Beautiful San Diego is a straightforward promote. The metropolis has a lot to do, from artwork galleries, avenue artwork, and museums in Downtown San Diego to its spectacular portfolio of sandy seashores for the extra laidback vacationers. You can carve out spots for whale-watching cruises or wine tasting – and if you’re staying for longer than a day or two, you must positively plan some day journeys. San Diego is ideally situated on the southern California coast, perfect for venturing to a number of the state’s prettiest locations and most enjoyable sights.
Best Day Trips from San Diego
Whether you’re a nature lover or choose modern artwork, San Diego has a visit that will probably be up your alley. In this information, we’ll introduce you to the highest contenders, from hours spent in Los Angeles to afternoons wine tasting amidst rolling hills. It is secure to say that there’s loads of selection. Grab a pen and paper as a result of San Diego’s day journeys don’t disappoint.
Book your airport switch to your downtown San Diego lodge upfront for a personal worry-free journey.
1. Newport Beach
Newport Beach is solely the place for a part-glitzy, part-cheesy seaside expertise in California. As a day journey from San Diego, it is a perfect seashore day vacation spot. You can relax on quite a few sandy seashores, head browsing, or attempt some scrumptious ice cream. There are off-beach actions, too, like amusement park actions on Balboa Pier and at Balboa Fun Zone.
This is a light-hearted day journey to select from San Diego. If you need a enjoyable time out or are touring with younger youngsters, it’s a nice wager. Check out 28 Best Beaches in California
Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hours How to get there: Car
2. Salton Sea
The Salton Sea is one thing fairly particular. The uncommon pure lake is known for its tremendous excessive salt ranges, house to solely a handful of marine life species. Only the hardiest creatures and flora can hack a life within the Salton Sea. The white sands across the lake are aesthetic sufficient to draw photographers, not simply swimmers. Overall, Salton Sea is simply the proper uncommon day journey to add to your San Diego itinerary.
Once you’ve admired the lake, there’s a historic city round its perimeter to have a potter round. There’s additionally Rock Hill Trail should you fancy a leisurely 2-mile stroll with panoramic lake views and potential hen watching.
Distance from San Diego: 2 hours 40 minutes How to get there: Car
A Tijuana day journey is the last word persuasion to head out of downtown San Diego for a day. The border metropolis has a popularity for being lively and tradition – probably the most accessible level of Mexico to attain on a day journey from San Diego. It is massively common for these wanting to squeeze a glimpse of Mexico into their San Diego itinerary. If you need an bold time out, Tijuana is right.
You can wander the outdated city, watch wrestling occasions, or go to the Tijuana Cultural Center. You can go to independently or take a guided tour.
Distance from San Diego: 1 hour and quarter-hour or 35 minutes by automotive How to get there: Shuttle or automotive
4. Borrego Springs
Borrego Springs is likely one of the very best locations to go to for stargazing – solely surrounded by the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park and a chosen International Dark Sky Community. This signifies that whereas we’re including it as a ‘day trip’, you may want to go to at night time in a barely extra unconventional journey. If you get there earlier than night time, although, you must try a number of the trails within the state park. The Slot Canyon Trail is especially common. Clark Dry Lake is a cool spot, too; it’s a cracked lake that appears like one thing straight out of a Hollywood movie.
Distance from San Diego: 2 hours How to get there: Car
5. Palm Springs
Chances are you’ve already heard of Palm Springs. This metropolis is sat on – unsurprisingly – sizzling springs, that means you’ll discover tons of thermal swimming pools and plush flora. As a metropolis, it’s also action-packed in an opulent method, with tennis courts, golf programs, horseback using, and nightlife galore. Palm Springs is actually an adults’ playground. It is the perfect place to let your hair down for a day. Read extra: 16 Best Cities in California
As a fast aspect observe, Palm Springs is instantly between San Diego and Joshua Tree National Park. You can mix the 2 with a fast stopover in Palm Springs en route to the nationwide park.
Distance from San Diego: 2.5 hours How to get there: Car
6. Los Angeles
We received’t mince our phrases; ideally, you’d have greater than a day in Los Angeles; it’s simply considered one of California’s greatest cities. From theme parks to the Walk of Fame and Beverly Hills, Los Angeles is just about all people’s dream vacation spot when it comes to visiting California. The mega-city received its popularity from A-listers and Hollywood motion pictures, and it has a number of the greatest sights and excursions the complete state gives. That mentioned, Los Angeles is doable on a day journey from San Diego. You’ll simply have to have a military-style itinerary. You may also spend money on a guided day journey. This method, the 2-hour drive every method received’t tire you out an excessive amount of.
