San Diego

25+ Favorite Day Trips from San Diego

San Diego is America’s Best Metropolis and has so many points of interest to maintain visitors and residents busy. Typically, touring only a bit outdoors the town can completely improve a visit. Listed here are 25+ day trips from San Diego (beyond the downtown area and the town limits) grouped by distance from the town middle not taking visitors under consideration.

Distance: 30 Minutes to 1 Hour

*Coronado Island

This island may be situated across the downtown area but it’s value spending an entire day right here. Accessible by way of ferries that cross the bay or on the 2-mile Coronado Bridge, the island is an excellent getaway. Its pretty seashores are persistently ranked among the many greatest within the country and most are family-friendly.

Lease a motorcycle or go on a motorcycle or Segway tour to discover the island. It’s also an exquisite space for kayaking and paddle boarding with great views. For those with younger youngsters, take a look at the Glorietta Bay Park and the large playground proper after the bridge exit. It has an unbeatable view of the town and its lovely skyline.

Hotel del Coronado

Tidelands Park and Spreckels Park are additionally great choices with playgrounds. If you wish to experience a little bit of Italy, there are gondola rides that can accommodate as much as six passengers along the Coronado Cays.

Don’t miss visiting the long-lasting Lodge del Coronado. There’s all the time one thing fun happening here and particularly through the holidays. There aren’t many locations where you possibly can ice skate right by the seashore in December.

Coronado hotel ice skating

*Whale Watching and Harbor Cruises

Probably the greatest methods to see San Diego is by happening a harbor cruise. Whereas it might only take a number of hours, it all the time seems a world away when you’re cruising alongside the coast and the bay. The cruises are available yr spherical and exhibits a special perspective of the town and its surrounding areas.

It’s very scenic as the route goes underneath the Coronado Bridge and in addition passes an outside display of the US Navy’s mega ships and submarines. Dinner cruises are also out there.

San Diego bay cruise

There are over 25,000 Pacific gray whales that move by means of San Diego’s waters from December to April during their annual migration. Get a better take a look at these unimaginable animals by means of whale watching cruises.

It’s additionally a chance to identify other wildlife like dolphins and sea lions. Most whale watching tour operators supply guaranteed sightings or you possibly can come back at no cost.

Gray Whale tail


This charming mountain and mining town is a popular day journey for residents especially during Fall. Recognized for its apple orchards and apple pies, it’s onerous to stroll down Principal Road and never be tempted to stroll into one of many bakeries for an apple pie slice. Families can even go apple or pear choosing.

Julian apple picking

Julian is a historic gold rush city with quaint outlets and horse drawn carriages. Guided excursions of two of Julian’s unique gold mines and gold panning are in style activities. Visitors may also take a look at the California Wolf Middle. The world also gives horseback driving, boating, fishing and loads of trails for mountaineering.

*Mexico/Baja California

Need to go to one other country during a day journey? Perfectly doable with the Mexican border about 30 minutes away from San Diego’s downtown space. Tijuana’s Revolution Avenue is the primary tourist space to pose with huge sombreros (hats) or even donkeys with painted zebra stripes.

The Tijuana Cultural Middle has an IMAX theater, exhibit spaces and lots of yr round occasions. The nearby Museo de las Californias is an ideal place to go to to study the area’s historical past.

For some seashore fun and great seafood, Rosarito Seashore is 30 minutes away along the coast. ATV drives or horseback driving alongside the sandy beaches are a few of the well-liked activities. Please concentrate on the wait occasions on the border particularly coming again from Mexico.

Verify for any journey advisories earlier than heading down. Look into group tours that may alleviate any hassles of navigating.

Situated in an area referred to as North County San Diego, these following two cities every deserve their separate entries because of all the things they have supply. Technically, you’re nonetheless in San Diego County. But, in the event you’re staying near downtown and even within the South Bay area, this can be a authentic day journey. I’m somewhat biased since I reside in this space so it shouldn’t be missed.


