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30 Best Road Trips From San Diego

30 Best Road Trips From San Diego

San Diego is perhaps referred to as America’s Finest City, however that does not imply you should not discover what the remainder of Southern California and past has to supply.

Most of the perfect street journeys from San Diego will take you up and down by means of California, however if in case you have extra time, Las Vegas, Arizona and even New Mexico are usually not too far-off.

Our checklist has bought a few of America’s best National Parks, wonderful metropolis breaks and islands off the Californian coast coated in addition to the best driving roads within the state.

From a 40 minute drive up the coast to Carlsbad to lengthy street journeys to Northern California and New Mexico, there’s one thing for everyone relying on how a lot time you’ve and the way far you wish to go.

We’ve put collectively our checklist of the 30 greatest street journeys from San Diego so as of time it takes to get there.

1. Carlsbad

50 minutes from San Diego (35 miles)

Carlsbad State Beach in the evening light in Carlsbad, California
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Carlsbad State Beach is beautiful and fewer than an hour’s drive from San Diego.

Carlsbad is underneath an hour away from San Diego and is the shortest of our street journeys, putting it at primary within the checklist. If you need a day street journey, this can be a nice possibility as there is a stunning variety of issues to do on this small city.

The most well-known attraction is Legoland California which was the primary to open outdoors Europe in 1999. If Lego is your factor, or even when it is not, this can be a excellent place to spend just a few hours.

There are enjoyable rides, miniature variations of well-known cities and landmarks from all over the world and even a Sea Life Aquarium which isn’t product of lego however nonetheless lego themed!

The seashores in Carlsbad are fashionable and never too crowded – the South Carlsbad State Beach is nice and you’ll choose your favorite seashore kind with elements of the seashore coated in shingle though the bulk is sand.

Don’t miss the precise city itself. There’s some nice native shops and a quaint really feel concerning the place – nice for a espresso cease and a brief stroll.

2. Juan Capistrano and San Clemente

1 hour 10 minutes from San Diego (67 miles)

San Juan Capistrano Mission Gardens in California
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Pretty gardens of Mission San Juan Capistrano.

Just earlier than you get to Laguna Beach is the seaside city of San Clemente. A bit additional alongside is the Mission of San Juan Capistrano and the small settlement round it. You’re greatest off heading to San Juan Capistrano first and spending the morning and lunchtime there after which heading again to San Clemente afterward.

The Mission of San Juan Capistrano dates again to 1776 and quite a few the buildings that type a part of the Mission had been established within the 18th century. There is a chapel, museum and the Mission Basilica within the advanced which can be all open to guests.

The Los Rios Historic District across the Mission is without doubt one of the oldest in California and some of the buildings right here date again to the 1700s as properly – it is properly price your time to take a stroll and chill out.

San Clemente beach, pier and The Fisherman
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You can spend the afternoon and night stress-free by the San Clemente Pier and check out some grilled fish.

San Clemente has a relaxed vibe and is all about its seashore setting. The San Clemente Pier is the primary sight and makes for nice photographs at sundown. After taking your snaps, you may sit down at The Fisherman’s Restaurant proper at first of the pier to take pleasure in contemporary seafood with a view.

If you’ve time within the afternoon Casa Romantica sitting additional up is a tradition and historical past museum and has nice gardens surrounding it which you could stroll round.

3. Laguna Beach

1 hour 20 minutes from San Diego (73 miles)

Pearl Street Beach in the afternoon, one of a number of amazing Laguna Beach locations in California
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Pearl Street Beach is just one of quite a few wonderful spots in Laguna Beach, California.

Laguna Beach lies alongside the coast simply south of Los Angeles and has a number of the greatest seashores in Southern California.

Ranging from small intimate coves, to lengthy and broad stretches of sand, all people can discover a excellent spot someplace alongside the shoreline.

There’s Victoria Beach with its citadel tower-like construction that sits on the rocks. It’s truly a staircase that leads from a personal residence above right down to the water, however the backside a part of the tower and the door are totally submerged throughout excessive tide which renders it ineffective half the time.

Some of the coves have small tide swimming pools the place you may see all types of sea life in addition to sea lions and seals stress-free within the sunshine. Take care to not disturb the tide swimming pools as these are dwelling to fragile ecosystems with crabs, snails, stars and sea cucumbers among the many residents.

If you want artwork, you are in luck. Laguna Beach is dwelling to quite a few artwork galleries and hosts a number of the greatest recognized artwork occasions within the nation. The Laguna Festival of Arts and Sawdust Art Festival occur yearly and the Pageant of the Masters is a novel occasion the place well-known work are recreated in actual life by meticulous designers and actors.

4. Disneyland Park

1 hour 40 minutes from San Diego (95 miles)

The Incredicoaster and Pixar Pal-A-Round rides in Disneyland in Anaheim, California
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Disneyland’s Incredicoaster behind the Pixar Pal-A-Round ferris wheel.

If you’ve children, this is perhaps prime of your checklist, if you have not already been right here a dozen occasions. If you do not have children, this may nonetheless be prime of your checklist – who does not wish to go to Disneyland?

Disneyland Park in Anaheim is the unique Disneyland that got here lengthy earlier than the Florida, Paris and the opposite areas all over the world. True – it is perhaps older and its citadel will not be as grand as a number of the newer parks, however that is the one which Walt Disney himself created so that you merely need to go!

