‘We just want to toodle around and see the sights,” said Aunt Nancy on the phone before her visit. “And we don’t want to put you out in the slightest.”
“How does one toodle?” asked my husband Patrick.
“I’ll toodle you,” I answered. “You know perfectly well that she just wants an easy way to get around without causing a fuss — and without taking the bus.”
I had seen the orangey-yellow GoCars parked along Hawthorn on many a drive toward the airport and thought they might make for some good toodling. I called office manager Enrique (800-914-6227, gocartours.com) for a little background.
“The GoCar is a little open-top car that you take around the city. It has two wheels in front and one in back — very stable and very easy to drive. There are no gears to change, and because it’s registered as a motorcycle, you can park it in motorcycle spaces as well as car spaces. It holds a driver and a passenger, and its 50cc engine has a top speed of 30 mph. The driver must be 21 and have a driver’s license, you must wear a helmet, and you have to stay on city streets.”
Where to toodle? “The GoCars will give you GPS guided tours. The cars talk to you, but it’s a little friendlier than regular GPS. And while it’s giving you directions, it’s telling you the names of the places you’re looking at and giving you some history. As you go down Harbor Drive, it names all the ships, then tells when they got here and what they’re doing here. You get a full ten minutes of history when you’re in front of the USS Midway. If you stay on the GPS tour, you learn about the Gaslamp Quarter, Balboa Park, Mission Hills, Hillcrest, and Old Town. We also have a Point Loma tour.”
But as long as you stay on city streets you can toodle where you will. “I’ve had people take it all the way to La Jolla.” Just make sure you’re back by 6 p.m. [earliest possible pickup is 9 a.m.]. It’s $44 for the first hour and $24 for each hour after that, up to five hours. Beyond that, there’s no charge. Oh, and we offer a collision damage waiver that covers the GoCar for $9 a day.”
I decided to present Aunt Nancy with a couple of options, so I called David at Pedicabs in the Gaslamp (619-595-0211). “You can put up to three people in our bike cabs,” he said, “and we can give you a two-hour tour of the waterfront and the Gaslamp. Our drivers are knowledgeable about the area, and they’ll talk to you as they pedal. Or we can do shorter tours of just the Gaslamp or the waterfront. While you’re touring, you can stop now and then to check out a restaurant or buy a souvenir. The tours run $25 per half hour. It’s best to call and set them up in advance so I can set up the price with the driver ahead of time. Otherwise, because they’re independent contractors, they’ll negotiate the price with you after you hail them. We’re open from 9 a.m. to 3 a.m., and I can usually get a bike to you anywhere around downtown about 15 to 20 minutes after you call.”
And just in case Nancy wanted her toodling to be high-tech, I gave a call to Segway of Pacific Beach (858-270-2881, segwaypb.com). “The Segway is a platform set on two wheels and outfitted with a handle,” explained Uranna. “It’s a sidewalk-legal personal transporter, and it will travel at speeds up to 12.5 miles per hour. It’s a lot like gliding: you lean forward to make it go and back to make it stop. Tilting the bar on the handle to the right or left makes you turn. The computer keeps you balanced and tells the separate motors on each wheel when to go and when to stop. We train people to use them before they take them out — it only takes about five minutes. I just trained an 89-year-old lady for her birthday, and she caught on right away. But you have to be at least 12 years old.”
If you’re feeling adventurous, Segway of Pacific Beach will give you a map and send you on your way — $45 for the first hour, $30 an hour after that, prorated in 15-minute intervals. But they also offer guided tours of Mission Bay ($75 for 90 minutes) and Mount Soledad ($95 for two and a half hours). “And in the summer, we offer an evening fireworks tour [$95] that takes you around the bay and then over to Crown Point to watch the fireworks over SeaWorld.”
Also check out Gaslamp Segway (619-239-2111, gaslampsegway.com) for downtown Segway tours.