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Explore the

East County

San Diego's Backyard.

In sharp contrast to San Diego's beaches to the west, the rolling hills, majestic mountains, sparkling lakes and deep canyons make east county one of the most diverse areas in San Diego County to explore. The area is also home to several Las Vegas style Indian gaming casinos.

Photo By Lou Mora

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Get outside and discover your wild side

East San Diego County offers hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing, fishing and camping in the vast and beautiful wilderness. Spend an afternoon hiking Cowles Mountain, mountain biking through Mission Trails Regional Park, strolling along Lake Murray or fishing on El Capitan Reservoir. For flower lovers, don’t miss the spring wildflower bloom in Anza-Borrego Desert State Park, where a blanket of color covers the desert floor.  

In addition to outdoor adventures, East San Diego County boasts plenty of entertainment. Sizzling Las Vegas-style Native American casinos, luxurious resorts tucked right into the rugged landscape, challenging golf courses built around natural obstacles, historic sites and highways, and annual festivals and rodeos can be enjoyed, all within the expansive landscape of this California wilderness country.

A favorite day trip in East San Diego is to the historic mining town of Julian. Set against the backdrop of the Cuyamaca Mountains and countless apple orchards, this friendly, walk-back-in-time town is as famous for its apple pie as it is for its collection of gold mines (several offer tours geared toward children). Julian has a variety of restaurants, bed & breakfast hideaways, antique stores, art galleries, nearby hiking and nature walks, along with the California Wolf Center for conservation.

Getting to East County

East County is an expansive region, encompassing more than three quarters of San Diego County. The area can be accessed by heading east on Interstate 8, and California highways 94 and 52, 78 and 76. If you have a few hours, head up to the mountains and into the desert - Julian and Borrego Springs can be accessed from Highways 78 (off Interstate 15) and 79 (off Interstate 8). A bit closer to the city center, Lemon Grove, La Mesa, El Cajon and Santee can be reached via the Orange or Green lines of the San Diego Trolley.

Discover East County

What's Hot
What's On

San Diego Casinos

Try your had with lady luck at one of the many Indian Las Vegas style gaming casinos. 


Wine Tasting in Ramona Valley

Eight great Ramona Valley wineries that are worth a try.  



Day trip to Julian

Explore the historic gold mining town of Julian and be sure to sample the signature apple pie. 


Fall in San Diego


Waddle and Trot 5K and Kid's Fun Run

Nov 24, 2016

Join in the annual Waddle & Trot 5K and Fun Run on Thanksgiving Day. Runners and walkers of all levels are welcome to explore Santee Lakes by foot!


Viejas Outlet Center Ice Rink

Oct 29, 2016 - Jan 8, 2017

Lace up your skates and take in the holiday splendor as you relive a cherished piece of your childhood or take your very first spin at the Viejas Ice Rink!


Chauffeured Distillery Tour

Oct 20, 2016 - ongoing

Taste San Diego's sensational spirits, crafted from grain to glass.Taste locally made whiskey, rum, vodka, gin, brandy; lunch; pint of beer, behind-the-scenes guided tours. Pick up & drop off included in Chauffeured Distillery Tour.


Cajon Classic Cruise

Apr 20 - ongoing

Look forward to the return of your favorite themes such as Off Road Maddness and Thunder On Main at the Cajon Classic Cruise.


Julian Melodrama

Oct 7 - Oct 30, 2016

Join in the booing and cheering audience participation, and see the variety of Olio performances between acts at traditional old time Julian Melodrama.


70th Annual Mother Goose Parade

Nov 20, 2016

The Mother Goose Parade is San Diego's East County's annual holiday kick-off celebration featuring whimsical floats, clowns, bands and equestrians.


Deals just for you

History & Heritage

Kids Go Free to The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House

The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House
Valid: Oct 1 - Oct 31, 2016

Children age 12 and under receive free entry to The Warner-Carrillo Ranch House with the paid admission of at least one accompanying adult. Valid for 2 children per paid adult.

Promotional Gifts

Receive a FREE Tote Bag With Purchase of Ticket!

San Diego Beer, Wine & Spirits Tours
Valid: Oct 20, 2016 - ongoing

Book a Chauffeured Distillery Tour and receive a FREE canvas tote bag! Book your tour today by calling 858-551-5115. We are open every day from 9am-9pm (PST).




Kids Go Free to the Barona Cultural Center & Museum

Barona Cultural Center & Museum
Valid: Oct 1 - Oct 31, 2016

Children 12/under receive free entry with paid admission of one adult with coupon at Valid for 2 children/paid adult. Does not apply on field trips, special exhibits/events. Cannot be combined with other offer/coupon.

Related Articles and Features

Explore Julian in San Diego East

A historic gold mining town in the Cuyamaca Mountains

Nestled in the picturesque Cuyamaca Mountains, Julian is a year-round getaway destination for those seeking an escape to the natural beauty of the countryside.


San Diego East - Mountains

Julian, Laguna and Cuyamaca Mountains

Our favorite family-friendly day trips to East San Diego include the historic mining town of Julian, Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and the pine-studded Laguna Mountains.


Awesome East County Day Trips

Two sensational day trip itineraries

We've planned two sensational days for you and your family to discover San Diego's East County. Simply head east from town, then come back around.

Sports & Recreation

Car Cruises and Auto Shows in San Diego

Classics to the Latest Cars

San Diego's car cruises and auto shows are the perfect way to spend a warm evening checking out everything from classics to the latest and greatest.


Explore theNeighborhood

Areas of Interest

Where to Stay

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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.






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