Getting up early is a good suggestion to beat the site visitors as you strategy L.A. and it additionally saves time entering into the park. There are some nice breakfast spots there so get right here early and pile on the pancakes.

Since opening, round 750 million guests have come to Disneyland and it’s nonetheless the second most visited theme park on the earth, solely simply dropping out to the Magic Kingdom park in Florida which is itself modeled on Disneyland.

Entry prices over $100 so take advantage of the day and the trip queues are shorter early within the day. Whether you are a thrillseeker or wish to chill out, there’s rides and sights for everybody from the loud and looping Incredicoaster to the calm Mark Twain Riverboat.

5. Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico

1 hour 50 minutes from San Diego (84 miles)

Adobe Guadalupe Winery in Baja California, Ensenada, Mexico
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There is a particular Mexican appeal about this stress-free pool on the Adobe Guadalupe vineyard.

With San Diego sitting proper on the border with Mexico, we needed to embody a street journey that headed south and the drive down toe Valle de Guadalupe is it. Sure, Tijuana could be a enjoyable evening out and Rosarito Beach can be good, however they’re so near San Diego, it did not appear proper to name a 20 minute drive a street journey!

For those that may not know, Valle de Guadalupe is an space in Baja California that’s well-known for its wine making. The local weather right here is gentle and much like San Diego and the soils are surprisingly good for vineyards.

If you are scoffing on the considered Mexican wine being a factor, do not make the error of dismissing earlier than you strive. You may simply blow your thoughts!

To get right here, skip the busy Tijuana crossing and drive east to Tecate as a substitute. From right here, Federal Highway 3 will take you all the best way to the wineries.

If you wish to add a bit extra enjoyable to your journey, maintain going alongside the freeway till you attain Ensenada on the Pacific coast. This is a typical vacation resort city stuffed with eating places, bars, outlets and vacationers. It will be plenty of enjoyable and a refreshing change from the peace and quiet of the wineries.

6. Palm Springs

2 hours 10 minutes from San Diego (133 miles)

Palm Springs, California, USA
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It’s at all times sunny with clear skies in Palm Springs.

Getting to Palm Springs is comparatively simple and surprisingly fast. The quickest route by means of Moreno Valley takes somewhat over 2 hours, however our recommendation could be to disregard your navigator and switch off onto California 79 in Temecula and following Route 74 all the best way to Palm Springs – the street is quiet and the views are significantly better than you may get on the interstate!

Although climate in San Diego is close to excellent all yr spherical, Palm Springs has a little bit of a status for having shiny and sunny days nearly each single day of the yr. Summers do get sizzling with July and August day by day highs averaging round 108 °F (42 °C) so carry loads of sunscreen and carry bottled water.

The neatest thing to do in Palm Springs is nothing. That’s proper. Everything right here screams rest – the luxurious accommodations are excellent for sleeping in and lounging across the pool and downtown Palm Springs is nice for a night stroll.

If you’re feeling somewhat extra adventurous or get tired of the ebook you dropped at learn, go up the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The journey up takes 10 minutes and the tram rotates because it goes up ensuring you get all the perfect views with out having to show your head.

At the highest you may discover a few first rate eating places and over 50 miles of mountain climbing trails by means of unspoiled wilderness. One of the paths enables you to scale the height of Mount San Jacinto at 10,834 ft (3,302 m) – keep in mind the temperature shall be rather a lot cooler up right here so carry one other layer to placed on.

7. Salton Sea

2 hours 30 minutes from San Diego (118 miles)

Salton Sea recreation area shore
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Salton Sea is 45 miles lengthy and is tremendous attention-grabbing to go to.

Salton Sea is without doubt one of the most weird locations you may go to in California and perhaps the entire of the United States which is strictly why it is price a weekend of your time.

This big physique of water that’s concerning the dimension of San Francisco Bay was created accidentally in 1905 which is an effective sufficient cause to go to it already.

Engineers had been engaged on diverting water from Colorado River for an irrigation challenge earlier than technical points meant the water overflowed the banks and started spilling into the Salton Basin. By the time the engineers fastened the problem 2 years later, a brand new sea was born.

The space was a well-liked trip resort within the Fifties however declined over the many years, abandoning hints concerning the vacationer vacation spot it as soon as was. Today it is fascinating to see the aged indicators and deserted buildings. The complete space has a really feel of a spot that point left behind.

Salvation Mountain in Niland, California
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Salvation Mountain is a novel piece of artwork that almost sums up what Salton Sea is all about.

Salvation Mountain is just a few miles off the southeastern nook or Salton Sea and was a challenge by an area resident Leonard Knight. He constructed the mount and put in themes, classes and passages from the Bible to unfold the phrase of Jesus.

Whether you are non secular or not, you have to come and see it for your self – it’s as mad as it’s artistic.

Borrego Springs sculptures, California
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Where else will you discover a large sculpture of a dragon swimming by means of a desert?

On the best way from San Diego to Salton Sea, cease off on the Borrego Springs Sculptures. These completely random large metallic constructions have all the pieces from dragons to elephants to a Jeep scaling rocks and even life-size combating dinosaurs.

