San Diego is a must-visit destination for several reasons. Firstly, it boasts a stunning coastline with some of the best beaches in the United States, including Coronado Beach and La Jolla Cove.

Secondly, it is home to several world-renowned attractions such as the San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and the USS Midway Museum. Thirdly, San Diego has a vibrant food and drink scene, with a diverse range of culinary options and craft breweries. Finally, its year-round warm and sunny weather makes it an ideal destination for outdoor activities such as hiking, biking, and surfing.

Balboa Park, San Diego
Balboa Park, San Diego

Additional San Diego day trips

But in case you have experienced the entire city and its best attractions and wish to explore further, here are some day trip destinations that are worth your time.

La Jolla Cove

La Jolla is a beautiful coastal town just north of San Diego. La Jolla Cove is a popular destination for swimming, sunbathing, and exploring tide pools. La Jolla Cove is located about 15 miles north of downtown San Diego and can be easily accessed by car, bus, or bike.

La Jolla Cove

How to get there

By car: The easiest way to get to La Jolla Cove from San Diego is by car. Take the I-5 North and exit at La Jolla Parkway. Follow the signs to La Jolla Cove, where there is limited paid parking available. Alternatively, you can park in the surrounding streets, but be sure to check the parking signs to avoid any parking violations.

By bus: The San Diego Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) offers several bus routes that go to La Jolla Cove, including the 30 and 34. The closest bus stop to La Jolla Cove is on Girard Avenue, which is about a 10-minute walk to the cove.

By bike: San Diego has a bike-sharing program called DecoBike, which has several bike stations in La Jolla. You can rent a bike from one of these stations and take a leisurely ride to La Jolla Cove. There is also a dedicated bike lane on La Jolla Boulevard, which makes it easy to cycle to the cove.

Julian

Julian is a charming mountain town located about an hour east of San Diego. It’s known for its apple orchards and cider production, as well as its scenic drives and hiking trails. It is located about 60 miles northeast of San Diego, and it can be reached by car or public transportation.

How to get there:
By car: The easiest way to get to Julian from San Diego is by car. Take the CA-78 East or the I-8 East to the CA-79 North, which will take you straight to Julian. The drive takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

By public transportation: If you don’t have a car, you can take public transportation operated by the Metropolitan Transit System (MTS) and the Mountain Transit. First, take the MTS Route 215 bus from downtown San Diego to El Cajon Transit Center. From there, transfer to the Mountain Transit’s Route 891 bus, which will take you to Julian. The trip takes approximately 2.5 to 3 hours, depending on the bus schedules.

Coronado Island

Coronado is a scenic island located just across the bay from San Diego. It’s a popular destination for its beaches, shops, and historic Hotel Del Coronado.

Coronado promenade

How to get there

By car: The easiest way to get to Coronado Island from San Diego is by car. Take the Coronado Bay Bridge from downtown San Diego, which will take you straight to Coronado Island. Once on the island, several paid parking options exist, including street parking and parking lots.

By ferry: You can also take a ferry from downtown San Diego to Coronado Island. The ferry departs from the Broadway Pier and the Convention Center and takes approximately 15-20 minutes to reach Coronado Island. A ferry service is also from the Coronado Ferry Landing to downtown San Diego. The ferry regularly runs throughout the day, and the schedule varies depending on the season.

By bike: You can use the bike-share service DecoBike, which has several bike stations in Coronado. You can rent a bike from one of these stations and take a scenic ride to the island over the Coronado Bay Bridge. Several bike lanes and trails are also available on the island for cycling.

Mount Palomar Observatory

This astronomical observatory is about 70 miles northeast of San Diego and about an hour and a half drive from San Diego. Visitors can take a tour of the facilities and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

Mount Palomar Observatory

How to get there:
By car: The easiest way to get to Mount Palomar Observatory from San Diego is by car. Take the I-15 North to the CA-76 East, then turn right onto S Grade Road, which will take you straight to the observatory. The drive takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

By public transportation: If you don’t have a car, you can take public transportation operated by the North County Transit District (NCTD). First, take the Coaster commuter train from downtown San Diego to Oceanside Transit Center. From there, transfer to the NCTD Route 388 bus, which will take you to the observatory. The trip takes approximately 3 hours, depending on the train and bus schedules.

