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Weekend trips from San Diego?
Old 05-18-2014, 12:26 PM   #1
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Weekend trips from San Diego?

Going to San Diego this summer ... looking for weekend trips (within a 3 hour drive) from San Diego for the weekends. Any recommendations?

Also any recommendations of things to do in San Diego itself? Thanks, as always, in advance ...
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Old 05-18-2014, 01:17 PM   #2
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Depends on what you like to do (golf, eating, museums, deep sea fishing, sporting events, national parks, etc). I have 2 small kids so our list may different than yours, but here are a few ideas: San Diego Zoo, Lego Land, 3 day cruise to Mexico (I personally wouldn't drive there) , Los Angeles (sports, beach, golf, deep sea fishing, Catalina Island), Santa Barbara (3.5hours)...

Here are a couple websites to get the juices flowing...

Day Trips From San Diego Things To Do
Daytrips from San Diego, Travel Guide on TripAdvisor
your 5 best driving day trips from Downtown San Diego? - San Diego Forum - TripAdvisor
Side Trips in San Diego | Frommer's

Have fun!
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Old 05-18-2014, 01:27 PM   #3
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Temecula wine country is about an hour north of S.D. Many wineries there.
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Old 05-18-2014, 07:08 PM   #4
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I used to live in the area.

San Diego wild animal park (Escondido).
Palomar Observatory
Idylwild - a small town in the mountains
The town of Julian - apple pies are their speciality

These are some of the areas we liked.
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Old 05-18-2014, 09:15 PM   #5
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There are a number of us here from the San Diego area on this forum. There is so much to do here and so many different type of activities, as Rdub mentions, it really depends on what kind of things you like to do and your activity level. Your 3 hour drive puts you in reach of LA and all you can do there, and the coastal areas in between. I love the ocean, and we have a lot of great beaches, snorkeling at La Jolla cove. In San Diego itself when I have visitors I take them to Old Town (Like Mexico without the fear), and spend a day visiting Little Italy and then walk down to the Star of India sailing ships (and other ships in the museum). Usually we do Sea World one day, and a trip to Julian another day. The deserts are interesting, but I rather avoid them in summer. In the downtown Gaslamp district all kinds of clubs and music. Coronado is nice, has a nice park along the bay, but avoid the famous Coronado Hotel's restaurants. Balboa park is great and has museums and zoo. Our museums are fairly simple, but the zoo is world class, as is the Safari Park, also run by the S.D. Zoological Society. For your weekend trips Disneyland and LA, Hollywood are interesting. Actually I lived in SD area most of my life but only go to see Hollywood when we have out of town guests. But Universal Studios has some interesting rides and tours of where and how movies are made.

But there is really so much to do in San Diego (and the 3 hour side trips) it is difficult choose. Let us know what kind of things you like to do, if you are bringing kids, etc. and I am sure you will get some good feedback. It is a great place to visit or live. Am sure you will have fun.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:35 AM   #6
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Thanks for all your replies. Regarding what we like to do, etc.

+ Love anything outdoors/nature (beaches, mountains, forests, botanical gardens, etc.)
+ Like small, quaint towns, staying in B&Bs
+ Like snorkeling, animals
+ Like good food, wine, some live music

- Do not like big cities (likely not LA).
- No kids with us (so, likely not Disney, Hollywood Studios, Sea World).

Fairly active - like long walks but not steep hikes.

Thanks for all the thoughtful and good suggestions so far. Please let me know if any other ideas come to mind.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:43 AM   #7
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I have visited there a couple times over the past year. I would definitely plan a weekend trip to the Palm Springs area. Don't miss the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. While we didn't have time to do so I would have gone up early in the day and hiked some of the trails on the top. Breakfast at Elmer's is another must do for me.
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:24 AM   #8
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I have one B&B where you MUST stay. Julian is a small town in the mountains east of San Diego. It has kept much of its old 1800s charm and was originally a gold mining area. The Julian Gold Rush Hotel is the one B&B in the San Diego area that is a must in my opinion. It opened in the 1890s. We have stayed there and really loved it. Make sure you go outside in the early morning just after sunrise. Walking outside down the street will smell like you are inside a bakery, all of the pies being baked everywhere. We like Moms apple dumpling, a whole peeled apple baked in crust. You will need to book the B&B early! There is an old mine not too far from the hotel that is open for tours, Eagle & High Point Gold Mine. It is worth doing. There is also horseback riding just outside of town.

Just down Highway 79 from Julian is Cuyamaca State Park, has some great forest hikes there, although the fires about a decade ago destroyed a lot. Further down the Sunrise highway there are hiking areas at Mount Laguna, some areas have great desert views.

Another interesting trip is down the other side of the mountain to Anza Borrego State Park and the small town of Borrego Springs. The desert here is lovely during the winter and spring or fall. But summers can be VERY HOT so not recommended for walking outside in summer.

Many good beaches and other places to visit, will try to post some other specifics later. What area of the city/county will you be staying?
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:49 AM   #9
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Thanks! The area we will be staying during the week is the Scripps/Poway/Rancho Bernardo area. Hopefully that reply makes sense. Thanks again for the recommendations.
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Old 05-19-2014, 12:55 PM   #10
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For the botanical gardens and animals part:

Balboa park, the large city park originally built for the 1915 Pan American Expo is a great place to start. Here is a link to the gardens:
Balboa Park | A landscape of Arts and Culture

My favorites are the Botanical Building, the rose garden, and the Alcazar Garden, but all are great. The new Japanese garden is not yet complete. Almost every calendar of San Diego has a photo of the bell tower from the Alcazar park.

