On a Mexican Riviera cruise from San Diego, my family and I spent one week after our cruise to discover all that this sunny Southern California city has to offer cruise passengers. True, most cruise passengers add only two nights before or after their cruises from San Diego, but friends who had been here told us that two days was not enough, so we decided to go the distance and try to see it all.
We were surprised to find such a varied destination. During our stay, we traveled from San Diego’s cosmopolitan city center to charming Coronado across the San Diego Bay, also known as the Big Bay, from beautiful Pacific coastline to true Southwestern desert — only 90 minutes away. We visited theme parks that our kids loved — LEGOLAND California and SeaWorld San Diego, and then toned the pace down at Balboa Park, with its world-famous San Diego Zoo. Moreover, we enjoyed our week of activities in San Diego’s perfect climate, with average daytime temperatures of 70F and most days sunny.
Clearly, San Diego is a cruise port with no shortage of pre- and post-cruise possibilities. More important for visitors, perhaps, is that San Diego is an unintimidating large city, friendly and easy to get around. Although it claims more than 1 million citizens, San Diego feels like a small town. None of the Los Angeles traffic snarls here, at least not during our visit. In fact, while it helps to have a rental car, you need not find yourself behind the wheel to enjoy this West Coast port.
There are many attractions within close proximity of the cruise terminal — Seaport Village, Balboa Park, Coronado Island and the Big Bay. You can even visit Mexico by boarding the San Diego trolley, just a few blocks from the B Street Cruise Terminal.
You will need a car if you intend to go farther afield, and if time permits, we do recommend a couple of days in the desert. If you’re tight on time, however, just hang out in the Big Bay. There’s plenty there to keep you occupied, and you’re already within a stone’s throw when your jet screeches to a halt on the tarmac.
Like us, the 62 percent of San Diego cruise passengers who arrive by air find themselves only minutes away from the cruise terminal, city center and other attractions. Hop a taxi from the airport, and in five minutes you can be at the cruise terminal. Convenience is the keyword. Almost all of San Diego’s central attractions can be reached by foot, trolley, taxi ride, boat or bike.
As pre- and post-cruise destinations go, San Diego is about as good as it gets. The city serves up such a mix of activities and attractions that two days is hardly sufficient. This exceptional cruise port has enough to keep you on the go for an entire week — and if you’re like us, even then, you will leave wishing you had just one more day in sunny San Diego.