With plenty of sunshine, amazing weather, and so many exciting things to do, it can be hard to fathom why anyone would even need a getaway from San Diego. But if you’ve lived here for a while or are visiting the area for a substantial amount of time, a change of pace can be refreshing and even adventurous. There are so many incredible travel destinations just a short drive away from San Diego too, whether you’re looking for majestic mountains, a big city experience, or the wilderness only nature can provide. Here is a collection of weekend getaways from San Diego for you to fully explore this region of the country.
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Palm Springs (Hotel Prices & Photos)
For access to amazing spas, golf courses, and shopping with a unique desert vibe, take the three-hour drive from San Diego to Palm Springs for the weekend. There’s the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to get a bird’s eye view of the area and lots of luxury to treat yourself to something different for a couple days. Take a hike up Mount San Jacinto for an outdoor adventure and some exercise, or simply relax by booking a massage appointment and soaking up the desert sunshine.
Laguna Beach (Hotel Prices & Photos)
We also love heading to Laguna Beach from San Diego for the weekend because of its pristine coastline, downtown Main Street, and great art galleries. Laguna Beach is only about 80 miles north of San Diego, making it an easy weekend getaway if you don’t have a lot of time to spare or want to drive very far. Here you can attend fun festivals, such as the Sawdust Festival, enjoy a laid-back pace of life, and enjoy a little romance with someone you love while watching the sunset.
Joshua Tree National Park (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Within about three hours, you can get to Joshua Tree National Park from San Diego and experience an amazing desert landscape with these iconic trees and much more. This national park is known for its epic rock climbing opportunities and has lots of hiking trails to suit all skill levels. There are campgrounds inside the park if you’re up for “roughing it” in the wilderness for a weekend adventure.
Catalina Island (Hotel Prices & Photos)
You can live the island life with just a two-hour drive and a one-hour ferry ride after leaving San Diego. Catalina Island is a wonderful destination for weekenders because of all of the water-themed activities you can do here. Take a tour on a glass-bottom boat, go scuba diving, or go snorkeling to enjoy these beautiful waters. Of course, you can also just relax on the beach and enjoy a different type of scene than you’ll find in San Diego. The island is about 26 miles off the Pacific coast and also has some nice hotels and restaurants to choose from.
Idyllwild (Hotel Prices & Photos)
People in San Diego are also in close proximity to some really impressive mountains, such as in the Idyllwild region, which is about two hours away. This is a prime spot for nature hikes among tall pine trees, mountain views, and quirky shops and galleries in town. Weekenders can choose to stay in a rustic cabin here to get the full wilderness experience and really soak up the peace and beauty of the forest. Here you’ll fall in love with the San Jacinto Mountains and get the refreshing getaway you’ve been craving.
Big Bear Lake (Hotel Prices & Photos)
In about 2.5 hours, you can reach Big Bear Lake from San Diego as well. This is a prime outdoor recreation area in Southern California and a popular year-round destination. Summertime brings outdoor lovers who enjoy hiking, camping, fishing, and kayaking. While in the winter, people come to this region for snowboarding and skiing, something you’ll never find yourself doing in warm and sunny San Diego!
Los Angeles (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Foodies and people who love arts and culture enjoy taking weekend trips from San Diego to Los Angeles to experience what this timeless and vibrant city has to offer. There’s always something exciting going on in L.A., whether it’s a concert, festival, art gallery opening, or film premiere. Downtown L.A. and Grand Central Market are ideal for foodies and shopaholics, while Santa Monica and Venice Beach are fun excursions too. This weekend getaway is only about a three hour’s drive from San Diego.
Santa Barbara (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Just a little up the coast and about 3.5 hours by car, you can reach Santa Barbara by car and immerse yourself into the local wine and food scene here. Santa Barbara also has some lovely beaches and mountains, as well as fun shops to browse downtown and historic sites to learn about.
Death Valley National Park (Hotel Prices & Photos)
Another amazing natural area to visit on a weekend trip from San Diego is Death Valley National Park, which is about 5.5 hours from the city by car. This is a national park of extremes, and you really have to see this place in-person to believe its otherworldly landscapes and an impressive diversity of scenery. Where else can you see salt flats, sand dunes, mountains, rock formations, and so much more all in one place? Camping is available right inside the park for both tents and RVs, making it easy to spend the whole weekend here to marvel at the various areas.
Las Vegas (Hotel Prices & Photos)
If you’re in San Diego, you should also know that you can take a weekend road trip to Las Vegas in about five hours. This is the ultimate party destination and a fun weekend getaway for couples, girls’ groups, guys’ groups, and gatherings of friends. Walk up and down the Strip with cocktails in hands to soak up the most exciting nightlife scenes in the country or get to know the other sides of the city by checking gout Downtown Container Park or going hiking at the stunning Valley of Fire nearby.
Baja California, Mexico (Hotel Prices & Photos)
From San Diego, you can also go south of the border and experience the best that Baja California, Mexico has to offer. The beaches of Cabo and the wine country of Ensenada are popular spots to visit, but there are plenty of underwater adventures to be had here too if you enjoy snorkeling or scuba diving. Some other top sights to plan your Baja itinerary around include Isla Espíritu Santo, the rock art of Sierra de San Francisco, the Bay of Balandra, and the small town of Mulege.