San Diego Day Trip
- Enjoy the natural beauty of the Pacific Coast on a hike in Torrey Pines State Reserve
- Peruse the boutique shopping of Del Mar
- Spot the marine life at La Jolla Cove and stroll along its sandy beaches
Take the day to explore one of SoCal's finest cities: San Diego. With year-round sunshine and long stretches of sandy coastline, the city has plenty to see for visitors and locals alike. From downtown San Diego, make your way north up the I-5 freeway for about 20 miles before arriving at your first stop.
Start your day at Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve. Located between La Jolla and Del Mar just north of San Diego, this area is a local favorite and a great place to explore the incredible natural beauty of the area. Start your morning early to snag a good parking spot in either the North or South Beach lots ($10-$25 per car, depending on demand) and beat the crowds. Give yourself 2-3 hours for an easy hike along the picturesque seaside bluffs and down next to the shoreline.
Afterward, drive up the Camino del Mar to 15th Street and explore Del Mar. This area is known for some of the best surfing beaches in Southern California and makes for a perfect stop for a seaside brunch and some boutique shopping. To refuel after your hike, try the Stratford Court Cafe. This quaint, pet-friendly spot offers all-day breakfast and a variety of sandwiches.
From there, head south for about 20 minutes along I-5 for a stop at La Jolla Cove. This picturesque point is a San Diego must-see, with sea lions sunbathing on the rocks and pristine beaches. As it's a gateway to a protected marine reserve, La Jolla Cove is a great spot for both swimming and snorkeling, offering visitors a chance to see an array of marine life.
When you're ready, head back to Downtown San Diego to end your day. Take advantage of the evening nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter. This revamped area of the city offers a young, fresh atmosphere and an array of trendy restaurants, bars, and shops. Head to Biga for some homemade Italian cuisine, or La Puerta for a taste of San Diego's beloved Mexican food.
If you have more time to spend in San Diego, be sure to add the San Diego Zoo and the Safari Park to your list. Perfect for families, these top-notch parks are a great way to spend a full day. On Wednesday and Saturday mornings, stroll through the sights and sounds of the expansive outdoor Farmer's Market in Little Italy. And, if you want to continue to explore more away from the beaches, visit Balboa Park, a venue for many cultural events throughout the year with its stunning gardens, museums, and surrounding architecture.