15 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego

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.


1. Catalina Island

Travel Time: 2 hours by car & 1 hour by ferry from Long Beach

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!

More: Kayaking in Channel Islands National Park + Free Things to Do in San Diego

Catalina Island (15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).
Photo: Ravi Komatireddy / creative commons

2. Big Bear

Travel Time: 3 hours by car

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!

More: 7 Popular Things to Do in Big Bear Lake

Big Bear (15 Best Weekend Getaways from San Diego).
Photo: bmalarky / creative commons

3. Ojai

Travel Time: 3.5 hours by car

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

Travel Time: 3.75 hours by car

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 (15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).
Photo: Damian Gadal / creative commons

5. Santa Cruz Island

Travel Time: 3 hours by car & 1 hour by ferry from Ventura

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

Travel Time: 4 hours by car

This historic town is tucked away in the Santa Ynez Valley. Check out the amazing views of vineyards, lavendar 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 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).
Photo: Charlotte Morrall / creative commons

7. Solvang

Travel Time: 4.5 hours by car

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 (15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).
Photo: Jonas Sedona / creative commons

8. Las Vegas

Travel Time: 5.5 hours by car

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.

More: The Ultimate Las Vegas Bucket List + 49 Best Places to Eat in Las Vegas

Las Vegas (15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).

9. San Luis Obispo (SLO)

Travel Time: 5 hours by car

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.

More: Our Anniversary Photoshoot in San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo SLO (15 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).
Photo of us taken by Jeff Newsom.

10. Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park

Travel Time: 5.5 hours by car

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!

More: 15 Amazing Things to Do in Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon

Sequoia National Park (15 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).

11. Phoenix, AZ

Travel Time: 5.5 hours by car

Phoenix is one of the fastest growing cities in the nation. Beautiful weather and year-round activities are constantly bringing in visitors. If you’re a golfer, don’t forget to book a tee time!

Phoenix Arizona (15 Popular Weekend Getaways Near San Diego).
Photo: Edward Brice / creative commons


12. Death Valley

Travel Time: 5.5 hours by car

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!

More: 9 Incredible Things to Do in Death Valley

Death Valley National Park (15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).

13. Hearst Castle

Travel Time: 6.5 hours by car

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?

More: The Ultimate California Coast Road Trip (Hwy 1)

Hearst Castle (15 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego).
Photo: Jan Andersen / creative commons

14. Mammoth Lakes

Travel Time: 7 hours by car

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.

Mammoth Lakes (15 Popular Road Trips from San Diego).
Photo: m01229 / creative commons

15. Yosemite National Park

Travel Time: 7.5 hours by car

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.

More: 15 Breathtaking Things to Do in Yosemite National Park11 Scenic Hikes in Yosemite

Yosemite National Park (15 Popular Road Trips from San Diego).

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

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Thank you for your website and great ideas.! Really appreciate it!

  2. Your travel times from San Diego are completely wrong.. you can’t get to Santa Barbara in 3 hours or Solvang in 4.5

    1. We based all our times on google maps. LA traffic definitely increases times based on when you’re leaving!

    2. I’ve definitely made it from Carlsbad (North County) to Santa Barbara in 3 hours and Solvang in 4.5 hours. Maybe not from downtown San Diego with the state of all the traffic these days but from North County, it’s possible.

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