7 Day Trips from San Diego CA – 2024 Ultimate Guide

Table of Contents

San Diego, CA, is not only a vibrant city with stunning beaches and a bustling downtown, but it also serves as an excellent base for exploring the diverse attractions of Southern California. Day trips from San Diego CA offer a fantastic opportunity to discover the beauty and excitement of the surrounding areas. From the picturesque vineyards of Temecula to the historic streets of Old Town San Juan Capistrano, there is no shortage of captivating destinations within a short drive from San Diego. Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a change of scenery, these day trips from San Diego CA are sure to provide unforgettable memories.

Los Angeles

Travel tips

  • Distance from San Diego CA: Approximately 120 miles
  • Time to get there: Around 2-3 hours by car
  • How to get there: You can take a Greyhound bus from San Diego to Los Angeles, with the bus station located at 1313 National Ave. Alternatively, you can take the Pacific Surfliner train from San Diego’s Santa Fe Depot to Union Station in Los Angeles.
  • Click for Google maps directions: Los Angeles

Exploring Los Angeles: Things to do

Los Angeles, known as the entertainment capital of the world, is a must-see destination for travelers seeking a taste of the glamorous Hollywood lifestyle. One of the top attractions in Los Angeles is the iconic Hollywood Sign, perched high above the city and offering stunning views of the surrounding area. Visitors can hike to the sign or take a guided tour to learn about its history and significance.

For movie buffs, a visit to Universal Studios Hollywood is a must. This famous film studio and theme park offers behind-the-scenes tours, thrilling rides, and live shows that bring the magic of the movies to life. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the Wizarding World of Harry Potter or experience the adrenaline-pumping Jurassic World ride.

If you’re interested in art and culture, the Getty Center is a world-class museum that showcases an impressive collection of European paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. The museum’s stunning architecture and beautiful gardens make it a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.

For a taste of the beach lifestyle, head to Santa Monica Pier, where you can stroll along the boardwalk, ride the iconic Ferris wheel, and enjoy fresh seafood at one of the many oceanfront restaurants. The pier is also a great spot to catch a beautiful sunset over the Pacific Ocean.

In conclusion, Los Angeles offers a diverse range of attractions and activities that cater to every interest. Whether you’re a film buff, art enthusiast, or beach lover, this vibrant city has something for everyone to enjoy.

Joshua Tree National Park

Travel tips

  • Distance from San Diego CA: Approximately 140 miles
  • Time to get there: Around 2.5 to 3 hours by car
  • How to get there: Take I-15 N from San Diego, then merge onto I-215 N towards Riverside/San Bernardino. Continue on CA-60 E and I-10 E to Twentynine Palms. Take exit 117 from I-10 E. Follow signs to Joshua Tree National Park.
  • Click for Google maps directions: Joshua Tree National Park

Exploring Joshua Tree National Park: Things to do

Joshua Tree National Park is a must-see destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts alike. The park’s unique landscape, characterized by its iconic Joshua trees and rugged rock formations, offers a one-of-a-kind experience for visitors.

One of the top activities in the park is hiking, with trails ranging from easy strolls to challenging treks. Popular hikes include the Hidden Valley Trail, which takes you through a picturesque valley surrounded by massive boulders, and the Ryan Mountain Trail, offering panoramic views of the park from the summit.

Rock climbing is another highlight of Joshua Tree National Park, attracting climbers from around the world with its diverse range of routes and rock formations. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced climber, there are plenty of opportunities to test your skills on the park’s granite walls and boulder formations.

For those interested in stargazing, Joshua Tree National Park is a designated Dark Sky Park, making it an ideal spot for observing the night sky free from light pollution. On clear nights, the park offers unparalleled views of the stars, planets, and Milky Way.

In addition to hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing, visitors can also enjoy picnicking, birdwatching, and wildlife viewing throughout the park. With its unique desert landscape and diverse array of activities, Joshua Tree National Park truly offers something for everyone.

