There are many great things about living in San Diego. However, public transportation is not one of them. If you are going to Kaaboo one of the most important aspects, after you have booked your accommodations, is to figure out how you are going to get to Kaaboo. I will go over all the available options you have for getting to Kaaboo Del Mar, how they work, and how much you can expect to pay for these options.
This is southern California so in general this is a popular option. Due to our lack of public transportation people pretty much drive everywhere. Driving to Kaaboo is certainly an option. The Del Mar Fairgrounds, which hosts Kaaboo, has a large parking area that is suited to handle large events. Unfortunately, there is only one road into the Fairgrounds so expect abysmal traffic getting into Kaaboo. The first year of Kaaboo was not that bad, but the festival was plagued by complaints of how long it took to get in year two. Many people complained that the last 2 or 3 miles and parking took over 90 minutes. Obviously driving to a festival is always an option, and at Kaaboo you legitimately do have few options, but if you can avoid driving I would suggest you do.
Also, if you do drive to Kaaboo you will need a parking pass. You can purchase a parking pass for Kaaboo here. Kaaboo has three different parking options: on-site, preferred and valet.
Kaaboo On-Site Parking ($100) – This is your basic parking pass that allows you to park at the fairgrounds all three days. There are no added passes, it is your standard, run of the mill parking pass. Parking is not guaranteed so you should head to Kaaboo early if you have the general parking pass.
Kaaboo Preferred Parking ($150) – Preferred parking guarantees your parking spot at Kaaboo. They reserve spots for preferred parking so regardless of when you go to Kaaboo you will be able to park.
Kaaboo Valet Parking ($200) – This parking is only available to you if you bought a VIP pass to Kaaboo.
Uber and Lyft are both popular options in San Diego for getting to Kaaboo. Kaaboo has designated spots at Del Mar Fairgrounds for people wishing to utilize rideshare. You will only be able to get picked up and dropped off at these spots, so if you call an Uber at the end of the night you need to head there. Your driver will not be allowed to pick you up anywhere else.
So is Uber a good option? Sort of. It saves you the cost of the parking pass ($100+), and you can drink as many adult beverages as you like. That said, this could be quite expensive. If you go to Kaaboo early in the day the ride won’t be too expensive, but if you leave at the end of the night after a headliner you can expect some nasty elevated rates. Also keep in mind that getting into Kaaboo, and any event at the Del Mar Fairgrounds, can be an absolutely mess. All that time waiting to get through the traffic is going to cost you. If you have money to spare and aren’t too far rideshare can be a decent option.
If you aren’t staying too far from Kaaboo this is a viable option. There is a secured area just outside the main gates for parking your bike. It’s also always under surveillance, which is really nice. Just be sure to remember where you parked your bike and to bring your own lock. San Diego is pretty spread out so it is likely Kaaboo is too far for you to bike, but if you are staying in Del Mar, or perhaps La Jolla or Encinitas, you could definitely look into biking to Kaaboo.
San Diego has limited public transportation, but it can work well for Kaaboo. The dark blue line is the San Diego Coaster and the aqua line is the Sprinter. Most likely if you are visiting San Diego you are somewhere on the coast: downtown, La Jolla, Pacific Beach or Carlsbad. Carlsbad and downtown San Diego both have coaster stops. La Jolla and Pacific beach aren’t too far from stops (Sorrento Valley for La Jolla and Old Town for Pacific Beach). If you are in inland northern San Diego you could use the Sprinter (aqua line). You would take the Sprinter from anywhere heading west to the Oceanside coaster stop. From here you can hop on the coaster.
Anyways, let’s get to how you can use these to get to Kaaboo. The Del Mar Fairgrounds, where Kaaboo takes place, is only a couple miles south of the Solana Beach Coaster stop. Kaaboo runs a shuttle from the Solana Beach station to Kaaboo for $5 each way. Thus if you want to take public transportation to Kaaboo you can take the coaster to Solana Beach and take the Kaaboo shuttle to Kaaboo. The shuttle will cost you $10 round-trip ($5 each way). We've gotten a few questions from even San Diego locals about this shuttle so here's how it works:
If you are worried about finding this don't be - just follow the crowd. I would say 80% of the people on the Coaster will be heading to Kaaboo so just follow them if you are worried about it. Again, this is a pretty cheap way to get to Kaaboo as it is only $5 each way. The coaster is also fairly inexpensive and pricing is based on how many zones you are coming from. You can get the entire coaster pricing info here. The max the coaster will cost is $11, so you are looking at $21 a day to get to Kaaboo, which is still cheaper than the base-parking pass. Also, you can drink and avoid traffic, which is a big plus. Just note you can’t drink on the coaster, so don’t bring alcohol on board, or else it just became a more expensive option!
One caveat is the coaster does have limited trains and hours. This is San Diego, not NYC so don’t expect trains every 10 minutes. Be sure to check the coaster schedule and plan your Kaaboo day accordingly. You can see the full coaster schedule here. In summary, if you are staying on the coast (or can take the Spinter to the coast), the coaster is a solid option for Kaaboo: you avoid traffic, its cheaper than the parking pass, and you can enjoy as many cocktails at Kaaboo as you want. The downside is its not the most convenient option with limited hours.
If you are in Del Mar and close enough to Kaaboo this is obviously the best option. The price is right and you can laugh at all the cars stuck in traffic along the way.
Kaaboo is great, but it is surprisingly difficult to get to despite it being in San Diego. Most people drive, making the traffic and parking a mess. This option will definitely test your patience. If you are close enough to bike this is the option I would go with, but San Diego is admittedly spread out so it won’t be an option for many people heading to Kaaboo. If you are staying on the coast definitely look into taking the Coaster and public transportation to Kaaboo. It will be cheap and allows you to avoid the traffic. If you are near a coaster stop and can deal with it’s limited hours of operations it’s the a great option. If you have any questions or want further advice for getting to Kaaboo feel free to shoot me an email at Shawn@EventTrk.com and I will be sure to answer you and add your question to our guide.