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8 Best Day Tours from San Diego, California in 2024


San Diego, with its endless sunshine and laid-back vibe, is the perfect launchpad for some of the most memorable day trips you could imagine.

Whether you’re a local looking for a quick escape or a visitor eager to explore Southern California’s riches, the options are as varied as they are exciting. From the rolling vineyards of Temecula to the historic streets of Julian, each destination offers its own unique flavor and adventure.

I did some digging and found the coolest day tours from San Diego that won’t break the bank. Going on an organized tour is the best way to chill out while still experiencing the top sights San Diego’s surroundings have to offer. I’ve got you covered, so you don’t have to waste your precious vacay time on research.

Imagine sipping on fine wines with panoramic views of the countryside, or delving into the cool depths of a gold mine before treating yourself to the best apple pie you’ve ever tasted. And let’s not forget the thrills of LEGOLAND or the cultural tapestry of Los Angeles, each offering a day’s worth of fun and discovery.

So, grab your camera, pack your curiosity, and let’s dive into the ultimate day trip guide from San Diego. Get ready to create memories that will last a lifetime!

Top Day Tours from San Diego

people walking on street near white building during daytime

Tijuana Day Trip

✔️ Great price
✔️ Best reviews
✔️ Stops for shopping and drinks along the way

whale jumping over the sea during daytime

Whale Watching Cruise

✔️ View the majestic sea creatures
✔️ ‘No seasickness’ guarantee
✔️ Commentary from an expert guide

a vineyard with vines and mountains in the background

Temecula Wine Tour

✔️ Wine tasting at three wineries
✔️ Lunch included
✔️ Small group size

8 Day Tours from San Diego

1. Tijuana Day Trip from San Diego

assorted colored plastic bags on street during daytime
Tijuana is a major economic hub in the region, known for its manufacturing and industrial sectors, particularly in electronics and automobile manufacturing.

⭐️ RATING: 4.5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 4-5 hours | ✅ Book it!

Looking for a day trip with a twist from San Diego? Why not hop across the border to Tijuana for a day packed with culture, cuisine, and colorful markets? This vibrant city offers a unique cross-border experience that’s just a short trip away but feels like a world apart.

Embark on the Tijuana Day Trip and dive into the heart of Mexican culture. You’ll be guided through bustling streets, where the aroma of authentic Mexican street food beckons. Indulge in some of the best tacos you’ll ever taste, and wash them down with a local beer, all included in your trip!

This tour is a great way to see Tijuana and get a local guide that knows good spots to go to. Highly recommend!

Maria_K (see more reviews)

But it’s not all about food; Tijuana is a treasure trove of cultural attractions and shopping opportunities. From handcrafted souvenirs to modern malls, there’s something for every shopper. And with a knowledgeable guide by your side, you’ll navigate the city like a local, uncovering hidden gems along the way.

So, grab your passport and get ready for an adventure that combines the ease of organized travel with the thrill of discovery. Tijuana awaits to offer you a day trip you won’t forget!

2. Whale Watching Cruise

whale jumping over the sea during daytime
Witness the majestic Blue, Grey, Fin, and Humpback whales in action as they devour krill and small marine creatures.

⭐️ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 4.5 hours | ✅ Book it!

Embarking on a San Diego Whale Watching Cruise is like stepping into a live nature documentary. Imagine the thrill of spotting majestic whales in their natural habitat, right off the coast of sunny San Diego. This day trip is a must for anyone looking to add a splash of adventure to their itinerary.

The cruise offers an intimate glimpse into the lives of these magnificent creatures, with the added bonus of possibly seeing dolphins and sea lions too! It’s not every day you get to witness the awe-inspiring sight of a whale breaching the ocean’s surface or a pod of dolphins playfully racing the boat.

We loved the pod of dolphins and the four Great White Whales we saw. The sailboat was amazing as well.

Dustin_F (see more reviews)

What sets this experience apart is the blend of excitement and serenity. One moment, you’re scanning the horizon for signs of marine life, and the next, you’re in the midst of a breathtaking display of nature’s wonders. Whether you’re a seasoned marine enthusiast or just looking for a unique way to spend a day, the San Diego Whale Watching Cruise promises an unforgettable journey through the ocean’s wonders.

