If you’re traveling along a Coastal California road trip, you might want to start or end in sunny San Diego. This two-day itinerary helps you get the most out of the city in a short amount of time.

The Botanical Building at Balboa Park.

The Botanical Building at Balboa Park. Photo © Lisa Robinson/The Department of Creativity.

Day 1

Start your day at the cluster of culture in Balboa Park. Explore the diverse museums and art galleries, wander the gardens, admire the exquisite Botanical Building, or get acquainted with exotic animals at the San Diego Zoo—where animal lovers can easily spend the whole day. For lunch, get a gourmet pie at La Pizzeria Arrivederci.

After lunch, head to California’s first mission, Mission San Diego de Alcala. An hour is enough time to spend exploring its museum and beautiful gardens.

Continue your journey through the city’s past in historic Old Town. Take a walking tour or pay a visit to the ghouls at The Whaley House, America’s most haunted house. Return to the land of the living with dinner and margaritas at El Agave.

End your evening in the lively Gaslamp Quarter. Choose between music at the House of Blues or rooftop cocktails at Float.

Day 2

Head to the harbor and the Maritime Museum of San Diego, with one of the largest historic sea vessel collections in the nation. A half-mile south (just past the Broadway Pier), the USS Midway is anchored in the harbor, waiting to be boarded and explored.

Drive across the two-mile San Diego-Coronado Bridge, or take the foot ferry from the Broadway Pier to the Coronado Ferry Landing (the ferry takes 15 minutes). After arriving in Coronado, grab lunch at one of the many cafés. Rent a bicycle from Bikes & Beyond and glide along the Bayshore Bikeway, just over two miles to Hotel del Coronado. (MTS Route 904 also runs from the ferry landing to the hotel.) Put in some serious beach time or spend your afternoon strolling the Del’s ornate lobby and grand decks, which look out across the Pacific—perfect for watching the sunset. End your day at the Del, or head back across the bridge for a seafood dinner at Searsucker and a farewell toast at Rooftop600.

Travel map of San Diego

San Diego


Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Pacific Coast Highway Road Trip.