For animals the San Diego Zoo, also in Balboa Park is world class. Come early to avoid the crowds in the afternoon, and take the bus tour to get a feel for the place. Then walk the park. It will take more than a whole day to see the whole place. It is huge.

Outside of San Diego proper, The San Diego Botanic Gardens are located in Encinitas, north of San Diego (used to be called Quail Gardens) and is also a great place to visit.

The Safari Park (sometimes called by its former name, the Wild Animal Park) is near Escondido. Here the animals are not kept in cages, but roam more freely. Both are run by the San Diego Zoological Society and have been instrumental in preserving many endangered species worldwide, and specifically for saving the California Condor. As with the zoo, take the tour first, then walk the park. It will also take more than a day to see the whole thing so you will have to plan what you want to see. Again get there early.
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Old 05-19-2014, 05:50 PM   #11
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Everybody has hit the highlights above. Tijuana and Rosarito Beach are close. A hydrofoil ride to Catalina Island is fun. Ojai and San Luis Obispo are just a bit beyond the 3 hour radius. Anza Borrego and Palm Springs are glorious in the winter, not so comfortable in the summer. Huntington Library (a botanical garden) is incredible, maybe combine it with a trip to the Gamble House or the Getty Museum. While away a few hours poking around La Jolla, Del Mar and Encinitas. There are pretty beach towns all the way up the coast. Many locals buy a zoo membership just so that that they can do their regular fitness walking at the zoo or the Wild Animal Park both of which can be several mile hikes.

A drive up Highway 1?
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:19 PM   #12
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Since you like nature/hikes/etc....
Torrey Pines State Park. (On the water - several great hiking trails.)
I am a fan of Pt. Loma national monument. - again some short hikes - and a fabulous view. I also enjoy taking guests to tour the old lighthouse.

Old town was mentioned.

Some more hiking areas that aren't very touristy - Penasquitos canyon nature preserve. Runs from near where you're staying all the way to the I-5 freeway.

Palomar was mentioned. As was Julian.

There are a lot of nice beaches... You'll find me at La Jolla Shores frequently - good surf break, clean bathrooms, and if you go early, you can park in the free lot.

Check out the Birch Aquarium - if only for the views.

If you're into architecture - the Salk Institute is pretty famous.

All of these are pretty much local to San Diego (vs a weekend trip.)

In the summer, it's too hot to go to the desert. So avoid that unless you're a lizard.
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Old 05-19-2014, 06:19 PM   #13
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Just saw the suggestion of Catalina. That's a good weekend trip. But it can be pricey if you wait too long to book lodging.
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Old 05-19-2014, 07:27 PM   #14
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I see that Penasquitos Canyon got a mention. I just came trotting in from the garden to add it since it is near your homebase:
Los Peñasquitos Canyon Preserve | Park & Recreation

The Rancho Bernardo Inn is a mighty pleasant place for a meal while watching the golfers. I've never been to the Lodge at Torrey Pines, but I imagine it's pretty nice too.

Thirty years ago the Gaslamp was empty storefronts, strip clubs, pawn shops and off-limits to sailors. Now it's hipsters and chain restaurants (some serious ones too) as far as the eye can see. The weedy vacant lots have all sprouted high rise condominiums and I for one feel it is an improvement. Little Italy nearby has a lot of good restaurants too, but not much else. It's pretty much solid restaurant.

There are many county and city parks offering hiking. San Diego county is the largest county in land area in the lower 48 and I believe that the city is spread across the largest land area of any city, but there is a ton of "green" (it will be more gold when you visit, be sure to pack water) space offering real hiking within city and county limits. Look at the link above and the county's web site.

If you like ships you can visit the USS Midway and it's museum and the Star of India and the Maritime Museum. Then toddle over to Little Italy for lunch....

Walking around Coronado is nice too. You can drive over the bridge or take a ferry.
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Old 05-19-2014, 09:37 PM   #15
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I was stationed at MCRD, (Marine Corps Recruit Depot), San Diego for about a year in the 1960's. For those who may not know MCRD is located in downtown San Diego adjacent to Lindbergh Field. I didn't have a car and not much money (I was making $78 per month). I could walk to many of the attractions in downtown San Diego mentioned in previous posts. (I was a strong walker). If I didn't want to walk, there was good local bus service and longer distance bus service to places like Tijuana, LA, Disneyland and Hollywood.
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Old 05-21-2014, 08:39 AM   #16
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Reading your interests, you may want to plan to hit one of the Farmer's markets while you are here. There are some great ones with nice crafts and tasty souvenirs along with all the beautiful fruits and veggies. There is a big one in Little Italy on Saturdays until 1:00 and a big one in the Hillcrest neighborhood on Sundays until 2:00. There are yummy food trucks and you could plan to have lunch there. Here's a whole list (some are bigger than others: http://www.sandiego.org/articles/sho...s-markets.aspx)
Have fun!
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Old 05-24-2014, 09:39 AM   #17
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This is not quite a day trip, more of an overnighter. We enjoy the Getty Museum in LA when we head down to see our son in San Diego.

We'll be going down there soon and taking in a Padre's game. Good tickets are pricey but I never go to major league games so this will be fun.
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Old 05-24-2014, 09:50 AM   #18
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+1 on Getty Center. amazing art, and IMO, even more amazing architecture. I strongly recommend the docent led architecture tour to learn more about some of the subtle details Richard Meier put into the design and material choices.

Other things to do when in LA - I really enjoy the LA County Museum of Art (LACMA) as well as the La Brea Tar Pits/Paige museum. (LACMA and Paige are adjacent to each other.)

Summer time isn't the best time for Palm Springs - but it might be fun to do a drive to PS - then take the tram up to the top of San Jacinto. There is some nice hiking up there - and the temps are reasonable during the summer.
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