12 days in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe (California) & San Diego Itinerary

12 days in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe (California) & San Diego Itinerary

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Route & dates

12 days in San Francisco, Lake Tahoe (California) & San Diego Itinerary

Start: Philadelphia
Fly:  7​h 30​min
1
San Francisco
— 5 nights
Drive:  3​h 30​min
2
South Lake Tahoe
— 2 nights
bus + Fly:  5​h
3
San Diego
— 4 nights
Fly:  7​h
End: Philadelphia

5
nights
San Francisco

San Francisco ©
San Francisco is a top holiday destination featuring scenic beauty and great ethnic and cultural diversity.
San Francisco is known for nature, museums, parks, nightlife, and shopping. Your plan includes some of its best attractions: take in the views from Golden Gate Bridge, buy something for everyone on your list at Ferry Building Marketplace, engage your brain at California Academy of Sciences, and take a leisurely stroll along Fisherman's Wharf.

For maps, where to stay, more things to do, and other tourist information, go to the San Francisco online journey builder .

Philadelphia to San Francisco is an approximately 7.5-hour flight. You can also do a combination of train and flight; or drive. Traveling from Philadelphia to San Francisco, you'll gain 3 hours due to the time zone difference. Expect a bit warmer temperatures when traveling from Philadelphia in December; daily highs in San Francisco reach 59°F and lows reach 45°F. Finish your sightseeing early on the 26th (Thu) to allow enough time to drive to South Lake Tahoe.

Things to do in San Francisco

Parks Historic Sites Nature
Highlights from your plan
Golden Gate Bridge ©
Golden Gate Bridge
Alcatraz Island ©
Alcatraz Island
Fisherman's Wharf ©
Fisherman's Wharf

2
nights
South Lake Tahoe

South Lake Tahoe ©
High in the Sierra Nevada mountains on the shore of one of America’s most scenic lakes, South Lake Tahoe captures the spirit of the outdoors and serves as a hub for tourism activities surrounding the lake.
On the 27th (Fri), sample the tasty concoctions at South Lake Brewing Co, then ski along the peaceful trails at Tahoe Cross Country, and then steep yourself in history at Hellman-Ehrman Mansion. Get ready for a full day of sightseeing on the 28th (Sat): contemplate the waterfront views at Emerald Bay State Park, then stop by Tahoe Fly Fishing Outfitters, and then get all the equipment you need at Rock House Discount Ski & Snowboard Rentals.

For more things to do, traveler tips, ratings, and other tourist information, read South Lake Tahoe trip itinerary planning app .

Traveling by car from San Francisco to South Lake Tahoe takes 3.5 hours. Alternatively, you can do a combination of flight and bus; or do a combination of train, flight, and bus. While traveling from San Francisco, expect little chillier days and colder nights in South Lake Tahoe, ranging from highs of 45°F to lows of 19°F. Cap off your sightseeing on the 28th (Sat) early enough to travel to San Diego.

Things to do in South Lake Tahoe

Winter Sports Outdoors Parks

Side Trips

Tahoe City, Emerald Bay State Park
Highlights from your plan
Emerald Bay State Park ©
Emerald Bay State Park
Hellman-Ehrman Mansion ©
Hellman-Ehrman Mansion

4
nights
San Diego

San Diego ©
Divided into neighborhoods with distinct characters and cultural heritages, San Diego sits just north of the Mexican border and offers visitors a blend of tourist attractions, including a lively nightlife, diverse cuisine, and a thriving musical scene.
Step out of San Diego to go to Encinitas and see Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens, which is approximately 46 minutes away. And it doesn't end there: learn about wildlife with up-close encounters at San Diego Zoo, take in nature's colorful creations at Botanical Building and Lily Pond, snap pictures at Coronado Bridge, and pause for some photo ops at Cabrillo National Monument.

For traveler tips, maps, where to stay, and more tourist information, you can read our San Diego road trip website .

You can do a combination of bus and flight from South Lake Tahoe to San Diego in 5 hours. Alternatively, you can drive; or take a bus. Traveling from South Lake Tahoe in December, things will get warmer in San Diego: highs are around 68°F and lows about 51°F. On the 1st (Wed), wrap the sightseeing up by early afternoon so you can travel back home.

Things to do in San Diego

Parks Museums Zoos & Aquariums

Side Trip

Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage & Meditation Gardens
Highlights from your plan
San Diego Zoo ©
San Diego Zoo
USS Midway Museum ©
USS Midway Museum
Balboa Park ©
Balboa Park

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