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  • Getting ready to kayak around La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California
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    San Diego: Coastal Wonders and Cultural Hot Spots

  • A romantic stroll around La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Greater Palm Springs, California
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    Greater Palm Springs: Mid-Century Modern Desert Jewel

  • The light, airy interior of the Anaheim Packing District food hall in California
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    Anaheim: Day-to-Night in the Center of the Magic and Fun

  • View of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California
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    West Hollywood: The Trendy Heart of Los Angeles

Sunset from the beach in La Jolla in San Diego, California
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An Epic Tour of Southern California Culture, Cuisine and Attractions

By Zaida Rios

  • Route distance:
    509.00
  • Suggested Time:
    1-2 weeks

From coastal escapes to a desert haven to magical cities, experience it all in Southern California.

If you crave variety, this road trip is for you. Follow this unique travel journey that sends you to some of the most exciting Southern California places and spaces. Fly into San Diego International Airport (SAN), and let your curiosity and sense of wonder lead the way.

01
Getting ready to kayak around La Jolla Cove in San Diego, California
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San Diego: Coastal Wonders and Cultural Hot Spots

It’s easy to love San Diego. Temperate breezes, 112 kilometers of coastline and a welcoming spirit – these are its obvious charms. For an instant connection to the natural beauty, get out on the water in quaint seaside village La Jolla. Kayak alongside rugged coastal bluffs on the gorgeous Pacific Ocean and into the caves of La Jolla Cove. If you’re lucky, you might spot playful sea lions. Back in the heart of the city, explore Balboa Park, recognized as the largest urban cultural park in the USA. The park includes 17 museums, stunning gardens, lush landscapes, performing arts, the world-famous San Diego Zoo and the resplendent Spanish Colonial architecture of the California Tower. Stroll through the Plaza de Panama and explore the Botanical Building and the Lily Pond. Next, have a quick bite, craft beer or seasonal cocktail at Panama 66 inside the May S. Marcy Sculpture Court and Garden in the San Diego Museum of Art nearby.

Nothing tells San Diego’s story better than its neighborhoods. Head to Barrio Logan, a Mexican American community rich in culture and home to an extensive stretch of Chicano street art. At the heart of the barrio, Chicano Park, a National Historic Landmark, is home to a stunning collection of murals painted by Chicano artists on the underside of the Coronado Bridge. It’s the largest collection of Chicano murals in the world and among the largest collections of outdoor murals in the country. A significant cultural landmark for the community, the park was founded in the 1960s by residents in protest of urban construction taking over the neighborhood. Dig deeper into this local spirit at Por Vida, a coffee shop and community hub that’s famous for its Horchata Cold Brew Coffee. Nearby, at Border X Brewing, the Blood Saison beer is inspired by the traditional Mexican drink, Jamaica, and pairs perfectly with an authentic street taco from Tury’s Tacos, located inside the brewery. After you indulge, rest up for the night before the drive ahead into a desert oasis.

223 km
2.25 hours by car
02
A romantic stroll around La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, in Greater Palm Springs, California
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Greater Palm Springs: Mid-Century Modern Desert Jewel

A two-hour drive east lands you in Greater Palm Springs, a series of nine resort cities surrounded by the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains in the westernmost section of the Sonoran Desert. Slow down as you explore Palm Canyon Drive, the main drag of the city of Palm Springs, which embodies the mid-century modern architecture for which the area is known. The retro buildings stand out against breathtaking, rugged terrain punctuated by towering palm trees. Chic and cultured, Palm Springs is an effervescent mixture of must-see boutiques, galleries and cafés. Make time to see the dramatic desert wilderness of Joshua Tree National Park, only 45 minutes away via car. Another way to see gorgeous scenery is a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Climb into a tram and ascend from the desert floor to an alpine forest, watching the rocky cliffs of Chino Canyon through your window as the tram scales skyward. At the summit, stop by Peaks Restaurant for a meal with a stunning view. Stay at La Quinta Resort & Club, a Waldorf Astoria Resort, where you can indulge in a therapeutic soak in a lush garden tub laden with flowers and essential oils, or hang out at a hip poolside happy hour. Before you leave the desert, check out the Coachella Walls – a fascinating collection of mural art in a rainbow of colors and designs depicting the community’s history as well as important cultural and historical figures.

231 km
1.75 hours by car
03
The light, airy interior of the Anaheim Packing District food hall in California
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Anaheim: Day-to-Night in the Center of the Magic and Fun

No trip to Anaheim is complete without a visit to the Disneyland Resort, home to the original Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure Park. Here, you can explore various themed lands such as the new Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge; enjoy character experiences, live entertainment and parades; marvel at Pixar Pier and ride iconic attractions*. For a break from the parks, check out the Anaheim Packing House, a former citrus packing warehouse that has been given new life as a modern food hall and entertainment destination. This bright and airy space welcomes locals and visitors alike. It's an absolute wonderland for food discovery, featuring more than 20 unique eateries and creative artisans. End your day at the Downtown Disney District, an upbeat walking promenade featuring shopping, dining and entertainment. Check out the Creole cuisine at Ralph Brennan’s Jazz Kitchen for a spicy good time and end your evening by exploring the rest of the area. With a fun vibe all its own, the Downtown Disney District is an ideal spot to grab a bite to eat, shop until you drop or spend quality time with family and friends.

*Disneyland attractions and entertainment are subject to change without notice.

55 km
1.5 hours by car
04
View of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood, California
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West Hollywood: The Trendy Heart of Los Angeles

Venture into West Hollywood and make your first stop Melrose Avenue, a vibrant thoroughfare that has set the scene for many popular TV series. Stroll past brightly colored indie shops, chic boutiques like Fred Segal and trendy sidewalk cafés prime for people watching. You might even run into a celebrity. Nearby on Santa Monica Boulevard, stop into Laurel Hardware, an industrial-style restaurant that was formerly a hardware store, and lunch like a local. The avocado & citrus salad and the pan-seared branzino are bound to please. After lunch, head to the West Hollywood Design District. It’s the place to discover the latest in art, design, fashion and interiors. Pop into the Pacific Design Center, a dreamy collection of interior design showrooms, furniture and textiles. As the sun dims, venture to the famed Sunset Strip – aglow with neon lights and lined with entertainment venues and music clubs. It helps to plan and purchase show tickets ahead of time, but there may be local acts you can spontaneously catch. Check out Whisky a Go Go, a music club that helped launch the careers of The Doors, No Doubt, Led Zeppelin, KISS and AC/DC. Inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, this gritty nightclub continues to host popular bands and performers. Don’t skip The Troubadour or The Viper Room, also legendary music hot spots that won’t disappoint. It’ll be an unforgettable experience before you catch your flight home from Los Angeles International Airport (LAX).