How to See A Lot of San Diego in A Little Time

San Diego is one of those cities that gives me instant envy whenever someone tells me that they live there. The temperature there is pretty much perfect all year round and the scenery is absolutely gorgeous.

If you only have a day to spend in San Diego, you can still pack in a lot over the course of several hours.

I’m sharing three mini road trips that you can take in one day that are guaranteed to give you incredible views.

scenic view Cabrillo National Monument

I was invited to experience and test drive several of the new Kias during my visit to San Diego during their influencer event. The hard part was selecting which vehicle to start with.

It was kind of like being a kid in a candy store and being told that you can try anything that you want and you WANT to try EVERYTHING.

Where do you even begin???!!!


I also wanted to SEE everything.

There was a lot of San Diego and a short amount of time to see it.

Tatanisha from a Worthey Read

My riding companion was Tatanisha from the site A Worthey Read .

She is also a lover of travel and crammer of all things fun so we got along great. We were both on the same page to fit in as much as possible while driving as many different vehicles as possible.

3 Mini Road Trips in 1 Day

We started at the parking lot located across from the Hard Rock Hotel. Our host hotel was located in the heart of the Gaslamp Quarter in downtown San Diego.

Inside the Hard Rock Hotel San Diego

We definitely got the Rock Star treatment during our stay.

Room view of downtown from Hard Rock Hotel

Check out the views from my room and the hospitality suite!

View from the Hospitality suite at Hard Rock Hotel

I loved being near all of the action downtown, San Diego.

For our 1st test drive we selected the Kia Sorento SXL.

scenic drive

We were given a map that included local destinations in the area.

Missions Trail Region Park

We mostly stayed on course for the long drive that took us on a beautiful drive through the mountains near Missions Trail Region Park with a pit stop at Krispy Kreme.

My kind of itinerary!

Scenic drive in California

I was a huge fan of the large panoramic sunroof which enabled us to see more palm trees and gorgeous skies that day.

Kia panoramic sunroof

It really made the vehicle feel so much bigger!

Drive around San Diego

Tatanisha and I took turns so that we could each experience what it was like to drive each vehicle.

Back up camera Kia Sorrento

Which included backing up when we made a short stop for a photo opp at the historic Sweetwater River Bridge built in 1929.

Sweetwater Bridge

Backup cameras are the best!

La Jolla Beach

La Jolla Beach

We deviated from the map a bit to enjoy a few moments at La Jolla Beach.

Kia Sorento at La Jolla

We scored an amazing parking spot close to the beach with a great view. The side venture off of the course was totally worth it.

ocean at La Jolla

It had been about 20 years since my last visit to La Jolla but I still remembered the sea lions that enjoy sunbathing there.

They were not at their usual spot during our visit but I did see them from afar.

La Jolla Beach 4

I’m seriously jealous of those who get to visit this beach all the time!

La Jolla Beach 8

I could have spent hours there that day but we had more places to see and more vehicles to drive!

Tin Fish

Fish Tacos at Tin Fish

After our visit to La Jolla, we returned to swap out vehicles and enjoy a lunch of fish tacos at Tin Fish conveniently located across the street from the Hard Rock Hotel.

Cabrillo National Monument 3

Scenic Views at Cabrillo National Monument

1800 Cabrillo Memorial Dr.

Cabrillo National Monument

Our 2nd test drive was in a Kia Sedona to Cabrillo National Monument where you can learn more about Juan Rodriguez Cabrillo.

He was the first European to set foot on the West Coast of the United States.

Cabrillo National Monument 6

The views were absolutely breathtaking on both sides of the peninsula from this location.

Cabrillo National Monument 7

It gives you such a great perspective of the bay.

This park is such a gem!

Cabrillo National Monument 3 e1472832779704

As a habitual over packer, I thought it would be important to check out the trunk space while checking out the views from the back of the van.

Cabrillo National Monument 5

I found plenty of room for people like me who constantly find themselves saying I’m bringing this “just in case.”

Cabrillo National Monument

Our ride didn’t feel like a typical mini van and it still had ample room for overpacking and lots of passengers.

Cabrillo National Monument 8

We didn’t have a lot of time for exploring but I would recommend walking up to the Old Point Loma Lighthouse if you have the time.

Cabrillo National Monument 4

Fort Pennisula National Cemetery

Make sure that you stop by Fort Peninsula National Cemetery on your way out of the park.

You will notice the tombstones on your drive way to Cabrillo.

Kia Soul

Street Art at Chicano Park

Our last final mini road trip was in the Kia Soul EV.

We stopped to check out the street art at Chicano Park dedicated to the cultural heritage of the area and then we ventured across the bridge to Coronado Island.

Streetart and the Kia SOUL

I LOVE street art and anything by the water so this mini trip had both.

This car was so quiet that I could barely tell that it was on! It also had a surprising amount of room and pick me up for an electric car.

Chicano Park

I was really surprised at how easily it picked up speed while I was driving it.

mural at Chicano Park

You will want to really take in all of the detail of the artwork at the park.

The artists are storytellers who have used their paintbrushes to be the voices of those stories and history they felt needed to be told.

Cornondo Island

Coronado Island

After the murals, we made our way across the nearby bridge to Coronado Island.

There is a wonderful beach there along with the famous Hotel Del Coronado that has been featured in several movies.

In 1888, Hotel Del Coronado was the largest hotel in the world.

Coronado Island

Thanks again to Kia for the opportunity to test drive three different works of art and innovation while visiting gorgeous scenery.

We started our adventure around 9:30am that day and had time to stop for scenic pics at 3+ destinations, lunch, swap out at each vehicle downtown, and return around 5:15.

I think that we did pretty good for packing in a lot in a little time.

Kia Sorento

If I would have been given more time, I would have definitely taken a few more Kias on a few more adventures.

Each vehicle had features that I loved but I think that out of the 3 test drives, the Sorento was my favorite.

The third-row seating option “just in case” would make it easier to ditch my minivan for an SUV for my family of 4. I really loved those panoramic views too!

After all 3 test drives, I have a new appreciation and understanding of why Kia customers are so loyal. Great style, value, top industry awards across multiple categories and a 10 year- 100,000-mile warranty are hard to beat!

And I’m still jealous of everyone who gets to call San Diego home but I’ll be content to visit.

You can find out more about the New Kias from their website. 

Thanks again to Kia for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own. 

How to see a lot of San Diego in a little time

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