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scenic drives??

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London, United...
posts: 10
scenic drives??

Hi all,

we are a group of 7 travelling from london to san diego in the next few weeks, we are staying at tower 23. We have a hired a car, and are really looking for scenic places to drive to, preferably along the coast? are there any particular go to spots?possibly where we can finish in a nice restaurant (no budget) overlooking the ocean?

Anaheim, California
Destination Expert
for Anaheim
posts: 24,196
reviews: 13
1. Re: scenic drives??

My favorite drive is the Coast Highway, drive through La Jolla and then head north past Torrey Pines State Park and keep going to Oceanside. I like 333 Pacific (name of the restaurant for the food and the view).


London, United...
posts: 10
2. Re: scenic drives??

thanks for your reply. i should mention we are prepared to drive for a hour or so if need be. i've heard of laguna beach, what would be the reason to drive there, and how long a drive is that?

New York City, New...
posts: 1,855
reviews: 9
3. Re: scenic drives??

To get to Laguna Beach you would have to pass through Camp Pendelton Marine Corps Base on I5. There is an immigration checkpoint in the middle of the freeway, so you'd want to bring your passports. I don't know any particular reason to go to Laguna Beach.

San Diego
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 46,660
reviews: 61
4. Re: scenic drives??


There are lots of beaches along the coast in San Diego that are just lovely!

This web site describes them and shows pics:


The drive itself might not take an hour but you can certainly make lots of stops along the way.

Just up the road from where you are staying is La Jolla Cove with small rock enclosed (cove)beaches where seals,sea lions, and sea birds make their home. It is a great place to take pictures of these creatures in their native habitat.

As you continue north you'll come to the Torrey Pines gliderport where you can watch them take off from the cliffs and soar out over the ocean.IF you are brave you can go tandem with an instructor. There are other white sandy beaches along the route north and there are restaurants along the way facing the ocean. You can certainly get back on the freeway if you like in Oceanside to go through the marine base and then continue north to Laguna Beach but I don't think it is a "must do"

You may not be aware that other scenic drives within San Diego County in include mountains and desert scenery You can get from the coast to the desert in Anza Borrego State park within 2 hrs. along the way there are casinos and wineries where you might stop if you do a circle instead of just going along the coast. Let us know if you 'd like more specific directions about that sort of drive.

posts: 232
reviews: 9
5. Re: scenic drives??

Re: the "Immigration Checkpoint" - we've passed through this checkpoints hundreds of times and you WILL NOT need your passport. We've never had more than a cursory stop with a glance inside the car, then waved on our way, and that has only happened 2 or 3 times. Yes, it's an immigration checkpoint, but the Border Patrol knows exactly what they're looking for, and it's not tourists from the UK in a rental car!

On the other hand, Laguna Beach is probably a little far for what you're looking for, more than an hour unless you get exceptionally lucky with traffic. I'd go with the other suggestions - just meander up the coast on PCH/Coast Highway, and if you get as far as Oceanside, 333 Pacific is a wonderful choice for dinner. It's only open for lunch/brunch on weekends.

Edited: 10:27 pm, April 12, 2014
San Diego...
posts: 17,864
6. Re: scenic drives??

As mentioned above no need you your passports at the checkpoint. That post should be deleted.

New York City, New...
posts: 124
reviews: 50
7. Re: scenic drives??

No, no, please don't delete that tip. It's a good one. As a rule of thumb if you are a foreign national going anywhere in the US where an authority may ask your citizenship, you should be prepared to show government issued ID. It may be fine to carry a copy, some people prefer to keep the original in room/safe, but even so, in the unlikely event you are stopped, you should have something.

Lesson learn and chided by INS officer 1995 on way north from Temecula to Los Angeles. Here's link


San Diego...
posts: 4
8. Re: scenic drives??

Passport is NOT needed but as mentioned above, always handy & better safe than sorry. Laguna Beach... Pass. Stay local.

San Diego...
Destination Expert
for San Diego
posts: 16,257
9. Re: scenic drives??

<<There is an immigration checkpoint in the middle of the freeway, so you'd want to bring your passports. I don't know any particular reason to go to Laguna Beach.>>

It is NOT needed there. It is useful for a form of ID if you want to order or purchase alcohol though. Even if you look 40 you can be asked for photo ID. When you travel it's a good idea to have ID on you in case of a problem.

From Tower 23 I would drive North up to Carlsbad on the coastal route


In Carlsbad there is Vigilucci's with an outdoor patio with a view of the ocean.

Before Carlsbad is Del Mar. On the beach in Del Mar are Jake's Del Mar & Poseidon.

I probably wouldn't go further than Carlsbad for a coastal drive.

Calgary, Canada
posts: 970
reviews: 2
10. Re: scenic drives??

Last April we drove from Coronado up to the mission at San Juan Capistrano. It was an easy drive and an enjoyable drive. I just loved the mission and would certainly go back again.