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25 Awesome Day Trips from San Diego

25 Awesome Day Trips from San Diego

Locals already know that San Diego is a great place to live, but sometimes you want to get out of the city and explore! Luckily there are dozens of day trips from San Diego offering a wide variety of things to do.

From the desert to the coast, there is just so much to see and do in Southern California. Here are 25 of my favorite day trips from San Diego, along with travel times and tips on what to do once you arrive.

Fun Day Trips from San Diego

1. Anza Borrego State Park

Seeing the Wildflowers at Anza Borrego State Park is one of the best day trips from San Diego
Wildflowers carpeting Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Distance from San Diego: 86 miles, about 2 hours

How lucky are you to be just two hours away from the largest state park in the United States? Anza-Borrego is located in eastern San Diego County and protects 600,000 acres of diverse desert landscapes ranging in elevation from sea level to over 6,000 feet.

Start your day early to make the most of your visit. Begin your day at the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park Visitor Center which is located in Borrego Springs and built into a hillside. It is a great place to learn about the flora and fauna within the park, watch the park video, and get trail conditions and recommendations.

Start your exploration with a hike on the Borrego Palm Canyon Trail, a three-mile round-trip hike that leads to an oasis of California fan palms inside of a gorge. You will also want to make time to explore one of the park’s unique slot canyons on the Slot Canyon Trail or the Wind Caves Trail.

For lunch, I suggest you pack a picnic and enjoy a meal outdoors surrounded by nature in one of the park’s designated picnic areas. Pack plenty of water as well because facilities are limited in this expansive park.

The biggest attraction at this park is the spring wildflower bloom. Some years are certainly more impressive than others, but during heavy rain years sections of the desert are dotted with all sorts of wildflowers. Wildflowers are usually in bloom from February to Paril, which is the best time to take this day trip from San Diego.

End your day with one of Anza-Borrego’s memorable desert sunsets. Popular spots to enjoy the change of light and color include Fonts Point and the Yaqui Well Trail. If you stay until evening on a day with less moonlight, you will be rewarded with a night sky filled with stars.

Keep in mind that Anza Borrego is extremely hot in the summer months, and the most pleasant visits happen in the late fall, winter, and early spring.

Anza Borrego made our list of the best state parks in California. See what other special spots made the list!

Spend the night: Borrego Springs has several different lodging options worthy of a stay, including Borrego Springs Resort and Spa.

2. Joshua Tree National Park

Day trip from San Diego to Joshua Tree National Park

Distance from San Diego: 170 miles, about 3 hours

With its towering boulders, diverse desert life, and iconic namesake trees, Joshua Tree National Park is a special place. This national park is home to two different desert environments, the Mojave high desert and the Colorado low desert.

The best time to visit Joshua Tree National Park is the spring when wildflowers are in bloom and the weather is mild. If you visit during the winter snow is possible, but most days are chilly and dry. I would avoid a summer day trip due to the soaring temperatures which make hiking dangerous.

Check out our epic Joshua Tree National Park day trip itinerary.

We love heading to Joshua Tree to enjoy rock climbing and bouldering, and there are plenty of fun options for novices and experts alike. It is also a great place to hike, with 800 miles of trails within the park boundaries.

The trail to Barker Dam is a 1.1-mile loop trail with plenty of boulders to climb on, prehistoric rock art, and even the occassional appearance by desert bighorn sheep.

If you want more of a challenge, hike the 1.5-mile trail to the top of Ryan Mountain. It gains 1,000 feet in elevation in that short distance, but the 360-degree views of the park from the 5,461′ summit are worth the effort.

Additional highlights of this park include Skull Rock, the Keys Ranch tour, bouldering in Hidden Valley, and the sprawling vistas at Keys View. Joshua Tree is another great place to enjoy the night sky without the city lights pollution.

Stay the night: There is no lodging inside of Joshua Tree National Park, except for campsites. Luckily, there are some great VRBOs right outside of the park.

3. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach day trip from San Diego

Distance from San Diego: 80 miles, about 90 minutes

Just up the coast from San Diego is Laguna Beach, and artsy beach city known for its galleries, restaurants, wilderness parks, and beaches.

The hub of Laguna Beach is the dowtown area right across the street from Main Beach. There are lots of shops, galleries, and restaurants to enjoy in this area. We like eating at Nick’s Laguna Beach and Carmelita’s. Finney’s Crafthouse and Brewery has become one of favorites lately. It is across the street from the beach and the menu is varied and tasty.