To make it much more nutty, these sculptures are in the course of a desert which is in the course of nowhere within the Anza-Borrego State Park.

We are usually not fully positive what the artist, Ricardo Breceda, had in thoughts when he welded these creatures within the desert warmth, however it’s so random it makes it a should cease in your route.

8. Joshua Tree National Park

Read more: 57 Best & Fun Things To Do In San Diego (California)

3 hours from San Diego (165 miles)

Hiking early in the morning at Joshua Tree National Park
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The distinctive Joshua bushes rising within the Joshua Tree National Park in California.

Joshua Tree is the closest of the massive California National Parks to San Diego and it takes round 3 hours to get there whether or not you are headed for the South or North entry factors into the park.

The park is called after the uniquely formed bushes which seem like an individual standing up with their arms stretched upwards. Don’t be fooled by the park’s identify although, the Joshua Tree National Park is without doubt one of the hottest and most inhospitable deserts within the United States, so plan forward and we might not advocate tenting in July and August.

Summer temperatures in Joshua Tree are sizzling with day by day highs averaging round 100 °F (38 °C) which is able to make mountain climbing really feel uncomfortable and though nighttime temperatures dip to low 70s (round 21 °C), sleeping will be powerful.

Although lodging within the park is proscribed, there are over 300 spots you may camp and there are nice trails and sights all through – if you happen to climb up Keys View (highest level within the park), you possibly can see into Mexico on a transparent day.

March and April are notably good occasions to go to. The various kinds of desert plant flower throughout these months and the climate is comparatively gentle with day by day highs sitting at a nice 75 °F (24 °C).

9. Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake

3 hours quarter-hour from San Diego (160 miles)

Cloudy afternoon in Lake Arrowhead
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The tree coated hills surrounding Lake Arrowhead.

With Joshua Tree State Park to the east and the huge expanses of the Mojave and Death Valley to the North, the small enclave of temperate climate and forests within the northern a part of the San Bernardino National Forest might come as a shock.

The locals dub it the Alps of Southern California and whereas the mountain panorama shouldn’t be fairly as dramatic because the identify would recommend, it is an excellent place to flee to from San Diego.

Lake Arrowhead is a personal lake which implies which you could go on boat excursions and check out your hand at water snowboarding on the native faculty, if you wish to spend a day stress-free on the seashore and swimming, you may have to go to the smaller Lake Gregory as a substitute.

Lake Arrowhead Village is price a cease – there’s just a few nice eating places for lunch and dinner, a choice of outlets and a very chilled out really feel.

After you have explored the mountain climbing routes and the neighborhoods surrounding the lake, you may drive an additional few miles to the Big Bear Lake.

During the summer time you may drive alongside a scenic mountain route and within the winter you may discover passing by means of just a few ski resorts in your approach – carry your skis and snowboards to discover the small ski mountain or have a go at snow tubing as a substitute.

Big Bear Lake View
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Wild areas with mountain climbing trails and loads of nature round Big Bear Lake with remnants of snow within the spring.

Big Bear Lake has all the identical positives as Lake Arrowhead – there’s loads of actions come sunshine or snow and forest-covered mountains surrounding a fairly lake which is somewhat bigger in space.

The village right here is perhaps much more charming with cobbled streets and conventional picket clad homes nestled in-between the bushes.

The costs are at their highest and the resort is busiest in January and February through the peak of the ski season so intention to come back afterward within the winter or throughout different seasons.

If you do come within the winter, ensure you get your automotive prepared with applicable tyres and snow chains – one thing very simple to miss as you are setting off from the nice and cozy climes of San Diego!

10. Santa Catalina Island

3 hours 20 minutes from San Diego

Historic Point Vicente Lighthouse at Sunset on Point Vicente, across the water from Santa Catalina Island
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The scenic Point Vicente Lighthouse sitting on a cliff at Point Vicente, throughout the water from Santa Catalina Island.

Santa Catalina Island, or simply Catalina Island because it’s typically known as sits simply off the coast of Southern California and is an ideal vacation spot for a day go to or longer journey.

Getting to Catalina Island from San Diego is comparatively easy – it will take round an hour and quarter-hour to drive north alongside the coast to Dana Point. Here you may need to park up your automotive (I do know – not all street journeys can help you sit within the automotive your entire approach. Get over it!) and catch a ferry.

Ferries take an hour and a half to get to the port city of Avalon on the island and with a little bit of time getting your tickets and boarding, you may get there in somewhat over 3 hours.

Over one million folks go to the island yearly and there’s loads to do on and off the land. There’s reefs and shipwrecks you may discover sitting in a glass backside boat, with a snorkel or full scuba gear. For those that wish to see the island itself, there are limitless mountain climbing and strolling trails that provide wonderful views in each path.

Aside from birds, flying fish, seals and sea lions, chances are you’ll discover a herd of bison roaming round. These stem from an authentic group of 14 that had been introduced in 1924 to movie a film and had been left on the island to save lots of price on transport them again to mainland. The bison scene by no means made it into the film, however make it a problem to go discover them as you make your approach round!

11. Los Angeles, Malibu Beach, and Pasadena

3 hours 30 minutes from San Diego

Los Angeles evening sunset highway traffic skyline buildings
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Busy highways run previous the skyscrapers of downtown Los Angeles.

