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The Best Weekend Road Trips from San Diego

Our friend James from Mantripping is here to share some of his favorite weekend road trips you can take from San Diego - and since June is Great Outdoors Month, we figured San Diego drivers would be itching to get exploring! Read on for weekend road trip ideas:

Weekend Road Trip

It's (almost officially) summer time now and that means it's time to break out the maps (or GPS) and head off on a great American adventure! Luckily for those of us in San Diego there are a number of excellent road trips that range from short day trips to ones that would span multiple days of exploration.

Before you set out on the trip, though, it is important that you get your car in proper driving condition. For the longer trips, or trips through the desert, I would recommend that you stop by your mechanic for a quick look. But there are also some things you can check yourself to quickly eliminate any problems:

  1. Check your oil! This is as simple as opening the hood and seeing where the dipstick is located. Even more easy than this is looking at the sticker in your windshield and seeing when your car is scheduled for an oil change. When you check the dipstick, if the oil is low or dark and dirty then you should absolutely visit your mechanic before heading off.
  2. Check your tire pressure! Again, this is a simple procedure that can save you money by ensuring proper tire pressure as well as ensure the stability of your vehicle, as being over or under pressure can lead to traction issues or roll-over danger.
  3. Check your tire treads! Are your tires balding? If so, the hot summer road could cause them to burst if it gets too hot or if you run over an unexpected object in the road.

While these are easy things to do before a road trip, I always visit my mechanic and let them know I'll be heading off on a trip if it is going to be longer than a few hours or through some harsh terrain such as a drive to Las Vegas during the summer (when we may be speeding at over 80 mph through 100 degree plus temperatures).

Now that your car is ready for the road, here are a few of my favorite road trips from San Diego!

Joshua Tree National Park

Weekend Road Trip - Joshua Tree

Image: Flickr

Joshua Tree National Park is a short 2.5 hour trip north of San Diego. Simply head north on 15 to 215 to 10. Once you get there, there are a variety of activities - from a tour through the park with stops at the various pullouts and short walks through one of the 12 self-guided nature trails. For a longer trip, you might consider mountain biking and hikes across the desert landscape while birding and viewing wildflowers, as well as the name sake "Joshua trees" (otherwise known as Yucca brevifolia), many of which are hundreds of years old.

Las Vegas

Weekend Road Trip - Las Vegas

Image: Rich Soublet Photography

In the same direction but a few hours farther is Las Vegas, which is a perfect road trip, too. Simply follow 15 and 215 through Riverside for about 5 hours and you'll have a beautiful drive through the desert before arriving at Las Vegas, where adventure awaits from tables and slot machines to adventure sports. Las Vegas and the surrounding areas are also ideal for hiking if you're the early riser or looking for a good sweat.

PhoenixWeekend Road Trip - Phoenix

Image: James Hills

Instead of heading north, let's go east this time via 8 to Phoenix! From some of the best golf resorts in the world to hikes in the desert there is something for everyone. Along the way there are several  great stops to break up the drive, including the Desert View Tower and Dateland where you can cool down with your choice of a Date Shake or Cactus Shake!

Big Sur and Pacific Coast Highway

Weekend Road Trip - Pacific Coast Highway

Image: Rich Soublet Photography

The Pacific Coast Highway is a road of legends and seems almost purposely built for road trips, as you pass through beach towns from Santa Monica and Malibu to wineries in Santa Barbara. Depending on your travel schedule, you can stop by Hearst Castle in the hills of San Simeon (about 4 hours north of Los Angeles), perhaps on your way to Big Sur or the Bay Area. The mansion is the former home of publisher William Randolf Hearst and with 165 rooms and 127 acres of gardens and walkways it is one of the largest homes in America.

As we continue north to Big Sur you'll drive by some of the most beautiful coastlines in the country. This is a perfect opportunity to stop at the numerous vista spots and take photos, or maybe you planned ahead and packed a picnic lunch to enjoy while looking out over the water. Either way, it is tough to find a better way to spend a long weekend road trip.

Assuming you've taken proper precautions to ensure that your care is prepared for the hot desert roads and the tight twisty turns of the Pacific Coast Highway then your trip should be perfectly enjoyable as you create memories that you'll be able to take home and share with friends!


James Hills is the author of ManTripping.com a leading travel blog dedicated to promoting great travel ideas for mancations and guys weekends. You can also join him on Pinterest or Twitter.


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