Residence of Legoland California and Sea Life Aquarium, it’s straightforward to spend a day or two right here. Legoland has over 60 rides, exhibits and points of interest to entertain the whole family. My youngsters highly advocate visiting the Legoland Water Park with the lazy river and some wild rides should you’re right here throughout hotter weather.

Legoland Cruise Coast

The Carlsbad Lagoon is the perfect place for water adventures like get up paddle board, wake boarding, kayaking, jet snowboarding, paddle boating and canoeing. Gear leases are available.

Carlsbad additionally has a few of the greatest seashores with spacious sand areas and nice boardwalks to walk alongside the seashore or overlooking the ocean. Carlsbad Village is a unbelievable place to stroll round, shop and dine afterwards.

For those who’re visiting between March and the primary weeks of Might, don’t miss the Carlsbad Flower Fields by Legoland. There’s often a particular area for teenagers, tractor rides and a hillside of colorful ranunculus. There’s additionally a area nearby for selecting strawberries throughout Spring and Summer time or choosing pumpkins and a corn maze throughout Fall.

flower fields at carlsbad ranch


We love this basic Southern California seashore city. We all the time take pleasure in strolling on the Oceanside Pier which is the longest picket pier within the West Coast. In the event you get hungry, there’s a Ruby’s Diner restaurant on the end of the pier. The pier can also be a terrific place for some fishing and wildlife viewing.

oceanside pier

Families may also lease bikes and wheel funs to journey along the boardwalk referred to as The Strand. Downtown Oceanside has been revitalized with many nice restaurants, farm-to-table options, pubs and breweries for adults. There are some great road art to see and enjoyable museums to go to just like the California Surf Museum.

Lease a small boat on the harbor, walk around the New-England fashion village or go on a whale-watching cruise. Don’t miss the Mission San Luis Rey which is considered the most important of the California Missions and a pleasant place to go to. There are many biking trails close by including one alongside the river that ultimately results in the seashore space.

*Laguna Mountains/Mount Laguna

While many might solely consider San Diego for its sunny seashores, we will also play within the snow and surf on the identical day throughout some winters. The Laguna Mountains is an excellent alpine space situated at 4,000 – 6,000 ft above sea degree within the Cleveland Nationwide Forest.

There are miles of scenic trails to go mountaineering along lakes and meadows. The preferred ones are the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the three.2-mile roundtrip Sundown Path. It’s additionally a recognized space for mountain biking, chook watching and stargazing. Tip: Be sure you get the Adventure Parking Cross when parking in the area which guests can get on the ranger station.


Often known as the Napa Valley of Southern California, Temecula is crammed with wineries and mattress/breakfast motels. It is a fantastic place to spend the day particularly should you’re a wine lover.

Although, there are some family-friendly wineries the place my youngsters have hung out enjoying and listening to music. Frangipani has a bocce ball courtroom and Wilson Creek additionally has a bocce ball courtroom, expansive picnic grounds and a youngsters’ play space.

In the course of the early summer time months, some areas in Temecula supply blueberry choosing at Temecula Berry Co. and strawberry choosing at Kenny’s Strawberry farm. The Autumn season brings out pumpkin farms like Peltzer that has petting farms, pig races, pony rides and carnival video games. There’s additionally the Massive Horse Corn Maze that features a pumpkin patch, rock wall, zip line and pony rides among different issues.

Previous Town Temecula is an excellent place to stroll around with many distinctive outlets and eating places. Stop by the Temecula Olive Oil Firm for some tastings or be a part of their 90-minute guided walk by means of their olive groves every second and fourth Saturdays at 10AM.

Don’t miss Pennypickle’s Workshop for many interactive actions to “discover science through play”. There all the time many notable events all year long right here. For a singular expertise and vantage point of the valley, scorching air balloon rides can be found all yr from several corporations. California’s largest ballooning event happens in June.

Pennypickle Children's Museum

*Lake Poway Leisure Space

Lake Poway may be situated in suburbia but has all the time delivered with some great outside activities. Guests can go fishing or boating on the lake. Boats could be rented on the concession space. There are a number of climbing trails and even an archery space. In the event you just need to enjoy the outside, it’s an excellent place for strolls and picnics.

