There may be affiliate links in this post. Read my disclosure policy to learn more.
Are you looking for a quick getaway from San Diego? Here are 13 amazing places to visit that are within driving distance or flying distance from San Diego. Each of these would make a perfect place to go to get away from it all.
by Denise at Chef Denise
Where to stay in Ojai
Death Valley National Park
Death Valley National Park is a great weekend getaway from San Diego! With extreme landscapes including sand dunes, mountains, and salt flats, this National Park is truly unique. Even with just one day in Death Valley, you can enjoy and see tons of attractions this National Park has to offer.
Death Valley is about 327 miles from San Diego making it around a 5.5 to 6-hour road trip. Or you can fly into Las Vegas and add Death Valley to your itinerary since it is about 2.5 hours from the Vegas Strip. No matter which option you choose, you will want to rent a car. Death Valley is a road trip kind of National Park.
The park is open all year long, however, the best times to visit Death Valley are in the fall, winter, and spring, when the temperatures are cooler.
Where to stay in Death Valley
When considering where to stay when doing a weekend trip to Death Valley, although more expensive, the best place to stay is inside the park. The Ranch Oasis at Death Valley Hotel is in a prime location close to Furnace Creek and Zabriskie Point!
Recommended by: Trijit Mallick from Budget Travel Buff
The breathtaking Joshua Tree National Park desert scenery is only a few hours’ drive northeast of San Diego, in the Greater Palm Springs region. The numerous hiking routes, Dr. Seus-like Joshua Trees, and breathtaking views will make for an amazing weekend for nature enthusiasts.
There are several beautiful hiking paths in Joshua Tree that are challenging to hike on account of the high heat, but ideal for exploring on winter days when the temperature hovers around 60°F. Winter in Joshua Tree is a wonderland for outdoor activities, from hiking and rock climbing to stargazing and camping.
The park offers a good selection of easy, moderate, and difficult trails. The most well-known trail, Ryan Mountain, is only 3 miles long but provides breathtaking vistas of the desert. The first hike in Joshua Tree that everyone takes is to Hidden Valley. This short, flat loop showcases the park’s distinctive rocky landscape while gaining height by only 75 feet. Additionally, you can hike the Panorama Loop and Discovery Trail to investigate the sandstone rocks’ geological structures.
Rock climbing is a must-try in Joshua Tree for thrill seekers. It has a large number of natural gaps and rock formations, more than 8000 climbing routes, and more. A must-see on any 2 days in Joshua Tree itinerary is the Cholla Cactus Garden, one of the city’s most well-known attractions. When the sun rises and sets, it provides a beautiful vista. Take advantage of the pristine, pollution-free sky after sunset by stargazing in the park.
Where to stay in Joshua Tree
La Maison Hotel is a fantastic choice to stay outside the park. The outdoor pool is among the fundamental features it provides.
Big Bear Lake
by Sanne of Spend Life Traveling
A trip to Big Bear is a perfect weekend getaway from San Diego. Big Bear Lake is a small town located on the south shores of the lake with the same name.
With its cute log cabins, cozy village atmosphere and surrounding San Bernardino National Forest, Big Bear Lake is the perfect place to escape city life.
If you visit Big Bear Lake in winter, one of the most popular activities is to go skiing at either of the two ski resorts here.
If you visit any other time of year Big Bear offers a wide range of water sports on the lake, great hiking, and even zip-lining. Or, for a great adrenaline rush, go downhill mountain biking off those same ski slopes.
And even if you aren’t looking for an active getaway from San Diego, just being in the fresh mountain air, enjoying a drink with a view of the lake is a perfect way to relax and enjoy Big Bear.
Where to stay in Big Bear
Stay in a log cabin for a truly perfect mountain town experience, many of which can be booked through Booking.com.
By Jessica from Uprooted Traveler
For a getaway packed with retro vibes and desert boho charm, Palm Springs is just a little over two hours northeast of San Diego and the perfect weekend excursion.