You may also guide this two-day non-public sightseeing tour combining Los Angeles and San Diego. Read all of the issues you are able to do in Los Angeles in your day journey or weekend getaway at 37 Best Things to Do in Los Angeles – By A Local
Distance from San Diego: 2 hours How to get there: Car, practice, or tour
7. Catalina Island
Catalina Island is likely one of the most adventurous locations you possibly can go to from San Diego. The beautiful island has a pure rugged attract, with shrub-covered mountain ridges and small villages hugging the beachfront at their base. Catalina Island is 22 miles off the coast of California, that means you’ll be catching a ferry. The ferry leaves from Dana Point, roughly an hour’s drive north of San Diego.
Once you attain the island, you’ll have mountain climbing, contemporary seafood eating places, and wildlife watching to entertain you. Catalina Island is known for its magnificence and nice hospitality. And in a day, you’ll positively have the opportunity to get an actual expertise of the island.
Distance from San Diego: 2 hours How to get there: Ferry
8. Rosarito Beach
If you might be on the lookout for San Diego seashores, this sandy seashore is additional than you might need initially thought to look. Across the Mexican border, Rosarito Beach is the perfect spot for a serene stroll on the sands. As a complete, the seashore city of Rosarito is great enjoyable – greatest identified for its footloose model of nightlife and passionate surf tradition. It doesn’t take a lot to clarify why Rosarito is a well-liked getaway amongst US vacationers. But even simply on a day journey, it’s a nice seashore day vacation spot. It has improbable scuba diving alternatives, too, with a man-made reef mendacity simply offshore.
Less than a 50-minute drive from San Diego, what extra might you need? You’ll mix two nations in a single journey and get a refreshing dose of Mexican tradition.
Distance from San Diego: 50 minutes How to get there: Car
9. Go Whale Watching
As far as animal encounters go, seeing an enormous humpback whale floor from the Pacific Ocean tops most experiences. For any wildlife lovers, going whale watching is likely one of the absolute best day journeys from San Diego. And whereas you may get fortunate virtually all 12 months spherical, the most effective interval is winter and early spring. Most tour operators supply a assure, too, the place should you don’t see a whale in your tour, you get a free tour the following day.
Even should you don’t spot whales, there are particular sweeteners. There are virtually assured sightings of sea lions and dolphins, which is able to make it easier to crack a smile. This highly-rated tour is probably going to promote out.
Distance from San Diego: N/A How to get there: Tour
10. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park
Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is likely one of the most stunning day journeys from San Diego. If you need to go mountain climbing for a number of hours, the shaded oak woodland at Cuyamaca Rancho State Park is irresistible, particularly within the morning of a sizzling day. Many camp on this park and full in a single day hikes, but it surely’s equally well-suited to day trippers. It isn’t simply scenic; keep quiet, and you’ll spot something from cougars to coyotes and mule deer. The park is a magical place for wildlife fanatics.
Distance from San Diego: 1 hour How to get there: Car
11. Cleveland National Forest
Cleveland National Forest is a dream for hikers and mountain bikers; it even has horseback using trails. This spot is the southernmost nationwide forest in California and sprawls over a good 460,000 acres. Cleveland National Forest can also be house to three mountain ranges, together with Santa Ana, Palomar, and the Laguna Mountains – that means loads of summit hikes and difficult trails to get your tooth into.
To escape Downtown San Diego for a day, you possibly can’t beat the shaded trails in Cleveland National Forest. The forest has all kinds of wildlife, too, together with mountain lions, coyotes, and mule deer. It’s a good suggestion to convey binoculars. Read extra: 15 Best Hikes in California – Inspiration to Get Outdoors
Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hours How to get there: Car
12. San Clemente State Beach
San Clemente State Beach stretches a mile lengthy, with spacious sands and dramatic views that pack a particular wow issue. If you need a seashore day, San Clemente State Beach has the house to beat the crowds on a busy day. It can also be simply an hour north of town. It takes you on a somewhat scenic miniature highway journey via a number of Californian seashore cities because the route hugs the shoreline. At San Clemente State Beach, you possibly can take pleasure in many alternative water sports activities, picnic, or calm down with a guide. Remember to go to the close by San Onofre State Beach as properly, which is a extra rocky seashore however backed by dramatic cliffs and a beloved surf spot.
Distance from San Diego: 1 hour How to get there: Car
13. Lake Poway Recreational Area
Lake Poway is the place to head for an unbiased fishing journey from San Diego. You might have to rent gear within the metropolis should you didn’t convey yours, however the serenity while you arrive will make it value the additional organizing. The reservoir is ready in opposition to a scenic backdrop of a number of small hills. When you aren’t fishing, you possibly can full a straightforward perimeter hike of below 3 miles. Lake Poway is a small slice of peacefulness solely half-hour away from San Diego’s metropolis middle by automotive. Plus, you’ll very doubtless come again with trout.