From downtown you can hop on the Laguna Beach Trolley and head to one of the area beaches or up into Laguna Canyon to check out the Sawdust Art Festival and Pageant of the Masters which are popular summer events.

During Pageant of the Masters locals dress up as characters from famed works of art and pose to recreate the paintings and sculptures. During the winter holiday season the Sawdust Festival also hosts a Winter Fantasy art festival.

Laguna’s beaches are some of the most beautiful in the state. Some of my favorites include Treasure Island Beach and Crescent Bay Beach, but it is hard to go wrong at any beach in this town.

If you enjoy hiking, don’t miss the trails at Laguna Coast Wilderness Park (I love the Serrano Ridge/Little Sycamore Canyon loop) or the Morro Canyon portions of Crystal Cove State Park. Both are exceptionally beautiful in the spring when the hillsides are lush and sprinkled with wildflowers.

If you want to get out on the water, consider taking a whale watching cruise out of nearby Dana Point. December through March is prime gray whale watching season and Dana Wharf offers half price whale watching on Tuesdays!

Stay the night: Surf and Sand Resort is a beachfront resort with a great location. You are so close to the Pacific that the staff offers ear plugs to guests if they don’t want to listen to the relaxing sound of waves crashing!

4. Palomar Mountain State Park

Palomar Mountain Observatory

Distance from San Diego: 62 miles, 1 hour and 45 minutes

A day trip to Palomar Mountain State Park from San Diego is an easy way to escape into a tranquil mountain environment. The park is nearly 2000 acres in size and while a big hunk of the park is coniferous forest, there are also wetlands and meadows.

The park is home to the famous Palomar Observatory, one of the world’s most famous astronomical research facilities. This is a great place to go star viewing, especially when the skies are clear and there is a meteor shower. You may even get a chance to use the impressive Hale Telescope!

Your first stop should be the park’s visitor center where you can grab maps, learn about the area’s natural history, and get the most up-to-date details on trail condidtions. The park has three trail loops that are fun to explore. The French Valley Loop is mostly level, making it an easy three miles. Scotts Cabin Loop is only four miles and gains about 600 feet along the way, but it is mlostly forest so it isn’t anythign too hard.

If you want the hike with the best view, check out the Boucher Loop which climbs up to the park’s high point, 5,400′. It is three miles and leads you to the Boucher Fire Lookout which has sprawling views. Volunteers working the fire tower on the weekends often offer free tours.

There is no food for sale in the park, so pack a picnic and enjoy a lunch at one of the park’s picnic sites.

Stay the night: Since this park is so great for night sky viewing, you may want to consider camping inside the state park. Reservations are highly recommended.

5. Mission Trails Regional Park

Mission trails regional park san diego

Distance from San Diego: 12 miles, 30 minutes

Mission Trails Regional Park is a large urban park that is perfect for an easy day trip filled with lots of nature and hiking.

The park is home to Cowles Mountain, the highest point in the city of San Diego. The trail is only three miles round trip, but it does gain 912 feet in elevation, so its a great workout! Be on the lookout for mountain bikers as you hike since they do share the trail and can be little speed demons coming down the hill. You will be rewarded with great views of downtown and even Mexico!

If you are looking for something easier but still scenic, check out the Lake Murray Trail. It is close to six miles out and back, but you can make it as long or as short as you would like. The trail follows the shoreline of the Lake Murray Reservoir and is great for biking, walking your dogs, or even pushing the little ones in a stroller. If you want, you can also rent boats and take them out on the lake!

The park does offer guided nature walks which begin at the visitor center every Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday at 9:30am. They also have special birding walks and wildlife tracking walks to take part in on a regular basis.

6. Julian

Julian is a great day trip from San Diego

Distance from San Diego: 60 miles, 90 minutes

Julian is a cute little mountain town in the Cuyamaca Mountains just east of San Diego. It had its very own little gold rush in the late 1800s which helped shaped the towns historic vibe. Two of the area mines, Eagle and High Peak Mines, offer tours.

The best time to take a daytrip to Julian is in the fall. Julian is also well known for its apple orchards, and you can pick your own apples straight from the trees. Of course, you can enjoy apple pie, apple butter, and apple cider at the local cafes any time of year. Stop in the Julian Pie Company on Main Street for delicious pies in flavors like Apple Mountain Berry and Caramel Apple.

