Travel by car! Your guide to the perfect Idyllwild getaway

One of the best things about living in San Diego is the variety of amazing places to visit that are just hours away. road trip a way. One of our all-time favorites is Idyllwild.

Although it’s only a two-hour drive from San Diego, Idyllwild feels like you’re in a different world. The small mountain town is located in the San Jacinto Mountains, about a mile above sea level, and you would have no idea you weren’t in the Rocky Mountains.

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The proximity to San Diego, relative ease of getting there, and affordability make this charming spot one of our favorite and most frequent getaways for romantic weekends, fresh air, and snow!

About Idyllwild

The area has a long history of human habitation, with evidence of Native American presence dating back thousands of years. The Cahuilla people, indigenous to the area, used the area for hunting and gathering.

In the late 1800s, the town of Idyllwild was founded as a resort for people seeking to escape the heat of the low desert. The town was named after Idyllwild Park, which was established in the early 1900s as a retreat for artists and writers.

In the 1920s, Idyllwild became a popular vacation spot for Hollywood celebrities, and the town developed a reputation as an artists’ colony. Over the following decades, Idyllwild became a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts, with many people coming to the area to hike, climb and enjoy the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains.

Today, Idyllwild is a quaint little town known for its arts scene, beautiful natural surroundings and charming mountain town vibe.

Getting to Idyllwild

Driving is the most convenient and direct way to get to Idyllwild from San Diego, but there are also public transit options available for those who prefer not to drive, and you can even catch a quick flight to Palm. Springs and ask a driver to take you. the mountain if you wanted to treat yourself.

We love the road trip. You will have windy mountain roads for the last 30-45 minutes, so be sure to check the weather forecast before setting off.

Conduct: Idyllwild is located about 100 miles east of San Diego. To get there by car, you can take I-8 East to Highway 79 North, then turn onto Highway 371 East. The journey will take approximately 2 hours and 15 minutes without traffic.

Even though Idyllwild is a mountain town, just about any car will do as long as you don’t plan to go off-roading. However, during the fall and winter months, you may need chains, so be sure to check the forecast carefully before you go.

Also, there are a limited number of nearby Tesla charging stations if you drive a Tesla. Otherwise, if you drive another electric car, make sure you have enough charge to make the trip!

Bus: There is no direct bus service from San Diego to Idyllwild, but you can take the Greyhound bus to Hemet and then take the Riverside Transit Agency Route 79 bus, which goes to Idyllwild.

Form: You can also take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner train from San Diego to Hemet, then take the Riverside Transit Agency Route 79 bus to Idyllwild.

Flying: The closest airport to Idyllwild is Palm Springs International Airport, approximately 35 miles away. From there you can take a taxi or a rideshare service to Idyllwild.

Weather in Idyllwild

Idyllwild sits nearly 6,000 feet above sea level. As a result, the weather in Idyllwild is “mountain weather” – generally cooler and more moderate than the weather in the surrounding lower desert regions, and with a wide range of seasonal variability.

In summer, temperatures in Idyllwild typically range from the mid-70s to mid-80s during the day, with cool evenings and overnight lows in the mid-50s, making it a popular summer retreat for people looking to escape the heat.

In winter, temperatures in Idyllwild can be quite chilly, with daytime highs ranging from the mid-40s to mid-50s and nighttime lows often dropping below zero. The town is also prone to heavy snowfall during the winter months, which is one of the reasons we love it.

Overall, the weather in Idyllwild is characterized by cool, mild temperatures and low humidity, with a wide range of recreational opportunities available throughout the year.

Where to stay in Idyllwild

There are many accommodation options in Idyllwild, ranging from budget hotels and motels to more luxurious vacation rentals and bed and breakfasts.


Idyllwild has a large number of Airbnb properties that are charming and suitable for a variety of budgets. This is our go-to method of finding accommodation in Idyllwild – we have fun browsing the site to explore our options.

There’s a wide range, so it’s easy to find a fit no matter what type of trip you’re looking for, from a secluded romantic getaway to a family reunion, and everything in between.

Holiday rents

There are also many vacation rentals available in Idyllwild, ranging from cozy cottages and cabins to large, luxurious homes. You can find vacation rentals on sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway, but we recommend working with one of the cabin rental management companies that operate in Idyllwild for the “scoop.”

Discover Idyllwild has some of Idyllwild’s best cabins under management, including this gorgeous romantic A-frame (📸: @nancythebeat!

Hotels and motels

There are several hotels and motels in Idyllwild that offer a range of room types including standard rooms, suites and cabins. Some popular options include the Idyllic wild inn and the Strawberry Creek Inn.


For those who like the great outdoors, there are several campsites in the vicinity of Idyllwild. The Idyllwild Campground and RV Park is a popular option that offers tent and RV sites, as well as cabin rentals.

Guest rooms

Idyllwild has a number of charming bed and breakfasts, such as the idyllic bunkhouse and the Strawberry Creek Inn. The Creekstone was renovated relatively recently and receives rave reviews as a more “upscale” option for those wanting a bit of luxury during their stay.

Restaurants at Idyllwild

Idyllwild is full of lovely and charming restaurants, bakeries and cafes to explore. Here are our favorites:


If you’re looking for something a little more upscale, but still very casual and comfortable, you can’t go wrong with Ferro. It gets our vote as the best restaurant in Idyllwild.

The Casita

This little Mexican restaurant has quite a legendary status in Idyllwild, and some of the best crispy tacos you’ll ever taste! We make it a point to go there every time we are in town.

Idyllwild Brewery

Idyllwild Brew Pub has everything you want in a mountain brewery – beer, dogs, live music, great bar food and great company. It is a perfect place to spend an afternoon on the terrace with no other objective than to relax.

Coffee Aroma

Cafe Aroma is consistently voted the best restaurant in Idyllwild. They serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner in a lovely environment that almost always includes live music.

Alpaca Coffee & Tea

When you’re in the mountains, finding your unmissable coffee shop is a must! This newcomer quickly won the coffee-loving hearts of locals and visitors alike. One taste of their coffee or pastries, and you’ll know why. But if that’s not enough, the cute and welcoming family that runs it is sure to win you over!

Activities and leisure in Idyllwild

Known for its beautiful natural surroundings and numerous recreational opportunities. Some of the most popular things to do in Idyllwild include:


Seriously. Help yourself to a coffee, a glass of wine or a cold beer, put on some music and enjoy the mountain views and fresh air. We sit on a patio for hours and do nothing…something we rarely do in San Diego.


Idyllwild is surrounded by the San Jacinto Mountains, which offer a wide range of hiking trails for people of all abilities.


The area around Idyllwild is known for its excellent rock climbing and there are many routes available for climbers of all abilities.


The area around Idyllwild has many scenic routes and trails popular with mountain bikers.


The city is located near several lakes and streams full of fish, which makes it a popular destination for fishing enthusiasts. Be sure to get your permits!

Arts and Culture

Idyllwild is known for its thriving art scene, and there are many galleries and studios in the town that feature the work of local artists.

Eat and shop

Idyllwild has a variety of restaurants, cafes and shops that offer a range of local and international cuisines and products. We love wandering around “downtown” with no other purpose than to visit the shops, restaurants and wineries.

We’ll see each other there!

We bet you can see why Idyllwild is one of our favorites! Book a tour to enjoy scenic beauty, outdoor activities, fresh mountain air and laid-back small town atmosphere – and it will likely become one of yours too!

We’ll see each other there!

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