Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
Hopper San Diego makes visiting Downtown attractions easy, comfortable and fun
Whether touring Downtown for the first time, or wanting to take a day or two to visit some of Downtown’s hotspots, there is a hassle-free way to see the sites, shops and sounds. There are no stresses of driving, looking for parking or a time schedule. Choose your destinations and stay as long as you like. This is what The Hopper San Diego has to offer for San Diegans and visitors to Downtown.
Comfortable seating with tables, places for charging phones, tablets, laptops, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and a restroom are all on board — and are just some of the amenities that San Diego’s newest get-around-town tourist attraction offers. Running every day from 9:30 a.m.–6:30 p.m., this new destination service offers more than just a comfortable ride and sight-seeing tours. With double-decker buses that run all day, people can board on and off at its several stops, spending time in various parts of Downtown at their leisure. Packages include transportation from destination to destination, or “Hopper Plus,” which offers tickets to some of San Diego’s leading tourist destinations — and now includes a two-day package so that people may see even more. It has also included hotel packages along Hotel Circle and Mission Bay, which includes complementary shuttle service to Old Town where you can jump aboard the next available Hopper bus. And for the month of September, The Hopper is offering first responders free rides to salute their hard work within the community.
According to Haley Ritter, Hopper’s director of marketing, the service launched in May after three men — Doug Porter, Wen Zheng and Tom D’Amato — saw a need and started Hopper under the business name WTSD LLC.
When Zheng — the founder of Hopper — came out to San Diego from New York, he found out that there was so much that the city had to offer, Ritter said.
“And he also realized that people needed more ways to get around to the plethora of things to do here in the city,” Ritter continued. “He knew that many of the places were hidden gems.”
Porter was a Navy pilot, did his military stint here in San Diego and was moving here to retire. The three connected through past relationships and came together to bring The Hopper to San Diego. With Porter’s marketing background, D’Amato’s experience in hospitality and Zheng’s history as a ticket reseller, they combined their expertise to find a comfortable way to get around San Diego.
“That’s where The Hopper and these nice double-decker buses came into play,” Ritter said. “Hopper is the base product, transportation only, so you can go to our eight locations: Old Town, Embarcadero, Seaport Village, Gaslamp, Petco Park, the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park and Little Italy. You can hop on and off at any of those locations and the bus will come back every 30–45 minutes.”
Ritter said that Hopper Plus, a transportation and attractions package, allows visitors to get into many of the venues the routes have to offer.
“There are back door tours of Petco Park that will show you all of its amenities, take you to the field, the dugouts,” Ritter said. “Also, tours of the USS Midway Museum, a one-hour harbor cruise aboard the Hornblower, the Maritime Museum, the San Diego Zoo, the Antique Carousel at Seaport Village and the Flagship Coronado Ferry and SeaWorld can be purchased in Hopper packages. You can pick and choose what attractions you would like to add to your experience. There is so much you can do with the attractions.”
“Onboard concierges don’t run on a script. They all take the job seriously and have fun with it,” Ritter said. They do their own research on many things about San Diego along the route, both historically and currently.
Hopper is continuously expanding with different major routes and is looking to move forward to include more local night time events, as well as neighborhoods that many tourists may not go to, such as the Uptown communities of North Park and Hillcrest.
For more information, visit ridethehopperbus.com.
— Albert Fulcher can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org