Riding the bright red San Diego Trolley system is a great way to get around San Diego and see the city in its diversity. Three lines (Blue, Orange and Green), 134 signature red light rail vehicles, 51 miles of track, and 53 stations take you a wide swath of the city and surrounding communities. Here are some of the trolley stops where you'll want to get off and explore the surrounding neighborhoods. Fares: $1.50 to $3 one-way. Runs: every 15 minutes; 7 minutes peak; 30 minutes off peak.
SDSU Transit Center(Green Line)
The San Diego Trolley system will never be confused with a true subway system, but it does have one true subway station. Located under the campus of San Diego State University, this underground platform opened in 2005 when the Green Line opened. A tunnel was dug under the campus, where a subterranean station was built, allowing easy arrival and departure for students using the public rail system. So impressive is the SDSU station, with its attractive design, that in 2007 it was awarded a Grand Orchid award for local architectural achievement. After admiring the station itself, take a stroll around the massive campus, San Diego's oldest and largest university. Served by Bus Routes: 11, 14, 15, 115, 856, 936, 955
Grantville Station (Green Line)
If only to step off the train and onto this platform in the sky - that's the reason you'd want to check out the Grantville Station. From Interstate 8 you see it sweeping along the elevated tracks. But standing up on the platform, you realize how high up you are. Other than that, you'll probably want to step back on the next train, unless you work or do business in this heavily commercial area.
Qualcomm Stadium Station (Green Line)If you're going to a Chargers game, or any other event, at Qualcomm Stadium, this is the way to go. The Qualcomm station is literally steps away from the stadium gates, and the station's platform mimics the stadium's architecture. You'll feel smugly satisfied as you roll away after the game as you watch the traffic jam of vehicles trying to exit the parking lot.
Fashion Valley Transit Center (Green Line)Actually, as you head west from Qualcomm station, you hit a stretch of stations that are heaven sent for those who love shopping. The Fenton Parkway station is next to Ikea and Costco; Rio Vista station has Sears and the Marriott nearby; Mission Valley Center station is at the tangled retail intersection of Mission Center; and Hazard Center station has more retail available. But the Fashion Valley Transit Center delivers you right to San Diego's best shopping and entertainment mall. Shopping, restaurants, movies, hotels, even golf, are all within steps of the Fashion Valley station. Plus, Fashion Valley is a major transit hub for the major bus routes 6, 14, 20, 25, 41, 120, 928.
Old Town Transit Center (Green and Blue Lines)The Old Town Transit Center is a major convergence point for San Diego's commuter rail systems. This is where you transfer from the Blue (north-south) line to the Green (east-west). In addition, Old Town is where you also can transfer to and from the Coaster commuter train that runs up San Diego's north coast. Pay attention when you transfer at Old Town to make sure you are boarding the proper trains to your destination. If you have time, this is a great spot to play tourist and stroll through Old Town State Park and check out some early San Diego history, grab a meal, and do some shopping. Served by Bus Routes 8, 9, 10, 14, 28, 30, 35, 44, 105, 150, as well as Coaster service.
America Plaza Station (Blue and Orange Lines)America Plaza station is a transfer point if you're on the Blue line and want to switch to the Orange line's bayfront route. Check out the nifty European style metal, curving awning over the platform. This is a good spot to take a side trip and walk along the west side of downtown. The Museum of Contemporary Art is across the tracks, as is the historic Santa Fe Train Depot. A few blocks west of the station is San Diego's picturesque Embarcadero.
Convention Center Station (Orange Line)As you travel along this bayside spur of the Orange line, you'll come across three stations in prime waterfront locations. The Seaport Village station takes you to the popular tourist destination, and the Gaslamp Quarter station stops at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the bustling nightlife district. In between these two stations is the Convention Center station, which deposits you right at the massive waterfront Convention Center. If you're in town for a convention, this is your stop. But really, any of these stations will take you within walking distance of any of downtown's prime attractions.
Civic Center Station (Orange Line)Back along the main leg of the Orange line, the Civic Center station is along the C Street corridor and is your prime stop if you have city hall or court business along the downtown core.
City College Station (Orange Line)At the far east end of the Orange line's C Street corridor, the City College Station is the major stop for students heading to City College and San Diego High School. It's also a transfer point for buses heading up Park Blvd. to Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. This station tends to attract a number of homeless and panhandlers, so be alert and careful at this station. Major commercial and condominium projects are being built at this intersection, so things are starting to clean up a bit.
12th Ave. Transit Center (Orange and Blue Lines)The 12th Avenue Transit Center is another major transfer point for the Blue and Orange lines. It is also the location of the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) headquarters, which operates the trolley and San Diego metro buses. With its clock tower as a landmark, it is also a major stop for passengers heading into and out of Petco Park, the San Diego Padres' downtown ballpark in the burgeoning East Village district. From this station, you can head south to the border or east to Santee. This transit center is served by Bus Routes 4, 11, 901, 929.