Summits to the City on a Journey Through San Diego County

Travel from rugged mountains to happening urban neighborhoods on a trip around California’s southern end.

Trip length: 3 Days
Total distance: 180mi/289km

ESCONDIDO. Feed nectar to chattering, rainbow-hued beauties at Lorikeet Landing in San Diego Safari Park . Or do your own flying as you soar for nearly a mile over rhinos and other wildlife on the park’s Flightline Safari. INFO Escondido Conference and Visitors Bureau ; 760/745-2125

TEMECULA (36mi/57km; 43min). In Old Town , let the kids pick treats at Old Town Root Beer Company (28500 Old Town Front St.; 951/676-5088); you grownups can sample artisan foods at Temecula Olive Oil Company . Ride through vineyards in a carriage pulled by Belgian draft horses at Longshadow Ranch Vineyard and Winery . INFO Temecula Valley Convention & Visitors Bureau ; 888/363-2852

PALOMAR MOUNTAIN (33mi/53km; 58min). Go fishing for trout at Doane Pond in Palomar Mountain State Park . Marvel at the historic Hale Telescope, once the world’s largest, at Palomar Observatory or take guided tours on weekends from April through October. INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/236-1212

JULIAN (35mi/56km; 58min). Listen for wild turkeys as you hike through forests of oak and pine to a spectacular desert overlook at William Heise County Park . Find out for yourself why this historic mining town enjoys national renown as a go-to spot for apple pie at Julian Pie Company . INFO Julian Chamber of Commerce ; 760/765-1857

POWAY (36mi/58km; 54min). All aboard the Poway-Midland Railroad  for rides on a vintage trolley car and trains pulled by a 1907 steam locomotive. Bite into the wood-smoked ribs once voted San Diego’s best (and don’t forget a side of mac ‘n cheese plus some peach cobbler too) at Jimmy’s Brick Pit BBQ . INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/236-1212

LA MESA (22mi/35km; 34min). Mountain bike through canyons and rolling hills at Mission Trails Regional Park . Or hike to the summit of Cowles Mountain, San Diego’s highest point, for panoramas that extend to the Coronado Islands off Mexico. At nearby Haritna Mediterranean , traditional Arabic cuisine transports you to the Middle East. INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/236-1212

BALBOA PARK (12mi/20km; 21min). Bicycle across stately Cabrillo Bridge and bask in the romance of Mediterranean architecture and lush gardens on a leisurely ride through Balboa Park . Catch a movie in Southern California’s only IMAX dome at Reuben H. Fleet Science Center , then see everything from early gliders to Apollo spacecraft at the San Diego Air & Space Museum . INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/236-1212

EAST VILLAGE (2mi/3km; 9min). During baseball season, catch a ballgame at Petco Park , where the food hits a home run too: try the ultra-tender pulled pork sandwiches at Randy Jones BBQ (run by the former Padres star). Next, let the kids get creative and work with artists in the soaring, sustainably designed New Children’s Museum . INFO San Diego Tourism Authority ; 619/236-1212

LITTLE ITALY (1mi/2km; 6min). Housed in a former station, the San Diego Firehouse Museum  displays historic firefighting equipment, including a vintage engine from La Jolla and a horse-drawn steamer. Savor silky spoonfuls of Italy with the housemade gelatos at Pappalecco . INFO Little Italy Association of San Diego ; 619/233-3398

OLD TOWN (3mi/5km; 9min). Return to San Diego’s Mexican and early American past as you walk streets of 19th century adobe buildings at Old Town San Diego Historic Park . Toast the end of your journey with one of 2,000 tequilas at El Agave Tequileria & Restaurant (the kids can sip cool horchata). INFO Old Town Chamber of Commerce ; 619/291-4903