Aerial view of San Diego Bay with boats and Coronado Bridge

The Most Scenic Drives in San Diego

Miles of breathtaking coastlines and charmingly beautiful neighborhoods make it hard to know where to find San Diego’s most picturesque destinations. Even though it’s tough to pick the wrong direction in search of jaw-dropping views, some areas are simply more awe-inspiring than others. Hoping to spend an afternoon in search of the most scenic drives in San Diego? We’ve got some great suggestions for where to start.  

The 59-Mile Scenic Drive 

Scenic Drive along Pacific Ocean Coast with orange skies

(Photo: @sdsunsetchasers)

This popular scenic drive in San Diego features glistening coasts and lush landscapes, with magnificent views. Enjoy sweeping coastline views, sparkling boats from neighborhood marinas, and downtown’s skyline. If you’re interested in taking the entire trip, here’s a good guide. Otherwise, read on for the route’s highlights below! 


Point Loma

(Photo: @thesdtoday)

Start your journey through San Diego on the southern edge known as Point Loma. Here you’ll find a variety of unique sights, from beach views to city scenery. Head to the very tip of Point Loma — the southwesternmost point of the continental U.S. — and watch the gray whale migration during the winter months. Point Loma is home to our own “island” with incredible views of the San Diego Bay from Shelter Island as well as the famous Cabrillo National Monument.

Ocean Beach

Scenic Drive driving down hill towards beach and pier

(Photo: @marceloallende)

Just a few minutes west of our hotel, brings you to nearby Ocean Beach’s laidback community. Continue driving along Sunset Cliffs Blvd towards the stunning Sunset Cliffs corner, for some of the most amazing views of the entire city, before heading over to “OB”’s mainstreet, Newport Ave. Various hillside streets of this neighborhood offer sweeping views of the Pacific, so bring your camera, park your car, and soak in the scenery!


Mission Bay Park

Aerial view of Mission Bay with boats sailing and bridge in background


Here in our own Mission Bay area, 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. 


Pacific Beach

Coastal View of beach and ocean

(Photo: @lens.kissed.moments)

Head out of our hotel due north through Mission Beach and find yourself coasting into Pacific Beach. 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.


La Jolla

Coastal View of La Jolla


 La Jolla brings together a mix of fun local colors 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 

Lowrider vehicles driving through Old Town San Diego

(Photo: @californiaseries)

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. In terms of Scenic drives in San Diego,  Presidio Park — where early missionaries established some of the country’s first churches — is a lush and gorgeous green space that offers sweeping views of the area from its hilltop.


Explore Stunning Mountain Drives via Palomar Mountain Loop

Palomar Mountain Loop Scenic drive

A trek through the Palomar Mountain Loop reveals a tranquil realm where nature’s splendor unfolds at every twist and turn. As you navigate the winding roads that meander through this picturesque landscape, dense forests of towering oak and pine trees give way to sweeping vistas of rolling hills, verdant meadows, and breathtaking overlooks that offer panoramic views of the surrounding valleys below. Don’t forget to swing by the iconic Palomar Observatory for some souvenir snaps!


View of Embarcadero Bay with lined palm trees and downtown skyline

(Photo: @zemina.z)

Once you’ve made it back from the mountain loop, the perfect place to swing by before you end your scenic tour of San Diego back at The Dana, is the Embarcadero-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 (and through!) “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. If you do head out for a day trip during your visit, or snap some memorable shots on your drive to our hotel, please tag us in them at @danamissionbay, we’d love to see!