San Diego | Weekend Adventures

WEEKEND TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO

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WEEKEND 15+ OF THE BEST WEEKEND TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO 

San Diego is one of the most beautiful places in the world! Hence that’s why it is known as America’s finest city. However, sometimes you need a little weekend getaway. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, a family-friendly weekend trip, or just a fun weekend away- this article will cover it all!

Long weekend getaways

We have gathered together the 15 best weekend trips from San Diego for you to visit. You can choose whether or not you want to go all out for your next weekend vacation or just take it easy and chill. Each place offers both options. You will need two days to enjoy the full experience for the following 15 destinations.

SHORT TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO

Let’s start out with what are considered some of the best short trips from San Diego. These trips could be done in a day, but are definitely better if done over the course of two days. 

1. SOLVANG ROAD TRIP 

If you have never had the chance to visit Solvang then there is no better time than now! Solvang is the cutest Danish-inspired town. Visit the boutiques, try some Danish pastries, grab and polish hotdog and some beer, and then go olive oil tasting. 

Solvang is just outside of the wine country located in Santa Barbara, so if you are in the area try to do both! Make sure to do these things during the day as this town goes to sleep quite early. 

Looking for the complete Danish experience? Check out the Atterdag Inn for your stay.

Time from San Diego: 4.5-hour drive by car

2. OJAI, CALIFORNIA

Ojai, California is a place that most people don’t think of when they think of a weekend getaway from San Diego. The town of Ojai offers wine tastings, art museums, and even some hiking. Make sure to check this place off your weekend getaway trips!

Ojai weekend trips san diego

Time from San Diego: 3.5-hour drive by car

3. JULIAN

Although the town of Julian is open all year, the best time to visit is in the Fall. Julian goes all out for this season. Grab a pumpkin from the pumpkin patch, go apple picking and grab a slice of the infamous Mom’s apple pie as you walk through the town of Julian. 

Day trips from San Diego to Julian

A perfect weekend getaway from San Diego. You will be able to accomplish all the activities in one weekend. Make sure to check out my post on the trip to Julian for a full list of activities of what to do and where to stay!

Time from San Diego: 1.5-hour drive

LONG WEEKEND TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO

These are your trips that may require more than two days but could be done in a weekend. It may just be jam-packed. So, if you plan on going to one of these places I highly recommend you consider these places for those three day holiday weekends. 

Want to take a long weekend road trip with a motorhome? Check out how to do a rental motorhome trip!

4. SEQUOIA NATIONAL PARK WEENEND TRIPS

If you are an adventurer like me then this could be the perfect weekend getaway for you. Sequoia National Park is one of the “lesser” known National Parks; therefore, it is much less crowded than say, Yosemite. If you are visiting this park then you are most likely going to be hiking and looking at the giant Sequoia trees.

National parks in California
Sequoia national park

My husband would say. Check the weather before you go, especially in the wintertime as a lot of the roads may close due to snow. For a full list of activities and things to do in the park check out the Sequoia National Park website.

Pro tip: Sequoia National Park is right next to King’s Canyon National Park. Try to visit both while you are there! 

Time from San Diego: 6 hours by car 

5. SAN FRANCISCO 

OK, this is one of my personal favorite weekend trips from San Diego considering I lived in San Francisco for almost five years. So, take it from a local! This is definitely a do-able weekend trip as long as you fly up! I personally use cheapoair.com to help find the best deal for airline tickets between San Diego and San Francisco. 

San Francisco weekend trips

There is so much to do in San Francisco-you won’t be bored! I recommend flying up either early Saturday morning or late Friday night. It is only a one hour flight. Once you arrive you are going to want to visit the following places: The Golden Gate Bridge, the Painted Ladies (aka the full house houses), Fisherman’s Warf, and the Palace of fine arts. If you want to check out a hike then make sure to read my article on the best hikes in San Francisco

I recommend you rent a car for the weekend. It will save you money in the long run instead of ubering from place to place. 

Time from San Diego: One hour flight

6. BIG SUR 

Big Sur, California is another place that you should fly to. I recommend flying into the San Jose Airport and then renting a car and driving down along the Pacific Coast Highway to Big Sur.

Big Sur is a beautiful town on the coastline of California. It features beautiful places such as The Bixby Bridge, Julia Pfeiffer Falls, and Hearst Castle. If you are planning to visit Hearst Castle make sure to book tickets in advance as it fills up quickly. Insiders tip: take the last tour so you can watch the sunset from the castle high up on the hill. 

