Best Day Trips from San Diego
With so much to do in downtown San Diego, it's hard to imagine ever getting bored of the city. From beautiful beaches to lively cultural activities to incredible food, San Diego has something for you no matter how you like to spend your time on holiday.
But it would be a shame not to explore more of Southern California when you have the chance. Drop off your unneeded bags at a Bounce luggage storage, and you'll be able to enjoy some of the best day trips from San Diego, visiting incredible locations that will make for an unforgettable trip.
Once you've visited the best museums in San Diego, the art galleries, the San Diego zoo, and the beautiful beaches of the city, it's time to try out some exciting trips from San Diego. You'll be glad you did.
How to get out of San Diego
San Diego has a lot going for it, but an extensive public transportation network isn't one of those things. If you're wondering how to get around the city, you can do okay with buses and the trolley. But if you want to explore more of California and really get the most out of your trip, you're probably going to need a car.
Luckily, California is car country. And yes, in the city, you may experience the occasional traffic jam. But you'll forget all about that once you're cruising along the coastal road on your way to one of the best day trips from San Diego.
From San Diego to La Jolla
La Jolla is a beautiful coastal town located just north of downtown San Diego. It's home to some of the best beaches in the area, as well as a number of shops, restaurants, and galleries.
If you're looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the city for a day, La Jolla is the perfect place to do it. You can relax on one of the town's many beaches, go for a swim or surf, or explore the cliffs at La Jolla Cove. There's also plenty to see and do for kids, with attractions like the Birch Aquarium and the Children's Pool. It's a great way to enjoy the classic Southern California atmosphere without going too far from San Diego itself.
How to get to La Jolla
The best way to get to La Jolla from San Diego is by car. The journey takes around 20 minutes. You can also take the bus, with routes available from downtown San Diego and other parts of the city.
From San Diego to South Carlsbad State Beach
South Carlsbad State Beach is one of the most popular beaches in San Diego County. It's located just north of the city, and it's a great place to enjoy the sun, sand, and surf.
There are plenty of amenities at the beach, including showers, restrooms, and a picnic area. The beach is also a great place for fishing, with a pier that extends out into the water.
How to get to South Carlsbad State Beach
The best way to get to South Carlsbad State Beach from San Diego is by car. The journey takes around half an hour. You can also take the bus, though it will take longer.
From San Diego to Laguna Beach
San Diego isn't exactly lacking in great beaches. But an hour's drive north of the city, you'll find the glitzy seaside resort of Laguna Beach just outside Los Angeles.
The journey is as much a part of the experience as the destination. Driving up the Pacific Coast Highway, you'll be treated to some of the most incredible coastal scenery in America. And once you arrive in Laguna Beach, you can enjoy its seven miles of coastline, art galleries, and celebrity-spotting opportunities.
Laguna Beach is the perfect place to spend a day if you're looking for a more relaxed pace after exploring the vibrant city of San Diego.
How to get to Laguna Beach
This is one of the many day trips from San Diego that will be much better if you have a car. While it is possible to get to Laguna Beach using public transport by taking a Greyhound bus and then a couple of local buses, the journey will take more than three hours. Far better if you can rent a car and enjoy the drive.
From San Diego to Los Angeles
It would be criminal to come to Southern California and not visit Los Angeles. And thanks to the city's extensive public transportation system, it's easy to get from San Diego to LA without a car.
Once you're in Los Angeles, there's plenty to keep you occupied. Visit iconic landmarks like the Hollywood Sign and Griffith Observatory, enjoy the city's world-famous nightlife, or explore some of LA's incredible museums and art galleries.
And if you want to get out of the city for a day, there are plenty of great day trips from Los Angeles too.
How to get to Los Angeles
The easiest and quickest way to get from San Diego to Los Angeles is by taking the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train. The journey takes just under three hours from downtown San Diego, and you'll be able to sit back and enjoy the scenery as you travel.
If you're on a budget, it's also possible to take the Greyhound bus. But the journey takes around three hours and can be subject to traffic delays.
From San Diego to Mission San Juan Capistrano
Located just north of San Diego, Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776 and is one of the oldest missions in California.
The mission is now a museum, and its beautiful grounds are home to a variety of birds, making it a great place for a day trip if you're looking for somewhere peaceful and scenic to relax. This is the perfect place to learn more about the history of California, especially the Spanish colonial period that has given this part of the United States such a different feel from other regions.
How to get to Mission San Juan Capistrano
The best way to get to Mission San Juan Capistrano from San Diego is by car. The journey takes around an hour, and once you're there, you can explore the mission at your leisure.
