The South Bay region of San Diego County is bounded by Downtown San Diego to the north, the Pacific Ocean to the west, the international border with Mexico to the south, and the Otay Lakes to the east.
- 1 Coronado - A beautiful island community just across the bay from Downtown San Diego. Much of the island is given over to a major naval base, but you'll also find one of the region's cleanest beaches here as well as the gorgeous and historic Hotel Del Coronado.
- 2 National City - A small city just south of Downtown San Diego that is home to a large shipping port.
- 3 Chula Vista - The largest city in the region, and the second largest in the county behind San Diego. There aren't any major attractions here, although visitors will find a delightful nature center situated in the marshes of the bay and some good boating opportunities from a bayfront harbor.
- 4 Imperial Beach - A small beachside city at the southern end of the bay, here you'll find excellent surfing and swimming on the Silver Strand, one of the few salt marshes remaining in Southern California at the Tijuana Estuary, and an annual sandcastle competition every July where you can see professional sand castle crafters at work.
- Most of San Diego lies to the north of the South Bay area, but San Diego does encompass 5 San Ysidro, a community situated on the USA-Mexico border which is also the major crossing between the USA and Tijuana, Mexico.
I-5 and I-805 run north-south through National City and Chula Vista down to San Ysidro, where they intersect with I-5 proceeding all the way to the border. You can drive to the border crossing and then continue driving through, or park at one of the lots and walk through — parking will not only allow you to avoid the traffic jam at the border, but it will also saves you the added expense of purchasing Mexican insurance on the U.S. side before you drive into Mexico (note that it's illegal to drive into Mexico without this type of insurance). Parking at one of the lots costs about $4-9 a day. Traffic is pretty heavy coming up from Mexico.
The San Diego Trolley Blue Line service runs south from Downtown through National City and Chula Vista down to San Ysidro, within walking distance of the border. Standard, one-way fares run $1.25-$3 depending on how far you travel. Day passes are $5, and there are 2, 3 and 4 day passes available as well. The Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) operates bus service throughout the region.
Because San Ysidro is located near the border with Mexico, the crime levels are higher than normal. Use common sense, and do not get involved in any situation that could have anything gang activity/drugs written on it.
- San Diego lies to the north with its myriad of attractions: Downtown with its restaurants, nightlife, and maritime museums on the harborfront; Balboa Park with its gardens, museums, and famed zoo; and Point Loma curving around the northern edge of San Diego Bay with its marinas, seaside cliffs, and views over the bay; to name but a few highlights.
- Tijuana lies just to the south, across the border in Mexico, and offers much for the visitor.