Distance from San Diego: 40 minutes How to get there: Car
14. Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve
Volcan Mountain Wilderness Preserve is a shocking 2,900 acres of conifer woodland with a mountain peak. Volcan Mountain has nice indigenous significance, and it’s worthwhile studying concerning the tradition and historical past behind the mountain earlier than visiting simply to make your mountain climbing much more particular. The greatest hike is a 5-mile spherical journey that takes you proper to Volcan Mountain’s summit. But if that sounds a bit a lot, there’s additionally a 3.2-mile mid-summit hike you possibly can go for. Both have beautiful views over the protect and are sensible for nature lovers and people wanting a health problem with stunning views.
Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hours How to get there: Car
15. La Jolla Cove
La Jolla Cove is sea lion heaven. This rocky outcrop is located simply north of town middle, making La Jolla Cove one of many shortest day journeys from San Diego. However, La Jolla Cove is value allocating a number of hours or extra, as these animals can maintain you entertained for ages.
La Jolla Cove is a tiny stretch of seashore that sunbathers share with the massive animals – sunbathing or walloping their method alongside the sands. You mustn’t contact them, and the resident lifeguards are tremendous strict on implementing respect for the animals. At La Jolla Cove, sea lions reign supreme. What’s not to love about this tremendous enjoyable setup?
Distance from San Diego: 20 minutes How to get there: Car
16. Julian Pie Company
This is likely one of the whackiest day journeys from San Diego. The Julian Pie Company is simply over an hour’s drive inland from town and is most identified for its scrumptious apple pie. For good old style American delicacies, this spot is definitely worth the mini highway journey. You’ll be having fun with your pie in a diner-style café. Seriously, if you’re a foodie, it’s properly value a go to. You might even refill on takeaway pies as souvenirs. On your method again, think about stopping at one of many scenic spots you drive previous. These embody the wineries within the San Diego Country Estate area and Cedar Creek Falls.
Distance from San Diego: 1 hour quarter-hour How to get there: automotive
17. Wine Tasting Tour
Going wine tasting is an interactive day journey selection to boost your San Diego itinerary. You can really drive to a lot of the vineyards, that are situated only a brief drive exterior of town middle. However, for apparent causes, there are guided excursions that embody shuttle companies – a a lot better thought and well-established service within the San Diego tourism trade.
One of the main wine locations close to San Diego is Temecula Valley. The valley has greater than 45 completely different wineries to select between, and it’s identified for its Rhone and cabernet sauvignons. Its heat local weather calls for these better-adapted grape varieties. However, Temecula Valley nonetheless has greater than 24 grape varieties thriving in its hills.
This non-public wine tasting aspect automotive tour is a novel method to discover San Diego whereas tasting wines at completely different areas.
Distance from San Diego: Approximately 1 hour How to get there: Tour
Are you prepared for one of the crucial enjoyable actions close to San Diego? Disneyland is simply 1.5 hours north of San Diego and is a superb day journey for the entire household.
Embarking on a day journey from San Diego to Disneyland gives a magical escape right into a world of surprise and pleasure. Just a brief drive north, Disneyland, often called “The Happiest Place on Earth,” is the proper vacation spot for households, pals, and Disney aficionados alike. From the thrilling adventures in Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge and Big Thunder Mountain Railroad to the whimsical rides in Fantasyland, there’s one thing for everybody.
Plus, with year-round sunshine and the comfort of proximity, San Diego residents can spontaneously determine to discover the enchanting realms of Disneyland for a day with out the necessity for in depth planning. It’s the perfect fast getaway that guarantees a lifetime of reminiscences and a much-needed dose of pleasure and leisure.
Distance from San Diego: 1 hour 45 minutes How to get there: Car
19. Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is likely one of the hottest day journeys from San Diego and – truthfully – wherever else close by in California. Laguna Beach is famed for its boho vibe and delightful shoreline. For glitzy individuals in a scenic setting, Laguna Beach ticks each field. Visiting is an expertise in itself, even only for a day. You can take advantage of nice surf by renting a board, spending a day on an exquisite seashore, or mountain climbing whereas admiring Pacific Ocean views. Laguna Beach is likely one of the most well-known locations on the California shoreline, which is an unimaginable feat in itself. For a ‘happening’ seashore day, it’s a good time out.
Distance from San Diego: How to get there:
20. Lake Mathews Estelle Mountain Reserve
Lake Mathews Estelle Mountain Reserve is a scenic reservoir surrounded by roughly 13,000 acres of protected land. Nature lovers will adore this reserve, particularly with all of the bird-watching alternatives. In winter, you may get fortunate and spot bald and golden eagles. While, as a barely extra uncommon animal encounter, you may also see kangaroo rats all 12 months spherical should you look fastidiously sufficient. Kangaroo rats appear like little gerbils and are a number of the cutest animals you possibly can see. They are nocturnal and extremely savvy when it comes to noticing could-be-predators close by. But should you dangle round Lake Mathews Estelle Mountain Reserve a bit later, you might get fortunate with sightings. Otherwise, simply lap up the waterfront views and convey some bird-watching binoculars.
