San Diego

Short History of San Diego

San Diego, known for its perfect weather and natural beauty, is the second-largest city in California. It was first visited by Europeans in 1542 when Portuguese explorer Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo claimed the area for Spain.

However, it wasn't until 1769 that Mission San Diego de Alcala, the first of 21 missions, was established by Franciscan friars. The city became part of Mexico in 1821 when it gained independence from Spain. Later, following the Mexican-American War, San Diego became part of the United States in 1848.

The late 19th and 20th centuries witnessed a significant growth in San Diego's economy, mainly driven by the military and defence industries, tourism, international trade, and manufacturing. Today, it's renowned for its scientific research, stunning beaches, and vibrant culture.

FAQ for San Diego

What is the best way to get there?

San Diego is well connected by air, road, and rail. San Diego International Airport serves numerous domestic and international flights. Interstate 5 and 8 are the main highways if you are driving, and Amtrak serves the city for those traveling by train.

What is San Diego famous for?

San Diego is known for its beautiful beaches, vibrant culture, the historic Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld, and a strong naval presence. It is also famous for its near-perfect climate.

What are five interesting facts about San Diego?

  1. San Diego is the birthplace of California.
  2. It is home to the largest wooden structure in the United States, the Hotel del Coronado.
  3. The city has the second largest population in California and the eighth largest in the United States.
  4. It is one of the top biotech cities in the world.
  5. The annual Comic-Con International event in San Diego is the largest comics and pop culture event in the United States.

How did San Diego get its name?

San Diego was named by Sebastian Vizcaino in 1602 in honor of San Diego de Alcala, a Spanish saint.

Do I need a visa?

Visa requirements depend on your nationality. If you're from a Visa Waiver Program country, you may not need a visa for short stays. Otherwise, a visa may be required. Please check with the U.S. Department of State for the most up-to-date information.

When is the best time to visit San Diego?

The best time to visit San Diego is from March to May and September to November when the weather is mild, and tourist crowds are thinner.

Are there local customs I should know for San Diego?


The legal drinking age is 21. It is against the law to drink in public, outside of designated areas in restaurants or bars.


Handshakes or casual greetings like 'hi' or 'hello' are common. Californians are generally informal and friendly.

Public transit

San Diego has a comprehensive public transportation system that includes buses and a light rail system, known as the San Diego Trolley. Exact change or a transit card is required.

What is the time zone for San Diego?

San Diego is in the Pacific Time Zone (PT).

What are the voltage/plug types?

The standard voltage is 120V. Plug types are Type A and B.

What is the currency?

The currency used in San Diego is the United States Dollar (USD).

Are ATMs readily accessible?

Yes, ATMs are widely available throughout the city and can be found in most hotels, shopping centers, and convenience stores.

Are credit cards widely accepted?

Yes, credit cards are widely accepted in most places in San Diego.

Can you use ApplePay and Google Pay?

Yes, most major retailers, restaurants, and transportation services accept ApplePay and Google Pay.

How much do I tip in San Diego?


Tipping is customary in San Diego. The general guideline is 15-20% of the total bill.


It is customary to tip 15-20% of the bill before tax.


A tip of $1-$2 per bag for bellhops and $2-$5 per day for housekeeping is standard.


It is customary to tip taxi drivers 10-15% of the fare.

Tour guides

A tip of $5-$10 per person for a full day tour is standard.

San Diego Facts and Figures

Founded Population (2023) Elevation
1769 1.3 Million (source) 62ft (19m)


Seasons and Months High Temperatures (°C/°F) Low Temperatures (°C/°F)
Spring (Mar-May) 19-23°C / 66-73°F 11-14°C / 52-57°F
Summer (Jun-Aug) 24-27°C / 75-80°F 16-18°C / 61-64°F
Autumn (Sep-Nov) 21-27°C / 70-80°F 14-16°C / 57-61°F
Winter (Dec-Feb) 16-19°C / 61-66°F 8-10°C / 46-50°F