Visit Fort Cross Old Timey Adventures on the weekend if experiences like archery, tomahawk throwing, and paintball slingshotting sound like your idea of fun. Experiences must be booked in advance and include the opportunity to say hi to the farm’s barn animals and reptiles. They also have a Lilac Festival in the spring.

Animal lovers will certainly want to visit the California Wolf Center, a nonprofit dedicated to returning wild wolves to their natural habitat through captive breeding that is open for public tours Friday through Sunday. They have been successful at breeding critically endangered Mexican gray wolves.

Stay the night: Julian Gold Rush Inn is a historic landmark hotel that was built in the 1890s. Rooms are tastefully decorated with vintage decor and feature touches like claw-foot tubs and cast-iron fireplaces.

7. Temecula

Temecula Wine Country

Distance from San Diego: 60 miles, 90 minutes

Temecula is a growing wine region northeast of San Diego that has become one Southern California’s most popular day trip destinations.

Wine tasting is the main draw, thanks to around 50 wineries in the area. If nobody in your group wants to be desginated driver, I suggest booking Temecula Valley Jeep & Wine Tours which will take you to three award-winning wineries, into a barrel room, and on a back-road vineyard tour. If your group is large, book Temecula Limo Wine Tasting which can accommodate groups of up to 14 people.

There is more than just wine to enjoy in Temecula! Early risers will want to watch the sunrise from above on a hot air balloon ride above the vineyards. Animal lovers will want to visit the Alpaca Hacienda where you can feed and pet alpacas as well as Sugarplum Farm which is home to zebras, camels, and miniature horses, as well as incredible chocolates.

If you are ready to shop and eat? Old Town Temecula is a hub of shopping, dining, and lodging, all set in an Old West atmosphere, complete with wooden boardwalks. There are several breweries and bars in the area as well.

Stay the night: Pont Vineyard Inn is located in the heart of Temecula Wine Country. Rooms are spacious and most have outstanding views of the property’s pond or surrounding vineyards.

8. Carlsbad

Carlsbad flower fields

Distance from San Diego: 34 miles, 45 minutes

Located in North County, Carlsbad is a destination that can turn into several different day trips depending on your interests.

Families with young children will want to make the pilgrimage to LEGOLAND, and celebrate all things bricktacular. In addition to the amusement park, the LEGOLAND complex also has an aqaurium and waterpark, so locals may even want to consider a season pass.

Carlsbad is also a shopping destination. The Carlsbad Premium Outlets are definitely worthy of a day trip, and the new food hall housed in the city’s iconic Windmill building just off of Interstate 5 has lots of options for foodies.`Spend a couple hours shopping and eating, and then head to Carlsbad State Beach to watch the sunset.

Spring is bloom season and the Carlsbad Flower Fields are the perfect place to spend an April afternoon. Dress cute and get those “doin’ it for the ‘gram” shots or just take time to stop and smell the vibrantly colored flowers. Make time to pick strawberries to take home at the nearby U-pick field.

Stay the night: The Omni La Costa Resort and Spa is an amazing staycation destination with golf, amazing spa, and a fantastic pool complex that includes a traquil adult pool as well as a pool with water slides.

9. Newport Beach

Distance from San Diego: 90 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes

Newport Beach is an awesome day trip destination because there are so many great ways to enjoy the area.

If you have children, take the tiny (but fun!) car ferry from Balboa Island to the Balboa Penninsula where the kids can enjoy the old fashioned rides and arcade at the Balboa Fun Zone. Then grab a frozen banana (of Arrested Development fame) and head to the pier. There is a great beach with a playground.

If you have have plant lovers in your group you will definitely want to head to Roger’s Gardens, my favorite nursery in all of Southern California. The garden has a tremendous selection of indoor and outdoor plants, a wonderful variety of gifts, and a nice restaurant. I especially love visiting during the spring to pick from a huge variety of tomato plants, October for their impressive Halloween decor displays, and December for Christmas decor and gifts that will blow you away.

Newport Beach is a fun place to get out on the water as well. Whether you rent a Duffy boat and wander around Newport Bay, take a kayak into Newport’s Back Bay which is filled with wildlife, or head out on a whale watching trip, there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the scenery.

