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Catalina Island - Top Rated Weekend Getaway from San Diego

10 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways from San Diego (2024)

If you want to get away from San Diego’s warm weather and beaches, you can try out tons of weekend getaways from this destination. There is a whole array of options when we talk about the commendable and top-rated weekend getaway destinations from San Diego. Whether you are interested in hiking through the rugged terrains and canyons here or what to spend some time in water activities, you’ll get every option in its weekend getaways. The majority of the fun-filled weekend escapades are a short drive away from San Diego. Thus, you won’t have to travel for long hours to get there.

10 Top-Rated Weekend Getaways from San Diego

It’s time for you to plan your adventures with our long list of the top 10-weekend getaway destinations from Diego.

1. Palm Springs

If you are traveling by car, you can reach Palm Springs in about three hours from San Diego. It is considered to be heaven for golf lovers since this place boasts over 100 golf courses. They are located in the noteworthy Greater Palm Springs area. This area comprises the Palm Desert, Indian Wells, La Quinta and Palm Springs. Just in case you don’t want to try out golfing here, you can visit the Coachella Valley here. You are surely going to love this place since it has hundreds of luxurious resorts and hotels and an array of restaurant scenes.

The Palm Springs Air Museum and the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway are heavens for aviation lovers. Later, you can pay a visit to the Ingleside Inn and stay there. This hotel was built in 1925 and thus hails with a historical aura. Do not forget to have Mervyn’s culinary experience: a supper club and a quaint restaurant there.

2. Catalina Island

Catalina Island is only two hours away from San Diego and is considered the finest weekend escapade for travelers. It is located 26 miles off the coast, and visitors can easily get there via Catalina Express. Catalina Island boasts loads of great restaurants, small and big hotels, and a plethora of amazing adrenaline-rushing outdoor activities. Catalina Island - Top Rated Weekend Getaway from San Diego

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While being here, you can easily spend some time on the beaches under the sun. If you are a water baby and adventurous, you can try your hands in kayaking, snorkelling, scuba diving or water fishing. Just in case you are a jazz lover, you are surely going to love the JazzTrax festival held here in October every year. Those who want to spend some time in the finest accommodation at Catalina Island can stay in the Wrigley home.

3. Idyllwild

Idyllwild is a weekend destination that can only be visited in the summertime. It takes around two hours for the visitors to reach this place from downtown San Diego. This place acts as a sheath to some streets, which are dotted with art galleries and eclectic shops. Not to forget about the heart-stealing array of cafes and restaurants lying here. If you are thinking of visiting Idyllwild during winters, you would be facing some hassle since the place doesn’t have any ski resorts. Also, the mountain roads become riskier because they are filled with snow.

Being an adventurous person, you can be a part of the hiking trails extended across hundreds of miles. Irrespective of the level of hiker you are, you can try out this activity with no issues. During the hike, you are going to witness loads of alpine landscapes and huge pine trees. If you want to extend your gateway trip by any chance, start driving down the notable Highway 74. There you can visit the Palms to Pines Byway that is quite scenic.

4. Santa Barbara

If you are extensively searching for a perfect romantic weekend getaway from San Diego, you can vouch for Santa Barbara. The beauty of this place and the winsome aura would surely leave you speechless. You can either drive to this place, or you can come up here via a short flight from San Diego as well. The drive has a duration of 3.5 hours (approx. value). Santa Barbara has got Oprah Winfrey and Prince Harry as its residents as well. Also, the foodie scene here is undoubtedly first-class.

You can try out the lovely tasting wine here at the Funk Zone. Apart from that, you can also indulge in a 20 minutes drive into the Santa Ynez Valley. It is going to facilitate you with the finest central coast wines. For a one-of-a-kind, you are a part of the amazing Solstice Festival held here every June. Other activities to indulge in while being here include spending some time at the beaches galore in Santa Barbara or try out cycling on a beachfront bike path.

5. Las Vegas

Well, who doesn’t know about Las Vegas? Even if you are not much of a gambler, you can enjoy your heart out loud at this place. It is the best destination to have the utmost fun in the bustling nightlife. Also, not to forget, it is surely the finest road trip from San Diego that has a tenure of around 5 hours. The luxurious aura of this place is what attracts the majority of the visitors here. There are loads of fabulous chefs here for providing delectable food. Also, Los Angeles boasts loads of live shows for visitors to enjoy them.

