San Diego typifies all that is great about California. A sunny, warm, laid-back coastal city with terrific views and endless attractions, it’s little wonder visitors love it. Those who rent a car in San Diego experience it to the fullest, cruising down wide boulevards before spending the day relaxing at the ocean with the locals. With a car rental in San Diego, you’ll have the flexibility to live just as the residents do — at your own pace.
San Diego Car Rental - the most important rental sites
Like most California cities, spacious San Diego is spread over a larger area than many are used to. A good deal on a cheap San Diego car rental is the best way to ensure you can see all the sights. In some cases it's the only way to really get around, whether you're on a one way trip or doing a long term San Diego visit.
Main Opening Times*
San Diego International Airport
3225 N Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
12:00 a.m. - 11:59 p.m.
640 Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101, USA
07:30 a.m. - 05:30 p.m.
*The opening times may differ and vary depending on the rental site. Precise information can be found in the listing details. It may be possible to pickup and drop off your rental car outside of the main opening times, but be aware that there may be a charge for this service.
Rent a car: San Diego and its sights
Whether you’re exploring the beaches or the various neighborhoods, or simply cruising around in your car in San Diego, you’ll find there’s plenty to keep you occupied.
Balboa Park: This cultural park is a brilliant starting point. It is home, first and foremost, to the world-famous San Diego Zoo which houses animals including hippos, polar bears, giant pandas, tigers, and lions. Museum-lovers can choose between the Air and Space Museum, Natural History Museum, Museum of Art, and a plethora of others. Avid theatre-goers, meanwhile, shouldn't miss seeing a production at the Old Globe Theatre, a replica of London's original Shakespearean theatre. Given the size of Balboa Park, having a vehicle will make travelling around the area far more convenient.
The Gaslamp Quarter: This quarter is both San Diego's historic district and a night time favourite with numerous restaurants and bars housed in its Victorian architecture. It’s heavily trafficked by both locals and visitors who choose to make dinner reservations and spend an evening here. Located not far from the beach, this is also the site of many events throughout the year including St Patrick’s Day, music festivals, and Mardi Gras.
Mission Beach: It’s not a holiday without taking your rental car to Mission Beach for a day - the place to go for classic California vibes. Hang out and people-watch on the broad, sandy beach or take a dip in the Pacific. Better yet, park the car and rent a bike to cruise the boardwalk.
La Jolla: This part of San Diego shouldn't be missed for its stately homes and genteel vibe. However, it's also home to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve which offers its own beach in an untouched setting; hiking opportunities, wildlife including bobcats and coyotes, and the possibility of whale sightings during migration season. Naturally, a visit here is made easiest when you hire a car in San Diego.
Car rental in San Diego: getting around
With wide roads and nowhere near as much traffic as Los Angeles or San Francisco, renting a car in San Diego makes for fairly easy getting around. Traffic can get congested in the downtown area, and be sure, when parking, to check the signage. When getting on the freeway via an entry ramp, as you will likely do, note that there is often a traffic light for cars entering — when it turns green, it is typically to allow only two cars in at a time. Signage should also clarify this, so be sure to look!