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15 Popular Weekend Trips from San Diego

Looking for a weekend getaway? Here are 15 amazing 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!

We put together 15 of the best weekend trips from San Diego to get you started. If you don’t have an entire weekend, check out our list best day trips from San Diego. These day trip destinations also make perfect weekend getaways, but we organized them based on travel time. The following destinations require at least two days from San Diego to make the trip worthwhile. Are you ready for your next adventure?

15 incredible weekend trips from san diego californiaPin

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Last Updated: December 18, 2023

15 Best Weekend Trips from San Diego

1. Catalina Island

1 Green Pleasure Pier, Avalon, CA 90704, 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, NDMK Fish House
Where to Stay: Search for Hotel Deals on Catalina Island

Close to 1 million people visit Catalina Island every year. You can take glass bottom boat tours, scuba dive, snorkel, relax on the beach, and even see bison. There are plenty of activities to fill a weekend.

See More: Free Things to Do in San Diego

catalina island californiaPin

2. Big Bear →

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 Hotels in Big Bear

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

See More: 7 Best Things to Do in Big Bear California


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, Ojai Rotie
Where to Stay: Ojai Hotel Deals

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

See More: Recap of Our Endless Caravan

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: 
Los Agaves, Brophy Bros, Toma Restaurant & Bar
Where to Stay: The Best Santa Barbara Hotels

Beautiful mountains, rolling valleys, and picturesque beaches make for the perfect weekend getaway. Now add an excellent wine scene, and you’re good to go. You’ll stay busy exploring the great outdoors, eating delicious food, or perusing shops.

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

5. Santa Cruz Island →

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
Where to Stay: No hotel 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.

See More: Kayaking the Channel Islands

Channel Islands KayakingPin

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, Nella Kitchen & Bar, Mattei’s Tavern
Where to Stay: Los Olivos Hotel Deals

The historic town of Los Olivos is tucked away in the Santa Ynez Valley. Check out the scenic views of vineyards and 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 wineries californiaPin

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: 
Peasants FEAST, Brekkies, Copenhagen Sausage Garden
Where to Stay: Search for the Best Solvang Hotels

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 ride on a horse-drawn trolley, go boutique shopping, bike through town, and immerse yourself in the rich history of what is considered the Danish capital of America.

solvang ca + 15 Most Popular Weekend Trips from San DiegoPin

8. Las Vegas, NV →

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

Distance: 327 mi / 4 hrs 45 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: The StripDowntown VegasValley of Fire
What to Eat: 
49 Best Places to Eat in Las Vegas
Where to Stay: Las Vegas Hotel Deals

Before we lived in Vegas, we only saw the glitz and glamour of the Strip, but there’s much more to explore outside of it. You can hang out with the locals in Downtown Vegas or have outdoor adventures at Red Rock Canyon or Valley of Fire.

Check out our Ultimate Las Vegas Bucket List of 101 Things to Do, Free Things to Do in Las Vegas, Bucket List Experiences, and Best Last Vegas Photo Spots to make the most of your time there.

See More: 101 Things to Do in Las Vegas

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, Coya Peruvian Food, Giuseppe’s Cucina Rustica
Where to Stay: Hotel Deals in San Luis Obispo

Hiking, biking, surfing, wine, farm-to-fork dining, and beaches are just a few reasons people visit SLO. Combine this with 315 days of sunshine; you’ll never want to leave. The photo of us below is from our anniversary shoot with Jeff Newsom.

slo california pacific coast highwayPin

10. Sequoia + Kings Canyon National Park →

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: Search Nearby Hotels and Rentals

Immerse yourself in giant trees that feel straight from fairy tales. Camp, hike, or take a scenic drive through the forest. Don’t forget to visit the largest trees in the world (by volume), like General Sherman, the President Tree, and General Grant!

See More: 15 Amazing Things to Do at Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon


11. Phoenix, Arizona →

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 CafeFarm & CraftFry Bread House
Where to Stay: Phoenix Hotel Deals

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

See More: How to Spend the Perfect 2-3 Day Weekend in Phoenix

12. Death Valley National Park →

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: 
Smokin J’s Barbecue, El Valle Restaurant, Stovepipe Wells Restaurant
Where to Stay: Death Valley Hotels

Death Valley is the lowest, driest, and hottest area in North America, but it offers beautiful scenery and a variety of landscapes. Surrounded by mountains that still see snow, you can see both extremes from one point. Don’t trust those who tell you to go anytime other than winter! We live so close to Death Valley, but it’s strictly a winter national park for us after suffering through visits during different seasons.

See More: 15 Incredible Things to do in Death Valley National Park

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: 
Big Sur Restaurant, Kabob House, Manta Rey Restaurant
Where to Stay: Search for Hotels Near Hearst Castle

Tour this National and California Historical Landmark in central California, and spend the rest of the weekend exploring the surrounding area. Oh yeah, did I mention that they have zebras? The food options aren’t the best, so I would drive further north towards Big Sur or Monterey if you want more than sustenance.

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

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

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 Warming Hut, John’s Pizza Works
Where to Stay: Mammoth Lakes Hotel Deals

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 wintertime brings skiing and snowboarding.

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

15. Yosemite National Park →

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: 
Mountain Room, Ahwahnee Dining Room, Pizza Deck
Where to Stay: Yosemite National Park Hotels and Rentals

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

Pro Tip: If you want to avoid the crowds, stay out of Yosemite Valley. If you spread out, it’s a massive park with plenty of room for everyone.

See More: 17 Breathtaking Things to do in Yosemite National Park


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

Where to Stay in San Diego

Planning Checklist

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

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Esther and JacobPin

Esther + Jacob

Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found 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.

Follow on Instagram (E + J), YouTube, TikTok, and Pinterest.

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Debra Degen

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

  2. Shanon

    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. jacob

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

    2. Anne

      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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