By Nora Byrne

Heading to dinner in Little Italy? A game at Petco Park? A concert at SDCCU Stadium? Before you heave a big sigh and inch toward the freeways, why not head for the nearest San Diego Metropolitan Transit System trolley station and hop aboard? You’ll forgo the hassles of driving and looking for parking while enjoying a safe, relaxing ride. Or should we say glide? The trolleys move so smoothly along the rails, you may wonder if you’re moving at all!

Three main trolley lines connect the city center to East County, South Bay, and San Ysidro with lots of fun places in between.

The Blue Line runs from American Plaza in downtown south to San Ysidro, passing through National City, Chula Vista, and Imperial Beach. In late 2021, this line will also extend north to UC San Diego and University Town Center. Try a day of art and architecture. From Barrio Logan Station, walk to Chicano Park, a National Historic Landmark. Explore the vivid murals that decorate this urban park. Then stroll along Logan Avenue browsing the art galleries lining the street. Stop for a bite at a neighborhood taqueria. Then take the trolley to Park & Market. From there, stroll to the Central Library, which features striking contemporary architecture, including a stunning steel dome. Head up to the ninth floor for views overlooking downtown and the harbor.

The Orange Line runs from the Courthouse downtown east to El Cajon, passing through Lemon Grove and La Mesa. Try a day of culture and craft beer. Treat yourself to a show at the San Diego Civic Theatre or the Balboa Theatre. Choose from Broadway shows, live concerts, or plays. To get there, take the Orange Line to the Civic Center stop. Enjoy a beer and a bite before or after at Karl Strauss Brewing Company, one of our first local breweries and a craft beer pioneer. While you’re there, try the Irish Red Ale-style beer—aptly named Red Trolley—that helped put San Diego on the international beer map.

The Green Line runs from downtown through Midtown to Old Town and then east to Santee, passing through Mission Valley, San Diego State University, and El Cajon. Try a day of history and harbor views. Right next to Old Town station is Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. A California Historical Landmark, this park features buildings from the 1800s, many of which are now museums offering a glimpse into what life was like in the early days of the city. Next, ride the trolley to the County Center/Little Italy stop. Dine alfresco along India Street, and then head down to the harbor and soak up more history at the Maritime Museum or the USS Midway.

San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
San Diego Metropolitan Transit System
Christopher Penler/Shutterstock.com
Christopher Penler/Shutterstock.com


7 days/week
Trains run approximately every 15 to 30 minutes between 5 am and 12 midnight. Check online for exact schedules and service updates.

One-way tickets, day passes, and multiple day passes are available. To purchase, download the Compass Cloud app on your smartphone, buy a reloadable Compass Card, or purchase tickets from a vending machine at the station.

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