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San Diego, CA Driving Tips and Experiences

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Is a car necessary in San Diego?
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Nice to have
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San Diego, CA
San Diego, CA Driving Tips
Never drive during peak hours of traffic like rush hour morning commute or right after everyone gets off work later in the day. It's just so hard to get anywhere. I would recommend taking side streets instead of main ones because you cover much more ground rather than stopping at every single red light. GPS works well and is easy to use. Do not tailgate and always signal when changing lanes. The causes of most crashes is due to being in a hurry or using the phone instead of being patient and paying attention to your surroundings.
San Diego, CA Buying Tips
In Kearny Mesa there are probably over a dozen dealerships all within the same area or blocks of each other. Every car brand and company you can think of such as Toyota, Honda, and several exotic brands as well are located in that stretch. I bought my car though craigslist because I did not have a large budget but felt that buying a new car is out of the question for me as I did not want to have debt. Overall if you're going to shop online, be very careful of scam posts and always bring a friend who is car savvy when it comes to inspecting a car. There are several options but choose what is most comfortable for you and do your research before buying anything impulsively!
Favorite driving memory
I wanted to take my mom somewhere really nice on Mother's Day so we went to La Jolla Cove which is right on the beach. It's this little inlet where the view of the beach is amazing and there are so many sea lions! I drove all along the beach past all these beautiful houses that are practically multi-million dollar mansions. We drove all along the coast and saw the amazing view of the endless water crashing against the shore. There was not much traffic and the drive was so nice and pleasant. Not a stress in the world! We also drove up a giant mountain called Mt. Soledad which has roads that circle all the way to the very top of the mountain where there is a giant cross. It was fun driving up the ascent although I could feel my poor engine working hard to go up such a steep hill. The view from the peak is even more awesome. We could see for miles all the geography of the region from downtown to north county San Diego. All in all, the drive was very fun!
Favorite road
Sorrento Valley Blvd.. It's just right off the street from my house and connects to both coastal freeways making commuting anywhere a breeze. The view is nice and the entire drive westward is downhill. There's also no traffic and I can just daydream as I drive. There's almost no potholes and barely any lights that turn red. there are not much cops or traffic accidents in the area and all along both sides of the road are suburban homes. There's also valleys on both sides so it's nice to see nothing but shrubs, trees, and natural vegetation from the boring urban concrete that I usually see.
San Diego, CA
San Diego, CA Driving Tips
Avoid the 5 freeway at all costs. There's a natural bottleneck as you drive on the 5 freeway from La Jolla and the downtown area up towards North County right around the Del Mar fairgrounds. Any time you make that drive between 3:30pm and 7pm the traffic is going to be outrageous and can add as much as 45 minutes onto your drive. My main tip to people is to avoid it but if you have no choice, make sure you go very early in the day or very late. It may seem like going way out of your way but taking 15 North to 78 West will actually save you time during rush hour.
San Diego, CA Buying Tips
Personally I've used TV commercials. There's a Toyota dealership in Kearny Mesa that's earned my business and there seem to be more than a few car dealerships nearby. I wouldn't trust craigslist in this city even to sell old furniture, there are a lot of shady people in this city so there's no way I'd trust craigslist with something as important as a car. TV and radio recommendations are the way to go, at least there's some kind of barrier of entry right there.
Favorite driving memory
Favorite memory driving in this city is probably the first time I drove from the La Jolla cliffs back to the city at night. Even though La Jolla is only about a 15 minute drive from downtown there are parts that seem downright isolated, like the cove and the cliffs area. The road back from the cliffs is very dark at night and you have to drive slowly. It's a little bit like driving in South America, driving slowly, making sure a car isn't going to come at you head on. The first time I made the drive that late at night I was basically tailgating just to make sure I stayed on the road! But it's the closest thing to "excitement" that I can think of when it comes to city driving.
Favorite road
Interstate 15. I like the 15 best of all because it's a lot faster than the 5 and as you go north away from the city there are areas that seem almost country. The stretch between the 15 and 52 merger and Escondido is almost always a quick drive even during the near rush hour period. Compare that to driving on the 5 which is always a traffic jam. San Diego is quickly turning into LA but over the past year or so where my commute has been more 15 centric than 5 centric, it's been more pleasant.