10 Amazing Places You Can’t Miss During Your Road Trip From San Diego To Phoenix Drive

Although it may be affordable to take a flight from San Diego to Phoenix, there are occasions when a road journey is better. This is because there are many locations you may stop along the way that you might not otherwise see if you weren’t taking this road trip.

Amazing Places You Can’t Miss During Your Road Trip From San Diego To Phoenix Drive

While you could do this drive in one day, it may be better if you prolong the journey, so you can have much more time to really enjoy these places along the way.

These places are the perfect break spots if you have a child coming along with you on your road trip. Each location is roughly 30 minutes from one another, so it won’t add too much time onto your journey.

We have put together this article, so that you are aware of the 10 amazing places that you really shouldn’t miss during your road trip from San Diego to Phoenix Drive.

10 Places You Should Visit During Your Road Trip

As mentioned above, each of these locations are only 30 minutes from one another. You don’t have to stop at every place, but why not choose a couple to make a unique road trip.

If you make this journey often, then you can select a different spot to stop at each time.

1. Imperial Sand Dunes

Imperial Sand Dunes

The historic Lake Cahuilla’s wind-blown sands are what created the dune system, which spans upwards of 40 miles in a band that is typically 5 miles broad. The Imperial Sand Dunes frequently rise 300 feet above the desert’s ground.

This is a favored spot for lovers of off-highway vehicles (OHV). Without a permit, you can walk around these dunes and explore them. Although, if you want to use an ATV or other type of recreational vehicle, you might need one.

The dunes also provide stunning scenery and a haven for unusual plants and animals.

2. Sunrise Highway

We strongly advise you to make a stop on Sunrise Highway on your way out of Phoenix. This area in eastern San Diego is fantastic, as it provides you with a stunning view.

There are several hikes you can take here. You can take a number of different paths for this trail, varying in length from 1 to 5 miles.

You may even go vehicle camping on Sunrise Highway if you carefully plot your route. This way you can wake up to a stunning sunrise.

3. Goat Trestle Canyon

Goat Trestle Canyon

At Goat Trestle Canyon, there are two hikes which you can complete. One being 5 miles and the other is around 16 miles. There is no denying that both hiking routes are quite long and not suitable for children.

These are strenuous hikes, so it is important that you bring plenty of fluids with you.

If you enjoy hiking, then you may enjoy these challenging hikes that offer some beautiful views. However, it is essential that you have all the right equipment to be able to complete it.

4. Dateland

Dateland is another entertaining stop along the road. This location is renowned for its well-known dates.

For example, why not pick up a date-based milkshake from their shop. Or why not check out their bakery, where pastries are prepared from scratch every day.

Otherwise, savor the palm-tree-lined, calm surroundings. This is the ideal place for a brief stop.

5. Jacumba Hot Springs

East of San Diego is a small village called Jacumba Hot Springs. It is a desert area with a few activities you can engage in.

For adults, why not try taking a dip in the hot springs. This location is wonderful when you need some time to relax after a long day of driving.

There is accommodation available as well if you require somewhere to stay overnight.

6. Desert View Tower

Desert View Tower

The Desert View Tower is a unique and quirky place to visit during your trip. There is an option to rent the tower and stay overnight, but that isn’t necessary. Otherwise, you can easily visit the tower and explore it for a small fee.

Not only does the tower itself look fascinating. However, it also provides you with spectacular views of the surrounding areas that all the family will enjoy. You will never forget your trip to the Desert View Tower.

7. Boulder Park

The desert observation tower is just across from Boulder Park. Kids will enjoy climbing across the rocks that have been shaped and painted to resemble various animals.

There is an entrance fee, however, it is very inexpensive at around $2. Throughout your exploration here, you’ll learn a lot of fascinating stuff. There are plenty of hidden jewels to keep an eye out for as well.

8. Yuma State Prison Museum

Yuma State Prison Museum

Visit this location to understand what it was like to be a prisoner at Yuma State Prison in the 1800s. You can explore this prison, which is now a museum, for $8 per person.

This is the ideal for you if you are into history or simply want to see something a little different.

9. Space Age Restaurant

Space Age Restaurant has as its name implies a space concept, which serves American diner cuisine.

This is both a hotel and a restaurant, which happens to be adorned with an abundance of space-age decor. When you feel hungry, make sure to stop here!

10. Gila Bend And Dinosaurs

It’s possible that you’ll need to stretch your legs when traveling through the Arizona desert.

Visit Gila Bend for some entertaining photo opportunities with some huge metal reptiles and dinosaurs. These enormous dinosaurs are sure to delight your kids.

How Long Will It Take To Drive To Phoenix Drive From San Diego?

It is possible to complete this route in a single day, but if you divide it into two days, you may take your time and enjoy the stops.

Overall, this trip is around 355 miles long. Depending on the route you select, this journey may take around 5 hours and 30 minutes.

Essentially, there are two ways to travel from San Diego to Phoenix. Take either the I-8 or I-10. The I-10 is supposedly a more scenic route, but it will take longer. The actual driving time, via the I-10, will be around 6 hours and 30 minutes.

Take caution not to take the incorrect exit during I-10, otherwise you may end up in Mexico.

When Should You Travel To Phoenix From San Diego?

Summer in Phoenix can be sweltering. As it will be scorching outside, and you will be traveling through the desert, you need to think of ways to stay cool.

When determining your path, you should keep this in mind, what the weather and temperature will be like.

Which places you visit will also depend on the time of year. If it’s hot outside, you should stay away from the canyon since it will be extremely hot, so you may not want to go hiking.

If you’re planning to travel in the winter, you should be prepared for rain. Rain can make it difficult to visit some of the areas we have mentioned.

You may still visit the view tower or restaurant or museum. However, you may not enjoy the dunes or bolder park in this weather.

Overall, the ideal time to make this journey is either spring or fall. As it is neither too hot nor too wet. However, you can make this journey at any time. You just need to check the weather before you drive and ensure your car is in good condition.

Is Your Car Road Trip Ready?

We advise you to make sure your vehicle is in fantastic condition and your air conditioning is in good working order if you decide to undertake this trip during the summer.

With that being said, your vehicle needs to be in good condition for any time of the year that you make this journey. This is because you will have to make your way through a pass.

This pass is rough for some vehicles, due to its incline. Hence, you want to avoid breakdowns as much as possible.


When planning your road trip from San Diego to Phoenix Drive there are lots of interesting places you can stop at in between. No matter what your interests are, there is something to turn what could be a boring trip into something a lot more exciting.

Split that long 6-hour journey up and create some amazing memories that you will never forget. Why not go to boulder bark, relax in the hot spring, go for a hike along Goat Trestle Canyon or visit the prison museum.

We hope you have found this article fascinating. Now you should be aware of 10 amazing places that we believe you can’t miss during your road trip from San Diego to Phoenix Drive.