Talk about being close to everything. The airport – the busiest single-runway airport in the United States – is just 3 miles north of downtown and across the street from San Diego Bay. It takes less than 15 minutes to drive from the airport to downtown. Mission Beach is 6½ miles northwest of the airport, less than 20 minutes drive time; La Jolla is about 15 miles north, about 30 minutes drive time, and Coronado is about 9 miles south, or 25 minutes drive time. The international border at San Ysidro crossing into Tijuana is less than 20 miles south, or about a 30-minute drive.
There are two terminals, Terminal 1 with two concourses (Gates 1-10 and 11-18) and Terminal 2, also with two concourses (Gates 20-32 and 33-51). Only the concourses in Terminal 2 are connected post-security. Otherwise connecting passengers going between concourses must exit the TSA secure area and be re-screened.
Ground transportation choices from the airport include app-based rides, taxis, limousines and luxury cars and rental cars. Bus route 992 of the city’s Metropolitan Transit System departs from outside the airport’s Baggage Claim about every 15 minutes daily for the 10-15-minute ride to Santa Fe Depot downtown where passengers can connect to other bus routes, the Trolley light rail, COASTER commuter rail and Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner intercity train. The Santa Fe Depot is also where passengers can connect to the CBX Shuttle, departing every two hours from 9:30 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., to the Cross Border Xpress skybridge, a 400-foot walkway across the U.S.-Mexico border leading directly into the terminal of Tijuana International Airport. There is a fee to use the facility and it is only available to passengers on flights departing and arriving Tijuana airport.
Southwest Airlines flights arrive and depart at gates 1-10 in Terminal 1. Be aware that gates 1, 1A and 2 are separate from the other gates in the terminal so connecting passengers arriving or departing at those gates must leave the TSA secure area and be re-screened when connecting with a Southwest flight at gates 3-10.
San Diego likes to bill itself as America’s Finest City. The temperate climate has a lot to do with it, especially during the summer when they say “zonies” escaping the heat outnumber the locals.
San Diego Tourism Authority has up-to-date travel planning information here.
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