If you are in Southern California, you may’t miss out on visiting L.A. – it by no means will get outdated and there’s simply a lot to see and do, you may spend weeks exploring town and never scratch the floor.

To get from San Diego to Los Angeles, simply comply with the San Diego Freeway north – you may get all the best way into Los Angeles or save a little bit of time for just a few {dollars} by following State Route 73 (toll street) from San Capistrano.

What it is best to see in Los Angeles relies on how lengthy you have bought and what you are into – town is large and the perfect neighborhoods are unfold out over miles.

Once you have ticked off the obligatory vacationer dodging in Hollywood, watching wealthy folks park Ferraris in Beverly Hills and walked alongside Sunset Boulevard, head on to Pasadena. This city has much more of a neighborhood really feel, authenticity and a traditional California vibe than many different elements of L.A.

Then head west and drive by means of locations like Culver City, Venice and Santa Monica. When I say drive, I actually imply, go and spend not less than half a day in every time allowing. Santa Monica is small and appears to be stuffed with well-known folks so you may get your self a espresso and do some celeb recognizing.

Malibu is an extended stretch of seashore simply outdoors L.A. and extremely popular with the locals at weekends.

You might spend a complete week simply right here – there’s the Santa Monica mountains proper behind you and exquisite golden sand seashores so far as the attention can see. Add just a few locations to cease – the Malibu Pier, Point Dume and El Matador State Beach ought to all be in your checklist.

12. Ojai

3 hours 45 minutes from San Diego

Ojai California, field of Yellow mustard and Topa Topa Mountains
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The valley of Ojai is properly referred to as a retreat vacation spot for Hollywood’s A-listers.

Ojai is actually in-between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara in addition to being caught in-between the 2 choices in our checklist. It’s solely a small city and you possibly can in all probability add it to both itinerary, however there is a good cause why it has its personal spot.

Set in a lush inexperienced valley north of Ventura, Ojai has change into a really poorly saved secret amongst these on the lookout for retreats from the day by day grind of metropolis life.

Accommodation right here is dear whether or not you are going for the 5 star lodge or a random motel however many include Spanish styling, lovely gardens and quirky rooms.

If you’re on the lookout for meditation, stress-free Hawaiian massages or a broad choice of eating places serving up vegan and paleo choices, Ojai is the place for you. You additionally get small hipster outlets promoting all types of garments and issues that look good on a shelf again dwelling.

When you have recharged your batteries, you may head out to Los Padres National Forest that begins simply outdoors the city with mountain climbing routes and mountain views aplenty.

13. Santa Barbara, Montecito and Solvang

4 hours 20 minutes from San Diego

Santa Barbara from the pier, California
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The coastal metropolis of Santa Barbara in California.

If you wish to prolong your journey to Los Angeles and Malibu (see #11 above) or simply wish to keep away from the limitless traffic-filled freeways, you may maintain going alongside the coast previous Malibu till you attain the way more relaxed Santa Barbara.

The second you arrive, you may see why so many individuals like to go to and even transfer right here. Santa Barbara oozes old style Californian glamour.

From the Old Mission Santa Barbara to the palm tree lined waterfront, you’ll get a way of traditional stylish all over. Although Santa Barbara dates again to the late 1700s, a lot of town was rebuilt after a serious earthquake in 1925 so the buildings you will notice shall be from the Nineteen Twenties and Nineteen Thirties, inbuilt Spanish Colonial Revival fashion.

Early morning of mountains in Romero Canyon, Montecito California
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Morning mist within the mountains of Romero Canyon simply outdoors Montecito.

While wealthy folks transfer to stay in Santa Barbara, the tremendous wealthy go for the hillside suburb of Montecito. You can try what it is like by visiting Casa del Herrero which is an open home museum and the Lotusland botanical backyard. Keep your eyes peeled for the likes of Oprah who stay on this quiet city.

To get to Solvang, you may want to move inland from Santa Barbara – take the San Marcos Pass Road to climb the hills.

Solvang is an outdated Danish village and this implies you get conventional Danish horse-drawn carriages, trams, quaint Danish fashion homes and even 4 Danish windmills. It has not too long ago change into somewhat on the vacationer entice aspect of issues for my style, but it surely’s nonetheless price visiting if you happen to’re within the space.

14. Channel Islands National Park

4 hours 45 minutes from San Diego

View opening up from Inspiration Point on East Anacapa Island in the Channel Islands National Park, California
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Chain of islands seen from Inspiration Point on East Anacapa Island within the Channel Islands National Park.

The Channel Islands National Park is round 20 miles off the coast of California and to get right here, it’s a must to drive as much as the port of Ventura – round 3 and a half hours from San Diego relying on how a lot time you spend getting by means of Los Angeles.

Depending on which a part of the park you wish to go to, the boat trip takes between 1 and three hours. The small Santa Barbara, Anacapa and East Anacapa Islands are fashionable with guests and supply some nice views just like the one within the photograph.

If you wish to do a bit extra mountain climbing, the most important island of Santa Cruz is the best choice and it’ll take you somewhat over an hour to get there.