Stay the night: Go the swanky route and book a stay at The Resort at Pelican Hill. Take a dip in their circular pool as the sun sets and then enjoy a memorable meal at Pelican Grill & Bar. You will also want to make time for a spa treatment at this five-star resort.

10. San Clemente

Distance from San Diego: 60 miles, 70 minutes

San Clemente is one of my favorite day trip locations in Southern California. I love that they have a long walking path right along the beach that is pet friendly, and the city’s pier is my favorite in all of Orange County.

The Outlets at San Clemente have great stores and incredible ocean views. These are definitely my favorite outlets to shop for that very reason. Plus, they never seem to be as jam packed with people as some of the others. If you perfer more boutique-style shopping, head down to Avenida del Mar.

If you love microbrews, San Clemente has three small breweries you will want to check out. Lost Winds has great beer, frequent food truck offerings, and trivia Tuesdays. They also have some killer hard seltzers. Los Molinos serves up tasty weekend brunch options, taco Tuesday, and microbrews. Artifex has a tasting room on Del Mar downtown or you can visit their brewery in the Talega portion of town.

Of course, San Clemente is a great place to have a beach day as well. Head down to San Onofre to surf some of the best waves in SoCal.

Stay the night: Enjoy the best climate in the world and rent a beach house so you can relax and breath in that salty air.

11. Crystal Cove State Park

Distance from San Diego: 83 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes

Crystal Cove State Park is a throwback to the Orange County of days gone by. Large cliffs block the views of luxury homes on the hillsides up above, allowing you to enjoy the beach without a reminder you are in a large metropolitan area.

Crystal Cove is home to a historic district which is filled with restored bungalows that were built to house crew during movie filming from the 1920s-1940s. 

These cottages are reasonably priced and right on the beach, so that means they are also very popular. Cottage reservations are released daily, six months in advance. Be on the website at 8am if you want to snag one. They just released a new set of restored cottages right on the sand!

While th beach can be busy right next to the historic district and The Beachcomber restaurant, you will be rewarded with privacy is you walk a couple hundred yards down the beach. Keep your eyes out for dolphins whic I often spot while taking in the views here. There are also tide pools to explore.

Crystal Cove also has several great hiking trails which lead back into the hills and canyons on the other side of Pacific Coast Highway. The No Dogs/Moro Canyon loop (~ 3 miles) is one of my favorites. It begins with a climb up the rolling hills with ocean views and ends with an easy stroll through beautiful Moro Canyon. From there, you can celebrate with some beach time.

12. San Diego Zoo Safari Park

Safari Park

Distance from San Diego: 32 miles, 45 minutes

I make the day trip to the San Diego Zoo Safari Park at least a couple times a year. This park is much different that the fabulous San Diego Zoo and is definitely worth the time of any animal lover. The park is very spread out which also makes it a great place to get those steps in while you enjoy the wildlife.

This park is most well known for its Africa tram tour where visitors can see African animals like giraffes, rhinos, zebras, and antelope walking about among each other in the massive, 240-acre enclosure. There are also cart safaris you can take into the Asia and Africa enclosures to get even close to the wildife in a more intimate experience.

Some of my favorite habitats in the park are the Gorilla Forest, Tiger Trail, and Australian walkabout where you can enter the enclosure that kangaroos and wallabyes call home. It is so neat to have them walk right past you! Also make sure to visit Condor Ridge. The San Diego Safari Park was instrumental in helping saving the California Condor from extinction.

13. Palm Desert

Distance from San Diego: 122 miles, 2 1/2 hours

Palm Desert is located in the Coachella Valley near Palm Springs. It is home to the Living Desert, a great zoo that specializes in showcasing desert-dwelling wildlife from around the world. They have special experiences where you can feed giraffes or rhinos which are great ways to make life-long memories.

There are over great golf courses in Palm Desert and dozens more in the surrounding communities including Desert Willow Golf Resort which was named one of the best places to play by Golf Digest. Many offer reduced twilight rates to make the links more afforable.

If you love to hike you should definitely head to nearby Indian Canyons which are lush, palm-filled canyons fed by the shallow aquifer. For a small fee, guests can gain access to these canyons which are great for hikes and picnics. Don’t miss Murray Canyon which has a 3.9-mile trail leading to the Seven Sacred Sisters Waterfall.

