arrow-down arrow-left arrow-right arrow-up play-button plus tab-indicator dots close menu search facebook google-plus instagram pinterest rss twitter youtube rss-two heart Check FeaturedBadge linkedin minus apps placeholder linkedin

Action Packed 3-Day Itineraries

Mix-and-match itineraries in San Diego

The following suggested 3-day itineraries are perfect for sightseeing the more outlying areas of San Diego and home to scenic mountains, deserts and a picturesque 70-mile coastline.

Find a place to stay

Book online or call 1-800-350-6205 to speak with a local expert

San Diego County is as large as the states of Delaware and Rhode Island combined, so there's a lot of ground to cover. In addition to mixing and matching one-day and two-day itineraries, the following suggested three-day itineraries are perfect for exploring the more outlying areas of San Diego, home to scenic mountains, deserts and a picturesque 70-mile coastline.

Coastal Highway 101

Historic Highway 101, linking La Jolla to Oceanside, is a scenic drive hugging the San Diego coast. In three days visitors can discover a number of beach communities reflecting the sun-kissed Southern California lifestyle:
  • Day 1: La Jolla sights and Del Mar, home of the Del Mar Racetrack ("where the turf meets the surf") and upscale shopping at Del Mar Plaza along Camino Del Mar
  • Day 2: Solana Beach, home of Cedros Design District, a hip, unique enclave of home furnishing stores, galleries and designer studios, and Encinitas, home of tranquil San Diego Botanic Garden and Swami Beach, made famous by the Beach Boys’ song “Surfin’ USA"
  • Day 3: Oceanside, home of Mission San Luis Rey (the largest California mission, called the "King of the Missions"), California Surf Museum, Oceanside Pier and picturesque Oceanside Harbor

Find out more information about Historic Highway 101.

Carlsbad Fun in the Sun

The city of Carlsbad, located along the coast in San Diego's North County, has so much to offer that you can easily spend three days exploring the scene:

  • Day 1: LEGOLAND California, including the adjacent water park and aquarium
  • Day 2: Golf and a luxurious spa treatment at the Park Hyatt Aviara. Afternoon shopping at the Carlsbad Premium Outlet Stores and downtown Carlsbad Village. Dinner at Bellefleur Winery & Restaurant
  • Day 3: Museum of Making Music, a unique interactive journey through a century of musical instruments. Then visit The Flower Fields of Carlsbad California, open seasonally in the spring, or check out the incredible jewels at the Gem Institute of America (free but reservations are necessary)

North County Inland

San Diego's Inland North County is a beautiful and diverse region of wide-open valleys, rolling hills and mountains. Many popular attractions and activities can be found here, including:

  • Day 1: San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido (formerly known as the San Diego Wild Animal Park) and the historic Palomar Observatory on Palomar Mountain, housing one of America's largest telescopes. At night, enjoy gaming action at Harrah’s Rincon Casino in Valley Center
  • Day 2: Other Escondido attractions, including Queen Califia's Magical Circle, artist Niki de Saint Phalle's largest American sculpture garden with nine whimsical large-scale works; Welk Resorts San Diego, featuring a Broadway-style theater and the "bubbly" Lawrence Welk Museum, and the California Center for the Arts, Escondido, where top-name performers grace the stage nightly
  • Day 3: The famous Bates Nut Farm in Valley Center (just north of Escondido), featuring fresh delicious nuts, candies and dried fruits, as well as a popular farm zoo; wine tasting at the award-winning Orfila Vineyards, and a romantic, sunset hot air balloon ride with A Balloon Adventure by California Dreamin'.

East County's Rural Playground

San Diego's East County has varied terrain, ranging from rolling hills and mountains to the expansive desert. Following is a suggested three-day tour:

  • Day 1: Golf at the rustic Barona Creek Golf Course in Lakeside or Sycuan Golf in El Cajon, shopping at the popular Viejas Casino and Outlet Center in Alpine and then nighttime gaming fun at Sycuan Casino in El Cajon
  • Day 2: Julian, San Diego's historic gold mining town in the Cuyamaca Mountains, known for its famous apple pies and cider, quaint village setting, antique stores and charming bed & breakfast inns
  • Day 3: Borrego Springs, San Diego's pristine desert getaway town located in the middle of the 600,000-acre Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Each spring the park boasts a breathtaking wildflower display. In town, shop in the art galleries and sample delicious ruby red grapefruits and figs

Play in South Bay

San Diego's South Bay, encompassing south San Diego Bay and the cities of Chula Vista and Imperial Beach, is also the gateway to Mexico. A suggested three-day itinerary includes:

