When it comes to California weekend getaways, there are several choices in the golden state. There are some incredible road trip destinations here in California that make for a wonderful weekend escape. Some of my favorite memories from the last few years are hopping in the car and exploring a new California destination.

Whether it is southern or northern California, the options from outdoor escapes to city destinations are available in both. You can even road trip down the coast between the major destinations pending how much time you have. If you’re looking for a getaway that is just for the weekend, then any of these below will be a great fit.

13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

For summer months, I love heading out to the coast to get some fresh air and time at the beach. Destinations like Southern California and Palm Springs, I’ll often save for the early fall when the weather has cooled off a bit. And then you have some destinations that are truly year-round like the city of San Francisco or even Yosemite National Park if you don’t mind a bit of snow. Either way, there is a lot to do in California.

Take a look at some of my top picks for epic weekend California getaways.

10 Epic Weekend California Getaways


13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

1. San Francisco

One California weekend getaway that I love the most is to the city of San Francisco. After living there in the city for almost a decade, its truly one of the most amazing cities in California. The vibrance and proximity to nature are second to none. From incredible cuisine to be able to be out by the ocean in ten minutes, it always blows my mind. San Francisco is one of my favorites for a short weekend because two full days will give you a great introduction to the city. And you can always save something for the next trip.

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Where I’d Stay

My first choice in hotel would be the most recently opened Proper Hotel for its design and central location.


13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

2. Palm Springs

If there is one place that I’ve vacationed the most in California outside of the Northern California area, it’s Palm Springs. It’s an awesome ladies’ weekend getaway in California, so I’ve done quite a few trips here with friends. Personally, I love the slow pace in Palm Springs paired with incredible dining and stunning hotels. It’s an amazing spot to go for the weekend and relax poolside with friends.

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Where I’d Stay

For a first time trip, I’d stay at either Korakia Pensione or Sparrows Lodge.


13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

3. Yosemite National Park

When it comes to outdoor travel, Yosemite National Park is hard to beat. The picturesque valley is home to open lands perfect for hiking and exploring. It’s a very special part of California and drive out there is well worth the effort. If you’re able to snag a cabin in the park, it’s super helpful as you can cut down the drive time in and out of the park.

I love catching sunsets on either the valley floor or up from Glacier Point.

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Where I’d Stay

I’d try to grab a cabin at the former Curry Village if possible (read the post above). If not, Autocamp opened up a location just outside of the park.


13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

4. Northern California — Gold Country

For great family weekend getaways in Northern California, there is so much to do nearby. I love destinations around Gold County for white water rafting and wine tasting. As you head further into the foothills, towns like Auburn, Grass Valley, and Nevada City are incredibly picturesque and close to nature.

I’d recommend exploring more of what is in this area for a weekend away.

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Where I’d Stay

I adore the more recently opened Park Victorian Inn that overlooks Auburn. You’d be centrally located to most sights in the foothills.


5. Santa Cruz

When it comes to the northern central coast of California, the most iconic destination is Santa Cruz. Known for its historic pier, quaint downtown, and great surf, Santa Cruz is a family-friendly destination for those looking for a weekend getaway. The area has a lot to do like hiking the mountains nearby and afternoons at the beach.

Where I’d Stay

The location of Hotel Paradox is great and for those looking for something on the ocean, I’d recommend the Dream Inn which is right on the main beach.


13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

6. Southern California — Los Angeles to Laguna Beach

There are so many popular weekend getaways in Southern California. Whether it’s a trip to LA to experience Beverly Hills or spend a day at Santa Monica, there is a lot to do there. My personal favorite area of Southern California is Laguna Beach as the beaches there are beautiful and the city itself has so much charm.

Where I’d Stay

I absolutely admire the Santa Monica Proper Hotel for that area. For Laguna Beach, the hotel Surf and Sand resort is right on the ocean.


7. San Diego

Another weekend getaway down south that is popular is San Diego. There is some beautiful resorts and golf courses along the coastline which makes it an awesome family getaway. The city of San Diego itself has changed a lot, with the downtown popping up with new restaurants and boutiques.

Where I’d Stay

I like the location of the Kimpton Hotel Palomar if you plan to enjoy the downtown area and want close access to the beaches.


8. San Luis Obispo

Known as a college town, San Luis Obispo is home to some great beach destinations in California. Most famed for Pismo Beach, the area is an awesome summer weekend getaway for those who want to make the drive. Downtown San Luis Obispo is lined with great restaurants and there is even local wineries nearby in the county.

Where I’d Stay

The newest hotel to open is the Hotel San Luis Obispo, and I personally love the design of this.


9. Paso Robles

One area for a romantic weekend in California that is often overlooked is Paso Robles. The wine from this region has been highly awarded over the last decade, so if you’re looking for a warm destination with access to great wine and food, this is it.

Where I’d Stay

For accommodations, a vacation rental may suit well here but if not, the Hotel Cheval in downtown looks incredible. See more options here.


13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

10. The Marin and Sonoma Coast

I once took a solo weekend getaway up the coast from Marin through Sonoma. What I found was these beautiful towns and incredible hotels, all set on the wild coastline of Northern California. I fell in love with Point Reyes and the hiking out in the National Seashore. The rolling pastoral hills with dairy farms and local produce. Farm fresh restaurants and charming boutique hotels. All of it reminds me why I love this area of Northern California so much.

If you’re based in the Bay Area or in greater Sacramento region, this is an easy weekend getaway!

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Where I’d Stay

I adore the cottages at Nick’s Cove for a quaint stay. As you get further up the coast, my next favorite option is Timber Cove Resort.


13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

11. Napa Valley

One of my favorite local romantic getaways in the Bay Area is to Napa Valley. It’s a quick drive out of the city (around an hour or so) and you’re in the heart of the wine region. This area is known for spa getaways where many hotels have onsite spas to enjoy after a day of wine tasting. The summer is particularly nice if you’re looking for a place to hang poolside. Napa Valley ranges from downtown Napa to Calistoga. I personally love the town of Yountville that is midway as you can pop into either side of the valley easily.

Where I’d Stay

The Hotel Yountville is well located and I love how quintessential Napa Valley it feels. The other more modern designed hotel is the Bardessono which puts you at footsteps from the heart of Yountville.


13 Epic Weekend California Getaways

12. Lake Tahoe

One more weekend getaways in Northern California for either summer or winter is Lake Tahoe. Lake Tahoe is famous for winter skiing but it also has awesome summer activities like hiking and boating. It’s a rare gem for being truly year-round for outdoor experiences, depending on what you want to do. I personally love the summer months, laying out by the lake and enjoying the mild temperatures.

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Where I’d Stay

For me personally, Lake Tahoe is an Airbnb destination. This post has some great Airbnb options.


13. Santa Barbara

The final spot on my weekend getaways list for California is Santa Barbara. It’s idyllic, quaint, and truly one of the most beautiful coastal cities in California. From pristine beaches to the nearby Santa Ynez Valley, Santa Barbara feels like the best of all worlds.

Where I’d Stay

The Hotel Californian is footsteps from the beach and the heart of the downtown. You could do a lot from here and not have to use your car!


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