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Explore Coast and Desert on a Family Road Trip

Explore Coast and Desert on a Family Road Trip
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Experience amazing landscapes and family attractions from San Diego coast to Palm Springs and the San Jacinto Mountains.

Trip length: 3 days
Total distance: 368mi/595km

SEA WORLD. Plunge into SeaWorld San Diego for the ride of your life on Manta, a roller coaster that glides and dives like its namesake ray. Then chill out at Wild Arctic, where you can go face-to-face with beluga whales. Or for a truly immersive experience, the Beluga Interaction Program lets you get in the water with these amazing marine mammals. INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/236-1212

MISSION BAY (3mi/5km; 6min). Work that core as you cruise on the calm bay waters with a stand-up paddleboard from Mission Bay Aquatic Center , which also offers beginning classes. Reward your efforts with a stack of blueberry cornmeal pancakes or cinnamon bread French toast at colorful and arty The Mission . INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/236-1212

THE EMBARCADERO (8mi/14km; 18min). Salute San Diego’s naval tradition as you explore a historic aircraft carrier from flight deck to engine room at the USS Midway Museum . Then head over to the Maritime Museum of San Diego and board vessels including the legendary Star of India—the world’s oldest active sailing ship. INFO Port of San Diego ; 800/854-2757

CORONADO (11mi/18km; 22min). Have fun out in the warm California sun at Silver Strand State Beach . Swim in the calm, warm waters of San Diego Bay or catch a wave with the Coronado Surfing Academy . Just across from the legendary Hotel del Coronado, bite into classic fish tacos at The Brigantine Seafood Restaurant . INFO Coronado Chamber of Commerce ; 619/435-9260

BORREGO SPRINGS (86mi/138km; 1hr47min). From hikes to the Borrego Palm Canyon oasis to sunset views of rugged badlands from Font’s Point, experience the sublime beauty of Anza-Borrego Desert State Park . Refuel at local favorite Carmelita’s Mexican Grill and Cantina (575 Palm Canyon Dr.; 760/767-5666). INFO Borrego Springs Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau ; 800/559-5524

INDIO (62mi/100km; 1hr25min). Take a gander at beautifully patterned wood ducks and other surprising waterfowl at Coachella Valley Wild Bird Center . Refresh yourself with a creamy date shake and stock up on healthy snacks for the rest of the trip at Shields Date Garden . Get maps and visitor guides at the California Welcome Center in Yucca Valley. INFO Greater Palm Springs Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 800/967-3767

JOSHUA TREE (91mi; 147km; 2hr21min). Tour Joshua Tree National Park , with stops at the oasis at Cottonwood Spring to the surreal rock formations of Hidden Valley. Watch world-class climbers ascend the park’s monzogranite boulders or learn basic skills from the pros at Vertical Adventures Rock Climbing School . INFO Joshua Tree Chamber of Commerce ; 760/366-3723

PALM SPRINGS (37mi/60km; 44min). Boasting aircraft, including a P-51 Mustang and a B-17 Flying Fortress, the Palm Springs Air Museum gives you close-up looks at iconic World War II planes. Take to the skies yourself aboard the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway as it climbs to hiking trails and dining at 8,500 feet/2,591 meters at Peaks Restaurant . INFO Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism ; 800/347-7746

FONTANA (70mi/113km; 1hr16min). Even if you’re not around for race day, you can still get high-octane thrills at Auto Club Speedway thanks to the many racing schools, including Cal Speed Karting Center , at this sprawling complex. Add some spice to the trip with the curries and Thai specialties at Khunyai Asian Grill . INFO Inland Empire Tourism Council ; 909/897-1874

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