Travel to Big Sur for the weekend

Planning a luxurious stay in Big Sur? Then I recommend checking out Ventana. Looking for something more affordable, yet still beautiful? Check out my review on this cute cabin in Big Sur. 

If you are looking for tips on driving the Pacific Coast Highway then check out this article

Time from San Diego: 7-hour drive or fly to San Jose and rent a car 

FUN WEEKEND TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO

The following three destinations combine a mix of some close destinations as well as some places that are a bit further away. 

7. BIG BEAR 

Big Bear is the perfect escape for a weekend away in the mountains. Big Bear is known for its skiing in the winter and mountain biking in the summer. It is located on a lake, therefore, it also offers the opportunity for water activities.

is the perfect website to find a place to stay! Home range from cute little cabins to tree-houses, so find what is perfect for you! 

Big Bear Lake

Time from San Diego: 3-hour drive by car

8. SAN LUIS OBISPO

San Luis Obispo (SLO) has a special place in my heart because this is where I got married; however, it remains to be a beautiful vacation destination. It makes for the perfect weekend trip from San Diego. San Luis Obispo is a small and cute coastal town located in central California. 

Romantic weekend getaways san diego

SLO is the perfect place if you are looking for a relaxing weekend getaway. Enjoy the serenity of this ocean town. A fun place to stay or even just visit is the Madonna Inn. Each room has a different theme and the main banquet room is decked out in everything pink.

Time from San Diego: 5.5-hour drive by car

9. SEDONA ARIZONA

Sedona, Arizona is one of the most beautiful and unique places in the world. You will be surrounded by the most beautiful Red Rock.

Sedona long weekend road trip

The town of Sedona is a hiker’s dream. It is filled with thousands of trails ranging from easy to difficult. If you are looking for a beautiful resort check out the Hilton Sedona Resort at Bell Rock or take your adventure to the next level and rent a camper-van for the weekend! 

The Pink Jeep tours are a super popular tourist attraction in Sedona. The company takes you out in a bright pink jeep and shows you some of the most popular places in Sedona along with the history behind it.

Time from San Diego: 7 hours by car

10. WEEKEND TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO TO MEXICO

For those of you who live in San Diego, you know Mexico makes for a great weekend trip. Please make sure to research the safety of the area prior to going. Rosarito is a beautiful place to visit! There are wineries and beautiful beaches! Make sure to stay in a well-known resort for safety reasons. 

Time from San Diego: 1.5 hours but varies depending on border crossing

ROMANTIC WEEKEND GETAWAYS FROM SAN DIEGO

Looking for an extra special getaway to celebrate an anniversary with your special someone? Look no further! These are the top three places to visit for a romantic weekend getaway from San Diego. 

11. PALM SPRINGS

Palm Springs is the perfect romantic getaway. It is located in a desolate place. It is a quiet kind of place, but don’t worry there is still lots to do! Enjoy your time together walking through museums or going out to a nice dinner at Copley’s on Palm Canyon. Have an adventurous spirit? Take a sunrise hot air balloon ride for a once in a lifetime experience. 

Palm springs getaway

Enjoy a beautiful stay at the Andreas Hotel & Spa. Spend your time relaxing at their 24hr pool, enjoy a luxurious massage, and partake in the all-inclusive breakfast deal. For a full list of romantic activities check out this website.

Time from San Diego: 2.5 hours by car

12. TEMECULA, CALIFORNIA

Temecula is just a short drive away from San Diego, but you will definitely want to stay for the weekend in this beautiful wine country. Head up on a Saturday morning, drop your car off at your hotel and then uber around to different wineries. Make sure to check out Miramonte Winery, Robert Renzoni Winery, and Wilson Creek Winery. Check out Temecula Valley Winegrowers for a full list of all the Temecula wineries.

Fun weekend trips from San Diego

Head back to your hotel Saturday night and enjoy the warm spa as the stars come out. Sunday morning either wake up and get a massage or head out for a hike to work off all that wine you drank the previous day. 😉 For an easy hike check out the Harvest-on Lake Loop and for a more moderate hike make sure to check out Vail Lake Loop. 

P.S. You really can’t go wrong with the hotel that you choose to stay at and which wineries you choose to drink at. They are all good! However, the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa has great recommendations. 

Planning to head out on a hike in San Diego make sure to read my article on the 9 Best San Diego hikes. 

Time from San Diego: 1.5 hours by car

13. CARMEL BY THE SEA

Carmel by the sea has some of the world’s most beautiful scenery. This town is located along the water and offers a cute small-town experience. Head out to the dog-friendly Carmel beach for a nice and relaxing day and then enjoy a beautiful dinner out in the town of Carmel. 