Temecula Wine Country

Travel tips

  • Distance from San Diego CA: Approximately 60 miles
  • Time to get there: Around 1.5 to 2 hours drive
  • How to get there: You can drive to Temecula Wine Country from San Diego via I-15 N. If you prefer public transportation, you can take the Greyhound bus from San Diego to Temecula or the Amtrak train to nearby cities like Oceanside or Perris, then take a taxi or rideshare to reach the wine country.
  • Click for Google maps directions: Temecula Wine Country

Exploring Temecula Wine Country: Things to do

Temecula Wine Country is a must-see destination for wine enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. The region boasts over 40 wineries, each offering unique tasting experiences and stunning vineyard views. Wine tasting tours are a popular activity, allowing visitors to sample a variety of award-winning wines while learning about the winemaking process.

In addition to wine tasting, visitors can explore the charming Old Town Temecula, known for its historic buildings, boutique shops, and local restaurants. Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy hot air balloon rides over the vineyards, horseback riding tours, or hiking in the nearby Santa Rosa Plateau Ecological Reserve.

For those interested in history, a visit to the Temecula Valley Museum provides insight into the region’s past, including its Native American heritage and early settlers. The annual Temecula Valley Balloon & Wine Festival is a highlight for many, featuring hot air balloon launches, wine tastings, and live entertainment.

Whether you’re looking to relax with a glass of wine, explore the great outdoors, or delve into local history, Temecula Wine Country offers something for everyone. Plan your day trip from San Diego and discover the beauty and charm of this Southern California gem.

Tijuana, Mexico

Travel tips

  • Distance from San Diego CA: Approximately 17 miles
  • Time to get there: Around 30 minutes to 1 hour, depending on traffic
  • How to get there: You can take the Blue Line Trolley from San Diego to the San Ysidro Transit Center, then walk across the border into Tijuana. Alternatively, you can drive or take a bus directly to Tijuana.
  • Click for Google maps directions: Tijuana, Mexico

Exploring Tijuana, Mexico: Things to do

Tijuana, Mexico, is a vibrant city that offers a unique blend of culture, cuisine, and entertainment. One of the top attractions in Tijuana is Avenida RevoluciĆ³n, a bustling street lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. Here, you can sample authentic Mexican street food, shop for local crafts, and experience the lively atmosphere of the city.

For art enthusiasts, a visit to the Tijuana Cultural Center is a must. This cultural hub showcases contemporary Mexican art and hosts regular exhibitions and events. You can also explore the city’s rich history at the Tijuana History Museum, which offers insights into the region’s past through interactive exhibits and displays.

If you’re looking for outdoor activities, head to Parque Morelos, a sprawling park that features walking trails, playgrounds, and picnic areas. You can also visit the Tijuana Zoo, home to a variety of exotic animals from around the world.

For those interested in shopping, the Mercado Hidalgo is a popular market where you can find a wide range of goods, from fresh produce to handmade crafts. Don’t forget to try the local specialty, the Tijuana-style taco, which is known for its flavorful meat and fresh toppings.

Overall, Tijuana, Mexico, is a dynamic destination that offers something for everyone. Whether you’re interested in exploring cultural attractions, sampling delicious cuisine, or simply soaking up the vibrant atmosphere of the city, Tijuana is a must-see place for any traveler visiting the San Diego area.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Travel tips

  • Distance from San Diego CA: Approximately 85 miles
  • Time to get there: Around 1.5 to 2 hours drive
  • How to get there: Take I-8 E from San Diego and continue on CA-79 S to reach the park. The nearest bus station is the Borrego Springs Library, and the nearest train station is the Oceanside Transit Center.
  • Click for Google maps directions: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Exploring Anza-Borrego Desert State Park: Things to do

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a must-see destination for nature enthusiasts and outdoor adventurers alike. This expansive desert park offers a unique landscape filled with rugged beauty and diverse flora and fauna. One of the top activities to enjoy in the park is hiking along the various trails that lead to stunning viewpoints and hidden oases. The park is also a prime spot for stargazing due to its dark skies, making it perfect for astronomy enthusiasts.

