— San Diego: 7-Day Coast, Mountains, and Wine Country Loop —

San Diego 5-Day Coast, Mountains, and Wine Trip Map

Loop Overview:

400 miles, 7 days, 9 hours driving                                                     Best Time to Go: anytime

Day 1: Arrive in San Diego, tour the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum, lunch at Seaport Village, check out museums and other attractions in Balboa Park, then head to the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego for shopping, dinner, and night life.

Day 2: Scenic drive to Borrego Springs, and go for a hike up ____canyon

Day 3: Go for hike through desert canyon, go four-wheeling on sand dunes, hike through badlands, etc.

Day 4: Scenic drive to Temecula, visit wineries & shop

Day 5: Drive to Carlsbad, go to Legoland California, drive down coast to La Jolla, beaches, Mission Bay, Ocean Beach surf, boardwalk, shop

Day 6: Stay in Coronado, see tidal pools at Cabrillo National Monument, Pt. Loma lighthouse, living coast discovery center in the San Diego National Wildlife Refuge, ...

Day 7: See anything else in San Diego you want to see, fly out.

 

— Trip Details by Day —

Day 1:

Arrive in San Diego.  Head to the USS Midway Aircraft Carrier Museum and take a tour.  It's pretty amazing and it'll immediately make you feel better about your cramped quarters on the airplane ride to San Diego.

Then head to Seaport Village for lunch along the San Diego Bay.

After lunch, get back in the car for a few minutes to explore the museums and other attractions in Balboa Park.  There are more than a dozen, so choose wisely with the limited time you have.  Some of the options are:

Balboa Park will be getting a new attraction soon—the Comic-Con Center for Popular Culture.  No opening date had been set yet as of January 2019.  It should be interesting though...

There is a special pass called the Balboa Park Explorer Pass that will get you into 16 different museums in the city (for an extra fee it'll also get you in the zoo).  This wouldn't be worth it unless you plan to go to several museums today, Day 6, and Day 7.

After exploring what Balboa Park has to offer, head to the Gaslamp Quarter (San Diego's premiere entertainment district) for some shopping, dinner, and night life.

 

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Day 2:

Take a scenic 2 hour and 15 minute drive to Borrego Springs. The drive will take you over some gorgeous mountains to get to Borrego Springs—the gateway to the Anza-Borrego Desert State Park.  We got turned onto this place by a friend that used to train as a professional bicyclist in the mountains here and still owns some property.  We were staying at his place when the town got overrun because a rare desert superbloom was occurring. The town was completely unprepared—the restaurants ran out of food, the gas stations ran out of gas, and one of the scenic roads got closed because the line of cars was more than 2 hours long. Lesson learned—don't be in Anza on the weekend during a superbloom.
Head to the Borrego Palm Canyon Campground.  At the back of it is a trailhead for the ____ trail.

Lodging:

Camping: The Borrego Palm Canyon Campground is rather civilized and pleasant.

Food: 

Day 3:

Go for hike through desert canyon, go four-wheeling on sand dunes, hike through badlands, etc.
You can rent 4-wheelers and go blazing around in the desert at Ocotillo Wells SVRA.  It's just 15 minutes outside of Borrego Springs.  If you're a confident navigator, try to find the Pumpkin Patch—it's a unique landscape not to be missed.

 

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Day 4:

Scenic drive to Temecula, visit wineries & shop

 

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Day 5:

Drive to Carlsbad, go to Legoland California, drive down coast to La Jolla, beaches, Mission Bay, Ocean Beach surf, boardwalk, shop
Drive to Ocean Beach, surf, boardwalk, shop, San Diego Botanic Garden. The pier in Ocean Beach is a great place to take closeup action shots of the local surfers.
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Day 6:

Stay in Coronado, see tidal pools at Cabrillo National Monument, visit the Living Coast Discovery Center.

 

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Day 7:

See anything else in San Diego you want to see, for example:

Fly back home.

 

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Food

Heather's Trip Tips:

  1. Don't spend all your time on the beach or shopping.

Tim Says:

 

 

— Recommended Trip Variations —