This town, tucked in the Coachella Valley, is perhaps best known for being the getaway of choice for the Rat Pack, Elvis and Priscilla, and other Hollywood elites in the 1950s. Today, you’ll still find plenty of amazing mid-century modern architecture, vintage-inspired pools, and glamorous lounges, where Frank Sinatra himself frequented, like Melvyn’s Restaurant.
Beyond its glitzy facade, the town has plenty of natural beauty to offer, with expansive desert vistas and proximity to three different mountain ranges. There’s tons of outdoor adventures you can get up to here, from bouldering at the nearby Joshua Tree National Park to exploring the oases in the underrated Indian Canyons park.
Where to stay in Palm Springs
For a real Palm Springs experience, make the Ace Hotel and Swim Club your homebase for the weekend, with its two pools and a firepit to get your lounge on, plus a trendy bar serving up hand-crafted cocktails and a full-service spa.
Pacific Crest Trail
by Jacoba from Opreismetco
Did you know that the Pacific Crest Trail, one of the most famous long-distance hiking trails in the world, is not too far from San Diego? The trail is about 2600 miles long and runs from the Mexican border to the Canadian border. It’s obviously impossible to complete the trail in as a weekend trip from San Diego (it usually takes between four to six months), but you can definitely hike a short section on a weekend.
You can, for example, hike the first 20 or 30 miles of the trail, since the southern terminus in Campo is only a 1-hour drive from San Diego. If you like to hike a very scenic section, it’s highly recommended to hike the trail between Mount Laguna and Julian (also a 1-hour drive from San Diego). In this section of the trail, you’ll hike through a beautiful forest and over some mountain ridges with gorgeous views.
Where to stay near the Pacific Crest Trail
Make sure to stay a night in the Julian Gold Rush Hotel, a beautiful historic B&B hotel from 1897.
Submitted by Jillian Michelle from Adventure Dragon
If you’re looking to head outside of California, Las Vegas makes one of the best weekend getaways from San Diego because it lies just a little over 300 miles away and can be easily reached in roughly five to six hours. It’s so much more than just a destination for partying or gambling. It’s also a great getaway for solo travelers or even families. With over 100 free things to do in Las Vegas, there’s definitely something for everyone in this city!
To feel pampered during your weekend trip, the Venetian Hotel is a great place to stay. The hotel is an architectural recreation of Venice, and you can even watch gondolas passing through St. Mark’s Square. Its central location on the Strip also makes it an easy starting point to access any of the other hotels or activities located at other points on Las Vegas Boulevard.
If you head directly across the street from the Venetian, you can also watch the volcano show at the Mirage Hotel. During this free performance, the giant volcano in front of the hotel erupts three times a day, spewing fireballs several feet into the sky while set to a musical soundtrack.
With all of its museums, art exhibits, hiking opportunities, wildlife habitats, amusement parks, indoor gardens, themed dining, endless photo opportunities, and even a free circus, Las Vegas can keep you entertained for days, so you should definitely consider this city for your next weekend getaway from San Diego!
Check out prices for the Venetian Hotel here.
Written by Olivia from the Girl With Blue Sails travel blog
The beautiful town of Laguna Beach is the perfect weekend getaway from San Diego. A little over an hour away by car, Laguna Beach provides unique sightseeing, clear beach views, and amazing restaurants and shopping.
Main Beach is the central and popular spot in Laguna, where beach goers can surf, use the basketball courts, and visit the iconic lifeguard tower that still exists from the 1930’s. Some other must see spots in Laguna include Crystal Cove Park, which is a large stretch of beach with fun hiking trails, a beach called 1,000 Step Beach, which involves about only 200 stairs to get down to the beach. Once on the beach, however, visitors are surrounded by rocky cliffs, tide pools, and a beach cave.