Distance: 1 to 2 Hours

*San Juan Capistrano

This charming city is house to Mission San Juan Capistrano which is taken into account the “Jewel of the California Missions”. It has been extensively restored to its glory days of lovely Spanish architecture made with adobe mud bricks and fired clay tile rooftops.

The landscaped gardens and fountains also created a peaceful place while strolling the mission. Don’t miss the Great Stone Church and stepping contained in the chapel.

Mission San Juan Capistrano entrance

The mission can also be well-known for its resident cliff swallows. The swallows depart in October to go south to Argentina for the winter and return yearly around March 19 like clockwork. There’s an annual parade and pageant during Spring to welcome them house.

The Los Rios Historic District has been referred to as California’s oldest neighborhood. Discover the world and feel such as you stepped again in time by means of previous adobe buildings, houses and outlets. Youngsters will love the ZOOMARS Petting zoo the place they will also journey ponies and pet numerous animals.

*Anza Borrego State Park

California’s largest state park is a haven of fantastic things to do. Youngsters particularly like in search of and visiting the 130 full-sized metallic sculptures mainly found alongside Borrego Springs Street.Borrego Springs Sky Art Serpent

There are several climbing trails around the park or camping spots. The three-mile roundtrip Borrego Palm Canyon Path is a well-liked and family-friendly hike. The park can also be the most effective places for stargazing as a delegated International Darkish Sky Group. Examine on Night time Sky Tours for the perfect expertise.

One of the fashionable occasions to visit is during Spring to see the wildflowers. For those who’re visiting when Southern California will get a moist winter and numerous rain, chances are you’ll be in luck for what’s referred to as a “super bloom” and be treated to some colour explosion.

Borrego Springs wildflowers

*South Orange County/Pacific Coast Highway

The seashore towns along the Pacific Coast Highway of San Clemente, Dana Point and Laguna Seashore supply plenty of breathtaking vistas and family-friendly actions.

San Clemente Pier is a superb place for strolls and watching sunsets. The close by beaches are additionally value visiting that features the San Clemente Seashore Path to discover. San Onofre State Seashore is one in every of California’s most visited state parks. It’s an exquisite space for surfing, swimming, fishing and kayaking.

Considered one of our favorite day journeys has all the time been Laguna Seashore. The world has several tide pools and we all the time take pleasure in walking around and spending time at the oceanfront park of Treasure island. For some underwater fun of snorkeling and scuba diving, Diver’s Cove is successful.

Laguna Beach

The Pacific Marine Mammal Middle is free and permits visitors to see sea lions, seals and other marine creatures that have been rescued and rehabilitated from alongside the coastline. The Laguna Coast Wilderness Park is fantastic for some numerous climbing trails.

Should you’re visiting through the summer time, the Pageant of the Arts/Pageant of the Masters has been a staple right here for over 80 years. It’s a singular pageant and the pageant is a 90-minute show of “tableax vivants” or dwelling footage which are re-creations of paintings and sculptures using real individuals in full costumes and make-up.

The Dana Level Harbor can also be another great spot for kayaking, strolling and purchasing and start line of whale watching tours. My youngsters enjoy the Ocean Institute with its nice reveals and tide swimming pools. Youngsters can participate in hands-on research aboard the Sea Explorer floating lab or come aboard and discover one of the historic tall ships.

Orange County coastline


A day journey here is nearly synonymous with a go to to the “Happiest Place on Earth”. It’s quite widespread for guests and families to spend a day at Disneyland Resort.

We’ve executed our justifiable share of park hopping between the two parks throughout an extended day. Get right here early to keep away from a lot of the crowds and take advantage of your day.

Disneyland Sleeping Beauty Castle

There are also some other issues to do in Anaheim past Disneyland. Adventure Metropolis is called “The Little Theme Park” with 17 rides, exhibits and points of interest plus a petting farm and an arcade. It’s fantastic for smaller youngsters. For teenagers 11 years and older, they will attempt an genuine army flight simulator with some action at FlightDeck.

