The Most Scenic Drives in San Diego
With miles of breathtaking coastline and charming neighborhoods, it can be hard for prospective sightseers to know where to begin when looking for San Diego’s most picturesque destinations. Even though it’s tough to go wrong just picking a direction and setting off in search of jaw-dropping vistas, some areas are simply more awe-inspiring than others. So if you’re hoping to take some of the most scenic drives in San Diego, we’ve got some great suggestions for where to start.
The 59-Mile Scenic Drive
One of the most famous day trips in the city features glistening coasts and lush landscapes, allowing you to experience the most magnificent views in San Diego. Whether you only have a day to drive through these destinations or a week to take your time, you won’t want to miss out on these scenic drive highlights. If you’re interested in taking the entire trip, here’s a good guide. Otherwise, read on for the highlights.
Start your journey through San Diego in the southern edge known as Point Loma. Here you’ll find a variety of unique sights, from beach vistas to city scenery. Head to the very tip of Point Loma — the southwestern-most point of the continental U.S. — and watch the gray whale migration during the winter months. While there, make sure to pass through Harbor Island for incredible views of the San Diego Bay, Shelter Island for the docked sport-fishing fleet in the marina, and the famous Cabrillo National Monument.
Keep heading north along the coast and you’ll hit Ocean Beach. On your drive, you’ll pass the stunning Sunset Cliffs. If you have the time, make a pit stop to see them from up close. Once in Ocean Beach, walk the pier and enjoy the variety of activities, including fishing and birdwatching. If you’re passing through mid-week, don’t miss the Ocean Beach Farmers Market — it’s one of the best in the entire state.
Mission Bay Park
Just minutes away from our home in Mission Bay, you’ll discover the Mission Bay Aquatic Park. Featuring 4,600 acres of water and shoreline, this San Diego park is your one-stop shop for adventure on the water. Spend a few hours here and enjoy water sports including paddleboarding, waterskiing, and kayaking.
This laid-back community is the epitome of SoCal culture, and the ultimate San Diego destination for surfing and sunbathing. In addition to fantastic shopping destinations, world-class dining and a lively nightlife scene, visitors can enjoy impressively memorable ocean views.
Among the most vibrant communities in San Diego, La Jolla brings together a mix of fun local color and stunning coastal views. It can be hard to narrow down the top things to do in this area, but you won’t want to miss Mount Soledad, the University of California San Diego campus, or La Jolla Cove.
Old Town is located on the site of the first European settlement in the state of California, dating back to the late 1700s. Today, Old Town is a fun and eclectic mix of fantastic restaurants, historical locations, park space, shopping, entertainment, and area tours. Presidio Park — where early missionaries established some of the country’s first churches — is a lush and gorgeous green space that’s the ideal spot for a family picnic.
Hillcrest is the center of the LGBTQIA+ community in San Diego and is absolutely brimming with incredible nightlife. If you want to dance, then you simply need to open your ears and follow the beat. You’ll find a world-class farmers market here, as well as outstanding fashion retail. Thirsty? Stop in at Hillcrest Brewing Company — “The First Gay Brewery in the World” — and hoist a pint of craft beer.
The perfect place to end your scenic tour of San Diego, the Embarcadero is a hub for maritime history and nautical sights. As you pass through, you’ll see the large bay filled with aircraft carriers, cruise ships, sailboats, and yachts. If you have time to stop and explore, pay a visit to the Maritime Museum of San Diego, the nearby Balboa Park, or make a pit stop at the idyllic beaches of Coronado Island.
Plan Your Stay at The Dana on Mission Bay
Ready to start planning your road trip to “America’s Finest City”? Take a look at our special offers to select the San Diego travel deal that’s right for you, and we’ll have your room ready when you arrive