August, the Sheraton shipped a trolley bus from Hawaii to Carlsbad. The open-air vehicle now shuttles guests to and from South Ponto Beach. The ocean breeze and pumping sound system make the ride almost as enjoyable as a day at the beach.

Misty Lindo, the Director of Guest Services at the Sheraton, says that the resort is still getting feedback from guests to create an optimized trolley’s schedule. It will most likely run on summer weekends and holidays, with stops at Grand Pacific Palisades Resort & Hotel and Hilton Grand Vacations Club at MarBrisa. The trolley is complimentary to guests at all three resorts and may be rented for weddings and other private events.


If you’re staying in San Diego and want to explore North County or vice versa, consider taking the COASTER between the two destinations. You’ll enjoy breathtaking views of the coast—and get to your destination in about the same amount of time as if you took I-5. A round-trip pass ranges from $8.00 to $11.00 depending on how far you ride.

The COASTER serves eight stations between Oceanside and downtown San Diego. The northernmost coaster station is just a short walk from the Oceanside pier and our Oceanside rentals. The downtown station is right in the heart of San Diego, only a few blocks from the USS Midway and about a half mile from the Gaslamp Quarter.

For additional help planning your vacation to San Diego County, call (877) 477-7368. A knowledgeable travel concierge will behappy to help you!



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