It’s been almost 10 years since the Segway was introduced, and if the self-balancing personal transportation devices haven’t yet driven SUVs off the road, they have made a big splash in the tourism world. Over the past half-dozen years, Segway tours have appeared in cities all over the world. At least three that I know of operate in and around San Diego.
Along with 8 other members of the San Diego Professional Tour Guide Association, I finally got to try one on a recent windy evening. We assembled at the offices of Another Side of San Diego, and after watching a silly instructional vehicle, we buckled down to learning how to operate the things. This didn’t take long. After about 10 minutes of practicing in the courtyard that adjoins the G Street side of Horton Plaza, our lead guide, Jon, had us tooling after him through the Gaslamp District.
Although most of the local Segway sightseeing options include about two hours of riding, I found that one hour of standing, balancing, and weight-shifting was enough of a challenge for my cranky knees (I’m no skier). But that hour was a lot of fun. The Segways live up to their reputation for user-friendliness, and after just a few minutes out in the streets, I felt as least as secure as I do on my bike.
Jon spent almost no time on the stuff that traditional tours are made of: historical anecdotes, funny factoids, and the like. Instead, “It’s really all about the ride,” he acknowledged as we set off. What surprised me most was how satisfying that turned out to be. I love walking and had wondered why anyone would prefer abandoning that to yet another set of wheels. But experiencing the city streets and the waterfront on the Segway let us cover far more ground than we could have on foot, at bike-riding speeds, yet with more maneuverability and access than one gets on a bike. We saw everything one would see on foot — but more of it, and with the added pleasure that one gets from playing with a new toy.
Segway of Coronado, Another Side of San Diego, and We Love Tourists (based in La Jolla) offer tours of varying lengths pretty much anywhere you want them. Prices for the standard ones range from $59 to about $150 a person, but you can pay up to $1995 (for a 2-hour tour for up to 10 participants exploring the Zoo’s Safari Park (formerly known as the Wild Animal Park) on Segways.