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Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

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Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

Hi,

My bf and I will be going for a road trip from LA to San Diego. He will be coming from overseas and I will be coming from NY to meet in LA. We will arrive in LA on Dec 27 and leaving on Jan 8. We have 11 days for vacation minus the 2 days of travel. This summer, we went on a road trip from LA to SF via Big Sur and Carmel. It was one of the best trip ever! The highlight of the trip was biking across the Golden Gate Bridge!! Thanks to all tripadvisor's experts! Now, I am back here again for suggestions on where else we could add to San Diego? We will be visiting the zoo, seaworld, all the major attractions in SD and I assume 3-4 days will be good enough? Possibly Bear Mountain if they have snow tubing or skiing for beginners? Where else can we go? We will be renting a car. Thanks in advance!

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1. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

where else do you want to go ? what else do you want to do ? You have the ski areas, you have the desert areas, the metro areas and the beaches. LA to San Diego is just about 2 to 2 1/2 hours more with traffic so different from LA to SF

Have you been to Santa Monica and Manhattan beach? Been to the Getty Museums ?

You pass through Orange County and its beach cities of Laguna, Newport and Huntington beach, you can also spend time in the theme there.

San Diego is vast and North San Diego county has Carlsbad and Delmar and then San Diego has Pacific beach and La Jolla and Coronado so lots to do there

You can go and see the Dessert area and the state parks there. You can also go to Palm Springs and Joshua Tree NP.

Edited: 19 September 2013, 22:06
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2. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

Thanks for your reply. LA will be our meeting place and we have been to those places you've mentioned. Our focus this time will be San Diego and its surrounding areas within 2 hours. Is there anything much to see at the dessert?Just want a relaxing vacation, loves landscapes, some light activities like biking or hiking,and any other interesting places....

Edited: 19 September 2013, 22:41
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3. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

Well, as noted it only takes 2.5 hours to drive from L.A. to San Diego (and in good traffic, less than that), so there's not much "road trip" to take up your 11 days. The route to SD that we use takes us past Buena Park and Anaheim (so...Knott's Berry Farm and Disneyland...) Others take the 405 and go past Capistrano (can't imagine spending more than an hour or two there, but Capistrano lovers will disagree). There are plenty of beaches of course. There is no "Big Sur" between L.A. and San Diego, though.

Death Valley and Joshua Tree are both within striking distance and Anza Borrego State Park is also a place for hiking. All three are deserts. Is there much to see? Well, in one sense, no...if you're not a desert lover, you might not find much to see at all. But if you get some roadside geology books or visit the interpretive centers or really get into the mellow, gradually changing, apparently uninhabited landscapes out there, it can be the most serene, beautiful and amazing experience. At night, there are so many stars...

Is this where I go to relax? Death Valley, yes (we try to get there every other year). But, we prefer places with a bit more color (those are in Utah and Arizona).

Nearer to San Diego...well, I suppose there's that Great Salton Sea (there's also a person I took there who still hasn't forgiven me; I guess it's not for everyone).

Did you check out the top sights on the San DIego forum and TA page? Because, well, 11 days in SD is a long time (from my point of view).

WIthin 2 hours of San Diego, there's desert, Los Angeles (and you apparently have already seen that) and Baja California (Mexico).

Just at your outer limit of 2 hours are Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear, both scenic, and counts as a day on the road, because it's going to take you at least 4 hours round trip. On your way there, you'll pass through Temecula (with its emerging wine country/terroir). As a desert lover, I prefer the area around Hemet and Palm Desert to Temecula, but Temecula is a kind of destination for many vacationers these days.

This is one of the harder questions to answer that I've seen (and you need some San Diego people to help you out more, "road trip" may throw a few people off, since you're willing to drive 2 hours every day, you could conceivably be going back and forth through L.A. several times, depending on your interests...or not).