So, grab your camera and your sense of adventure, and set sail for a day filled with natural marvels and memorable moments!

3. Temecula Wine Tour

a vineyard with vines and mountains in the background
Temecula Valley is celebrated for its vibrant wine scene, featuring over 40 wineries. This picturesque region produces a diverse array of wines, thanks to its unique microclimate.

⭐️ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 9 hours | ✅ Book it!

Dive into the heart of wine country with a Wine Tour of Temecula, right from San Diego. This day trip is a gem for those looking to escape the city’s hustle and immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of Temecula’s vineyards.

Sip and savor your way through multiple wineries, each offering a unique glimpse into the region’s winemaking traditions. From the rolling hills to the exquisite tasting rooms, you’ll experience firsthand why Temecula has earned its reputation as a premier wine destination.

Our tour guide was awesome. So friendly and accommodating. Lunch was really the best. Huge sandwiches that were freshly made. Lots of wine to taste and even time for shopping.

Michele_H (see more reviews)

Expect a day filled with delightful tastings, picturesque views, and the chance to learn about the art of winemaking from passionate vintners.

This intimate tour is perfect for wine lovers and anyone looking to enjoy a day of relaxation and indulgence amidst the vines. Raise your glass to an unforgettable journey through Temecula’s wine country!

4. Wine Tasting Tour to Guadalupe Valley

a vineyard with a row of houses in the background
Nestled amidst scenic landscapes, Valle de Guadalupe in Baja California, Mexico is a premier destination for oenophiles and food enthusiasts seeking an authentic taste of Mexican wine culture.

⭐️ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 10 hours | ✅ Book it!

Embark on a luxurious wine-tasting adventure to Baja California! This day trip is a must for anyone looking to savor the finest wines the region has to offer, all while soaking in the breathtaking landscapes of Mexico’s famed Valle de Guadalupe wine country.

Imagine being whisked away on a journey where every detail is taken care of, from comfortable transportation to exclusive access to some of the most renowned wineries. You’ll get to taste exquisite wines, learn about the winemaking process from the experts, and indulge in the local cuisine that perfectly complements your wine.

Very easy and fun trip! We got picked up at our home and driven to 3 wineries and 1 restaurant in Valle de Guadalupe. Our guide was very knowledgeable, funny and a great driver. Definitely recommend.

A Tripadvisor Reviewer (see more reviews)

This isn’t just any wine tour; it’s an experience that blends the beauty of nature with the art of winemaking.

Whether you’re a wine aficionado or just looking for a unique day out, this trip promises an unforgettable escape into the world of wine, right at San Diego’s doorstep. Cheers to an adventure filled with delightful sips and stunning sights!

5. Puerto Nuevo Lobster, Margaritas and Mariachi Tour

lobster on icy tray
Visitors flock to Puerto Nuevo to savor the traditional lobster feasts, where the crustaceans are deep-fried and served with beans, rice, and fresh tortillas, offering a quintessential Mexican culinary experience.

⭐️ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 5-7 hours | ✅ Book it!

Dive into the flavors of Baja with the Puerto Nuevo Lobster, Margaritas, and Mariachi Tour from San Diego. This day trip is a culinary journey that takes you to the lobster capital of Baja, Puerto Nuevo, where the lobster isn’t just food; it’s a tradition.

Imagine sitting by the coast, with a plate of freshly cooked lobster estilo Puerto Nuevo, sipping on icy margaritas or craft beers, all while being serenaded by authentic Mariachi music. This isn’t just a meal; it’s an experience that captures the essence of Baja’s coastal cuisine and vibrant culture.

Every detail of our tour was perfectly executed. We were a group of 6 and loved every minute from the margaritas, to the lobster and fabulous shopping. Worth a second trip!

A Tripadvisor Reviewer (see more reviews)

This tour is perfect for foodies and anyone looking to enjoy a day filled with good food, great company, and unforgettable memories.