Sometimes known as the Galapagos of North America, the unspoilt nature is the primary cause to come back right here. From whales passing by the islands and dolphins swimming together with canoes to the impossibly cute island fox, it is an ideal approach to spend a while away from civilization.

If you are planning to spend greater than a day right here, notice that there isn’t any lodging of any form, no outlets and the services are restricted. You can camp in a single day at one of many campgrounds however plan upfront and convey all the pieces you want in your backpack.

15. Death Valley National Park

Read more: 25 Top Tourist Attractions in San Diego

5 hours from San Diego

The surroundings in Death Valley National Park can appear very otherworldly.

If your concept of the right street journey is to drive to the most well liked place on Earth, I current to you the Death Valley National Park.

In case its identify shouldn’t be sufficient of a giveaway, Death Valley will get mighty sizzling in the summertime and I’d advocate you do not go to from June to August the place common day by day highs are above 120 °F (49 °C). November to March is a significantly better name to see the numerous panorama with out the incessant warmth.

Death Valley sits between Las Vegas and the forested mountains of Sierra Nevada. It’s a big National Park and you’ll find nearly each kind of desert right here. There’s dried out lake beds, inhospitable rocky desert and even sand dunes so you may see all of it.

Death Valley National Park is the most important within the United States excluding Alaska and it’s an International Dark Sky Park which signifies that there are isn’t any mild air pollution at evening. This makes it among the finest locations on the earth for stargazing with completely clear evening skies the place you may see 1000’s of stars and galaxy shapes with the bare eye.

16. Las Vegas

Read more: 25 Top Tourist Attractions in San Diego

5 hours from San Diego

Las Vegas Nevada
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Las Vegas actually comes alive at evening with nearly all the pieces open till the morning.

Everyone has to go to Sin City not less than as soon as of their life. The full madness of constructing replicas of the Eiffel Tower, Egyptian Pyramids and large water fountains in the course of a desert has a really American je ne sais quoi about it.

Most of what you may wish to see in Vegas is up and down the strip and you may get right here in 5 hours flat from San Diego if site visitors is in your aspect.

You’ve merely bought to remain in one of many large accommodations to get the complete expertise. The newer finish of the strip is my most popular alternative – Aria and the Cosmopolitan are each nice choices.

Most accommodations have large casinos downstairs with just a few exceptions together with the Cosmo. They vary from the ridiculous opulence of the Bellagio to the old fashioned darkish MGM Grand.

It’s nearly as a lot enjoyable strolling round and folks watching as taking part in though I’m undecided how I really feel after I see an outdated girl feeding a thick stack of {dollars} right into a slot machine.

Make positive you try the remainder of what Las Vegas has to supply. There are some wonderful reveals and music occasions each evening of the week and eating places for each style and funds which may actually shock you with the standard of meals and wine.

17. Phoenix and Scottsdale

5 hours 20 minutes from San Diego

Phoenix, Arizona, USA downtown cityscape at dusk
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The metropolis of Phoenix has been booming lately so come and see what it is all about.

The quickest approach to get from San Diego to Phoenix is to comply with the I-8 alongside the southern fringe of the United States – you may be driving near the Mexico border, typically shut sufficient to see throughout. Don’t make the error of getting too shut – we by accident drove onto the border mound close to Yuma which did not impress the border patrol.

Phoenix and San Diego have an in depth relationship that few folks outdoors these cities learn about – there is a pattern for many who stay in Phoenix to flee the most well liked months of the yr to the cooler Californian coast and San Diego is commonly the vacation spot.

Phoenix has been booming lately. Quite a lot of profitable startups have begun rising and extra established firms are rising their Phoenix bases.

The artwork and tradition scene is without doubt one of the greatest within the nation – there’s the Heard Museum and occasional road artwork exhibitions in addition to small galleries to go to.

Scottsdale is a hip and vibrant neighborhood of Phoenix. While downtown Phoenix has businessmen in fits rubbing shoulders between workplace buildings, Scottsdale has a relaxed outdated city with outlets, cafes and eating places and a number of the greatest accommodations within the metropolis.

Sunset view of the desert and mountains near Phoenix, Arizona
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The drive to Phoenix goes by means of some actually scenic wilderness areas and one factor I’d extremely advocate is bringing a picnic and turning off the freeway someplace on the best way to have it.

The distinctive Arizona cactus grows throughout and there is a stress-free mixture of hills and flat desert to make the right backdrop. Apparently mountain lions are a factor right here, though I’m but to fulfill anyone who has truly ever seen one.

18. San Luis Obispo and Morro Bay

5 hours 30 minutes from San Diego

Waves crashing against the cliffs as the fog rolls in near San Luis Obispo, California
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Ocean waves crashing towards the cliffs close to San Luis Obispo, California.

San Luis Obispo is a city just a few miles from the oceanfront in Central California. It is without doubt one of the oldest cities within the state and is centered across the Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa which dates again to the 1700s.

The tempo of life is gradual right here and one large driver of tourists is Pismo Beach. It stretches for 17 miles south of San Luis Obispo and is a surfer vacation spot with wild waves crashing into the shore. The dramatic cliffs and rocks that stand proud of the water give it further attraction factors.

Not many individuals know, however San Luis Obispo has two wine areas – Edna Valley and Arroyo Grande. There are dozens of wineries you may go to and even if you happen to’re not eager to style the wines, the roads and surroundings are cause sufficient to go.

