Day trip to Joshua Tree

Started from San Diego around 9 am. It was a very cold day, so we tried to be inside the car as much as possible. Stops:

  1. Cholla Cactus garden: A very small ~0.3 mile hike with great views of the mountains and the garden
  2. Arch rock: A short but rocky hike ending at the arch rock
  3. Keys View: Great views from the top, accessible by car, pre and post sunset views were amazing
  4. Cap rock: Just off the road, can hike and climb the rock
  5. Skull rock: Another off the road rock formation

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Often overlooked, Mt. Laguna and Lake Cuyamaca offer scenic views and toddler-friendly hikes within an hour’s drive from San Diego.

The drive to the top of the summit of Mt. Laguna (elevation: 5,777 ft) takes about an hour from downtown San Diego on the I-8E. Close to the summit are a couple of short (~1 mile), toddler friendly hikes:

Lake Cuyamaca is situated along state highway 79 that runs N-S and about 10 miles west along the I-8 from the exit for Mt. Laguna. It’s possible to do some of these activities as a separate excursion or on the same day as a Mt. Laguna excursion:

  • Azalea Glen Little Loop: 1.4 mile loop (stroller friendly) with picturesque wooden bridges and remains of burned trees that make for an interesting landscape. There are picnic tables and restrooms in the parking lot area, and benches about half way along the trail.
  • Lake Cuyamaca Restaurant: A bit busy, but a decent option for sandwiches and burgers if you need to grab a bite. Overlooks Lake Cuyamaca.

Another option to wrap up the day is to drive back to San Diego via Julian and Santa Ysabel (~ 2 hours drive time) and stop by for some apple pie at the Julian Pie Company.

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Accessible within a couple of hours drive from San Diego and Los Angeles, Palm Springs offers great options for a day trip filled with outdoor activities.

  • Start your day at Koffi South with great coffee and baked goods options. The southern part of Palm Springs tends to be a bit less crowded than the downtown/northern part allowing for a more relaxing and socially distanced start to the day
  • Next, hike a stretch of the nearby Indian Canyon West Fork Trail located inside an Indian reservation. There is a ~$10 entry fee to get in. If the line to get in is too long, feel free to make a U-turn, and head on over to the next stop
  • Big Wheel Tours is a great bike rental shop. They have a big map of suggested bike paths, and our 3 year old loved their bike carriage. The Tahquitz Creek Loop is an easy path to complete in 2-3 hours. Pack a picnic and enjoy it in Demuth Park
  • Enjoy great ice-cream at Kreem across the street from the bike rental.

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