How are you spending the (unofficial) last weekend of summer?
Although technically summer doesn’t end until the 21st, Labor Day signifies the end of summer to most and many try to end it with a bang. So what’s best for taking advantage of the long weekend than visiting one of the many stunning destinations around San Diego for a quick day trip?
Here are 9 awesome destinations for when you want to venture out of sunny San Diego for one day only. We’ve organized them from closest to furthest to make the decision of where to go easier.
Note: Your safety is your responsibility. NWS recently announced a heatwave is coming to San Diego just in time for Labor Day weekend which augments the risk for fires happening.
Given the poor air quality caused by the ongoing wildfires, we also suggest checking California’s air quality information when planning your getaway and making sure you pack all the essentials like sunblock, a cap and plenty of water. For more wildfire safety tips visit Calfornia’s website here.
1. Lake Poway
Tucked away in the hills of Poway, the lake is one of the closest natural attractions to San Diego and makes for a great full day–or even half-day–getaway. Whether you choose to keep things chill with a picnic by the lake and paddle boats on the lake or you choose an adventure-filled day out on the lake with powerboats, the lake has an activity for you. For those with an equestrian inclination, the lake also offers pony trekking!
Where: 14644 Lake Poway Road, Poway, CA 92064
Ah, the popular Carlsbad, home of Tamarack Surf Beach, the Carlsbad Sea Wall and Legoland. This town just a short ride away from San Diego has plenty to offer! You can choose to chill by the beach (please don’t forget sunblock) and take a stroll around town, spend a fun-filled day at Legoland, or you can also visit Batiquitos Lagoon. This wetland reserve is perfect for catching a glimpse at the local fauna and flora and take some stunning shots of the incredibly photogenic outpost.
How to get there: drive north for 40 minutes on I-805 N and I-5 N or jump on I-5 N for a quicker 35-minute drive.
3. Julian, CA
This historic mining town was once San Diego’s only gold source but nowadays is better known for its award-winning apples. You can explore the town’s historic legacy as a center for gold mining by taking a tour of Eagle Mine and panning for real gold or enjoy apples galore by visiting one of Julian’s many orchards. But whatever you do make sure to get your hand on an apple pie from one of the town’s many purveyors–you won’t want to miss out on all that sweet goodness!
How to get there: drive east from downtown San Diego on CA-78 E.
4. Borrego Springs
No, that giant dragon slithering through the desert is not a mirage, although it certainly looks like it. Tucked away in the Anza-Borrego park you’ll find over one hundred metal sculptures by artist Ricardo Breceda. These fantastical creatures that appear to be roaming the desert in all of their rust-red glory are simply mesmerizing. Accompanying the beautiful 350-foot-long serpent you’ll also find anything from rams locking horns to dinosaurs and ancient camels. There are 130 or so sculptures to find and keep busy in this exciting treasure hunt. Will you find them all? (If you need a hint, you can pick up Sky Art Map to help you locate them).
Tucked away in the Jacinto mountains surrounded by towering pines and legendary rocks you’ll find the cute little town of Idyllwild. This charming hideaway is perfect for spending the day reconnecting with nature breathing in the crisp mountain air and exploring one of its many trails and paths. The idyllic town is full of small shops and restaurants as well as art and other cultural events–a great way to escape city life but still get that dose of urban life if you’re not entirely in sync with nature.
How to get there: Take the I-5 N and get off at CA-79 S/ Temecula Pkwy in Temecula. Then follow CA-79 S to Maranatha Dr in Idyllwild-Pine Cove.
6. Los Angeles
Just a quick car ride and you’ll be right in the heart of the City of Angels! Check our sister website Secret Los Angeles for ideas of what to do in this wonderful city.
7. Slab City
At “the last free place on earth” and an “anarchist RV town,” there are no rules nor is there running water, electricity or sewage services. But rising out of the dusty ground of this post-apocalyptic landscape. This desert gem is an abandoned military base that constantly attracts musicians, filmmakers, photographers and, of course, influencers. Mostly thanks to its iconic Salvation Mountain. This manmade mound was built by Leonard Knight using haystacks and support beams plastered with smooth adobe clay covered in vivid images and bible scriptures. Other attractions to check out in this desert town include The Range, the city’s very own open-air night club. The RVs, old school buses, tanks and driftwood shacks are inhabited by the town’s residents, known as “snowbirds.” So remember to be respectful when wandering around the town.
Where: Slab City, CA 92233
[Featured image:Vince Fleming]