San Diego is a great place to live, but sometimes you just need to get out and see something else. But getting on a plane and planning a big trip usually involves a bigger budget, more time planning and lots of lost time on a plane.
Why not stay a little closer and explore some places that are just a short drive away? So we are sharing some of our favorite weekend trips from San Diego. Have you been to some of them? Which one is your favorite?
Best Weekend Trips From San Diego
Palm Springs, the Mecca for Mid-century Modern enthusiasts and desert life lovers, has a lot to offer. This desert oasis will put you in vacation mood right away – perfect for a short weekend getaway from San Diego.
Things to Do in Palm Springs
A desert getaway to Palm Springs can be as relaxing or as adventure-filled as you want it to be. Whether you crave some downtime by the pool, reading, drinking cocktails, and dipping your toes in the water, or want to go on a off-road adventure through the desert, Palm Springs has it all. Here are our top 5 recommendations:
- Get some aerial views over Palm Springs from the Aerial Tramway
- Explore the desert flora and fauna
- Mid-century modern Architecture Tour
- Visit the Palm Springs Art Museum
- Day Trip to Joshua Tree National Park
- Visit the San Andreas Fault
- Shopping & Dining
- Go on a desert hike
Where to Stay in Palm Springs
Palm Springs is famous for its beautiful restored motels and charming hotels. Many of them follow the famous mid-century modern design that Palm Springs is know for. Here are are some of our top picks on where to stay in Palm Springs:
Yes, Flagstaff is more than just a quick sleepover on the way to the Grand Canyon. This lumberjack mountain town has gone through a rebirth and is now full of cute little artsy shops, restaurants, breweries, and coffee shops while also offering a full range of fun outdoorsy activities, including skiing!
Things to do in Flagstaff
I recently spent 3 nights in this cute little Northern Arizona town and was blown away by all the things to do in Flagstaff. Here are some of my favorites (but also read my full article on Amazing things to do in Flagstaff here).
- Go Skiing at the Arizona Snowbowl (yes, skiing in Arizona!)
- Explore the cute Downtown
- Stroll along Route 66
- Museum of Northern Arizona
- Visit some stunning National Monuments nearby
- Go stargazing at the Lowell Observatory
- EAT – Flagstaff has some amazing restaurants
- Do the Flagstaff Beer Trail
Where to Stay in Flagstaff
Flagstaff has a variety of options for accommodation, whether you prefer a more quiet nature setting or want to be right in the heart of downtown. They even have some haunted hotels, if you are looking for a spooky experience.
Las Vegas is the place to go if you want to forget the real-life for a little while. Whether you are into gambling or shows, food, or quirky things, Las Vegas never gets boring.
Things to Do in Las Vegas
Of course, the big draw to Las Vegas is the gambling. From penny slot machines to private back-room Poker tables, you have a chance to challenge the house everywhere. But there is more to Las Vegas than that.
Las Vegas has some of the world’s best shows and entertainment to offer. From Cirque du Soleil to concerts and broadway musicals, helicopter rides, and day trips to the Grand Canyon, Las Vegas has something to offer for everyone. Take a look at these fun tours in Las Vegas:
Where to Stay in Las Vegas
Las Vegas has it all You can tour the world during your trip to Vegas. Enjoy the glitzy and glamorous casinos with hundreds of rooms, thousands of slot machines and ample entertainment options, where you’d be entertained for your whole trip without ever stepping outside.
If you are like most people in San Diego, you probably avoid going up to LA as much as possible. The traffic sucks, and the city is simply too big. But sometimes, we forget how much Los Angeles has to offer. The nightlife, the museums, the concerts, and the restaurants are out of this world. Maybe we should give our bigger brother to the North a second chance it try to discover it with fresh eyes.
Things to Do in Los Angeles
Most likely, you have already done all the touristy things in Los Angeles, so I am not going to mention them to you. But here are some worth mentioning:
- try some of the best restaurants in the world.
- go shopping on Melrose Ave and in the Fashion District.
- explore Downtown. It has changed so much in the past 10 years.
- visit Olvera Street and China Town.
- go on a food tour.
- find a few museums and exhibits that interest you.
- go on a walking tour in the LA art district.
- go to a show or concert (extra points, if you find one at Hollywood Bowl).
Where to Stay in Los Angeles
Depending on your itinerary, I would suggest to find a place close by to avoid LA traffic as much as possible. Here are some recommendations for Beverly Hills, Downtown, Venice, and Hollywood. And also check out Groupon, they have some really good deals for Hotels in Los Angeles.