If you don't have a car, there are a couple of ways to get there using public transport. You can take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train to San Juan Capistrano station and then walk to the mission, or you can take the Greyhound bus and then get a local bus.
Both of these journeys using public transportation take around two hours.
From San Diego to Julian
Julian is a small town in the mountains east of San Diego. It's best known for its apple orchards, and it's a popular day trip destination for foodies looking to escape the city.
As well as being able to pick your own apples and sample some delicious apple pies, there are also some great hiking trails in the area if you're looking to get away from it all for a day and enjoy some fresh air.
How to get to Julian
The best way to get to Julian from San Diego is by car. The journey takes around an hour, and once you're there, you can explore the town and its surroundings at your leisure.
From San Diego to Palm Springs
Palm Springs is a desert town located around two hours east of San Diego. It's a popular weekend getaway for Californians looking to escape the city, and it's also a popular destination for golfers, thanks to its many world-class golf courses.
If you're visiting Palm Springs, make sure to explore some of the area's incredible natural attractions, such as Joshua Tree National Park and the Coachella Valley Preserve. You can also take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for some stunning views of the desert landscape.
How to get to Palm Springs
The best way to get to Palm Springs from San Diego is by car. The two-hour drive will be worth it when you have your own way to get around the city once you arrive.
From San Diego to Tijuana
There aren't too many cities in the United States where you can easily pop across the border into a country with a completely different culture, history, and language. But from downtown San Diego, you can make the journey into Mexico and visit the city of Tijuana on one of the best day trips from San Diego.
Tijuana is a bustling city with a lot to offer visitors. You can explore the city's colonial history at places like the Museo de las Californias, or you can enjoy its more modern side with a visit to the Avenida Revolución, where you'll find plenty of bars and restaurants.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can also head out of the city and try your hand at some extreme sports like bungee jumping and zip-lining.
How to get to Tijuana
Theoretically, it's possible to drive to Tijuana from San Diego in just one hour. However, don't forget that you will have to cross an international border, so you'll need to leave plenty of time for border control. Don't forget your passport, and leave plenty of time to make sure you don't have to stress about getting back to America's Finest City when your day trip is over.
From San Diego to Disneyland
No list of the best day trips from San Diego would be complete without a mention of Disneyland. The Anaheim-based theme park is just over an hour and a half from downtown San Diego, making it the perfect place to take the kids for a day of fun.
There are plenty of rides and attractions to keep everyone entertained, and if you're visiting in the summer, you can also enjoy some time at Disneyland's water parks - California Adventureland and Disney California Adventure.
How to get to Disneyland
The best way to get to Disneyland from San Diego is by car. The journey takes around an hour and a half. You can also take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner to Santa Ana and bus number 83 from there to the park. Alternatively, there are coach tours that will take you from San Diego to the park in not much more time than it would take to drive there.
From San Diego to San Jacinto State Park
San Jacinto State Park is located around two hours east of San Diego. The park is home to Mount San Jacinto, the second highest mountain in Southern California.
The park is a great place for hiking and camping, with many incredible hiking trails to choose from, and there are also some stunning views to be enjoyed from the Mt. San Jacinto Peak Aerial Tramway.
How to get to San Jacinto State Park
The best way to get to San Jacinto State Park from San Diego is by car. The journey takes around two hours, and it's handy to have a car once you're there to see more of the park.
From San Diego to Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park is one of the most popular day trip destinations from San Diego. The park is located around three hours east of the city, and it's famous for its otherworldly landscapes and Joshua tree forests.
There are plenty of hiking trails to explore, and rock climbing is also a popular activity in the park. If you're visiting in the spring, you'll also be able to see some of the desert's incredible wildflower blooms.
How to get to Joshua Tree National Park
The best way to get to Joshua Tree National Park from San Diego is by car. The journey takes around three hours, so it may be a little long for a day trip from San Diego, but this unforgettable landscape is definitely worth making the effort to explore, even if you have to stay a night or two at the park to make the journey worthwhile.
You can also take a tour from San Diego.
As you can see, there are tons of incredible day trips from San Diego available to you when you visit the city. Whether you want to spend the day admiring the glittering waters of the Pacific Ocean from the beach at La Jolla, visit one of the world's top theme parks at Disneyland, pop over the border to do some shopping in Tijuana, or lose yourself in the sprawling wilderness of a National Park, it's all available here. Drop off your bags at a Bounce luggage storage, and you'll be ready to enjoy everything San Diego has to offer.