  • Day 1: Chula Vista attractions, including U.S. Olympic Training Center, the first warm weather, year-round Olympic training facility in the United States; SeaWorld's water park Aquatica, open during summer, and the Sleep Train Amphitheatre, a state-of-the-art outdoor concert venue
  • Day 2: The Living Coast Discovery Center (formerly known as the Chula Vista Nature Center) features aquariums, a shark and ray petting pool, bird-watching platforms, aviaries and hiking trails in the marshlands of San Diego Bay. Catch the sunset while dining oceanfront at Sea180 Coastal Tavern in Imperial Beach.
  • Day 3: Daytrip to Tijuana, Mexico

Related Articles and Features

Weddings

Beach Weddings in San Diego

Say "I Do" in the Sand and by the Sea

With 70 miles of coastline and a moderate year-round climate, a San Diego beach wedding is possible in any number of locations depending on the number of guests.

Discover
Wineries

Wine Tasting in San Diego

12 Wine Tasting Rooms to Try

With a mild Mediterranean climate and rich fertile soil, it’s no surprise that wine grapes thrive here and San Diego has become a top wine destination. While wine-producing regions to the north in Temecula and the south in Mexico’s Guadalupe Valley draw more national attention, San Diego wineries exist like hidden gems along the coast, tucked into the fertile North County farmland and amidst the rugged terrain of East County. Many are family owned and offer tastings and tours by friendly proprietors eager to sit a spell and discuss the nuances of their creations. Here are a few San Diego wineries and tasting rooms that are definitely worth a visit.

Discover
Music

San Diego's Live Music Venues

Jazz, Classic Rock, Blues, Latin and more!

No matter what kind of band you crave, from the legendary stars to the innovative upstarts, San Diego’s live music venues have something for everyone.

Discover
Festivals

Lights, Camera, Action

San Diego Film Festivals Not to Miss

Cinema lovers can find a film festival or a movie screening catering to their tastes almost every weekend of the year in San Diego.

Discover

Deals just for you

Activity

Save $136 or more at 4 Famous Theme Parks

Southern California CityPASS
Valid: Jan 1 - ongoing

Save $136 or more with Southern California CityPASS - an admission card that gives you 1-day admission to SeaWorld San Diego and LEGOLAND California, PLUS a 3-day Park Hopper® ticket to Disneyland® Park and Disney California Adventure® Park.

Accommodation

Bed and Breakfast for Two!

Hyatt Regency Mission Bay Spa & Marina
Valid: Jan 26 - ongoing

With our Bed and Breakfast for Two Package, you'll enjoy: *Full Breakfast *2:00pm Late Checkout

Venues

$2 Off Pelly's Mini Golf

Del Mar Fairgrounds 22nd DAA
Valid: Jan 1 - ongoing

$2 Off your admission to either 18-hole course at Pelly's Mini Golf.

Events to check out

Event

San Diego County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl

Dec 21, 2016

The SDCCU Poinsettia Bowl delivers exciting football action and spectacular pageantry. Each year a top team from the Mountain West Conference takes on a quality opponent. This year it's the BYU Cougars!

Event

National Funding Holiday Bowl

Dec 27, 2016

Don't miss America's Finest Bowl Experience! This signature San Diego event annually showcases a thrilling game between some of college football's most competitive conferences, the Big Ten and the Pac-12. Last year the Wisconsin Badgers took down the USC Trojans 23-21. Don't miss the pageantry, excitement and football thrills this year!

Event

Farmers Insurance Open 2017

Jan 26 - Jan 29, 2017

The annual PGA Tour Farmers Insurance Open men's golf tournament is played at the Torrey Pines Golf Course in La Jolla, home of the 2008 U.S. Open.

Stay in touch

Sign up to receive the latest news, events, and updates about San Diego. Our monthly and weekly newsletters will keep you informed about the latest and greatest happenings in the destination.

Sign Up

Visitor planning guide

For the ultimate guide to planning your San Diego vacation, view and download the San Diego Visitor Planning Guide, packed with useful information that will help you plan the perfect San Diego getaway.

Read More

Partners

Explore

Plan

Stay

Follow Us

Language:

English | Change Language

Select your country or region

China Deutschland Great Britain Japan Mexico Korea USA

Or use Google Translate

Afrikaans Albanian Arabic Belarusian Bulgarian Catalan Croatian Czech Danish Deutsch Estonian Filipino Finnish Francais Galician Greek Haitian-Creole Hebrew Hindi Hungarian Icelandic Indonesian Irish Italian Japanese Korean Latvian Lithuanian Macedonian Malay Maltese Nederlands Norwegian Persian Polish Portuguese Romanian Russian Serbian Slovak Slovenian Swahili Swedish Telugu Thai Turkish Ukranian Vietnamese Welsh Yiddish