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San Diego and Beyond: A Sun-, Fun-, and Food-lover's Perfect Tour

San Diego and Beyond: A Sun-, Fun-, and Food-lover's Perfect Tour
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Enjoy the mild weather, beach-casual vibe, wine-country beauty, and year-round fresh flavors on a grand loop through California’s southwest corner.

Trip length: 3 days
Total distance: 177mi/285km

San Diego. Visit the Gaslamp Quarter , the historic heart of San Diego and now a premier shopping and dining destination; try lunch at Searsucker , where classics designed by TV chef Brian Malarkey get clever twists, like a BLT plus avocado and a tarragon aioli or a chopped salad with fennel, salami, olives, and chickpeas. INFO San Diego Convention and Visitors Bureau ; 619/232-3101

Oceanside (39mi/63km; 42min). Get tips from local experts at the California Welcome Center . Get details on family attractions, historical sites, shopping, beaches, and restaurants and lodging from your personal travel concierge. INFO California Welcome Center ; 760/721-1101

Temecula (32mi/51km; 49min) Sample sophisticated vintages, including sparkling wines, in California’s southernmost wine country at tasting rooms in and around this appealing town. Dine at Paisano’s Italian Restaurant (45000 Pechanga Pkwy.; 951/770-8506), for classic dishes from throughout Italy. INFO Visit Temecula Valley ; 951/491-6085

Lake Elsinore (21mi/34km; 26min). Hike the Bear Canyon Loop Trail to enjoy late winter and early spring wildflowers and exceptional views of Big Bear Lake, 70 miles northeast. INFO Cleveland National Forest ; 858/673-6180

San Juan Capistrano (34mi/54km; 45min). Peruse the menu at the Sundried Tomato Café to choose from appealing starters like creamy sundried tomato soup or dishes and oven-baked artichokes to entrees including elegant rack of lamb. Afterward, walk the grounds of the nearby (and beautifully restored) Mission of San Juan Capistrano. INFO San Juan Capistrano Chamber of Commerce ; 949/493-4700

Laguna Beach (16mi/25km; 33min). Hit low tide to delight in a colorful underwater world in the tide pools at Crystal Cove State Park , or just stroll along the crescent of sand at one of the state’s prettiest beaches. INFO Crystal Cove State Park ; 949/494-3539

Newport Beach (4mi/6km; 10min). Go exotic in this classic beach town with authentic Indian dishes at casually inviting Tamarind of London , offspring of the Michelin-starred British restaurant. Try the chickpea chaat, tandoori lamb chop, and fresh-out-of-the-tandoor na’an. INFO Visit Newport Beach Inc. ; 949/719-6100

Irvine (10mi/16km; 20min). Enjoy California art of the Impressionist period at the Irvine Museum, before sitting down to a seasonal lunch at Andrei’s Conscious Cuisine & Cocktails . INFO Destination Irvine ; 949/660-9112

Tustin (11mi/18km; 23min). Head to local favorite Peters Canyon , a top pick for the region’s hikers, bikers, and runners for its varied terrain and great views. On a clear day, look across the sea to spot Santa Catalina Island. INFO Peters Canyon Regional Park ; 714/ 973-6611

Costa Mesa (12mi/19km; 23min). Check out this city’s shopping options—from big-name brands to exclusive boutiques and the state’s biggest mall at South Coast Plaza . After all that shopping, rest and refuel at Old Vine Café, where nine tasting menus range from seasonal to comfort food to vegan. INFO Costa Mesa Conference and Visitor Bureau ; 714/786-8585

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