Distance from San Diego: 1 hour and 40 minutes How to get there: Car
21. Mission San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano is a captivating museum to go to and is ready in an outdated Spanish chapel. The San Juan Capistrano ‘mission’ was based in 1776 as a method for Spanish settlers to attain out to the group and preach about Catholicism. You can study extra about this early faith preaching via completely different reveals, in addition to catch the bell ringing, which happens every day in honor of Saint Junipero Serra. Mission San Juan Capistrano is ideal for anybody keen on faith, the colonial influence within the US, and the historical past round San Diego’s area.
Distance from San Diego: 1.5 hours How to get there: Car or practice
22. Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is likely one of the most basic day journeys from San Diego. There is nothing mistaken with leaping on the vacationer path often. And that’s particularly the case when it comes to Joshua Tree National Park. The park covers practically 800,000 acres and attracts over 3 million guests yearly, largely thanks to its weird namesake timber. The Joshua Tree is a twisted, bristly tree with inexperienced spiky shoots on the finish of its branches. It seems like an outsized cactus, an absolute novelty that draws photographers and non-photographers alike to raise their cameras.
Aside from its timber, the nationwide park has many nice mountain climbing trails. Hidden Valley Nature Trail and Mastodon Peak are agency favorites.
Distance from San Diego: 3 hours and quarter-hour How to get there: Car
23. San Jacinto Mountains
Do you want to mountain bike or go mountain climbing? The San Jacinto Mountains are the place to head in your chosen one-day tour from San Diego. The mountain vary is simply east of Los Angeles – northeast of San Diego. A fast Google brings up dozens of motorcycle trails on-line, and you’ll both convey your personal or rent one in San Diego. The mountains are additionally dreamy for climbers. The granite peaks overlook beautiful meadows and forested valleys. You’ll be properly rewarded with any summit climbs, and there are many technical challenges for extra skilled climbers.
Of course, there’s additionally San Jacinto State Park itself. This is the very best peak within the mountain vary and sits at 10,834 ft. It is barely appropriate for probably the most superior hikers however a superb problem for these with ample expertise.
Distance from San Diego: 3 hours How to get there: Car
Day Trips from San Diego: FAQs
Are you prepared to evaluate the FAQs behind the proper day journeys from San Diego? That further insider info can remodel your journey – so it’s properly value scanning over these high 4 questions. Who is aware of what may simply provide you with that further little bit of inspiration? Here are the highest FAQs for planning day journeys in San Diego.
Can you do a day journey from San Diego to Mexico?
Yes, you completely can. San Diego is located proper on the US/Mexico border, close to the border metropolis of Tijuana. Tijuana is well accessible on a day journey from San Diego, that means you possibly can nip throughout a special nation for a day. Tijuana is nice for seashores, Mexican delicacies, and cultural experiences like watching wrestling.
Can you do a day journey to Tijuana from San Diego?
Yes, you possibly can simply set up a day journey to Tijuana from San Diego. Multiple excursions take vacationers throughout the border for a day, or you might head on an unbiased day journey by renting a automotive. Tijuana is great enjoyable and the proper addition to a keep in San Diego. Talk about maximizing your time!
Can you do a day journey from San Diego to Los Angeles?
Definitely, you possibly can take a day journey to Los Angeles from San Diego in simply 2 hours by automotive or 3 hours by practice. You may also guide organized excursions, which is great if you need to get taken round the principle sights with minimal effort. Los Angeles is clearly very iconic. It is likely one of the greatest day journeys from San Diego if you need an inspiring getaway.
What is the most effective Mexican city close to San Diego?
Tijuana is probably the most generally visited Mexican vacation spot from San Diego. However, we recommend visiting Rosarito. Rosarito is a sunny resort city on the Baja Californian peninsula with an exquisite seashore and intense sufficient nightlife to draw common US guests. It is a browsing hotspot and can also be sensible for scuba diving, with a former Navy ship creating an unimaginable synthetic reef simply offshore.
Why We Love These Day Trips From San Diego
As you possibly can see, you might be tremendous spoiled for selection when it comes to day journeys from San Diego. The metropolis is ideal for spreading your wings and experiencing extra of California, and what higher method to take advantage of your vacation? San Diego day journeys are a superb thought. And should you keep longer than two days, you positively have time for a minimum of one of many journeys on this listing.
Are you on the lookout for extra San Diego inspiration? You are in the proper place. Remember to take a look at our Where to keep in San Diego information and final California highway journey itinerary. San Diego has a lot to find out about and is a perfect launchpad for much more adventures. Make probably the most of your journey.