When it's so close, it's hard to deny the child within yourself and not take the trip from San Diego to Disneyland. With a couple of fun stops along the way, this road trip can be about the journey and the destination.
Drive Time from San Diego to Disneyland: approximately 1.5 hours
Distance from San Diego to Disneyland: approximately 100 miles
Best Car for this Road Trip: Standard SUV
Disneyland is just an hour and a half from San Diego, making these destinations great complimentary destinations if you're planning a diverse California getaway. You can enjoy attractions like the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, Birch Aquarium, Reuben H Fleet Science Center, and SeaWorld San Diego before heading north for your pixie-dusted visit to Disneyland.
Head about 40 miles north of San Diego on I-5 N and you'll hit Carlsbad, California. In Carlsbad, you'll find the LEGOLAND California Resort, with over 60 rides themed to the famous brick-shaped building blocks as well as a water park for added fun. About nine miles south of LEGOLAND is Carlsbad State Beach. This state park is a three-mile long beach and also a popular camping ground.
If you're just stopping in Carlsbad for a bite to eat, try Bistro West, a farm to table restaurant that is right off of I-5. They have a seasonally evolving menu that takes food that the chef's plant and harvest from The West Farm.
From Carlsbad, it's about 41 minutes (32 miles) to to Dana Point, California on I-5 N. Known for its natural beauty, Dana Point features 23 public parks where you can let the kids run off some energy before the last leg of the drive. You may want to keep a change of clothes handy, so you can splash freely at stops like Baby Beach.
If you're getting something to eat, RJ's Cafe is a great budget-friendly choice, serving breakfast and lunch. For dinner, try the Wind & Sea Restaurant. Harbor views enchant young visitors while the adults swoon over a menu featuring mouthwatering picks like the Hawaiian Chicken, Wine Burger, and the always delicious Fish of the Day.
The final leg of this drive takes about 37 minutes, covering 33 miles on I-5 N. Just a few hours after your departure, you'll find yourself embarking on a magical escape at Disneyland. This brief and easy drive can accommodate even the smallest of travelers with convenient stops to calm restless legs and keep small bellies satisfied.
Whether you're planning a great American road trip that culminates in Disneyland, or you're looking to pair just a couple popular cities together to extend your escape, these starting points are within an easy one-day drive of Disneyland, even when you include leisurely stops and plenty of time out of the car.
How can you see Disneyland in one day?
Although you could spend a week in Disneyland and have plenty to see, you can still maximize your time in the park by following these tips. Make sure to be at the entrance gates when the park opens to avoid waiting in a long line. If you'd like to enjoy a sit-down meal, it is a good idea to make reservations prior to your visit to avoid waiting to be seated. You can also purchase FastPasses, which allow you to skip ahead to shorter lines for rides and other attractions, saving a lot of time.
What is the best beach in San Diego for families?
There are many family-friendly beaches in San Diego, including Moonlight State Beach. There is a free large parking lot close by as well as street parking. It features a snack stand and playground conveniently located on the beach. There are also restrooms and showers here, so you can rinse off the sand before heading to your next road trip stop.
What is the best time to visit Southern California?
The spring season, from March to May, is a great time to visit Southern California. It tends to be less crowded with tourists during this time, making attractions more accessible. The weather is also mild, with high temperatures in the upper 60s and low temperatures in the mid 50s.