1. Santa Barbara:
It’s not hard to see why some visit Santa Barbara and never want to leave. The coastal city is popular among high-class foodies and is a retreat for many celebrities, but the atmosphere is always laid back and easy going. Walk along State Street or see the rose garden at the Santa Barbara Mansion, and check the “Funk Zone” — a community of cafes, boutique shops, wine tasting shops and art galleries — before heading to the pier. Want to fit in with the locals? Rent a bike.
2. Catalina Island:
On Catalina Island it’s enough to spend your entire weekend lounging in a cabana on the beach, but there’s more to explore if you want to make the most of your time there! You can tour the Catalina Casino (actually not a casino), hike the Trans-Catalina Trail, and stroll through shops on Crescent Avenue.
Set on the coast between Santa Barbara and Malibu is Ventura — the surfer’s sweet spot with friendly locals, live music, great bars and even better burritos. Ventura is known to be where the “truly” outdoorsy call home, so hit the surf or take in sunset views from Serra Cross Park. Ventura is also a two-for-one destination, because you can day-trip to Channel Islands which is only a few miles off the coast!
This quaint village at the base of the Santa Ynez Mountains is nicknamed the Danish Capital of America for good reason; this hidden gem is a head-to-toe replica of a Denmark town full of impressive Danish bakeries and eateries. A quiet getaway to Solvang is a great way to get an international experience without ever leaving the States!
5. Napa Valley:
Everyone knows you go to Napa for the wine. A luxurious retreat in Northern California’s valley will nearly always include a wine tour of some sort, but I would also suggest venturing out and exploring the unique culinary venues like the CIA at Copia and Oxbow Public Market next door. Napa’s also known to have great spas, so treat yourself to an afternoon of pampering.
6. San Francisco:
San Francisco has a culture of its own, quite unlike anything else in California. At any time of the year there’s an infinite list of festivals, concerts, and activities to check out, but famous landmarks like the Golden Gate, Painted Ladies, Lombard Street and Ghirardelli Square are timeless sights that can only be enjoyed in SF.
7. San Diego:
Surf, sand, and sun — California’s southern-most city has everything you need for a perfect weekend away from home. Skip the tourist traps and enjoy the city like the locals do! San Diego is all that it claims to be, so grab a beer from the nearest microbrewery and sink you toes into the sand. If you’re up for a road trip, just 45 minutes from northern San Diego is one of our all-time favorite coastal towns, Laguna Beach!
8. Big Sur: Big Sur is the place you come to to get away from crowds and just take in the views around you. Its dense redwoods, rugged coastline and jaw-dropping mountain views make this every outdoor-enthusiast’s paradise, with plenty of ground to cover in a span of two days.
9. Santa Cruz: While Santa Cruz’s Beach Boardwalk and Mystery Spot may draw in many, don’t let these be your sole reason for visiting. Spend an afternoon exploring downtown and make your way to the tide pools at Natural Bridges. For the person looking to make the most of their weekend who wants the beach, music, food, and fun activities — Santa Cruz checks off all the boxes!
10. Big Bear: Big Bear has been a popular getaway for Southern California residents for ages, offering a refreshing change in scenery from smoggy city life. The lake makes for fun boating outings in the summer, and the mountain resort is nothing short of a winter wonderland for skiers and snowboarders!
The blog is adapted from https://ordinarytraveler.com/california-best-weekend-getaways