Stay the night: There are so many amazing resorts in the Palm Desert that it is hard to choose but  the waterpark at Omni Rancho Las Palmas will be sure to keep smiles on the faces of kids if you happen to be traveling as a family.

14. Long Beach

Distance from San Diego: 113 miles, 2 1/2 hours

Over the last couple decades, Long Beach has gone from being gritty and a bit sketchy to being filled with hip, revitalized neighborhoods and world-class attractions.

Head down to the waterfront and visit Aquarium of the the Pacific, the largest aquarium in Southern California. Book a behind-the-scenes tour to get up close and personal with seals, sea lions, penguins, and sea otters.

You can also book whale and dolphin watching cruises as well as harbor tours via the Aquarium. The waters off Long Beach are great places to see whales, esecially in the winter.

Across the street from the Aquarium is The Pike, an outdoor outlet mall filled with brand name shops and dining. Shoreline Village is also nearby and features fun little shops in Easter egg-colored buildings.

Long Beach’s most iconic attraction is the Queen MaryToday, the Queen Mary is a hotel and attraction, but in its heyday, it made 1001 transatlantic crossings.

I love Long Beach’s Naples neighborhood which is trendy area filled with shops, restaurants, and beautiful homes lining the area’s canals and waterways. It is a great place to kayak, paddleboard, or take a chartered gondola ride at sunset.

Stay Here: The Hyatt Regency Long Beach is located in the heart of Long beach’s tourist center and is within walking distance of Shoreline Village, the Aquarium of the Pacific, and The Pike.

15. Salton Sea

Salton Sea
Salton Sea | photo by Flickr/MarcCooper

Distance from San Diego: 117 miles, 2 1/2 hours

The Salton Sea is the largest lake in California, but it has only been around since 1905. During that year, the Colorado River flooded through farm irrigation channels in the Imperial Valley, forming the lake. 

The Salton Sea quickly became a big tourist destination. It had a yacht club, golf course, marina, and was a popular destination for Hollywood stars like Frank Sinatra. The area boomed and 30,000 homes were built near the lake.

Sadly, in the 1980’s agricultural runoff from the Imperial Valley brought too much salt and pesticides into the lake and massive fish die off occurred. The towns along the lake turned to ghost towns.

Today, the Salton Sea is now 50% saltier than the ocean and shrinking at a rate of about 3% per year but visitors enjoy bird watching, fishing for tilapia, and checking out the remnants of the thriving tourist towns that used to be. Make time to visit Bombay Beach, one of the communities along the Salton Sea. It has a surreal and somewhat eerie atmosphere due to the lake’s unique history.

Salvation Mountain
Salvation Mountain by Kevin Dooley

While in the area you will also want to check out Salvation Mountain. It is the brainchild of Leonard Knight, a self-described “visionary American folk artist’. He built a mountain east of the Salton Sea out of adobe bricks mixed with straw and sprinkled in with old tires and car parts.

The mountain is covered with several murals with Bible verses and other Christian sayings which were created with thousands of gallons of paint, much of it donated. It is truly a sight to see.

16. San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano is the
Mission San Juan Capistrano by Flickr/LauraB

Distance from San Diego: 66 miles, 80 minutes

San Juan Capistrano is an Orange County city filled with history. It is home to the oldest residential neighborhood in California and the beloved “Jewel of the Missions”, Mission San Juan Capistrano.

I think the best way to get to SJC is to take the train. The San Juan Capistrano Depot is a historic train station that now houses a museum. It drops you off in the heart of twon, steps from the mission and Los Rios Historic District.

The small downtown area with has unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. You’ll find a mix of boutique stores, souvenir shops, and local eateries in a setting that reflects the region’s Spanish heritage.

Mission San Juan Capistrano was founded in 1776 and is one of California’s oldest missions. Explore the beautiful gardens, chapels, and historical exhibits. There are often demostrations on how to make adobe and other hands-on activities on weekends. Don’t miss the iconic Serra Chapel and the ruins of the Great Stone Church.

My favorite place to eat in SJC is the Ramos House Cafe in the Los Rios Historic District. It is a very cute little house and patio that has been transformed to one of the best brunch destinations in Southern California. If you have little kids you wil want to visit visit to Zoomars Petting Zoo. It’s a family-friendly attraction where children feed various farm animals and go for pony rides.

Stay the night: The Inn at the Mission San Juan Capistrano, Autograph Collection is the nicest hotel in town. It is located near the mission and a short walk from the train station so there is no need to bring a car.

