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ROAD TRIP: Tucson to San Diego

San Diego California Road Trip Guide

One of the big perks of living in Tucson is that we're less than 6 1/2 hours to sand and surf! With a little bit of planning, you can jump in the car and head for the San Diego beach. No need for plane tickets! The drive is a breeze.

Resplendent with excellent beaches, seaside dining, and interesting cultural venues, San Diego is a delightful beach vacation destination. Balmy weather, ample sunshine, and sandy beaches make it a year round travel paradise.

Below we have provided a list of the best hotels, attractions, restaurants, and activities in San Diego. Are you wondering where to stay and what to do on your next trip? This guide will keep you in-the-know. We will edit this page regularly with new finds and fun places. Happy road-tripping!

BEST PLACES TO STAY IN SAN DIEGO

If you are booking accommodations in San Diego, you will have no shortage of hotel and resort options. We’ve listed our favorites in alphabetical order below, along with insider tips to make the most of your stay.

Campland on the Bay

There's camping...and then there's camping at Campland on the Bay in San Diego. If you love beautiful beach campgrounds with plenty to do for the whole family, look no further. This huge campground offers a private beach, game room, playground, dog park, beach volleyball, live music, on-site dining, an ice cream shop, a swimming pool and jacuzzi, seasonal activities, and easy access to local attractions.

OVERVIEW

  • Variety of camping sites: 568 paved sites, 412 sites with full hookups, 18 RV sites with no hookups, 148 sites with water and electric only, 26 pull-thru sites (size varies)
  • On-site cantina, market, coffee, and ice cream
  • Activity calendar, arcade, basketball court, bike rentals, fitness center, ping pong, playground, private beach, water sports rentals

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Rent or bring bikes! You can access a great bike path right along Mission Beach and it's a great way to spend a morning or afternoon.
  • The on-site Cantina offers fast casual fare at surprisingly affordable prices. Try it!
  • Camping during the off-season (September through April) is a good way to go if you prefer a more laidback (quieter) experience.
  • Note that there are 2-night or 3-night minimum stays for summer weekends and some holidays.
  • Discounts are available for San Diego residents, seniors (65+), AAA members, Active Duty Military, and Good Sam members. ID required.

CAMPLAND ON THE BAY AT A GLANCE

  • Address: Campland on the Bay, 2211 Pacific Beach Dr., San Diego, CA 92109
  • Part of San Diego: Mission Bay
  • Check-In: 2:00pm
  • Check-Out: 12:00pm (noon)
  • WiFi: Campland on the Bay has free, limited wireless Internet access available to all campers during their stay.
  • Cancelation Policy: Beginning June 1, 2022, there will be a $25 cancelation fee.
  • Social Media: Follow Campland on the Bay on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
  • BOOK A CAMPSITE | call 858-581-4260

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Paradise Point Resort & Spa has been creating lasting memories since 1962 when the resort was formerly known as Vacation Village. Situated on a 44-acre island in San Diego, guests can choose from 462 bungalow-style guest rooms with garden and bay views. In addition to an award-winning spa, there are several pathways leading through tropical gardens and tranquil lagoons that provide a calm clarity. The more adventurous guest can enjoy an exclusive, full-service marina with watersport rentals or opt to stay on land with a variety of bicycle options to choose from. While Paradise Point is located within 10 minutes of Downtown and many attractions including SeaWorld, the resort offers 4 dining outlets, two that are waterfront with stunning views of Mission Bay. At Paradise, guests feel secluded on a tropical island, but are only a short distance from the bustling city of San Diego.

OVERVIEW

  • Guest rooms, suites, and bungalows
  • Multiple waterfront restaurants
  • Five swimming pools included one Adults Only pool
  • 44 acres surrounded by one-mile sandy beach with bonfire pits scattered throughout
  • Recreational sports: putt-putt golf, basketball, tennis, cornhole, ping pong, volleyball
  • Rentals: beach cruiser bikes, skateboards, surrey quadracycles
  • A full-service marina with access to boat rentals, sailing, surfing lessons, paddle boarding, kayaking
  • Daily resort activities (wellness classes, beer tasting, cooking demos, sand play)

GOOD TO KNOW

  • Book a Bayside Bungalow for memories that will last a lifetime! Your private cottage will have front door access to the beachy sands of mission bay. Watch your children play in the sand while you relax with a glass of wine next to a gas fireplace on your private patio. These bungalows are perfect for romantic getaways, family vacations, or group reunions.

