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? :)
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Last Updated: December 10, 2022
1. CATALINA ISLAND
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!
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!
130 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023, map
Spanish architecture, fruit groves, and wineries make this a common getaway for South Californians.
4. Santa Barbara
217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, map
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.
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.
6. Los Olivos
2900 Grand Ave, Los Olivos, CA 93441, map
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!
1637-1639 Copenhagen Dr, Solvang, CA 93463, map
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.
795 E Tropicana Ave, Las Vegas, NV 89119, map
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.
9. San Luis Obispo or SLO
733 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, map
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.
47050 Generals Hwy, Three Rivers, CA 93271, map
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!
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.
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!
13. Hearst Castle
750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452, map
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?
Photo: Joseph Sohm
14. Mammoth Lakes
2510 Main St, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546, map
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.
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 Weekend Trip Ideas Under 7 Hours
- Tijuana, Mexico (20 mi / 35 min / map)
- Rosarito Beach, Mexico (37 mi / 55 min / map)
- Temecula, CA (59 mi / 1 hr / map)
- Ensenada, Mexico (84 mi / 2 hr 5 min / map)
- Anaheim, CA (97 mi / 1 hr 35 min / map)
- Riverside, CA (109 mi / 1 hr 45 min / map)
- Idyllwild, CA (111 mi / 2 hrs 5 min / map)
- Long Beach, CA (114 mi / 1 hr 45 min / map)
- Los Angeles, CA (120 mi / 1 hr 55 min / map)
- Palm Springs, CA (139 mi / 2 hrs 15 min / map)
- Malibu, CA (152 mi / 2 hrs 30 min / map)
- Joshua Tree National Park, CA (164 mi / 2 hrs 45 min / map)
- Lake Havasu City, Arizona (301 mi / 5 hrs 10 min / map)
- St. George, UT (449 mi / 6 hrs 50 min / map)
Map of Best Weekend Trips from San Diego
What is the best weekend getaway you’ve been on? Which of these have you visited?
See More Ideas for San Diego
“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
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.