There isn’t a scarcity of numerous eating places in Anaheim. Eat on the Anaheim Packing District which is a two-story food hall with over 20 stalls and restaurants. The Anaheim GardenWalk presents many eating places plus purchasing and entertainment websites with options for music exhibits, bowling, digital reality and an escape room.

*Buena Park

I’ve all the time felt that Buena Park is an underrated family journey destination. Its largest draw is Knott’s Berry Farm with its many thrilling rides, exhibits and points of interest and the prospect to hang out with Snoopy and the Peanuts gang.

Although, our favourite time to go to is in the course of the holidays when it turns into Knott’s Merry Farm. There’s additionally Knott’s Soak City waterpark with multiple slides, an extended lazy river and Tidal Wave Bay for infinite enjoyable in the solar.

Knotts Berry Farm rollercoaster

Need some leisure while eating? There’s the Pirate’s Dinner Adventure set onboard an 18th century Spanish ship duplicate and the popular Medieval Occasions Dinner and Event with sword struggle and falconry. Youngsters also can discover the free Clark Interpretive Middle, in the Ralph B. Clark Regional Park, with ice age fossils and different geological gems reveals.

Distance: 2+ Hours

*Palm Springs

A few of the greatest family-friendly resorts are within the desert oasis of Palm Springs and its adjoining cities. Inns like Renaissance Indian Wells, Hyatt Regency Indian Wells or Omni Rancho Las Palmas supply fantastic family packages.

The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway provides a fantastic experience to the highest of San Jacinto Mountains on a rotating automotive. Guests can admire the Coachella Valley views or eat at the mountaintop restaurant. There are also plenty of mountaineering trails from there.

For animal lovers, the Dwelling Desert supplies loads of interactions and reveals. Visitors can experience on camels or feed giraffes.

Petting Kraal corral Living Desert

Please understand that temperatures can soar up to triple digits through the summer time. My youngsters occur to seek out this an incredible excuse for some pool time.

Don’t miss a stop on the Cabazon Dinosaurs roadside attraction on your method to/from Palm Springs. It’s exhausting to miss the T-rex and Brontosaurus here which also has a small dinosaur museum and a chance to go contained in the dinosaurs.

*Los Angeles

There’s a lot to do within the Metropolis of Angels and its neighboring cities that it requires a publish of its personal. For now, I’ll highlight some of our family’s favourite things to try this are value day tripping.

The town is filled with world-class museums and gardens from Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens, LACMA, Pure History Museum, California Science Middle with the area shuttle Endeavor, to the free Getty Middle. In fact, there’s also the very fashionable Griffith Park and the Observatory by no means disappoint with views and expansive inexperienced areas for enjoying and mountaineering.

Space Shuttle Endeavor LA

Santa Monica Pier is a superb place for families to benefit from the rides and points of interest. Teenagers will notably enjoy the nearby Third Road Promenade for the various outlets and road performers.

For many who need to be a bit of closer to celebrities, the Hollywood area is all the time entertaining from seeing the “stars” on the Stroll of Fame to the movie star house excursions plus filming places.

Take a look at some free issues to do in Los Angeles.


That is another well-liked alpine getaway for Southern California residents but in addition an excellent day trip. Situated within the San Jacinto Mountains, Idyllwild exudes a village environment with regionally owned outlets, artwork galleries and restaurants amidst a national forest.

The world gives many outside actions from tenting, fishing, mountain biking to many climbing trails and walks. For many who are a bit extra adventurous, this can be a well-liked place for mountaineering. Bouldering is a bit more our household’s fashion where you’ll be able to study mountaineering expertise by happening boulders not too far off the ground.

*Joshua Tree National Park

The quirky, Dr. Seuss like timber alone are well worth the drive to this unique nationwide park. Situated about 35 miles from Palm Springs, this park is crammed with these big yucca crops which are solely native to the Mojave Desert of California, Nevada, Utah and Arizona.

Joshua Tree Nationwide Park additionally has many boulders common with climbers. Youngsters love climbing these big rocks and exploring the trails between them for the last word pure playground. There were additionally 70 miles of mountaineering trails at numerous levels. You might even get lucky and spot some desert animals along the best way.