PARADISE POINT RESORT & SPA AT A GLANCE

  • Address: Paradise Point Resort & Spa, 1404 Vacation Road, San Diego CA 92109
  • Part of San Diego: Mission Bay
  • Check-In: 4:00pm
  • Check-Out: 11:00am
  • Parking: Parking is $38.00 per night for doorstep parking. A parking pass will be provided at check-in.
  • Resort Fee: A $34.00 Resort Amenities Fee will be added to your room charge (per room, per night). The Resort Amenities Fee includes high-speed wireless internet, unlimited use of five pools and the fitness center, all local and domestic phone calls, seasonal resort activities, and use of guest recreation items such as tennis, basketball, mini golf, and lawn games.
  • Social Media: Follow Paradise Point Resort & Spa on Facebook and Instagram.
  • BOOK A ROOM | call 855-463-3361

GREAT RESTAURANTS IN SAN DIEGO

Breakfast Republic

Breakfast Republic is a California eatery with a distinctively Southern California vibe. With 11 locations (7 are in San Diego), you're bound to find one (or two!) near you if you are vacationing in this area. Offering all-day breakfast with generous portions, Breakfast Republic is a popular spot for locals and is the perfect place to kick back before or after a day on the beach.

GOOD TO KNOW

  • The earlybird gets...to eat at Breakfast Republic! All 11 locations are open daily from 7am-3pm.
  • Have you ever tried a Pancake Sampler? Now, you can! Mix & match three pancake options - Buttermilk, Oreo, Churro, Cinnamon Roll, Strawberry Cheesecake, Lemon Coconut, etc - for a fabulously full tummy.
  • If you prefer healthier options, the menu also has omelets as well a vegan entrees.
  • Breakfast Republic offers a comprehensive drink menu too - cocktails, mimosas, beer flights, antioxidant shots, espresso, etc.

THINGS TO DO IN SAN DIEGO

Balboa Park

Not to be missed in San Diego - Balboa Park is a 1,200-acre urban park with 17 museums, 9 performing arts venues, 19 garden areas, play areas, dog parks, restaurants, trails, and fountains. Admission (and parking!) is free to the park grounds, botanical building, outdoor gardens, and some attractions. Admission charges vary for the other museums. To stretch your dollars, buy an explorer pass to receive discounted admission to multiple museums of your choice - starting at $56 for adults, $35 for youth. Ages 2 and under are always free. You can easily spend a day exploring the park - free or otherwise!

If you're hungry while exploring the park, The Prado at Balboa Park has colorful and breezy outdoor dining areas. Try the Grilled Chicken Cobb Salad for a very Californian experience - or ask about the daily specials. Entrees range in price from $11-$39.

San Diego Zoo

Located immediately adjacent to Balboa Park, San Diego Zoo is 100 acres of lush landscaping, more than 3,700 rare and endangered animals, and more than 700,000 plants. A 1-day pass, which is $62 for adults (ages 12+) and $52 for children (ages 3-11), includes one visit to the San Diego Zoo, a Guided Bus Tour, the Kangaroo Express Bus, Skyfari Aerial Tram rides, and all regularly scheduled shows.

SeaWorld San Diego

Head toward Mission Bay and spend a day at SeaWorld San Diego. The marine-themed amusement park is best known for their shows - including Dolphin Days, Orca Encounter, Pets Rule, and - our favorite - Sea Lions LIVE! In between shows, you can catch some thrills on rides, including Manta, Journey to Atlantis, and Shipwreck Rapids. Toddlers and preschoolers will have a blast at the Sesame Street Bay of Play - which includes kiddie rides, a splash pad, and a variety of climbing apparatuses. Tip: wear ponchos, swimsuits, or lightweight clothing that will dry easily in the sun. No denim! You're almost certain to get splashed (or soaked!) on the rides and at some of the shows...which feels great on steamy summer days!

Coronado Beach

One of the best beaches in the area is the Coronado Central Beach. White sands, tame waves, and unbeatable weather. Street parking is free and can be easy to find if you arrive early and/or on weekdays. Don't forget sunscreen, hats, buckets + pails, boogie boards, beach towels, water, and snacks.

Mission Beach

Mission Beach is an excellent beach to visit during the off-season in San Diego. Splash in the waves, walk up the deck, bike the adjacent paths, or brave the roller coasters at Belmont Park. Free street parking is available nearby and there are outdoors showers to help you scrub off all of that sand before driving back to your resort, vacation rental, or campground.

All in All

San Diego is a sunny and modern city - with crisp and fragrant air, inviting beaches, great restaurants, and pretty-close-to-perfect weather. The ideal season to visit is ANY season.

Other Ideas

Stay tuned for future posts about other drivable cities from Tucson. Road trips make for fun memories without the steep cost of airline tickets!

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What are your favorite things to do in San Diego?

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