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15 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego

Though we might not always have the time to travel far and for weeks at a time, we all have 52 weekends in a year. This means you potentially have 52 weekend getaways!

To get you started, we put together 15 of the best weekend trips from San Diego. If you don’t have a full weekend, check out our list 15 Best Day Trips from San Diego. These day trip destinations also make perfect weekend getaways, but we decided to separate them out based on travel time. The following 15 are destinations where you need at least two days to make the trip worthwhile from San Diego. Are you ready for your next adventure? :)

15 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego.

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Last Updated: December 10, 2022


33.3889062,-118.5950266, map

Distance: 2 hrs by car & 1 hr by ferry from Long Beach (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Catalina Island Casino, Catalina Island Conservancy, Garden to Sky Trail
What to Eat: 
Bluewater Grill, The Lobster Trap, Maggie’s Blue Rose
Where to Stay: The Pavilion Hotel (luxury), Glenmore Plaza Hotel (mid-range), Hotel St Lauren (budget)

Close to 1 million people visit Catalina Island every year. You can take glass bottom boat tours, scuba dive, snorkel, or just relax on the beach. There are plenty of activities to fill a weekend. Also, if it’s your birthday, the ferry ride is free!

catalina island californiaPin

40971 North Shore Drive/Hwy 38, Fawnskin, CA 92333, map

Distance: 147 mi / 2 hrs 40 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Big Bear Discovery Center, Boulder Bay Park, Big Bear Alpine Zoo
What to Eat:
Teddy Bear Restaurant, Grizzly Manor Cafe, Tropicali
Where to Stay: Search for Cabins 

Big Bear Lake is Southern California’s largest recreation lake and provides a beautiful backdrop for a weekend getaway. During the summer you can fish, hike, camp, kayak, and more. If you visit during winter, you can ski or snowboard!

Best Things to Do in Big Bear CaliforniaPin

3. Ojai

130 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023, map

Distance: 206 mi / 3 hrs 15 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market, Ojai Meadows Preserve, Rose Valley Falls Trail
What to Eat:
The Ojai Beverage Company, Nocciola, The Ranch House
Where to Stay: Mar Monte Hotel (luxury), Waypoint Ventura (mid-range), Residence Inn (budget)

Spanish architecture, fruit groves, and wineries make this a common getaway for South Californians.

Ojai (15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).
Ojai (15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).

4. Santa Barbara

217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, map

Distance: 218 mi / 3 hrs 25 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Shoreline Park, Old Mission Santa Barbara, Stearns Wharf
What to Eat:
Yoichi’s, Brophy Bros, Caruso’s
Where to Stay: Hotel California (luxury), Hilton Garden Inn (mid-range), Castillo Inn at the Beach (budget)

Beautiful mountains, rolling valleys, and picturesque beaches make for the perfect weekend getaway. Now add a great wine scene and you’re good to go. Keep yourself busy by getting outdoors, eating delicious food, or perusing the shops.

Santa Barbara Whale Watching Season + 15 Best Places to Whale Watch in the US + When to Go!Pin

34.0181115,-120.0059172, map

Distance: 3 hrs by car & 1 hr by ferry from Ventura (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Scorpion Beach, Smugglers Cove, Visitor Center
What to Eat:
No food services on the island

Explore the beauty of the Channel Islands National Park on Santa Cruz Island. You can kayak, camp, hike, scuba dive, snorkel, and more! Keep your eye out for the island wildlife too.

Santa Cruz Island (15 Most Popular Weekend Getaways from San Diego).
Santa Cruz Island (15 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).

6. Los Olivos

2900 Grand Ave, Los Olivos, CA 93441, map

Distance: 252 mi / 4 hrs (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Wine Tasting, Gallery Los Olivos, Los Olivos General Store
What to Eat:
Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Cafe, Panino, BBQ in the Stix
Where to Stay: Hotel Corque (luxury), Hampton Inn & Suites (mid-range), Hadseten House (budget)

This historic town is tucked away in the Santa Ynez Valley. Check out the amazing views of vineyards, lavender farms, browse through the art scene, go antique shopping, or join in on one of their fun festivals. Also, don’t forget to check out the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail!