Where are you staying? I'd start with a good resort atmosphere, where there was biking and kayaking nearby. Coronado and La Jolla are must-sees. Bear Mountain has runs and activities for people of all skill level, is tremendously crowded Fri-Sun and especially during Christmas Break, and they will manufacture snow if none falls from the sky (a distinct possibility). I guess I'd encourage you into looking at staying in the mountains for 2-3 nights if that sounds like fun to you. It sure sounds like fun to me.

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4. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

I think that for a person from NYC going out to the desert to spend a little time would be a unique experience! 2hrs. from San Diego or LA is the Palm Springs area which has lots of small retro hotels where you can stay for a few days. You can walk/hike the Indian Canyons , take a tram from the desert floor up to the top of the nearby mts. with their pine forests. Maybe there will be cross country skiing at that time but even without snow it is unusual to be able to go from desert to mountain top in a short trip!

You can drive to Joshua Tree from there or to Death Valley but if you want an easy first taste of desert then I think Palm Springs would be a good start.

IF you want to stay inside San Diego county then you could also do a trip to Borrego Springs(desert) and Julian(old gold mining mt. town) all for a day trip . You don't have to stay over if you don't feel like it but Borrego Springs has a real small town atmosphere and there is quite a contrast between it and the mountaintop town of Julian.

It is up to you how far you'd like to drive and how many different places you'd like to stay over night.

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5. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

For a true desert experience I highly recommend Borrego Springs over Palm Springs. (Nothing against Palm Springs but it's been "resort-a-fied" -- great if you're a golfer or tennis player.) But if you want to learn to love the ever changing light of the desert, the Anza-Borrego State Desert Park is just 2 hours from San Diego (and it's a nice drive over).

Borrego Springs is a funky small town (about 2,000 year round residents but more in winter). There are a couple of very nice places to stay: La Casa del Zorro or the Borrego Valley Inn. Very small town environment (not a stop light in town!). If you're looking to relax, do a little hiking, a little pool time -- it's a perfect option.

I'm rather Type A and Borrego is one of the few places I've ever been that I feel myself slowing down, looking at, examining and experiencing the ever changing light of the desert.

Borrego also practices "dark skies" (no porch lights after 10PM, etc) so some star gazing is possible.

Edited: 19 September 2013, 23:30
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6. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

Thank you everyone! I loved Big Sur and it's breathtaking beauty! Not so sure about the dessert though as I like more colorful landscape.... but I might want to give it a try at either Palm Springs or Borrego Spring. Is a day trip good enough? I will give Bear Mtn a night too! Do you think 4-5 days in SD is good? To answer your question LeBisfuit, we are staying in SD for 3-5 days until we have solidly decide where we are going within the 2 hr radius. We are very flexible on which town to stay in. Since our last trip was simply awesome, I don't want this trip to be any less......

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7. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

Jasmine,

Check out the La Quinta Resort, in La Quinta next to Palm Desert. It was built in the 1920's and is a gorgeous property built on 1,400 acres of land, nestled next to the mountains, full of Grapefruit and lemon Trees, colorful plants and green lawns. There are 41 swimming pools, and 535 fireplaces in the Casita's. Some Casitas have their own walled patio, or spa.

Lots of hiking, Living Desert, Indian Canyons, Top of the Tram, Museums, etc.

http://www.laquintaresort.com/photo_gallery/

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8. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

Thank you so much! I will check it out!

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9. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

With all the inputs from all experts, we are going to do 4-5 days in SD, 2 days one night in Bear Mtn (love snow tubing), 2 days one night in Palm Springs. we have the city, the mountains and the dessert....I hope we are allocating enough days for each destination? We have 2 more days to play with. Hmmm....anymore suggestions?

Edited: 21 September 2013, 18:27
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10. Re: Road trip from LA to San Diego, where else should be visit?

I'd really add an extra day or two to the desert. By the time you check in at 3 in the afternoon and out at 11 am the next morning you have hardly spent any time enjoying what the desert offers.

Maybe spend your last night in Manhattan Beach, which is a few miles south of LAX and rides bikes along the 22 mile bike path to Venice or Santa Monica. The Sea View Inn has bikes for use of their guests and free parking. It's located just up from the beach. Easy to return car and get to airport.