Chardonnay and Pinot noir are the perfect grape varieties that develop within the space so you’ve a alternative of purple or white!

Morro Bay is a couple of minutes up the street and is a quiet seaside city the place you may proceed stress-free to the sound of the ocean waves. It’s a fishing city, so discover a great spot with a good view and order seafood.

Put your telephone and watch within the deepest a part of your bag and revel in dwelling life the gradual approach for as soon as!

19. Tucson

6 hours from San Diego

Tucson, Arizona, USA downtown skyline with Sentinel Peak at dusk
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The fairly setting of Tucson Arizona is without doubt one of the causes it is best to go to.

For those that wish to go on a street journey to Arizona, however not spend time in a big and busy metropolis there’s Tucson. About one third the dimensions of Phoenix and set in beautiful surroundings, Tucson has a small city really feel about it which you will not get within the large metropolis.

Getting to Tucson is simple – comply with the I-8 all the best way till it merges into the I-10 and you will find your self driving proper into town. With a cease for lunch and relaxation breaks, it is a drive you may simply do in a day. If you’ve children or extra time, I recommend you set off earlier. There’s actually not many good locations to cease alongside the best way apart from roadside motels.

The Saguaro National Park simply outdoors town as you strategy it’s a excellent place to see. It’s dwelling to an enormous variety of the Saguaro cacti which have change into one in every of Arizona’s unofficial symbols.

The Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum is inside this park and has a small zoo with 200 species of desert animals, 1,000 totally different species of desert vegetation, an area pure historical past museum and even an artwork gallery.

In downtown Tucson, cease by the San Xavier del Bac Catholic Mission and the Cathedral of Saint Augustine. These traditional Spanish fashion buildings are a number of the greatest examples of traditional colonial structure and have a powerful south European really feel.

20. Sedona and Flagstaff

7 hours quarter-hour from San Diego

Cathedral Rock at sunset in the Red Rock State Park near Sedona, Arizona
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The beautiful rocks of the Red Rock State Park are well worth the lengthy drive from San Diego.

There are two locations which can be greatest for seeing the well-known purple rocks in Arizona. Monument Valley within the north east of the state on the border with Utah is about 11 hours’ price of driving from San Diego earlier than you account for meals stops and breaks.

The excellent news is that the Red Rock State Park close to Sedona is far nearer and will be reached in a day or two shorter drives with a cease in Phoenix.

The Red Rock Scenic Byway is a 7.5-mile stretch of Route 179 that may simply be one of the vital beautiful items of street you may drive anyplace on the earth. No marvel they name it a museum with out partitions.

You’ll be driving proper previous the enormous purple rock formations together with the well-known Bell Rock and Cathedral Rock. There are loads of lookout factors the place you may cease so park up at one in every of them earlier than taking your eyes off the street!

You can go mountain climbing within the rocks which is able to open up even higher views – the Devil’s Bridge Trail is the one to do if you have not been earlier than with some unbelievable views alongside the best way.

21. Zion National Park

7 hours 30 minutes from San Diego

The colorful landscape of a valley in the Zion National Park in Utah
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The colourful valleys of Zion National Park in Utah are well worth the lengthy drive.

Zion and the neighboring Bryce Canyon National Parks are a wild card on our checklist, however one you may simply wish to select on your street journey from San Diego.

You will technically drive by means of 4 states, beginning out in California earlier than going by means of small bits of Nevada and Arizona earlier than arriving in Utah, however you may nearly do it in a day, nonetheless have time for stops and arrive earlier than dinner.

I do not learn about you, however this may simply be probably the most lovely National Park in southwestern United States – think about spending just a few days strolling round valleys like within the image above!

The trails are clearly marked and you’ll select the problem degree that ranges roughly talking from “Walk In The Park” (I do know… actually) to “Mountain Goat” for many who like their mountain climbing steep and tiring.

Bryce Canyon shouldn’t be a canyon, however as a substitute has quite a few giant amphitheatre-shaped formations with the distinct vertical rocks known as hoodoos wanting like large folks inside. Bryce Canyon sits at the next elevation than Zion National Park with the rim going as much as 9,000 toes (2,700 m) so carry an additional layer of clothes as you may really feel cool.

22. Big Sur and Carmel-by-the-Sea

7 hours 30 minutes from San Diego

Bixby Creek Bridge on California
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Bixby Creek Bridge within the Big Sur space of the California coast on the best way from San Diego to Carmel.

Big Sur is a good distance from San Diego. Not fairly so far as San Francisco, you may need to drive a good approach up the Californian coast to get right here however when you do, you may know the journey is price it.

The lengthy stretch of rugged cliffs and waves pounding the rocks under is an effective way to unwind and chill out. Roll the home windows down and revel in wind blowing in your face as you make your approach up Highway 1.

Bixby Creek Bridge (within the photograph above) has been a backdrop for numerous motion pictures, TV collection and adverts and you’ll park up on the overlook to take a greater have a look at the bridge and the creek under.

Carmel is a quiet seaside city that’s one other of the numerous alongside the Californian coast that was constructed up round a Catholic Mission.

