Hit the Road to Holiday Inn — Scenic Drives in San Diego
There are countless great places to go in “America’s Finest City.” Even so, as a very wise person once said: “getting there is half the fun.” And while we can’t say for sure whether or not they were talking about San Diego, they may as well have been. So if you’d like to get out and soak up all that this part of the world has to offer (including the views along the way), then you’ll want to check out our tips for the best scenic drives in San Diego.
This route incorporates an equal mix of natural and human-made beauty. From our hotel, you can head right down Harbor Drive for a scenic trek along the bay as you make your way to the Coronado Bridge. Head over this sweeping engineering marvel to beautiful Coronado Island, drinking in the incredible water and skyline views as you make your way. Follow 4th Street left to Orange Avenue, then stay on the thoroughfare until it turns into the Silver Strand Highway, which runs the entire length of the peninsula (past parks, landmarks, and ocean on either side of your ride) all the way back to Dolphin Bay, on the mainland.
Take a journey through San Diego’s southern edge — the peninsula known as Point Loma — and get an eyeful of some of the loveliest views on the west coast. A variety of unique sights will reveal themselves here, from beach vistas to city scenery. Head to the very tip of Point Loma (a.k.a., 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.
One of the most celebrated drives in the area (and one of the most downright gorgeous) is Highway Interstate 5. The 5 hugs the coastline in this part of Southern California, offering breathtaking mountain and ocean views along its entire length. If you begin your drive in downtown San Diego, you’ll cruise by beaches, charming coastal towns, and breathtaking terrain from Pacific Beach to La Jolla, and Torrey Pines to Oceanside. The view around every turn is postcard-perfect.
As “the jewel” of the San Diego metro’s coastline, La Jolla is among the most vibrant communities in the state. La Jolla brings together a mix of fun local color, unique experiences and stunning coastal views, so the drive there is absolutely overflowing with visual splendor. It can be hard to narrow down the top things to do in this area once you arrive, but you won’t want to miss Mount Soledad, the University of California San Diego campus, or La Jolla Cove, where a family of seals has made its home at Children’s Pool. And while it may not be the fastest route — if you’re looking for a gorgeous and relaxing drive, we recommend heading north through Mission Bay, Mission Beach, and Pacific Beach on your way up to La Jolla.
San Diego is an extremely cosmopolitan city, but its proximity to endless natural beauty is one of the best things about it. The northern part of San Diego County, known simply as North County, offers some fantastically scenic road trip opportunities with some widely varied terrain. Beginning in Escondido and hopping onto Highway 78 will take you through many charming smaller towns with much to offer visitors — like shopping, dining, and cultural experiences. By ultimately routing to Highway 79 and then Highway 76, you’ll navigate to the top of Palomar Mountain, where the air is crisp and the views are spectacular.
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 and parks in the area.
This short but beautiful route takes you through the eastern countryside. You’ll begin from the intersection of Interstate 8 and County Road S-1, just east of the town of Descanso (roughly 40 miles east of San Diego) and wind through much of Laguna National Park. Along the way, don’t miss making a short pit stop at Desert View, a picnic area that affords sweeping views of both Cleveland National Forest and Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Any time of year is a great time to make this trip, although spring and summer are most popular. If you’re interested in outdoor activities like hiking, biking, or horseback riding, you’ll also find opportunities to enjoy them at various locations along the drive.
Perhaps the most famous of the city’s sightseeing excursions, the 59-Mile Scenic Drive will take intrepid adventurers through some of the most interesting locations San Diego has to offer, including Downtown, Shelter Island, the Cabrillo National Monument, Soledad Mountain, Birch Aquarium, Old Town, Balboa Park, and the USS Midway. It’s truly a “greatest hits” collection of renowned San Diego landmarks. The official website for the San Diego Tourism Authority breaks down the entire route, as well as suggests some of the things you may want to see while you’re making your way through the city.
Every great road trip needs a home base. When you stay with us at Holiday Inn Bayside, you’ll always have a welcoming and comfortable place to land after your day’s mobile adventures. Take a look at our Special Offers & Packages page and choose the deal that’s right for you. Then, plan your route and hit the road!