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Got a couple days and a car? These are some of the best road trips from San Diego for families….and they’re all under 250 miles!
This post is written in partnership with Fuel Rewards® at Shell.
It’s the year of the road trip. More than ever, we’re using our cars for travel (we even just drove from San Diego all the way to San Francisco…..that was an EPIC road trip). And honestly? I think that travel is changed permanently. And the upside? We have this amazing opportunity to shop local, eat local, and to support local travel destinations we might have otherwise overlooked.
This is a mini-guide to some of our favorite road trips from San Diego for families (or from Southern California in general). These are all easily drivable in a day (and not the ENTIRE day) and have great activities for kids and adults.
How does it work? All new to sign up Fuel Rewards® members get automatic Gold Status for the first six months of their membership (which means you’ll be earning 5 cents per gallon off every fill-up for up to 20 gallons). After that? You can qualify to keep that Gold Status by filling up (at least 5 gallons of gas) 6 times or more during the following 3 months. So if you’re road tripping? Pretty much guaranteed.
And as if that fill up at the tank bonus isn’t enough? There are tons of other ways to earn rewards including dining (you can earn 10 cents per gallon for every $40 spent at participating restaurants), the online shopping we are all inevitably doing this time of year (you can earn at least 5 cents per gallon for every $50 you spend shopping online with certain brands), and just in case you are not driving your own car? You can earn up to 25% off base rates and earn 10 cent per gallon for every $50 you spend on rental cars!
Big Bear: Looking for snow and mountains? Then Big Bear is your best bet. It can be especially popular during the winter months because everyone wants a weekend in the snow…..but we also love it in the spring months or even during the summer for lake swimming access. A few of our favorites? Alpine Zoo is a great year round activity and they share a ton about their wildlife rescue program. The Teddy Bear Restaurant opened in 1944 and they serve some of the best apple pie I've ever had (they're located in Big Bear Village). And for coffee? Amangela's (also in Big Bear Village) is AMAZING.
Los Angeles and Santa Monica: Sun, beach and a ton to do? LA is your best bet. From the beaches in Santa Monica to hiking to the Hollywood sign, there is a TON to do. A few of my favorites for kids as someone who lived in LA for 15 years? Main Street in Santa Monica, an afternoon exploring the Santa Monica pier, a movie at El Capitan theatre in Hollywood, and a visit to LACMA (it's such a great family friendly museum and you can also visit the La Brea Tar Pits while there).
Santa Barbara: From great wine tasting to picturesque beaches…..Santa Barbara has it all. I went to college there, and it's truly a magical place. Perfect for family vacations. Santa Barbara has a small town feel, and really is a classic California beach town. The zoo is a ton of fun, and State Street is perfect for an afternoon of exploring (be sure to check out the Santa Barbara Mission too)!
Disneyland: I mean, I had to right? Disneyland is a must visit on any Road Trips from San Diego for families list I could make. Even if it's closed, Downtown Disney is still a ton of fun. I'd suggest at least a full weekend for visiting the park, and locals? You can always do a one night staycation. Yes, it is close enough from San Diego for a day trip……but I'm not a fan of the late night drive back. My favorite Downtown Disney dining? Jazz Kitchen is a super fun and unique experience!
Huntington Beach: We recently did a weekend long stay in Huntington Beach and it was really the ideal distance for a local road trip. The drive was under two hours, but it truly felt like we were getting away. I loved staying right on the water, and there were a ton of great family friendly resort options. If you're looking for a relaxing weekend close to home…….this is a great choice!
Palm Springs: Love a vintage kitchy vibe? Palm Springs is a color lovers DREAM. It's a ton of fun to visit and explore. It's perfect for resort stays and great pools. Palm Springs has great private homes to rent as well, and can be perfect for a short getaway!
Carlsbad and Legoland: On the hunt for a one day trip? Legoland is perfect for an afternoon and a super short drive. It's small enough for younger kids and has great rides for the older ones. I love that it's about twenty to thirty minutes from most parts of San Diego.
Are you a Southern California local? Which of these Road Trips from San Diego is your favorite?