Read more: Top 35 San Diego Tourist Attractions: Fun Spots You Must See

It’s so quiet and relaxed that some individuals who stay in Los Angeles, San Francisco or Silicon Valley use it as a spot to come back and reset. Everything occurs somewhat slower right here and you are able to do wonderful issues that you have not completed for years like sit in a restaurant and browse a ebook. No critically – strive it!

23. Kings Canyon & Sequoia National Parks

7 hours 30 minutes from San Diego

Sequoia Trees Rising to the Sky, Sequoia National Park, California
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Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are a number of the greatest locations to see large sequoia bushes.

The closest place to San Diego to see large sequoias are the parks of Kings Canyon and Sequoia. The Sequoia National Forest is nearer than the National Park and is bigger than its extra well-known namesake, however regardless of its identify is basically coated in desert-style shrubbery with no tall bushes in sight.

The world’s largest tree (however not the tallest!) known as the General Sherman Tree grows within the Sequoia National Park and you’ll go to it by way of a brief stroll though if there weren’t signposts telling you so, it could be mighty arduous to evaluate with all the bushes right here stretching into the sky.

Make positive you drive alongside State Route 180 that runs between the 2 parks – this is without doubt one of the prettiest stretches of street within the Sierra Nevada and zig zags its approach to Kanawyers the place you may park up.

From right here there’s a choice of trails that run in all instructions providing up the perfect mountain views, exercise and loads of mountain creeks.

Make positive you propose forward and switch again earlier than you get too drained – a few of these trails can get fairly powerful and might run for dozens of miles by means of the Sierra Nevada.

24. Yosemite National Park

8 hours from San Diego

Stoneman bridge over the perfectly still Merced River in Yosemite National Park, California
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The Yosemite Valley is without doubt one of the most beautiful sceneries on the earth.

Yosemite is probably the most well-known of the California National Parks and is a large expanse of mountains, valleys, rivers and sequoia forests.

It’ll take you round 8 hours to get right here from San Diego earlier than accounting for stops, so it is best to both set off early or add a cease on the best way if you wish to ensure you have time to settle in or arrange camp.

The majority of tourists to the Yosemite National Park solely go to a tiny a part of it – the Yosemite Valley which incorporates the El Capitan and Sentinel Dome granite rocks. This a part of the park has lodging, facilities and a choice of eating places.

If you need a bit extra mountain climbing path than peppercorn sauce, head out to the remainder of the park – there are extra trails than you may ever stroll, wonderful surroundings and beautiful locations you may camp in. Just do not forget that it will get cooler as you go up into the mountains so carry layers even through the summer time months.

25. San Francisco

8 hours 30 minutes from San Diego

Traditional San Francisco cable cars passing each other on one of the city
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Swap your automotive for the traditional San Francisco trams to discover town.

If you are after a extra conventional metropolis break, San Francisco is the right metropolis to come back to. The quickest approach from San Diego will be completed in a day, however if you wish to make it an actual street journey and keep on Highway 1, hugging the shoreline all the best way up, it is best to actually break it up into just a few legs.

Luckily for you, Los Angeles, Malibu, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Big Sur and Carmel are all alongside the best way and all on our checklist!

San Francisco is a shocking metropolis constructed on hills and sitting in-between the Pacific to the west and San Francisco Bay to the east.

The checklist of issues do in San Francisco is nearly limitless – there’s the retro cable vehicles you have to trip, sea lions to see at Pier 39 and the long-lasting Golden Gate Bridge. If that is not sufficient, you’ve Alcatraz, the Presidio of San Francisco and the most important Chinatown on the earth.

Bringing a automotive means you may drive across the 49-mile Scenic Drive which takes you round a number of the greatest sights in and across the metropolis in addition to hills with wonderful views over the Bay.

26. Grand Canyon

8 hours 30 minutes from San Diego

The unique Horseshoe Bend in the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona
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The Horseshoe Bend is without doubt one of the wonderful sights alongside the Grand Canyon.

The Grand Canyon wants no introduction and if you wish to see what the fuss is all about for your self, you may get there in a day’s drive with time for lunch and stops alongside the best way.

Although you may get to elements of the Grand Canyon near Las Vegas, simply previous Lake Mead, the extra scenic elements are additional alongside the Canyon and we might skip Las Vegas and drive up Arizona to Grand Canyon Village to get your first snap from Mather Point.

From there, the Canyon goes all the best way to the city of Page on the Arizona – Utah border the place the Horseshoe Bend view level is (within the image above).

This street journey will be simply mixed with a go to to Flagstaff and Sedona in addition to a cease in Phoenix if in case you have extra time.

If you wish to see extra nature, carry on going into Utah – the Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument and the Glen Canyon Recrational Area supply nearly 3 million acres of untamed terrain to discover.

Here you may discover desert landscapes and rugged purple rock formations in addition to lakes, rivers and but extra canyons.

27. Napa and Sonoma Valleys

9 hours from San Diego

Welcome to the Napa Valley wine growing region sign in Northern California
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You will not wrestle discovering Napa Valley with the native signage.

Going somewhat additional north previous San Francisco, you may attain probably the most well-known a part of the California Wine Country – Napa Valley and its neighbor Sonoma.

