Experience amazing landscapes and family attractions from San Diego coast to Palm Springs and the San Jacinto Mountains.
Trip length: 3 days
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
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
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