Temecula Wine Country

Temecula is located about an hour northeast of San Diego and is known for its wine production. Visitors can tour wineries, sample wines, and enjoy scenic drives through the vineyards.

Temecula Wine Country near San Diego
Temecula Wine Country near San Diego

How to get there:

By car: The easiest way to get to Temecula Wine Country from San Diego is by car. Take the I-15 North to Temecula Parkway (CA-79 South), then turn left onto Rancho California Road, which will take you straight into the heart of Temecula Wine Country. The drive takes approximately 1 to 1.5 hours, depending on traffic and road conditions.

By public transportation: If you don’t have a car, you can take public transportation operated by the North County Transit District (NCTD). First, take the Coaster commuter train from downtown San Diego to Oceanside Transit Center. From there, transfer to the NCTD Route 305 bus, which will take you to the Temecula Promenade Mall. From the mall, you can take a taxi or ride-sharing service to reach the wineries in Temecula Wine Country.

Once you arrive in Temecula Wine Country, you can explore the scenic vineyards, taste award-winning wines, and enjoy the peaceful countryside setting. There are more than 40 wineries in the area, each with its unique style and atmosphere. Many wineries offer guided tours, wine tastings, and special events, such as live music and food pairings. Additionally, there are several restaurants, shops, and outdoor recreational activities available in the surrounding area, such as hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, and golfing.

LEGOLAND California

Legoland California is a theme park located in Carlsbad, about a 45-minute drive north of San Diego. The park is specifically designed for families with young children and features rides, attractions, and Lego-themed displays.

How to get there:

By car: The easiest way to get to LEGOLAND California from San Diego is by car. Take the I-5 North to the Cannon Road exit in Carlsbad, then turn right onto Cannon Road and follow the signs to LEGOLAND California. The drive takes approximately 30 to 45 minutes, depending on traffic and road conditions.

By public transportation: If you don’t have a car, you can take public transportation operated by the North County Transit District (NCTD). First, take the Coaster commuter train from downtown San Diego to the Carlsbad Poinsettia Station. From there, transfer to the NCTD Route 325 bus, which will take you to the front gate of LEGOLAND California. The trip takes approximately 1.5 to 2 hours, depending on the train and bus schedules.

Once you arrive at LEGOLAND California, you can enjoy the world-famous theme park, which is geared toward families with young children. There are more than 60 rides, shows, and attractions, including the LEGO Factory Tour, the Imagination Zone, and the LEGO Star Wars Miniland. Additionally, there are several restaurants, shops, and hotels located on the premises, as well as nearby attractions, such as the SEA LIFE Aquarium and the LEGOLAND Water Park.

When is the best time to visit San Diego?

The best time to visit San Diego depends on your personal preferences and the activities you plan to do while you’re there. Generally, the city has a mild, Mediterranean-like climate year-round, with temperatures ranging from the high 50s to the high 70s. Here’s a breakdown of the best times to visit based on different factors:

Weather

San Diego’s warmest and driest months are June through September, with temperatures typically ranging from the high 60s to the low 80s. This is the perfect time for outdoor activities like beach trips, hiking, and exploring the city.

Crowds

San Diego is a popular tourist destination year-round, but the summer months tend to be the busiest. If you prefer to avoid crowds, consider visiting in the spring or fall when temperatures are still pleasant and the crowds are smaller.

Events

San Diego has a busy events calendar throughout the year, with many festivals and cultural events taking place in the summer months. If you’re interested in a specific event, it’s a good idea to plan your trip around it.

Overall, the best time to visit San Diego depends on your personal preferences, but the city is a great destination year-round.