Whether you’re a local or a visitor, this day trip is a must-do for a taste of Baja’s best, without having to venture too far from San Diego. Get ready for a feast that will tantalize your taste buds and warm your soul!

6. Los Angeles Day Trip from San Diego

Hollywood, Los Angeles
The Hollywood Sign, perched on Mount Lee in Los Angeles, California, is an iconic American landmark symbolizing the glamour and dreams of the entertainment industry.

⭐️ RATING: 5 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 11-12 hours | ✅ Book it!

Explore the City of Angels on a day trip from San Diego that promises an adventure filled with iconic sights and hidden gems.

This tour takes you through the vibrant neighborhoods of Hollywood, Beverly Hills, Santa Monica, and Venice Beach. Walk the Avenue of the Stars, gaze at the famous Hollywood sign, and cruise down the legendary Sunset Strip.

Viviane was very flexible. We loved the whole tour. She was very knowledgeable about each location that we visited. I highly recommend!

Bridget_D (see more reviews)

With a knowledgeable guide to share the city’s stories, you’ll get an insider’s look at the glamour and history that define LA. Enjoy a leisurely lunch at the charming Farmers Market before continuing your exploration of the city’s beautiful coast and architectural marvels.

This day trip is an exquisite journey through Los Angeles’ most celebrated and captivating locales, all from the comfort of San Diego. Join this unforgettable tour and experience the magic of LA in style and class!

7. Julian Gold Mine and Pie Tour

white and red wooden house
The Eagle Mine in Julian is a popular tourist attraction where visitors can step back in time, explore the historic mine tunnels, panning for gold, and learn about the miner’s life.

⏳ TOUR LENGTH: 7 hours | ✅ Book it!

This day trip takes you to the heart of Julian, a quaint mountain town known for its gold rush heritage and famous apple pies.

Your adventure begins with a visit to the Eagle Mine, where you’ll delve into the underground tunnels on a guided tour. Learn about the life of miners during the California Gold Rush and marvel at the machinery used for gold extraction. The cool atmosphere of the tunnels and the stories of past endeavors will transport you back in time.

After exploring the mine, stroll down Julian’s Main Street, lined with antique stores, art galleries, and specialty shops. The town’s historic buildings and rustic charm invite you to wander and discover.

The highlight of the trip is undoubtedly the famous Julian apple pie. Enjoy a complimentary slice of this local delicacy, a perfect sweet treat to conclude your day.

This tour is an ideal blend of exploration and relaxation, offering a unique glimpse into Southern California’s rich history and culture.

8. A Day in LEGOLAND® California

Lego mini figure collections
LEGOLAND California Resort is a fun place for the whole family. See it in October for special Halloween-themed events.

⭐️ RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars | ⏳ LENGTH: 1day | ✅ Book it!

Step into a world built of imagination and creativity at LEGOLAND California, a must-visit destination for families and LEGO enthusiasts alike. With over 30,000 LEGO models made from more than 60 million LEGO bricks, this theme park brings the iconic toy to life on a grand scale.

Making memories with our family was the greatest gift. Seeing them happy was very special to us. This was our Christmas present to our kiddos. This is the start of a new tradition for our family.

Sarina_S (See more reviews)

From thrilling rides to interactive exhibits, LEGOLAND California offers a diverse array of attractions that cater to all ages. Dive into the fun at the LEGOLAND Water Park or embark on an aquatic adventure at the SEA LIFE Aquarium, where dive shows and fish feedings add to the excitement.

Make every visit unique by exploring new restaurants and seasonal food items, and don’t miss out on special promotions and limited-time offers for an even more enjoyable experience. Whether you’re planning an educational field trip or a family outing, LEGOLAND California promises a day filled with joy, learning, and endless creativity.

Frequently Asked Questions: Day Tours from San Diego

a bird's eye view of the water and cliffs
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in San Diego is a stunning coastal park known for its rugged cliffs, unspoiled beaches, and the rare Torrey Pine tree.

What is close to San Diego?

Julian, with its gold mine tours and famous apple pies, offers a taste of history and sweetness.