As with many Nationwide Parks, decide up a Junior Ranger booklet for teenagers to finish and earn a badge. It’s a good way for the whole family to study more concerning the park, desert and the Joshua timber.

Joshua Tree National park boulder

*Salton Sea State Recreation Area

The Salton Sea is California’s largest lake. It was shaped in the course of the early 1900s when the Colorado River broke by means of the irrigation canal gates and flooded water into the Salton Basin for the subsequent 18 months. This resulted within the Salton Sea to measure at 45 miles lengthy and 20 miles large with 130 miles of shoreline.

The Salton Sea State Recreation Area has turn into a well-liked fishing (especially tilapia), water snowboarding, boating and camping area. There are additionally numerous activities for households like kayaking, water snowboarding and climbing.

This is additionally a well-liked website for chook watching. A big and numerous variety of birds stop here fairly a bit throughout their migration while some like cormorants stay right here yr spherical.

*Huge Bear Lake

Situated within the San Bernardino Mountains, Huge Bear Lake is an excellent mountain and lake getaway destination all yr especially when it boasts over 300 days of solar. Southern California is likely one of the few places where you’ll be able to ski and surf in the identical day during winter and Massive Bear provides this expertise.

Fashionable lake actions embrace boating, fishing, kayaking, canoe or paddle boarding, wake boarding, parasailing or jet-skiing. There are lots of locations to get lessons or lease gear. There are lots of of miles of trails for climbing, mountain biking, off-roading or horseback driving. The world also has many boulders for mountaineering.

Big Bear Lake from the sky chair with trails

We’ve got all the time enjoyed walking around The Village for buying and eating. Take a look at City Journey Quest for a walking scavenger hunt across the village to keep the family entertained and busy. Animal lovers will take pleasure in a go to to the large Bear Alpine Zoo which is a rescue and rehabilitation facility for principally injured animals.

Big Bear village

Huge Bear Mountain Resort and Snow Summit are two major ski resorts in the area for winter enjoyable. Take a look at the freestyle snowboarding park in Bear Mountain. There are also areas for snow tubing and trails for snowshoeing.

The Scenic Sky Chair is all the time a fun experience all yr. Don’t miss seeing Huge Bear Lake from the water. Go on either the Miss Liberty Paddlewheel Tour or the Huge Bear Pirate Ship.

*Lake Arrowhead

Also referred to as “The Alps of Southern California, Lake Arrowhead is a mountain resort within the San Bernardino Nationwide Forest. It is a haven of outside actions in the course of the winter and summer time.

Summer time fun consists of many water sports actions particularly water-skiing and boogie boarding. Ski races also can typically be seen here. The yr round, one-hour Lake Arrowhead Queen Paddleboat tour provides an exquisite scenic views of the world with some insider info. It’s additionally a fantastic space for mountaineering, biking and fishing.

Winter leisure activities embrace skiing, snowboarding, ice-skating, cross-country skiing and sledding within the area. The close by Snow Valley Resort gives 13 ski lifts and quite a lot of trails for numerous ranges. The Snow Play space at the mountain base is all the time well-liked with families. The Silver Bells Area gives ice-skating or curler skating relying on the season.

*Catalina Island

For the last word island getaway from Southern California, it’s onerous to beat Catalina Island. Situated about 20 miles from the coast of California, there are lots of actions right here to entertain the entire family.

Visitors can get around the island by way of golf carts. Do the island eco tour that provides a unbelievable overview and perhaps a glimpse of bison.

catalina island harbor view

There many water actions to decide on from like glass-bottom boats, submarines, sail boats, kayaking, jet skiing, parasailing, paddle boarding, swimming and snorkeling. The marine life right here is superb. Gear leases are extensively out there.

Other activities also embrace miniature golf, biking, mountaineering, zip lining or becoming a member of an aerial adventure on five self-paced programs. Cruises depart from Newport Seashore or Dana Point (closest to San Diego).

Catalina island motor boat rental

*Where are your favourite day journeys?

In the event you want concepts throughout your keep, listed here are 50+ Things to do in San Diego.

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Day trips from San Diego

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