How lengthy it is best to spend right here relies upon fully in your love for wine – there are some 1,200 wineries in these two valleys and half of them have wine tastings, meals and winery excursions so you will not run out of recent wines to strive even if you happen to strive 6 totally different wineries per day for 3 months and not using a day’s break.

A well-liked approach to do that whereas staying on the fitting aspect of the legislation and never having a grumpy designated driver is to carry or rent bicycles and get between the vineyards on two wheels.

The climate right here is nice from spring to fall so all you could do is discover a place to remain. An enormous automotive is a good suggestion as a result of it enables you to pack a far higher variety of bottles out of your favourite wineries to carry again dwelling. An particularly giant truck may have you stocked till you come again the following yr!

28. Lake Tahoe

9 hours from San Diego

East shore of the beautiful Lake Tahoe lying on the border between California and Nevada
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The beautiful east shore of Lake Tahoe in Nevada.

Lake Tahoe is uncommon in being an extremely excellent place to go nearly each single month of the yr. The springtime bloom, summer time actions on and across the lake by means of to winter snowboarding make this an excellent street journey vacation spot everytime you discover the time.

The greatest approach to drive to Lake Tahoe from San Diego is to take U.S. Route 395 after you move San Bernardino. Stay on US 395 proper up till you attain the snow-capped peaks surrounding the lake.

9 hours is a fairly lengthy approach to drive in a single go however you are in luck because the route takes you proper up the backbone of Sierra Nevada and previous Kings Canyon, Sequoia and Death Valley National Parks in addition to Yosemite and Mammoth Lakes. If you like nature, it does not get significantly better than this.

Sat on the California- Nevada border, Lake Tahoe is 6,225 toes above sea degree (1,897 m). The water within the lake is crystal clear and it is surrounded by tall snow coated mountains on all sides giving it that image excellent look.

Whether you wish to canoe, jet ski or paddle board through the heat summer time months or ski a number of the greatest ski resorts in California together with the well-known Heavenly resort, Lake Tahoe is ready so pack your baggage and get on the street!

29. Albuquerque and Santa Fe

12 hours 30 minutes from San Diego

The unique architecture of downtown Santa Fe in the soft evening light, New Mexico
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Downtown Santa Fe is a tremendous place to go to on your style of New Mexico tradition and structure.

If driving to the following state shouldn’t be far sufficient for you, we’ve simply the fitting street journey from San Diego for you. The cities of Albuquerque and Santa Fe in New Mexico are a pair days’ drive away and if in case you have sufficient time in your palms, this could be a nice path to take.

Passing by means of Phoenix and never too removed from the purple rocks of Sedona, there’s loads of locations to cease. An even bigger detour can take you previous the Grand Canyon and thru Joshua Tree National Park.

One factor I have to examine earlier than I spell out the virtues of northern New Mexico is that this: I hope you just like the desert. Because the one factor this street journey has plenty of is desert. Miles and miles and hours upon hours of driving previous humorous formed cactuses in Arizona and the limitless arduous sand of New Mexico, get just a few bottles of water within the automotive with you simply in case.

The two cities are about an hour aside however couldn’t be extra totally different. Albuquerque is an enormous enterprise metropolis – there’s all of the hustle and bustle, tall buildings and a way of being busy within the air. Sure – there is a small Old Town, but it surely’s extra of a vacationer aggregation spot than the guts of town.

Santa Fe is far smaller and feels much more quirky. Again – there’s a downtown with companies in tall buildings, however the metropolis may be very totally different. The outdated colonial setup means there’s plenty of cultural sights and a large amount of Indian artwork so that you can discover.

Although it is fairly arduous to keep away from, ensure you strive the native New Mexican delicacies – a mix of Pueblo Native meals and Mexican. Chile peppers are a staple of most dishes and you will love the piñones which is an area number of pine tree nuts.

30. Redwood National Park

13 hours from San Diego

Tall redwood sequoia trees stretching into the sky in the Redwood National Park, California
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The extremely tall large redwoods within the Redwood National Park, California.

If the bushes in Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Parks are usually not fairly tall sufficient, you may need to drive the size of California from San Diego to the Redwood National Park close to the border with Oregon.

The quickest route alongside the I-5 will take you thru Los Angeles and San Francisco, reaching the park in round 15 hours if you happen to enable for just a few stops alongside the best way.

You might do it in a day if you happen to set off early and have a lodge room booked on the different finish, however I’d extremely advocate breaking apart the street journey and add in stops alongside the best way. Check additional up the checklist – half of the locations are alongside your route so you may take your choose from the seashores of Malibu to a winery tour in Napa.

Your choices for lodging are easy – you may camp within the park at one in every of 4 designated campgrounds or apply for a allow to arrange your tent at one in every of 8 different websites dotted across the park.

If you’re a fan of creature comforts and thick mattresses, there aren’t any lodges contained in the park, so you may have to get a room at one of many cities outdoors the boundary – Eureka to the south and Crescent City to the north are good choices.

Inside the park, there are a great deal of paths and trails and you’ll see the bushes that common a number of centuries outdated everywhere in the park. Some are as outdated as 2,000 years and might attain over 350 toes (107 m) tall. The tallest tree on the earth, Hyperion, is within the park and towers above the remainder at a mighty 379.1 (115.5 m) toes above the bottom.

Read more Places to travel near san diego – Indochina Airlines

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