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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 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.

Paradise Point Resort & Spa

Paradise Point 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 the 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

  • Paradise Point Resort & Spa completed a $24 million renovation in May 2018. This comprehensive project included all 462 California bungalow-style guestrooms. “It’s the same Paradise Point, but chicer, more modern and family-centric with comfortable floor plans that embrace our laid-back lifestyle,” said Lindsey Amador, Director of Sales & Marketing. “The designers have captured a vacation vibe that is the essence of everything we do here.”
  • 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 $32.00 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 our guest recreation items such as tennis, basketball, mini golf, and lawn games.
  • Peak Season: 
  • Off-Season:
  • Social Media: Follow Paradise Point Resort & Spa on Facebook and Instagram.
  • BOOK A ROOM | call 855-463-3361

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. Lunch entrees range in price from $10-$22.

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 $56 for adults (ages 12+) and $46 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 theme 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.

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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