Los Olivos (15 Most Popular Los Angeles Day Trips).
Photo: Anita Ritenour / creative commons

7. Solvang

1637-1639 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, map

Distance: 252 mi / 4 hrs (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Old Mission Santa Ines, Hans Christian Andersen Park, Nojoqui Falls Park
What to Eat:
Succulent Cafe, Paula’s Pancake House, Copenhagen Sausage Garden
Where to Stay: Hotel Corque (luxury), Hampton Inn & Suites (mid-range), Hadseten House (budget)

Solvang, which means ‘sunny field’ in Danish, lives up to its name. It’s also in the Santa Barbara County wine country. Besides tasting wines, you can take a ride on a horse-drawn trolley, go boutique-shopping, bike through town, and immerse yourself in the rich history in what is considered the Danish capitol of America.

solvang ca + 15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San DiegoPin

795 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89119, map

Distance: 327 mi / 4 hrs 45 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: The Strip, Neon Museum, Valley of Fire
What to Eat:
Oyster Bar, Poke Express, Best Friend
Where to Stay: NoMad Las Vegas (luxury), Nobu Hotel at Caesars Palace (mid-range), Mandalay Bay (budget)

We always thought Vegas was just the glitz and glamour of the strip, before we lived there, but there’s much more to explore than just the strip. You can hang out with the locals in Downtown Vegas or have an outdoor adventure at Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire.

You can check out our Ultimate Las Vegas Bucket List of 101 Things to Do to make most of your time there.

Go Up in the Eiffel Tower of Paris Hotel and Casino + 15 Romantic Things to Do in Las Vegas for CouplesPin

9. San Luis Obispo or SLO

733 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, map

Distance: 311 mi / 4 hrs 50 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Mission San Luis Obispo, Bubblegum Alley, Madonna Inn
What to Eat:
Taste, Old San Luis BBQ, Goshi Japanese Restaurant
Where to Stay: Vespera on Ocean (luxury), SeaCrest OceanFront Hotel (mid-range), La Cuesta Inn (budget)

Hiking, biking, surfing, wine, farm-to-fork dining, and beaches are just a few of the reasons people visit SLO. Combine this with 315 days of sunshine and you’ll never want to leave.

San Luis Obispo / SLO (15 Best Day Trips from Los Angeles).
Photo of us taken by Jeff Newsom

47050 Generals Hwy, Three Rivers, CA 93271, map

Distance: 323 mi / 5 hrs 15 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: General Sherman, Moro Rock, Tunnel Log
What to Eat:
Sierra Subs and Salads, Ol Buckaroo, Still Life Cafe
Where to Stay: Wuksachi Lodge (luxury), Montecito Sequoia Lodge (mid-range), La Quinta Inn (budget)

Immerse yourself in giant trees that feel like they’re straight from fairy tales. Camp, hike, or just take a scenic drive through the forest. Don’t forget to visit some of the largest trees in the world!

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125 N 2nd St #120, Phoenix, AZ 85004, map

Distance: 355 mi / 5 hr 10 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Desert Botanical Garden, Lost Dutchman State Park, Musical Instrument Museum
What to Eat:
Barrio Cafe, Farm & Craft, Fry Bread House
Where to Stay: Royal Palms Resort & Spa (luxury), Kimpton Hotel Palomar (mid-range), Hampton Inn Phoenix (budget)

Phoenix is the fifth-largest city in the US and a great destination for all types of travelers. Besides its world-class resorts and golf courses, it also offers outdoor adventures, museums and culture, and a wide variety of cuisine.

desert botanical garden phoenix + weekend in phoenix itineraryPin
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scottsdale murals + weekend in phoenix itineraryPin

36.4617545,-116.8688057, map

Distance: 352 mi / 5 hr 20 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Artists Palette, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin
What to Eat:
Timbisha Tacos, Panamint Springs Restaurant, Stovepipe Wells Restaurant
Where to Stay: The Inn at Death Valley (mid-range),  The Ranch at Death Valley (mid-range), Death Valley Inn and RV Park (budget)

Death Valley is the lowest, driest, and hottest area in North America, but offers beautiful scenery and a variety of landscapes. Surrounded by mountains that still see snow, you’re able to see both extremes from one point. Just avoid going in the summer!

Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes in Death ValleyPin

13. Hearst Castle

750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452, map

Distance: 354 mi / 5 hr 35 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Heart Castle Tour, Old San Simeon, Elephant Seals
What to Eat:
Chief’s Galley Cafe, Camp Hill BBQ, Sebastian’s
Where to Stay: J Patrick House Bed & Breakfast (luxury), Moonstone Landing (mid-range), San Simeon Lodge (budget)

Tour this National and California Historical Landmark in central California, and spend the rest of the weekend exploring the surrounding area. Oh yea, did I mention that they have Zebras?

neptune pool hearst castle + 15 best weekend trips from san diegoPin

Photo: Joseph Sohm

14. Mammoth Lakes

2510 Main St, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546, map

Distance: 422 mi / 6 hrs 25 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Mountain, Devils Postpile National Monument Monument
What to Eat:
Toomey’s, The Stove Restaurant, John’s Pizza Works
Where to Stay: The Westin Monache Resort (luxury), Tamarack Lodge (mid-range), Sierra Lodge (budget)

Huge mountains, lakes, and deep valleys make this a popular getaway spot. The summer gives you endless places to explore and get outdoors, and the winter time brings skiing and snowboarding.

girl wearing yellow jacket at hot creek geologic site mammoth lakes californiaPin

37.7709411,-119.6237533, map

Distance: 430 mi / 7 hr 10 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Half Dome
What to Eat:
Village Grill, The Ahwahnee Dining Room, Curry Village Pavillion
Where to Stay: The Ahwahnee (luxury), Yosemite Large Loft Condos (mid-range), Tenaya Lodge (mid-range), Curry Village (budget)

This one is a farther drive but is included because the scenery makes it so worth the trip! Every time we’re in Yosemite, we feel refreshed and inspired. Waterfalls, granite mountains, HUGE Sequoias, and Half Dome makes for an amazing backdrop for a weekend getaway.

17 Breathtaking Things to Do in YosemitePin

More Weekend Trip Ideas Under 7 Hours

  1. Tijuana, Mexico (20 mi / 35 min / map)
  2. Rosarito Beach, Mexico (37 mi / 55 min / map)
  3. Temecula, CA (59 mi / 1 hr / map)
  4. Ensenada, Mexico (84 mi / 2 hr 5 min / map)
  5. Anaheim, CA (97 mi / 1 hr 35 min / map)
  6. Riverside, CA (109 mi / 1 hr 45 min / map)
  7. Idyllwild, CA (111 mi / 2 hrs 5 min / map)
  8. Long Beach, CA (114 mi / 1 hr 45 min / map)
  9. Los Angeles, CA (120 mi / 1 hr 55 min / map)
  10. Palm Springs, CA (139 mi / 2 hrs 15 min / map)
  11. Malibu, CA (152 mi / 2 hrs 30 min / map)
  12. Joshua Tree National Park, CA (164 mi / 2 hrs 45 min / map)
  13. Lake Havasu City, Arizona (301 mi / 5 hrs 10 min / map)
  14. St. George, UT (449 mi / 6 hrs 50 min / map)
things to do in tijuana mexico + 15 Popular Road Trips from San DiegoPin

Map of Best Weekend Trips from San Diego

What is the best weekend getaway you’ve been on? Which of these have you visited?


Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.

Local Adventurer on Pinterest Local Adventurer on Youtube

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