A desert getaway is always a good idea. Borrego Springs is just under 2 hours from San Diego, so it is perfect for a weekend getaway. Grab some apple pie on the way in Julian and you are ready for a fun weekend away.
Things to Do in Borrego Springs
Borrego Springs is the perfect small-town desert weekend getaway from San Diego, especially if you love nature and outdoor adventures, but also appreciate art and culture. Make sure to add dinner at Red Ocotillo – serving traditional diner fare, but at the next level. So good, we went there two night in a row.
- Wildflower Season
- Art Institute
- Metal Sculptures at Galleta Meadows
- Anza Borrego State Park
- Borrego Desert Jeep Tour
- Desert Hiking
- Borrego Springs Visitor Center and Desert Garden
Where to Stay in Borrego Springs
When we went to Borrego Springs, we stayed in a vacation rental – a really cool Mid-century modern house with a stunning view and really funky decor. It was great, especially since we were three people and also brought our dog along. Check for prices and photos here>>
But there are also some really nice resorts for any budget in Borrego Springs. Here are some of the most highly rated resorts in Borrego Springs:
Big Bear feels like different world, when you come from San Diego. The view of the mountains, the forrest and the smell of the pine trees makes it feel like you are much further away than you actually are.
That is especially true if you go in winter. The famous saying “You can go surfing in the morning and skiing in the afternoon in California” probably talks about San Diego and Big Bear.
Things to Do in Big Bear
Whether you go in summer or winter, Big Bear is always fun. In the winter, winter sports is of course the big draw. From skiing, snowboarding, snow shoeing, snow mobiles, or ice skating, Big Bear has it all.
In the summer, hiking, camping, and fishing are very popular, as are any water sports on Big Bear lake. If you like the outdoors, Big Bear is a great weekend trip from San Diego. Here are some fun activities for your time in Big Bear:
Zipline Tour – 9 high-speed ziplines & fun suspension bridge
Snowshoe Tour – Scenic Winter Adventure Through Forest
Big Bear Village Scavenger Hunt, Walking Tour
Private Hiking Tour to Bluff Lake Reserve
Where to Stay in Big Bear
Guadeloupe Valley, Baja California
Vino AND Tacos? If you love both – and lets be honest, who doesn’t – you need to head south of the border and check out Guadeloupe Valley for some wine tasting. Yes, you will have to cross the border, but it is still only about a 1.5 hour drive from San Diego. This makes the Guadeloupe Valley, Mexico the perfect weekend trip from San Diego.
Things to Do in Guadeloupe Valley
In the Guadeloupe Valley its is all about wine tasting. There are some incredible wineries, each with its unique style and vibe. Here are some of our favorites:
- Casa Frida
- Villa Montefiori
- Monte Xanic Bodega
- Finca Altozano
If you prefer to go on a guided tour, there are also really cool day-trips to the Guadeloupe Valley from San Diego. They will pick you up in San Diego, cross the border with you and you don’t have to worry about drinking and driving. Take a look at some Valle de Guadeloupe Wine Tour offers here:
Where to Stay in Guadeloupe Valley
There are a few nice places to stay directly in the Guadeloupe Valley, but you can also stay in Ensenada or Rosarito. Here are our recommendations:
If you want to stay in the US, you can visit Southern California’s largest wine region: Temecula. Located about half-way between San Diego and Los Angeles, it is a great option for a boozy weekend getaway from San Diego.
Things to do in Temecula
Temecula is a wine region, so the main thing to do here is wine tasting, obviously. Here are some really nice wineries in Temecula:
- Vitagliano Winery
- Akash Winery
- Peltzer Farms Winery
- Wilson Creek Winery
Aside from drinking wine, you should also visit Temecula’s Old Town. You’ll get a fun Western Town feel and find some great bars and restaurants. Try out Devilicious for some great pub food. Afterward, check out their Speakeasy for some delicious cocktails or head to Refuge Brewery for a tasty craft beer flight. If you are into gambling, visit Pechanga Casino.
If you just want to do a day trip from San Diego, take a look at these tours. That way, you don’t have to drink and drive and have fun all day.
Where to Stay in Temecula
Temecula offers some really nice accommodation options, whether you want a luxury casino hotel or a boutique winery hotel in Temecula. Here are some of our favorites:
Let’s get going – book your trip to one of these fabulous weekend trips from San Diego. Surprise your partner or your family with a spontaneous getaway that won’t break the bank or take hours to plan, but will relax you just as much as a big trip, if not more.
Best Weekend Trips From San Diego – Pin for Later:
Last Updated on October 11, 2021 by Maria Haase