Beach sunsets on a quick weekend trip from San Diego

You may need to make this a three-day weekend trip. This is definitely a must-visit kind of place at some point in your life. Plan a 10 or 25-year anniversary weekend getaway trip here. You won’t regret it!

Time from San Diego: 7.5 hours by car or fly into San Jose, CA airport and drive down.

FAMILY WEEKEND TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO 

Have a family and looking for some fun weekend activities that the whole family can partake in? The following three-weekend getaways are perfect! 

14. DISNEYLAND 

Have kids who love Disney movies? Then you must visit Disneyland. It is the most magical place! If you have never been to Disneyland then you are in for a treat! It is a whole world of its own. Make sure to bring all your Disney gear! Go all out and dress up for the best day of your life. 

Weekend road trips from San Diego

Stay the night at one of the Disneyland resorts to get the full experience. I personally love the Disneyland Resort. It is close to the park and there are Disney characters roaming all over the property. Such a fun experience for the kids! 

Check out this Disneyland Crowd Calendar to help you find the best time to visit the park! And if you are up for it-check out California Adventure, the park right next door to Disneyland on your second day.

Time from San Diego: 2-hour drive by car


15. CATALINA ISLAND

If you and your family are outdoor adventurers and love water activities then this is the place for you guys! Catalina Island is full of fun activities. Grab a kayak, rent a boat, or bring some snorkel gear and explore the world below the water. 

San Diego weekend getaway to Catalina Island

There is a lot more than just water activities though! Enjoy some shopping, hiking, relaxing on the beach, and even some mini-golf or ziplining. To book ferry tickets and for a full list of Catalina Island things to do check out the Visit Catalina Island website.

Time from San Diego: 1-hour drive to Dana Point Port and then a 1-hour ferry ride

16. SANTA MONICA 

This is such a fun one for the kids because it includes the Santa Monica Pier. This could be done as a one day experience; however, I personally always love extending my trips to make it the whole weekend. 

Santa Monica Pier rollercoaster

Head up to Santa Monica for the weekend and enjoy the fun-filled roller coasters and other rides on the Santa Monica Pier. After riding a few rides enjoy relaxing on the warm sandy beach or rent a bike and head out on the coastal trail. 

Head to the Heal the Bay Aquarium on your second day in Santa Monica before heading back home to San Diego. Looking for a place to stay? I recommend The Hotel Casa Del Mar for its beachfront views and proximity to things.

Time from San Diego: 2.5 hours by car 

FINAL THOUGHTS FOR A SAN DIEGO LOCAL

I have personally visited every single one of these places so I can assure you that you won’t go wrong with whichever place you choose to visit. There are 52 weekends in a year, so you definitely have the opportunity to visit more than one of these places. 

Enjoy your time and let me know which places you loved! Cheer!

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WEEKEND TRIPS FROM SAN DIEGO

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14 Comments

  1. This list was awesome and extensive, thank you for the links for directions and stays! Mr. Dan, big bear is one of my favorite places, I’m sure you and your wife will have a blast!

  2. Lots of great suggestions for some really cool weekends! Thanks for all the good info! Love all your pics that you include…especially the one of your camping trip in Big Sur with your mom! You two are so cute together!

  3. Great list of amazing short excursions. I’ve been to all but Sedona. The colors look amazing and hope to make that excursion in near future. We have have friends who also frequent the desert ( Glamis) which is also a short excursion where they ride dirt bikes, quads and dune buggies. San Diego has so much to offer within its borders but it is adjacent to so many amazing places and adventures as you highlighted. Thanks for the share.

  4. Great tips! We plan a four-week road trip through California for 2021and want to visit a lot of the places you mentioned! I´ll save this for inspiration. Thanks!

  5. What an excellent guide to special places to visit. This will save us so much time trying to research what to do on our next trip out west.

  6. I’ve only been to San Diego once, and it was only for a few hours, so I’d love to go back and see more of the city itself. But I also want to check out some of these places!! I’ve never heard of Julian but it sounds wonderful! And of course, Big Sur and Sequoia have been on my list for a long time. Great post!

  7. I’ve been to all but Sedona. The colors look amazing and hope to make that excursion in near future. We have have friends who also frequent the desert ( Glamis) which is also a short excursion where they ride dirt bikes, quads and dune buggies. San Diego has so much to offer within its borders but it is adjacent to so many amazing places and adventures as you highlighted. Thanks for the share.

    1. Oh you have to visit Sedona! It is such a beautiful and unique place! I have never done Glamis, but will need to sometime. I have heard about it.

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