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California-06465 - Rocky Coastline © DennisJarvis/Flickr.com
California-06465 - Rocky Coastline © DennisJarvis/Flickr.com

6 Awesome Southern California Weekend Getaways

Picture of Daren DeFrank
Updated: 9 February 2017
It’s time to get serious about vacation. Going on an exciting holiday is one of life’s best indulgences but sometimes we simply don’t have the time or resources to hop on a jet and cross the globe. Often the best trips are quick, spontaneous weekend getaways that don’t require months of planning and packing. These enviable destinations are just a short drive from Los Angeles, and whether it’s lounging on the beach or roughing it in the great outdoors, this list will provide you with all the best weekend getaways Southern California has to offer!

Catalina Island

Take the ferry off the coast of Long Beach and head twenty-two short miles from LA to Catalina Island. Upon arrival, visitors will certainly feel like they’ve left California, or even the US, as the island has the same ambiance of a little European town along the French Riviera. The town of Avalon offers all the charm and history of a great beach town. Sit back and relax with a drink at the Descanso Beach Club, or spend the day exploring the architecture of the quaint town with a spot of shopping at the local boutiques.

If you are more allured by the great outdoors, the island has 48 miles of coastline and much of it is protected land with buffalo, eagles, dolphins and whales. Set up camp and explore the area, or go kayaking or scuba diving from a glass bottom boat. Whatever type of getaway is your style, visitors will find it all on the little paradise island of Santa Catalina.

Catalina © ThuyPham/Flickr.com

Catalina | ThuyPham/Flickr

Idyllwild

A breath of crisp mountain air, stars as far as the eye can see and nothing around but the calming sounds of nature. No you’re not in nirvana, you’re in Idyllwild, California. Set in the San Jacinto mountains, the little hamlet of Idyllwild is a peaceful oasis comprised of locally owned shops and restaurants. The area is also brimming with outdoor activities including mountain biking, camping and hiking. The area offers a variety of walking trails, both for beginners searching for a day hike and the more experienced folk looking for an overnight hiking expedition. One of the most popular and famous activities is rock climbing, with many boulders located on the premises, as well as the renowned Tahquitz and Suicide Rocks. Pair small town charm with thrilling outdoor activities and Idyllwild is bound to climb to the top of your getaway list.

Santa Barbara

Wine country getaways are always a blast but sometimes the drive to Napa Valley leaves most of us whining – and not in the good way! Skip the half-day trek up the coast and be at the vineyard faster with a quick trip to Santa Barbara. This town not only has the perks if a wine country destination with the dozens of wineries in town, but it also offers the delights of a beach town as well. Take a dip in the ocean, have a sip of Merlot, then head over to La Super-Rica Taqueria for some famous tacos, which was reportedly a favorite spot of famed chef Julia Child. A weekend in sunny Santa Barbara will leave visitors feeling relaxed, refreshed and ready for a second glass!

Wine Tasting_133 © ChrisMichaels/Flickr.com

Santa Barbara wine country | ChrisMichaels/Flickr.com

Las Vegas

This weekend getaway is perfect for adventurous vacation-goers looking to make the most of their day and night! A few short hours in the car through the desert and suddenly individuals are in a haven of nightlife, entertainment and food. Whether this is your first time to Sin City, or you have your name atop every high roller list in town, there are always new adventures to explore. Recent additions to the city include the revitalization of downtown area, which now has the Fremont East Entertainment District and a new zip line experience. Back on the strip, the new Cromwell Hotel is brimming with things to do, including Drai’s Nightclub on the roof and afterwards be sure to check out one of the many shows taking place across the city.

Las Vegas Night Skyline © Prayitno/Flickr.com

Las Vegas Night Skyline | Prayitno/Flickr.com

Big Bear

One of the most spectacular offerings about Big Bear Lake is that it is a perfect destination all year-round. If you miss the four seasons here in Southern California, head to Big Bear for wintertime skiing, snowboarding, tubing and even bobsledding. In the Fall you can take a scenic hike through the pines, oaks and cottonwood trees to see the brilliant foliage. During the warmer months, there are plenty of activities to fit every preference: go for a swim in the crystal clear lake, try your hand at water skiing or kayaking, or if you’re feeling daring, check out the zip line. The lake also has helicopter tours so you can absorb the gorgeous scenery from a bird’s eye view.  A trip to Big Bear Lake is like returning to camp and we love every second of it.

Big Bear, Ca © DonaldDurham/Flickr.com

Big Bear, Ca | DonaldDurham/Flickr.com

Solvang/Paso Robles

Nestled along the central coast of California is the town of Solvang. The town is adorned with Danish architecture and charm that will have you feeling a world away from the Golden Coast. Stroll through the magical town and pay a visit to the Hans Christian Andersen Museum, the author of favorite childhood tales such as The Ugly Duckling and The Princess and the Pea. History buffs will love the Spanish Franciscan mission at Old Mission Santa Ines, which was built in the 18th century. While you’re in the area, also be sure to check out Paso Robles, which has a bevy of vineyards with delicious wines to sip and savor. This getaway is a perfect trip with two great towns that are sure to stimulate your mind, eyes and taste buds!

Solvang California © RaymondShobe/Flickr.com

Solvang California | RaymondShobe/Flickr.com