17. Coronado Island

Hotel Del Coronado is one of the most famous landmarks in California
Photo via Hotel Del Coronado

Distance from San Diego: 6 miles, 15 minutes

Not all day trips need to be long drives. Some are only a bridge or quick ferry ride away. Coronado Island is one my favorite places to spend the day in San Diego County because Coronado Beach is picture-perfect and I always find myself relaxed when I spend the day here.

I am not a big fan of the Coronado Bridge, so I tend to take the ferry from over by the USS Midway across the bay to the island. Coronado is a bike-friendly place and it is fun to rent bicycles or surreys to explore the island at your own pace. The flat terrain and scenic views make for a casual ride.

Before hitting up the beach, head to Coronado Brewing Company to enjoy a casual lunch with some tasty brews. Then find a spot on the beach in the shadow of the famed Hotel Del Coronado. If you aren’t a “sit on the beach” type, rent a kayak, jetski, or SUP and get out on the bay!

Before you head back across the bay to the big city, consider enjoying dinner and drinks on the patio at Peohe’s Tropical. The view of the city lights from downtown are magical and Happy Hour runs from 3-5:30pm Monday through Friday, perfect for a winter sunset with some wine and a poke stack. Stay for dinner and enjoy seafood or steak worth writing home about.

18. Disneyland Resort

Disneyland Castle

Distance from San Diego: 94 miles, 2 hours 15 minutes

How lucky are to have Disneyland in our own backyard? People travel from all over the globe to visit the Happiest Place on Earth but we are only a day trip away!

These days Disneyland has definitely gone up in price but thankfully, they do offer Southern California discounts from time to time. Jump on those deals and then head up I5 to enjoy a day filled rides, shows, and lots of tasty treats.

My favorite times of year to visit the park are at the beginning of the Halloween season (when crowds ear lower), the first week in December to enjoy all that Disney holiday majic, and during the annual Disney California Adventure Food & Wine Festival in early spring. Their Sip and Savor Pass is a great way to sample a bunch of great food for a reasonable price.

Stay the night: The Hyatt Regency offers incredible value and comfortable accommodations for families of all sizes. Their 700 sq. ft. VIP Family Suite includes a master bedroom, bunk beds, two full-sized bathrooms, three 42 inch LCD TVs, and a parlor room with a pull out sleeper sofa. 

19. Whale Watching

Whale Watching San Diego

Distance from San Diego: varies. Most tour originate out of Mission Bay.

San Diego is home to some of the best whale watching around becuase it is on the annual migration route that 20,000 gray whales take to Baja in order to give birth. The best time to see the gray whales is December through April.

From June through September you can go whale watching and see the largets creature on the planet- the blue whale- off the coast of San Diego. You can also see fin whales, humpback whales, minke whales, harbor seals, sea lions, lots of dolphins, and even the occasional orca pod.

Legacy Whale Watching has half price deals on weekdays in the winter which also happens to be prime whale watching season. It is hard to pass up a three-hour whale watching trip for $29.

20. Knotts Berry Farm

KNotts Berry Farm
Photo via Visit Anaheim

Distance from San Diego: 100 miles, 2 hours 20 minutes

For over 100 years, Knotts Berry Farm has been a Southern California mainstay. It began as an actual farm where the Knott family sold their berries, pies, and jams at a roadside stand. Add in some famous fried chicken, a replica ghost town, and a bunch of rides, and suddenly, the Knott family had a theme park!

The best times to visit Knott’s Berry Farm are the Boysenberry Festival, when amazing food stands filled with creative culinary treats pop up throughout the park, and Knott’s Scary Farm, when the park is transformed into a thrilling evening entertainment zone filled with haunted houses, rides, and plenty of opportunities to scare yourself silly.

21. Olvera Street

Olvera Street

Distance from San Diego: 128 miles, 2 1/2 hours

I had memories of taking a fieldtrip to Olvera Street in middle school but recently, my family decided to take a day trip to this wonderful spot in the heart of Los Angeles that is home to o some of the oldest buildings in the city.

The heart of Olvera Street is its bustling marketplace filled with shops and stalls selling Mexican folk art, clothing, jewelry, pottery, and souvenirs. There are also several restaurants in the area, including Cielito Lindo which sells some of the best taquitos you will find anywhere. I wish I could dip somethign in their amazing avocado sauce every single day!

