California Travel Ideas: Weekend Getaways and Day Trips

Red car zooms down Bixby Bridge in Big Sur

Pgiam/Getty Images

Take the stress out of planning a fun California outing for your family, friends, or that special someone by choosing what you want to do.

Weekend Getaways

In California, you can go from the top of a snow-capped mountain to a desert valley in just a couple of hours. With so much to do, the options for a California getaway can seem endless. From San Francisco to San Diego - and everywhere in between - these guides will help you decide where to stay and when to go, and highlight the best things to do in more than 50 California locations. ​

They're designed to make your Northern or Southern California weekend getaway as carefree as possible. Plan your California weekend getaway any way you like with these tools and resources that make it easy to find something for every member of your group:

  • Getaways in Southern California: Head to the Island, look for Mickey at Disneyland or relax on one of many Southern California beaches. Explore Central Coast wine country or find your favorite celebrity on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  • Getaways in Northern California: Taste your way through a flight of California wine in scenic Napa Valley or head out for a ski weekend with friends or family to Lake Tahoe. Whether you want a low-key vacation or an action-packed one, find your next adventure at a Northern California location.
  • Getaways designed for your special interests: If you’re on a budget or have a romantic weekend in mind, you can find just what you seek. Plan your next California family getaway, pack your hiking shoes for an outdoor vacation, or just get away from it all in cute towns where you can simply rest and relax.

Day Trips and Vacation Side Trips

If your free time or budget is limited, try a California day trip. Fun, short trips are within a couple of hours' drive and offer plenty to do. Get all the information you need for a spur of the moment escape or maximize your fun for a day trip from dusk until dawn.

They also make perfect side trips when you're on a longer vacation. All you need to do is hop in a car and head on over to one of these nearby cities to discover a new side of California.

  • Los Angeles day trips: Whether you’re looking for a taste of glamorous living or farm-to-table food, Los Angeles seems to have something for people of all personalities. Explore your taste and style in Los Angeles during your day trip.
  • San Diego day trips: In San Diego, you can rent a bike and enjoy a stroll along the shoreline. Or work up an appetite before visiting the Historic Gaslamp Quarter. You'll find plenty of things to do in San Diego. 
  • San Francisco Area day trips: Tony Bennett left his heart in this city, and so will you after your San Francisco day trip. Shopping, celebrations, art, and architecture are just a few things you can enjoy during your day out. Take in the sights from the Golden Gate Bridge or find a number of indoor activities for San Francisco’s famous foggy days.
Was this page helpful?