The city of San Diego is set on the northern border of California, and it’s where the Europeans first landed in Western America. This destination has earned worldwide popularity among avid travelers due to its year-round favorable weather, miles of coastline, beaches, monuments, museums, and even delectable dishes with Mexican influences. Aside from the thrills of this place, it is also only a drive away from a variety of adventures. From hiking the rugged canyons of Joshua Tree National Park and exploring the pristine landscapes of Idyllwild to enjoying the exceptional culinary scene of downtown Los Angeles, there are tons of reasons to have fun during your trip. Read on to discover the best weekend trips from San Diego, California.
1. Palm Springs
For some exciting golfing activities, look no further than Palm Springs, a desert resort, only a three-hour drive away from San Diego. But this place has more to offer than its more than 100 golf spots, such as museums, luxury hotels, and an upscale culinary scene. You may want to make the grand 1925 Ingleside Inn a comfortable base to explore all the area has to offer. Experience the chilly, sometimes snowy mountain summit via Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, explore antique planes at Palm Springs Air Museum, and enjoy the best of your weekend.
2. Los Angeles
Los Angeles, a three-hour drive away from San Diego, is a beautiful city known for its urban culinary scene and pristine beaches, but you may want to stick with one during your weekend. Since there are lots of beaches in San Diego, you may want to focus on the food scene or entertainment that abounds in LA, especially in the downtown area. Aside from the new eateries that sprout every day along its streets, dining at Grand Central Market should not be missed. Also, check out Regent Theater for some exciting music concerts. However, if you do want to experience the beaches in Los Angeles, head to Santa Monica.
3. Joshua Tree National Park
One weekend might not be enough to explore all of Joshua Tree National Park, set where the low Colorado Desert meets the Mojave Desert. This rare character resulted in incredible desert flora, beautiful palm trees, and oddball trees. The place is also home to a variety of animals. It even features ruins from gold-mining activities and rugged mountains with more than 8,000 routes to climb. Spend the day soaking up the views of Mount Gorgonio and Mount San Jacinto from Keys View, and let unobstructed vistas of the stars entertain you at night. The park is about a three-hour drive from San Diego.
4. Catalina Island
What things do you expect of an island getaway? Scuba diving, beach recreation activities, snorkeling, or fishing? All these and more abound on the beautiful Catalina Island, only a two-hour drive from San Diego. Lots of accommodations on the island are luxurious and feature gorgeous views of the amazing surroundings, including the harbor. The gastronomic experience here is superb, and if you are traveling in October, you shouldn’t miss Catalina Island JazzTrax Festival.
If you ever find yourself in San Diego in summer, then the best ways to have a beautiful weekend reside in Idyllwild, a mountain resort in San Jacinto. Hiking is at its best here, with many miles of trails suitable for all skill levels. You will also find numerous cafes, restaurants, art galleries, and upscale shops lining the location’s few streets. Some favorite attractions in this place include Lake Fulmor, Middle Ridge Winery, and Mount San Jacinto State Park, and there are a handful of luxury hotels to stay in as well. Idyllwild is about a two-hour drive from San Diego.
6. Newport Beach
Newport Beach, a two-hour drive away from San Diego, features a weekend full of recreation options for individuals of all tastes with its 8-mile (12.9-kilometer) coastline. Bask in the beauty of the scenery while unwinding at Corona del Mar Beach, or uncover the incredible bluffs, coves, canyons, and trails in Crystal Cove State Park. If you want to enjoy the best surfing experience in the state, The Wedge is an ideal spot, while Balboa Pier is known for fishing activities. And within the town, there are upscale restaurants, shopping malls, and everything else you need for a superb vacation.
7. Big Bear Lake
If you’re planning a weekend of exciting outdoor activities, including mountain biking, hiking, fishing, skiing, snowboarding, and more, then look no further than Big Bear Lake. Strategically perched in San Bernardino National Forest in the heart of Southern California, it is known for its 7-mile (11.3-kilometer) lake, where you can rent watercraft equipment and have a blast throughout the summer, as well as Bear Mountain and Snow Summit for winter fun. This four-season resort, only a three-hour drive from San Diego, is also famous for its year-round attractions, including Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest, fireworks, and fishing tournaments.
8. Santa Cruz Island
Santa Cruz Island, 175 miles (281.6 kilometers) from San Diego, is one of the most visited among the five islands that make up Channel Islands National Park—for many reasons. Aside from the beaches and ocean waters, perfect for kayaking, snorkeling, diving, swimming, and more, this location features several hiking trails for all skill levels, as well as many camping spots. Enjoy picnicking at Scorpion Anchorage, hike the trails of Scorpion Valley, camp and explore the thick forest around Scorpion Beach, and have the best weekend trip yet.
9. Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is a vibrant city, known for its Spanish Colonial Revival-style buildings, constructed after most of the town was destroyed by the 1925 earthquake. These are complemented by a beautiful mountain backdrop and a palm-lined oceanfront. Another exciting thing about this town is that most of its attractions, including a zoo, museums, and shopping malls, are close to one another. Hike the many trails, enjoy some revitalizing moments by the beach, see humpback whales in the ocean, and do much more. This perfect weekend getaway destination is about a four-hour drive from San Diego.
10. Laguna Beach
Laguna Beach is a perfect Southern California oceanfront getaway, only about a two-hour drive from San Diego. Within this serene city, you will find charming mansions, and around the countryside are incredible sea cliffs and beaches. However, the main draw to this location is Crystal Cove State Park, with its multiple trails and campgrounds overlooking the ocean. Also, if you happen to visit in July, you should check out rare artworks at the annual Festival of Arts Pageant of the Masters.
Experience an exciting holiday
With so many exciting weekend trips from San Diego, California, there is a world of opportunities to experience some of the best thrills in this part of the world. From hiking, shopping, sightseeing, water-based activities, and much more, your best vacation yet awaits you.
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