Best Unbeaten Path to San Diego - 2010
State Highway 238
State Highway 238 is only sort of a shortcut — honestly, we're not sure whether it's a time-efficient shortcut. But it's a beautiful drive and a nice change of scenery for vacationers like us, who have made the Phoenix-to-San-Diego-and-back trip so many times that we could do it with our eyes closed in a dust storm. If you live on the west side of the Valley, starting your trip to San Diego is a no-brainer: You take Interstate 10 to State Route 85, then head west on Interstate 8. But East Valley residents have more options. From Chandler or Mesa, you can do the 10 to the 85, or you can choose to head south on State Route 347 (Maricopa Road), jog right at State Route 84, then get on I-8. After a jillion times on the latter route, we got the itch to start heading west as soon as possible, just for kicks. The 238 veers off of the 347 just as you get to Maricopa, coming from the north. We took it once at night a few years ago, before it was paved — let's just say it was the first time the wife was ever happy to see Gila Bend. Now it's asphalt the whole way. The road is much hillier, twistier, and more narrow than most highways around here, giving a more intimate and fun Sonoran Desert experience. You won't make up much time on this shortcut, but the time you do spend will seem to go faster.