Top-5 Motorcycle Riding Trips in San Diego

Jul 19, 2021


Harley-Davidson ridden in San Diego.

San Diego has a lot to offer in terms of tourist attractions. The palm trees, sapphire-blue ocean, and, exotic-looking beaches make it an attractive tropical destination. With its mild, sunny climate, it’s no wonder why San Diego is commonly known as “America’s Finest City.”  

While there are plenty of places to visit in the city—historic Balboa Park, family-friendly Sea World, and ever-popular San Diego Zoo—there is so much more to explore outside of the city in SoCal on the back of a motorcycle.

So hop onto your motorcycle rental in San Diego and start exploring these five motorcycle rides outside San Diego. Learn How to Rent a Motorcycle in California for more information on renting.

1. Sunrise Highway 

One-day trip — 34 miles

Though a relatively short highway, Sunrise Highway is one of California’s hidden treasures. While shorter than other routes, Sunrise offers roaming eyes and breathtaking mountain views.

Perhaps the most notable tourist attraction on this magnificent highway is the Laguna Mountains. Though it isn’t quite a household name like other places, such as Yosemite, these mountains are a fine choice for camping or hiking. 

For reference, Sunrise Highway begins east of San Diego from I-8 at Laguna Summit (Exit 47) to State 79 near Cuyamaca Lake. Because it climbs over 6,000 feet in elevation, motorcyclists are sure to enjoy unbeatable views.

2. California State Route 78

One-day trip — 215 miles 

For a much longer ride that provides more opportunities than the previous suggestion, California State Route 78 is the way to go! Known as one of Southern California’s most famous freeways, Route 78 has a lot of beautiful scenery and eye-catching tourist attractions to keep motorcyclists entertained.  

Beginning in Oceanside (about 38 miles north of San Diego) and ending in Blythe, California, this roadway covers virtually the entire width of the Golden State. Oceanside is a laid-back seaside town reminiscent of Santa Cruz. There are a lot of entertaining things to do (especially if you are into surfing). 

The one and only California Surf Museum and Mission San Luis Rey never fall short of giving every guest a good time. Of course, the Pacific Ocean (which is what this city is named after) always provides motorcyclists with an absolutely stunning view while riding. 

Along the way to the desert town of Blythe, another tourist attraction is the Ramona Ranch Vineyard and Winery, located in Ramona.

3. Highway 94

One-day trip — 63 miles

Although another relatively short day trip, this historic highway also deserves some attention because of its many hidden treasures that most tourists (and even Californians) aren’t aware of. Beginning in Downtown San Diego and ending at the I-8, this highway ought to be on every Californian motorcyclist’s list of places to ride. 

The Motor Transport Museum in Campo, California, while little-known, is a family-fun place to visit with the kids. Featuring over 200 antique trucks from previous decades, this history museum displays the modern car’s evolution. 

Of course, another must-see attraction on Highway 94 is simply the view itself. From the mountainous pine trees to the millions of poppy flowers, this route will remind motorcyclists why they own—or rented—their bikes in the first place! 

4. Old Highway 80

One-day trip — 176 miles 

Another historic route that we couldn’t keep off the list, this hidden Californian gem also has quite a few tourist attractions that you don’t want to miss! Stretching from Savannah, Georgia, and ending at San Diego, the Southern Pacific Coast Highway has a lot of historic locations that are very much worth stopping by. 

Originating in the rural town of Boulevard, California, the Wisteria Candy Cottage has been around since the 1920s! This former-elementary-school-now-turned-candy-shop sells a variety of chocolates, the most popular being their truffles and fudges.

Another great place to make a pit stop is right by the candy shop at the Live Oak Springs Resort Cabins, also in Boulevard. While this resort isn’t world-famous, it’s a magical and romantic getaway— it's the perfect destination for couples (if you’re inclined to ride with your significant other). 

The area’s unique and interesting architecture is not only a sight to behold; it very closely resembles the “Cozy Cone Motel” in Disney’s first Cars movie! You definitely can’t beat a motorcycle ride that features delectable chocolates and an Instagram-worthy hotel! 

5. Montezuma Grade 

One-day trip — 14 miles

Also known as the Montezuma Valley Road, this fun route begins at Ranchita (about 73 miles from San Diego) and ends at Borrego Springs. Even though this is very obviously a short motorcycle ride, this route was ultimately incorporated into our San Diego list because the tourist attractions and scenery will surely make riders fall in love with their motorcycle—or their motorcycle rental—all over again!

Most of this route takes riders into the wilderness and desert, but a good chunk of it also travels along the oceanside, complete with gorgeous beaches for riders to make a stop at and work on their tans. 

Another hidden gem is Borrego Springs, located inside the Montezuma Grade. A popular campsite that often reminds visitors of Joshua Tree Park (or even Death Valley), Borrego Springs is the perfect spot for a camping adventure. 

It’s even a great place to stargaze, with clear, dark skies and bright stars nearly every night. Borrego Springs also attracts many nature photographers every year. 

But perhaps the most famous tourist attraction is the one-of-a-kind Galleta Meadows Estate, featuring over a dozen metal sculptures of dinosaurs, dragons, and other mythical animals. Many tourists visit Borrego Spring simply for its world-famous sculptures. 

For more motorcycle rides in San Diego, be sure to take a trip up the Pacific Coast Highway, which runs to Seattle, for some amazing day trips.