What’s better than San Diego’s summer sunshine? Stretching your summer travel budget so you can see and do more by combining San Diego’s affordable and extensive public transportation network with these 5 free ways to get around.
Free Ride Everywhere Downtown (FRED)
Run Dates: Year Round
Make your way throughout downtown San Diego with FRED San Diego. Download the app (Apple or Android) and request a free ride to and from Petco Park (home of the San Diego Padres), the Rady Shell at Jacobs Park, the Gaslamp Quarter, Seaport Village, the Embarcadero, Little Italy and more! And because there are plenty of public transportation stations and stops throughout downtown, you can explore so much more of San Diego by starting or ending with FRED.
San Diego’s Downtown is the hub of it all, with plenty of San Diego Trolley stations near a wide array of great places to eat and drink. Download the Pronto app for the trolley and use Fred to make your way from Ballast Point Brewing in Little Italy to Quartyard in the East Village to dinner at a restaurant on Fifth Avenue (or plenty of other amazing combinations in the Downtown area).
Coronado Summer Shuttle
Run Dates: Through Sept. 4, 2023
Explore the Emerald City with a ride on Coronado’s Free Summer Shuttle buses, which travel along Orange Avenue from Coronado Shores/City Hall to the Coronado Ferry Landing/Coronado Island Marriott Resort & Spa. The shuttles run in 15-minute intervals and can take you to quaint shops, inviting restaurants and the famous Hotel del Coronado.
After arriving in Downtown San Diego via trolley or bus, take a Fred San Diego ride to one of Downtown’s two Flagship Ferry locations for an affordable and quick cruise across stunning San Diego Bay, with views of the skyline, ships and so much more. After you arrive at the Coronado Ferry Landing, you can hop on the Free Summer Shuttle and start exploring.
The Beach Bug
Run Dates: TBD
Coming later in Summer 2023, The Beach Bug will provide a new, fun and sustainable way to travel to popular beachside destinations throughout Pacific Beach, including Crystal Pier. With a direct connection to and from the Balboa Transit Station on the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley extension, which travels to Westfield UTC, UCSD and more, you can easily get to the beach without relying on a car.
Make it a beachside date night by taking The Beach Bug to the water. First, stop at the Mission + Garnet Food Hall for some travelable eats. Then make the short journey to Crystal Pier. There you can walk out over the water and watch surfers ride the waves as the sun sets over the shimmering Pacific.
Free Ride Anywhere National City (FRANC)
Run Dates: TBD
This summer, make your way south via the UC San Diego Blue Line trolley (Eighth and 24th Street stations) and head into National City with FRANC. Take some time to explore the second-oldest city in San Diego County with a walk through Brick Row on Heritage Square, the Santa Fe Rail depot and more. Pack a picnic for an afternoon at Pepper Park. Or dine with waterfront views at Pier 32 Marina.
While tacos are a must-have when visiting San Diego, have you ever tried fresh lumpia? National City is known for its mouth-watering Filipino eateries, located along Eighth Avenue and East Plaza Boulevard. Check out Villa Manila for its kamayan-style dining, Tita’s Kitchenette for Filipino staples, and Filipino Desserts Plus for a post-meal sweet treat. You can also take a FRANC to Market on 8th for a pan-Asian foodie journey with all-local food and beverage vendors.
Run Dates: Year Round
It’s never been easier to explore San Diego on two wheels thanks to miles of new bike lanes. And with hotels such as Hotel Z offering free or discounted bike rentals, there’s no reason you can’t head out on two wheels and explore everything San Diego has to offer. Cruise along the waterfront Embarcadero, pedal up Fifth Avenue to Hillcrest on the Uptown Bikeways, bike like a local on the North Park | Mid City Bikeways, or make it a full day along the Bayshore Bikeway (an electric bike will make this 24-mile loop a little easier).
Take the Blue Line trolley to the Tecolote Station. Then pedal over to Mission Bay for 12 miles of waterfront cycling bliss. Make a pit stop for coffee or juice at the Mission Bay Beach Club. After a few more miles, relax at Moray’s at the Catamaran Resort Hotel and Spa with a drink of your choice. Then pedal over to Belmont Park to ride the Giant Dipper Roller Coaster. Finally, head back to the trolley station for your return ride.