Sometimes we need a short jaunt away from our usual work and home duties to refresh our minds and bodies, which can be easily achieved by a short trip just a couple of hours away from home. We’re fortunate to have a wealth of weekend and day getaways in nearly every direction, all with places to stay and lots to do.
Where else can you visit the beach, mountains, and desert all in one day? Of course, you couldn’t spend much time in each location, but it is possible!
Rather than drive to all those places in a day, choose one that has the ambiance and activities you enjoy. Whether to get away for a few hours or a few days, here are some fun choices:
Catalina Island is just a 22-mile ferry ride away. Depart from Newport Beach, Dana Point, San Pedro, or Long Beach and you’ll arrive in an hour and 15 minutes. Can’t wait? Take the 15-minute helicopter ride from John Wayne Airport or the Long Beach Heliport.
Besides boasting a beautiful beach and harbor, Catalina offers great watersports including stand-up paddleboarding, snorkeling, diving, and kayaking. Alternatively, board a glass-bottomed boat to view the sea life without getting wet.
Walk or cruise around Avalon in a rented golf cart, by bicycle, or via bus. Be sure to visit the famed Casino building and Avalon’s unique shops and restaurants.
Two Harbors is your spot for hiking, ziplining, more watersports, and camping. It’s easy to reach via Avalon’s Catalina Safari Bus.
Temecula Valley is our nearby wine country getaway where you can take a horseback ride through the vineyards. Getting married? Tie the knot in a hot air balloon while sailing over wine country! Choose from over 40 wineries for wine tasting and tours, but don’t miss Temecula’s Old Town with everything from antiques to boutiques.
Laguna Beach offers beautiful beaches, art galleries, and lots of shopping and dining. Enjoy the Sawdust Festival, Art-A-Fair, and Pageant of the Masters. Use the free trolley to get around town and on weekends, the free Summer Breeze OC bus hits all the festival events along Laguna Canyon Road.
San Diego has so much to see and do that you may have to plan several trips. Start with the hop on/hop off Old Town Trolley and travel through Old Town, the Embarcadero, and Seaport Village. You can also take the SEAL Tour on the open-air tour bus/boat that goes directly from land to sea for a spectacular view from San Diego Bay.
Palm Springs is a year-round golfer’s paradise with courses virtually everywhere. Not a golfer? Lounge by the hotel pool, enjoy a spa day, shop, ride bikes, or take a tour of desert homes of the stars.
Also, be sure to take a trip on the Palm Springs Tram. In 10 minutes it climbs to 8,516 feet, from the desert floor to Mount San Jacinto National Park. Enjoy observation decks, two restaurants, documentary theaters, gift shops, and hiking trails. Don’t forget to bring a jacket, as it’s 30-40 degrees cooler at the top!
Big Bear isn’t just the spot for skiing, sledding, or making snow angels. Come summer, ride a ski lift to the top of Snow Summit. Go hiking, ziplining, tree rope climbing, or take a Segway tour. Big Bear Lake offers boat tours, fishing, kayaks, WaveRunners, and paddleboards. Take a helicopter trip or tour the national forest on horseback.
The Big Bear Renaissance Faire runs every weekend in August – better practice up on your Old English!
Santa Barbara is your getaway for dining on Stearns Wharf then taking a water taxi ride. Visit the Sea Center interactive marine museum, and don’t miss Santa Barbara’s popular wineries, State Street shopping, and the historic Santa Barbara Mission.
So many nearby getaways – you may want to try them all!
Terri Daxon is a freelance writer