Whether you are in town for a day or you are a local looking for a nearby staycation, San Diego has plenty of spots that are perfect for day trips. From fun family destinations to places that are perfect for laid-back bachelorette parties, there is truly something for everyone in America’s Finest City. If you have a single day to spend in the city, keep reading to learn about a few of the best one-day getaways in San Diego.
La Jolla 7 Seas Caves Tour
The sea caves at La Jolla are impressive sights, but they are mostly only accessible by boat or kayak. If you are feeling adventurous and want to spend some time on the water, the guided La Jolla 7 Seas Cave Tour is a great way to enjoy the day. Each tour lasts roughly two hours and, depending on the tidal and water conditions, you may even get to go inside the caves.
While you are kayaking, keep an eye out for sea lions, leopard sharks, dolphins, and other local sea life. You’ll probably get wet, but that is part of the fun! Each tour is led by experienced tour guides who share fun facts and history about the area and will help everyone stay safe. No kayaking experience is required, so this is a great adventure for beginners, too.
Retreat Pool & Cabanas
If your idea of going for a swim involves a sparkling San Diego pool as opposed to the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean, you’ll want to visit Retreat Pool & Cabanas. This El Cajon Pool is an incredible spot where guests can soak up some vitamin D, relax, and enjoy a beautiful aquatic oasis.
There are two swimming pools at Retreat and a lazy river where you can let all your worries and stress melt away. The deck is furnished with cabanas, oversized daybeds, and pool chairs, so you can get comfy any way you like.
When you’re ready for a bite to eat or need something cool to sip on, Retreat has a full bar as well as a menu featuring fresh, seasonal fare. If you are in the mood for a one-day getaway where you can escape the hustle and bustle of daily life on your own or with a group of friends, Retreat is one San Diego pool you won’t want to miss.
Old Town San Diego
San Diego has a long, rich history, and you can experience it for yourself by spending a day in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. This park spans nine square blocks and showcases what life was like in San Diego between 1821 and 1872. Old Town is often referred to as the birthplace of California, and it’s an interesting place to visit for history buffs and curious vacationers alike.
The State Historic Park has free admission and is home to a number of exhibits, including California’s first schoolhouse and first newspaper office, a blacksmith shop, and a stable. Spend some time strolling along the quaint streets to get a feel for what California was like in the early days.
San Diego Zoo
The San Diego Zoo is so large that it’s almost hard to see it all in a single day, but it’s still one of our favorite one-day getaways. This large zoo is home to roughly 4,000 animals and 700,000 plants spread over more than 100 acres, and it is an amazing place for families to explore.
When you are short on time, the 40-minute guided bus tour is a great way to see mostof the zoo. For those who are not afraid of heights, a gondola lift known as the Skyfari is an amazing way to get a bird’s eye view of several exhibits. There are also express buses that pick up and drop off passengers at various locations around the park, making it easier to see everything without walking for miles upon miles.
Located near downtown San Diego, the San Diego Zoo is easily accessible by car and public transportation. It is also much more affordable than many other area attractions, so it’s a great day trip for large families and anyone who is on a budget.
Located in the heart of downtown San Diego, the Gaslamp Quarter is a trendy neighborhood that is home to all sorts of restaurants, boutiques, bars, specialty shops, and chain stores. It spans eight square blocks and is a fun place to check out when you’re spending a day in the city. The area really comes alive after dark, though, so it’s even better to visit during the evening hours if you love the nightlife!
Take part in a walking tour of the Gaslamp Quarter, or spend some time checking out the numerous stores that are housed inside the Victorian Era buildings that line the streets. There are a few museums here that are worth checking out, too, including the Gaslamp Museum at the Davis-Horton House. There you will learn about the early history of San Diego and learn more about what life was like in Southern California in the past.
The San Diego Chinese Historical Museum is an interesting place to visit as well. It houses artifacts relating to Chinese history in San Diego. It also has a small garden and a koi pond, and across the street is a second building that the museum uses as an art gallery.
If you have a day to spend in San Diego, there are several one-day getaways to choose from. Whether you are looking for a place where you can relax and escape the hustle and bustle of daily life or you are searching for a family-friendly destination that everyone will enjoy, you can find what you are looking for in San Diego. Perhaps that is one of the reasons why it is known as “America’s Finest City”!