Make time to visit the El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument which includes the Avila Adobe, built in the early 1800s. There are also street performers, mariachi musiciands, fresas vendors, and lots of seasonal events to enjoy.

Skip the traffic take the train from downtown San Diego to Union Station which is a short walk from Olvera Street.

Stay the night: The Westin Bonaventure is a good spot downtown. It has a six-story atrium and a nice steakhouse with a view.

22. Miracle Mile Museums

La Brea Tar Pits

Distance from San Diego: 132 miles, 2 hours 45 minutes

The Miracle Mile of Los Angeles is home to some of the best museums in the region. The most famous of these museums is probably the La Brea Tar Pits Museum which houses the many Ice Age found in the immediate area.

Thousands of prehistoric fossils have been discovered in natural asphalt deposits and you can still walk about Hancock Park and see the asphault seeping from the ground which is pretty cool to witness.

The museum has fossils of saber-toothed cats, mammoths, dire wolves, and other Ice Age animals found inside the pits. Visitors can also watch scientists working on fossils in the on-site laboratory. They are sstill making discoveries every day.

Across Hancock Park you will find the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) and the new Academy of Motion Pictures Museum. LACMA is the largest art museum in the western United States and has famous works from renowned artists like Rembrandt, Picasso, Monet, and Warhol.

The Academy of Motion Pictures Museum has exhibitions on cinema history, filmmaking techniques, and lots of pieces of iconic movie memorabilia. The exhibitions and memorabilia due change, making it a museums that you can visit every few years to experience something new. Make sure to head up to the glass-domed Dolby Family Terrace which has increible views of the Hollywood Sign and the surrounding area.

If you have a car enthusiast in your family you will definitely want to thead to the Peterson Automotive Museum. The museum has a large collection of vintage cars, motorcycles, and automotive memorabilia. They even have some concept cars which will blow your mind as well as famous vehicles from movies and television.

Stay the night: Palihouse West Hollywood is on the old W Hotel property site and only 1.5 miles away. It has an an indoor/outdoor pool lounge and super cute rooms with a chill-yet-sophisticated vibe.

23. Pechanga Resort and Casino

Pechanga Resort

Distance from San Diego: 60 miles, 75 minutes

Why drive all the way to Vegas when you can take a day trip to Pechanga! This resort in Temecula has one the largest gaming floors on the West Coast, with thousands of slot machines, blackjack, roulette, poker, baccarat,and more. Plus, it is a smoke-free atmosphere which is a major win in my book.

Even if you aren’t much of a gambler then you might want to come to Pechanga for some entertainment. The hose a variety of acts throughout the year featuring everything from Smokey Robinson to Jerry Seinfeld to Dancing with the Stars Live. There are several restaurants at the resort including a steakhouse, sushi, Italian, and Thai.

Pechanga is also a great place to enjoy a spa day. They have a full service spa menu featuring several types of massage, lots of facial treatments, body scrubs, and manicures and pedicures.

Stay the night: Pechanga has a full service resort hotel right on property, so it is easy to turn your visit into a weekend of fun.

24. Oasis Camel Dairy

Oasis Camel Dairy
Photo via Facebook/Oasis Camel Dairy

Distance from San Diego: 45 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes

Eastern San Diego County is home to some really neat animal attractions. One of them is the Oasis Camel Dairy in Ramona.

On select Saturdays from 12-2pm you can watch the bird and camel show, feed camels and mini sheep, take a camel ride, and shop for camel milk products like artisan soaps, lotions, chocolate and even camel milk to drink! If Saturday doesn’t work for you, you can book a private tour for your small group.

25. JAB Canid Education and Conservation Center

HUgging a fox

Distance from San Diego: 50 miles, 1 hour 15 minutes

Have you ever wanted to hug a fox? My family did that and more on our tour of the JAB Canid Education and Conservation Center in Santa Ysabel. The center is home to foxes, Arctic foxes, New Guinea singing dogs, coyotes, jackals, and their absolutely lovable goofball-of-a-wolf, Lucan.

This is the only place in the US to house domesticated Russian foxes. They also have some fur far rescues in their kit of over 20 fox. I highly recommend paying for the private experience where you will meet and great the animals and have the chance to take pictures with them. Plus, you know that your financial donation for this experience is going to a great cause.