While being here, make sure that you are preferring to get a hotel experience rather than relying on rental or Airbnb. You can stay at The Strip, highly recommended by tourists globally! There are many things for you to indulge in when you are here for one day. These include visiting the Las Vegas Natural History Museum, Neon Museum, Fremont Street, DISCOVERY Children’s Museum, Ethel M Chocolate Factory, Stratosphere Tower etc.

6. Sequoia National Park

The Sequoia National Park is hardly 6 hours’ drive away from San Diego. Well, not only the destination but the whole road trip is going to be beautiful since you’ll witness loads of scenic views en-route. Located in Central California, this national park has got giant redwood trees and a serene environment. If you want to stay away from the city’s hustle and bustle, this place is perfect for you to come up close and communicate with nature, the pristine environment here.

The plethora of giant redwood trees prevalent in this national park look beautiful, and impressively, they are over 3500 years old. Thus, they are counted amongst the oldest living things on our planet. Some of these trees have a height of 300 feet. There are many campgrounds here as well, and they contain four lodges. Inside the park, you can visit the Wuksachi Lodge that is open for the public all throughout the year. It also has a full-service restaurant for the convenience of travelers here.

7. Riverside

Riverside is one of the lesser-heard weekend getaways from San Diego and is a 1.5 hours’ drive away. It’s because the resorts here are not looked upon much by travelers. But you can try out the Mission Inn Hotel & Spa. This property is undoubtedly worth it, and you are surely going to stay satisfied with the same. It is highly architectural, and thus, if you are an art lover, you would direly fall for the beauty of this place. It has been marking its existence for over 100 years now. You can also claim a free tour of this notable property from the hotel’s ambassadors.

Some other places to visit in Riverside include the Riverside Metropolitan Museum, the Riverside Art Museum, and the Riverside Museum of Photography. You should also pay a visit to the very historic and rustic Fox Performing Arts Center. This vintage theatre is known to notably host many musical performances and live events as well for travelers.

8. Lake Arrowhead

The Lake Arrowhead is tucked in the San Bernardino Mountains and is counted amongst the finest weekend getaways from San Diego. It is located at a proximity of only 2 hours’ drive away from San Diego. You can visit this place during winters, and there you can try out the Snow Valley ski resort that is a very popular spot when it comes to skiing. This weekend getaway acts as the best place to spend some time with your friends and family during the summertime.

This lake is accompanied by huge hiking as well as mountain biking trails. You can be a part of the same. If you want to spend some time in the small town of Lake Arrowhead, you can easily try out the shops, art galleries, hotels and restaurants here. For staying, make sure you opt for the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa. It is a massive and very luxurious resort that boasts its private marina. Thus, here you can have fun in the water.

9. Mammoth Lakes

The Mammoth lakes are referred to as the winter getaway destination for all those coming from San Diego. They are located in the Eastern Sierra Mountains. You can get here via a scenic drive of 6.5 hours. This place is all about its white snow, and surely, this place gets a lot of snow. While being here, you can easily spend some time at the Mammoth Mountain ski resort that proffers the lift-serviced ski mountain, probably the highest one in California. The Mammoth Lakes are 8 hours’ drive away from San Diego.

If we talk about the summertime, this place is best for this season as well. The mountain resort here has got loads of hiking trails for you to try out. Also, you can choose mountain biking or golfing. As notified, some of the ski lifts also operate in summers, and while being its part, you can witness the higher elevations as well.

10. Joshua Tree

Do you love stargazing? If yes, then you should start heading towards the Joshua Tree National Park that is approx. three hours’ drive from San Diego. Here, you can try out camping, hiking and stargazing, of course! It has been notified as one of the favourite places of many travelers. On mentioning the most fabulous winter destination in California, the Joshua Tree National Park is the one! If you want to have the best stargazing experience, you can choose to spend the night in a tiny house that is prevalent here. It is open to the mountain desert views and endless starry night.

You would love the Hidden valley that is considered the introductory hike for anyone present in the Joshua tree. Once you complete this hike, you would be able to stand at an elevation of about 75 feet. From there, you can easily witness the heart-warming unique landscapes. Do not forget to see the Skull Rock that is one hour drive away from this park.


If you want to just explore the day out from San Diego, then you can also opt for the various day trips from this destination. But, for the weekend stays, the above-mentioned gateways are undoubtedly worth it! Make sure you visit them and have the best time of your life.

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