If you’ve got family and friends who are heading your way to escape the snow, slush, ice and cold, you may not have the time and patience to go with them to see San Diego’s main attractions. Now there’s an alternative: Five Star Tours, a bus company in San Diego, is offering two-for-one tickets through the end of March. Tickets normally are $48 for adults; $39 for children 12 and under.
You can even send your guests down and back on the Coaster (http://www.gonctd.com/coaster) because the bus picks up and drops off passengers at the Five Star Tours Visitor Center at the Santa Fe Depot. The Coaster ride to the depot is a scenic, relaxing 55-minute trip from Oceanside.
Five Star’s four-hour tour, narrated by local guides, takes visitors throughout downtown San Diego and to the La Jolla coastline, Balboa Park, Old Town and Coronado. Five photo-op stops are included.
Tours depart at 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. Visit http://www.citytoursofsandiego.com/san-diego-city-tour.html.
When those guests do show up at the door, hand them a copy of “Moon San Diego” (Moon Publishing; softcover; $19.95), a 280-page, softcover guide to San Diego County’s 4,255 square miles. Compiled by local surfer, reporter and restaurant critic Ian Anderson, this third edition (updated June 2015) offers information on attractions, sights, restaurants, history, culture, nightlife and wildlife. The summaries are easy to read and include a generous number of photos, maps, and North County listings.
A military brat and inveterate traveler, Anderson is always happy to come home to San Diego. His guide is well organized and clearly written from the point of view of a seasoned local. Visit http://moon.com/books/moon-san-diego.
Lastly, should your visitors need a car when they arrive, rent them yours!
Send them to Turo (https://turo.com/), formerly RelayRide until November 2015, an online car rental service modeled after Airbnb. Turo matches car owners with prospective renters.
“The average American car sits idle 92 percent of the time throughout the lifetime of the car,” explained Steve Webb of Turo, who lives in San Francisco and doesn’t own a car. “We let people turn these underused cars into a source of revenue.” Car owners in San Diego County who participate through Turo make an average of $600 a month, according to Webb.
Renters also benefit because “they get convenience, selection and value,” Webb said.
Car owners have the option of bringing the car directly to the renter (for a fee), choosing from a wide variety of cars, and in most instances, paying rental fees that are about 30 percent lower than conventional car rental agencies, according to the site.
Payment is deposited directly into the car owner’s account, and Turo takes 25 percent for overhead, screening drivers and providing car owners with $1 million in liability coverage.
And like Airbnb, car owners and renters rate each other. Bad reviews mean they are eliminated from the system.
But Webb says there’s something about a face-to-face meeting between owner and renter that inspires the renter to care for the car.
“All exchanges are person-to-person. You look them in the eye and handover the key. When you meet someone like that, you’re going to care for the car.”
Rental cars must be clean, no older than 2005, and have no more than 100,000 miles, and an app allows owners to manage rental schedules.
The rental car business generates $60 billion annually worldwide, said Webb, and “it’s an industry that hasn’t changed since it was first created.”
Turo likely will change that.