The most unique photo opportunity in Laguna is visiting the old pirate tower on Victoria Beach. This old tower, built right into the cliff, looks like something out of a fairy tale, and holds pirate myths popular with kids. Be sure to visit during low tides for best views and safety. There are many other great weekend activities in Laguna for all kinds of travelers. From whale watching cruises and local museums, there is something for everyone.
Where to stay in Laguna Beach
There is no shortage of beachfront properties in Laguna, but the Inn at Laguna Beach is a beautiful hotel right on the water. This property has a great central location, and a rooftop pool and bar with views of the sunset.
by Anjali of Cheerful Trails
Where to stay in Santa Barbara
by Sean at Living out Lau
Located a little more than a 30-minute drive from San Diego, Carlsbad is the perfect half-day or full-day trip. This coastal city in California is known as one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, and visitors typically come here to enjoy its laid-back vibe, shopping opportunities, and kids-friendly attraction.
But perhaps the most iconic place to visit in Carlsbad is the Carlsbad Flower Fields, where you’ll find 50 acres of ranunculus. This massive attraction is full of fun for everyone in the family to enjoy – from blueberry picking to sweet pea maze and the illusion garden.
When you are done exploring the Flower Fields, head into the “Village” (downtown) of Carlsbad. This is where you’ll find tons of boutiques, restaurants, and cafes to satisfy all shopaholics and foodies. And before you return to San Diego, make sure you catch the sunset at Carlsbad State Beach. Its serene vibe and unobstructed views are going to amaze you.
Where to stay in Carlsbad
And if you want to stay overnight and explore more of Carlsbad, there are plenty of hotels to offer you a good night’s rest. Our recommendation is Beach Terrace, a seaside property with stunning views of the Pacific Ocean!
Valle de Guadalupe, Mexico
By Trisha from PSIMommyway.com
- El Cielo Winery
- Monte Xanic
- Vinos Paolini
- Baron Balche
- Cava Maciel
- Don Tomas
- Casa Magoni
- Deckman: try the tasting menu for US$75 (12-course)
- Salvia Blanca: best brunch and breakfast spot
- Bruma Wine Garden: best restaurant in a vineyard (outdoor)
Just a little over 2 hours drive away, Los Angeles makes for a great weekend getaway from San Diego.
The sprawling city is the second largest in the US and offers something for everyone! From relaxing on the beach to hiking in the mountains, exploring the desert, and soaking in the city vibes, you’ll find plenty of things to do to cross off your Los Angeles bucket list.
While you won’t be able to see it all in a weekend, it will give you enough time to take in iconic attractions. Some of these include Santa Monica Pier, the Hollywood Sign, the Hollywood Walk of Fame, Venice Beach, LACMA, the Griffith Observatory, and Downtown LA.
Where to stay in Los Angeles
Hollywood is a great neighborhood to stay in for first time visitors to LA, providing a central location for many of the main tourist attractions, as well as great restaurants, shopping, and nightlife. Within Hollywood, the Loews Hollywood Hotel is a great option, offering a superb location and rooftop pool.
If you’re looking for an easy, relaxing weekend getaway from San Diego, look no further than Temecula, California.
Temecula is located in the heart of Southern California’s Wine Country and offers plenty of opportunities for wine tasting at some of the 50+ best wineries in Temecula, including Wilson Creek Winery, Leoness Cellars, and Robert Renzoni Vineyards. During your time in Temecula, you can also ride through wine country on horseback or over the gorgeous countryside on a hot air balloon ride.
In addition to wine country, visitors can also explore Old Town Temecula, the city’s quaint downtown area that offers tons of local restaurants, boutique shopping, and even a farmers’ market on Saturdays. During the summer, visitors can go blueberry picking at Temecula Berry Co., a local berry farm just outside the city.
Where to stay in Temecula
During your weekend in Temecula, consider staying in the heart of wine country at Carter Estate Winery and Resort!
I endorse products I’ve personally used or come highly recommended by my trusted peers. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.
Leave a Reply