As explored and shared by locals!
While San Diego has virtually endless things to do, sometimes you need to go out of town and discover all the wonderful places close by. To help you find the perfect weekend getaway destination, we have put together a list of some of our favorites and why we love them. All of these are easily accessible without boarding an airplane for a quick weekend road trip. We limited the trips to roughly 5 hours driving or less, without traffic.
Big Bear / Lake Arrowhead: There is nothing quite like fresh mountain air and luckily these Southern California mountain towns are just a short drive away. During their snow season, there are plenty of opportunities to snowboard and ski or sled. If you go outside of snow season, visit Lake Arrowhead for fishing, water sports, picnics, and more. Whether you are looking for outdoor adventure or a slow and cozy weekend away, both Big Bear and Lake Arrowhead make for the perfect stay. Spend the weekend hiking, browsing local shops, off-roading, or even zip lining. www.bigbear.com
Joshua Tree: Retreat out into the desert to see the wonders of Joshua Tree. Joshua Tree National Park is the main attraction for many with opportunities for scenic camping and hiking, but there is so much more to do, from late-night stargazing to browsing the art installations and eclectic vendors. If you are not a camper, there are also a plethora of picture-worthy rentals with above-ground pools that allow you to bask in the desert air and wildlife. The perfect combination of artsy and outdoorsy, you are sure to fill your weekend in J-Tree.
Catalina Island: Venture off the coast to Catalina Island and take in the views of the Pacific everywhere you go. Enjoy the full beauty of the island with a trip on a glass bottom boat where you can watch the sea life in the beautiful clear waters. For on-land adventures, you can play on a scenic golf course, learn falconry, and more. Another thing Catalina does well? R&R. Find beautiful lodgings where you can kick back and relax.
Santa Barbara: Wine and dine through this beloved beach town. Santa Barbara truly has something for everyone, whether you are looking for a more upscale or romantic weekend wine tasting or a laidback getaway where you chill on the water by day and get swept up in great night life after dark. We recommend lazing on the beach before visiting the specialty shops and restaurants at Stearns Wharf or heading into the vibrant and artsy Funk Zone.
Scottsdale: If the sunshine and warmth of the desert call to you, but you want to do it in style, consider Scottsdale. You will find luxurious accommodations that will make you feel pampered and help you escape the heat. In addition to the spas and golf courses it is known for, Scottsdale also has a lively scene for food, nightlife, shopping, and more. If you are an art-lover you are in for a real treat as there is plenty to see, whether you head to the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art or just explore around town.
Las Vegas: You already know that if you are looking to gamble, shop, lounge poolside, or party the night away, Vegas is the place to be. But there is also so much more waiting. Go on an off-roading escape, visit the Adventuredome Indoor theme park, book a treatment at a world-class spa, take a spin on the High Roller to see the sights, or watch your favorite artist perform. The limits are endless.
Death Valley: Despite the name, there is plenty to see in Death Valley. Plan your stay so you can visit Death Valley National Park and its beautiful wildflowers, the Mesquite Dunes – ideally at dawn or dusk, the salty flats of the Badwater Basin, the Golden Canyon Trail, and all its other wonders. Death Valley is perfect place to appreciate nature, just make sure to bring enough water!
Riverside Mission Inn: The Mission Inn Hotel and Spa is more than just a luxurious place to stay, it is a destination all its own. This National Historic Landmark is full of history and built with stunning Spanish Mission-style architecture, making it ripe for exploring. Outside the Mission Inn, you will find the lively streets of Downtown Riverside with great food, antiques, shopping, and a popular bar scene to keep you busy.
Sequoia National Park
And let’s not forget:
Borrego Springs: www.borregospringschamber.com
Dana Point: www.visitdanapoint.com