DAY 2 – 165 miles. Your second morning in SoCal starts with breakfast at Cheeky’s, or a quick NY-style bagel and coffee to-go from Townie Bagels. Head west toward Cabazon. Stop and see the vintage Cabazon Dinosaur attraction—a fun little photo-op the kids will love. Continue through Banning and take San Gorgonio Ave to connect with the Banning-Idyllwild Panoramic Highway. Stop in Mount San Jacinto State Park and hike the Summit Trail, which is accessible from the Idyllwild Nature Center. Take a quick tour of the Idyllwild Area Historical Society and then continue on CA-79 to CA-74 into Lake Elsinore. Enjoy lunch with panoramic views of the town and Lake Elsinore at the Lookout Roadhouse. Then, work off your midday meal with a hike up to Ortega Falls.
Hop back in the car and make a pitstop at the Ortega Oaks Candy Store and Goods for snacks before driving southwest until you reach the I-5. This stretch of the interstate follows the coast and offers up several opportunities to stop and stroll the area’s top beaches—like Capistrano Beach, San Clemente State Beach, Trestles Beach and San Onofre Beach—on your way into San Diego. If you only have time for one stop, however, make it La Jolla Cove. Then, head straight into the San Diego Gaslamp Quarter to shop and sightsee in one of San Diego’s oldest and most famous neighborhoods. Before checking into your San Diego hotel, enjoy a classic burger with a tasty shake at Hodad’s Downtown or check out the Knotty Barrel’s offering of over 100 beers paired with locally sourced eats.
Pro Tip: After dinner, pick up your favorite flavor in a homemade cone from Cali Cream Homemade Ice Cream for dessert. Then, take walk down the Martin Luther King Jr. Promenade to Children’s Park to see the fountains and city skyline at night. It’s the perfect way to end your summer weekend SoCal road trip.