Temecula’s wine country is a haven for wine lovers, boasting scenic vineyards and exquisite tastings.

For families, LEGOLAND California in Carlsbad promises a day of fun and creativity.

And if you’re up for a bit more adventure, the vibrant city of Los Angeles is just a train ride away, offering endless entertainment and cultural experiences.

Can you do a day trip to Mexico from San Diego?

Absolutely! A day trip to Tijuana, Mexico, from San Diego is not only possible but also an adventure you won’t forget. Just a short drive across the border opens up a world of vibrant street markets, delicious tacos, and lively culture.

Don’t miss the chance to savor authentic Mexican cuisine and explore the local art scene.

For a hassle-free experience, consider joining a guided tour that takes care of all the logistics, including border crossing. Remember your passport, and get ready for a day filled with colorful experiences and memorable moments just south of the border!

What is the best Mexican city to visit from San Diego?

Tijuana stands out as the go-to Mexican city for a day trip from San Diego. It’s incredibly accessible and offers a vibrant mix of culture, art, and cuisine. Dive into the bustling markets, savor street food like never before, and explore the burgeoning craft beer scene. Tijuana’s cultural heartbeat is palpable in its galleries and public spaces, showcasing local and international art.

For a deeper dive, the coastal beauty of Rosarito is just a short drive away, offering stunning beaches and delicious seafood.

Both cities promise an authentic taste of Mexico, making them perfect for a quick escape.

Is Disney closer to LA or San Diego?

Disneyland, the happiest place on Earth, is closer to Los Angeles than to San Diego. Nestled in Anaheim, it’s about a 30-minute drive from downtown LA, depending on traffic. From San Diego, you’re looking at a journey of approximately 1.5 to 2 hours by car. So, if you’re in San Diego dreaming of Disney magic, it’s definitely doable for a day trip. Just plan for an early start to make the most of your day with Mickey and friends. The magic of Disney awaits, with just a bit more of a drive from sunny San Diego!

red and brown concrete building
Tijuana is a popular destination for medical tourism, attracting thousands of visitors seeking affordable medical and dental care.

Is Joshua Tree a day trip from San Diego?

Joshua Tree National Park is indeed a feasible day trip from San Diego, though it’s a bit of a stretch. Situated about a 3-hour drive away, this desert oasis is known for its stark beauty, iconic Joshua trees, and stunning rock formations.

To truly enjoy the park, it’s best to start early and plan your visit around the highlights you want to see. Whether it’s hiking, rock climbing, or simply soaking in the surreal landscapes, Joshua Tree offers a unique escape into nature.

Remember to pack plenty of water and snacks for this desert adventure!

Is Universal Studios close to San Diego?

Universal Studios Hollywood is closer to Los Angeles than San Diego, but it’s still accessible for an exciting day trip. Located about a 2-hour drive from San Diego, this world-renowned theme park offers thrilling rides, shows, and a real working movie studio.

Dive into the magic of movies, experience jaw-dropping attractions, and walk through the famous Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

While it requires a bit of a drive, the unforgettable experiences and Hollywood glam make it well worth the journey. Just plan for an early start to make the most of your day in this cinematic playground!

aerial photo of beach
Children’s Pool Beach in La Jolla, San Diego, is unique for its seawall, built in the 1930s to create a calm swimming area.

Day Tours from San Diego: Final Thoughts

After years of writing about San Diego and its surroundings, I’ve come to realize that the beauty of day trips from this city is in the different experiences they offer. Each journey, whether to the lush vineyards of Temecula or the historic mines of Julian, is a chapter in the larger narrative of Southern California’s diverse landscape and rich history.

As someone who has delved deep into what makes San Diego and its day trip destinations special, I can attest to the fact that these experiences are opportunities to connect, learn, and grow—to see the world through a different lens.

So, whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a curious local, I encourage you to embrace these adventures. You never know what stories await you just a short drive from San Diego.

Additional San Diego Travel Blogs

21 Exciting Things to Do in San Diego With Teens

9 Best Tijuana Day Trips from San Diego

5 Best Whale Watching Tours in San Diego