Scenic San Diego Winter Road Trips

While it’s certainly a fact that true winter weather isn’t something San Diego typically experiences (which is a big part of the reason why we love it here), that doesn’t mean that visitors and locals alike can’t enjoy a little bit of winter on their own terms. One of the things that makes San Diego so special is that you can visit the beach, the desert, and the mountains all in the same day if you like. So if you’re interested in splashing in the surf and making tracks in the snow in a single afternoon, here are some of our favorite scenic winter drives in and around the city. 


Interstate 5 

One of the most celebrated drives in the area — and one of the most downright gorgeous — is Highway Interstate 5 (a.k.a. “The 5” to locals). 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. 


59-Mile Scenic Drive

Perhaps the most famous of the city’s sightseeing excursions, the 59-Mile Scenic Drive passes through some of the most photogenic locations San Diego has to offer (including Shelter Island, the Cabrillo National Monument, Soledad Mountain, Old Town, and Balboa Park). For those looking to enjoy a “greatest hits” collection of renowned San Diego landmarks, look no further. Travel time varies, especially if you’re snapping souvenir photos to make all of your friends back home envious! 


Julian (60 miles)

Taking a wintertime day trip to Julian is always worth the time. This thoroughly charming mountain community sits about 90 minutes to the northeast of Pacific Terrace, and represents a truly memorable excursion. Not only is Julian itself brimming with quaint shops and friendly people, but the bulk of the trip along CA-78 is as lovely as it gets. Julian also tends to get snow in the winter months if you’d like to experience a winter hike. When you visit, don’t miss events like the Julian Mining Company’s Christmas Market, Fort Cross Holiday Lights Display, and festive holiday hayrides.  


Temecula (60 miles)

(Photo: @sfagentrickd)

Nestled in a valley directly north of San Diego (along the lovely I-15), lies the quaint and inviting Temecula. Representing the perfect day trip for wine lovers, Temecula features a number of noteworthy wineries scattered throughout the area. Tour a vineyard or two and sip on award-winning vintages bottled just over an hour from our front door. The city also has an Old Town area with one-of-a-kind shops and other unique experiences.


Mt. Laguna (60 miles)

(Photo: @mountlagunacommunity)

The Laguna Mountains are some of the most breathtaking in the state, and San Diego is lucky to have access to some absolutely gorgeous areas of this resplendent range. We recommend jumping on I-8 and heading due west. Along the way, you’ll travel through communities like Alpine and Pine Valley, as well as along the Sunrise Highway through Cuyamaca Rancho State Park and Cleveland National Forest. Don’t forget to stop for a bite at Pine House Café while you’re there!  


Idyllwild-Pine Cove (115 miles)

(Photo: @blue.pearl.designs)

At just about two hours from San Diego, this breathtaking hideaway, tucked away in the San Jacinto Mountains, offers not just vast natural beauty, but no end of ways to enjoy it. Hiking, mountain biking, camping, and some of the best rock climbing in the state all await intrepid explorers here. Once you’ve had your fill of outdoor escapades, adventurers will also discover some exceptional dining and shopping options nearby. Make sure you have plenty of storage on your device for snapping photos while visiting.


Your Scenic Winter Drive Starts at Pacific Terrace 

Every great road trip needs a home base. When you stay with us at Pacific Terrace, you’ll always have a welcoming and comfortable place to land after your day’s mobile adventures. Explore the special offers on our official website, and start planning your visit!