Visitors can explore the park’s iconic slot canyons, such as The Slot and Borrego Palm Canyon, which offer a glimpse into the geological wonders of the desert. Wildlife spotting is another popular activity, with the chance to see bighorn sheep, roadrunners, and desert wildflowers in bloom during the spring months.

For those interested in history, a visit to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center provides insight into the cultural and natural history of the region. The park also features unique metal sculptures scattered throughout the landscape, adding an artistic touch to the desert surroundings.

Overall, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a captivating destination that showcases the raw beauty of the desert landscape and offers a range of outdoor activities for visitors to enjoy. Whether you’re seeking adventure or simply looking to connect with nature, this park is sure to leave a lasting impression.

Catalina Island

Travel tips

  • Distance from San Diego CA: Approximately 81 miles
  • Time to get there: Around 1.5 to 2 hours
  • How to get there: You can reach Catalina Island from San Diego by taking a bus to Dana Point Harbor and then hopping on a ferry to the island. The bus station in San Diego is located at 1313 National Ave, San Diego, CA 92101. The ferry terminal in Dana Point Harbor is at 34675 Golden Lantern, Dana Point, CA 92629.

Exploring Catalina Island: Things to do

Catalina Island is a must-see destination for those seeking a peaceful escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. The island offers a perfect blend of natural beauty and recreational activities, making it an ideal spot for a day trip from San Diego.

One of the top things to do on Catalina Island is to explore the crystal-clear waters through activities such as snorkeling, scuba diving, or taking a glass-bottom boat tour. The marine life in the area is diverse, providing a unique underwater experience for visitors.

For those who prefer land-based activities, Catalina Island offers hiking trails with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean. The island’s rugged terrain is perfect for outdoor enthusiasts looking to immerse themselves in nature.

Additionally, visitors can enjoy a leisurely stroll through the quaint town of Avalon, where they can shop for souvenirs, dine at local restaurants, or simply relax by the waterfront.

Overall, Catalina Island’s charm lies in its serene atmosphere, picturesque landscapes, and array of activities that cater to both nature lovers and adventure seekers alike. A day trip to Catalina Island is sure to leave you refreshed and rejuvenated, making it a perfect getaway from San Diego.

La Jolla

Travel tips

  • Distance from San Diego CA: Approximately 14 miles
  • Time to get there: Around 30 minutes by car
  • How to get there: You can reach La Jolla from San Diego by taking the I-5 N highway. If you prefer public transportation, you can take the bus from downtown San Diego to La Jolla. The nearest train station is the Sorrento Valley Station.
  • Click for Google maps directions: La Jolla

Exploring La Jolla: Things to do

La Jolla, known for its stunning coastal views and upscale vibe, is a must-see destination when visiting San Diego. One of the top attractions in La Jolla is the famous La Jolla Cove, a picturesque beach with crystal-clear waters perfect for snorkeling and swimming. Visitors can also explore the sea caves along the coastline or simply relax on the sandy shores.

For nature lovers, a visit to the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve is a must. This protected area offers hiking trails with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the unique Torrey pine trees. Birdwatching and picnicking are popular activities in this serene natural setting.

Art enthusiasts will appreciate the numerous galleries and art studios scattered throughout La Jolla. The Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego is a cultural gem showcasing modern and contemporary art exhibitions. Strolling along Prospect Street, visitors can admire public art installations and boutique shops.

Foodies will delight in the culinary scene of La Jolla, with a variety of restaurants offering fresh seafood, farm-to-table cuisine, and international flavors. Don’t miss the chance to dine with ocean views at one of the waterfront eateries.

Whether you’re seeking outdoor adventures, cultural experiences, or simply a relaxing day by the beach, La Jolla has something for everyone. Plan your day trip to this charming coastal town and discover the beauty and charm that make it a standout destination in Southern California.

Share the Post:

Related Posts