Places to Visit from San Diego: Weekend Getaways

Places to visit from San Diego, with its pristine beaches and vibrant cultural scene, is a fantastic place to live. However, sometimes a change of scenery is just what you need to recharge. Luckily, there are plenty of amazing weekend getaways just a short drive from San Diego. Here are some top destinations to consider for your next mini-vacation.

1. Los Angeles, California

Distance: 2 hours

This is one of the places to visit from San Diego. What is more Los Angeles is a melting pot of cultures and is perfect for a weekend break. Here are some highlights:

The City of Angels otherwise known as Los Angeles California is a bustling city famous for many things. And that visitors can experience to their full advantage. LA is characterized by vast city architecture; significant places and attractions exist in the city. Visit the lightning popular Hollywood district with such attractions as Hollywood and Western Avenue. The famous Hollywood Walk of Fame. The TCL Chinese Theatre Complex, together with the studios’ tours showing behind the scenes of the movies’ creation.

Santa Monica with its well-known pier, beaches and recreation areas is spectacular for both – rest and fun. The functions of the pier include entertainment, with a possibility to visit an amusement park, an aquarium, and many restaurants. Which highlights the opportunities of the place and might attract families and friends.

Griffith Observatory is an excellent place to view the city. The Hollywood sign, and has fascinating shows and a telescope night. For the lovers of arts the Getty center has displayed wonderful pieces of art work, and astonishing structure.

Downtown Los Angeles also has sub-neighborhoods which are Little Tokyo for historical and cultural discovery, the Arts District for foodies. Due to the warm climate throughout the year and having a large number of sites, tourists, and attractions. Los Angeles is the best place to visit in holidays.

2. Palm Springs, California

Distance: 2.5 hours

Palm Springs is one of the places to visit from San Diego. Palm Springs, in Southern California is a resort city situated in the middle of the Coachella Valley desert. But mostly having the reputation for mid-century modern architecture Palm Springs is now a Mecca for architecture tourists. The climate of the city and the weather conditions are also favorable throughout the entire year as it does not rain and the sky remains clear for most parts of the year.

There is also a Palm Spring Aerial Tramway that one can take to move to the upper station at Mount San Jacinto where tourists is awarded with an excellent view of the desert surrounded land and trails for hikers. Joshua Tree National Park with features like the jutting rocks and well-known Joshua trees is nearby and excellent for one-day excursions that include climbing, as well as stargazing.

The downtown area is vibrant and filled with shopping, art galleries and spots to dine. It varying from the laid-back cafes and food trucks to fine dining restaurants. Every Thursday the VillageFest hits the downtown area to become a vivid example of the street festive open-air market with local producers, artists, and musicians.

For the more leisurely visitor there is the main swimming pool in one of the several very up market hotels. And or why not hit one of the many superb golf courses? It is endowed with rich history, scenic views, and relaxed environment because of which Palm Springs has emerged as a perfect holiday destination.

3. Santa Barbara, California

Distance: 3.5 hours

Santa Barbara is one of the places to visit from San Diego. Santa Barbara, California, known as the “American Riviera” is a beautiful coastal town. It which can easily be described as Mediterranean with its elegance. Positioned between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean. This beautiful city is famous for its architectural design with Spanish Colonial influence along with a laid back yet affluent tone.

Stearns Wharf is a historic pier which has become one of the Anchor Points for tourists who would want to taste fresh seafood, take wine and have a view of the Pacific Ocean. The oldest building in the city is the Santa Barbara Mission, founded in 1786. That give an insight of the city’s history through the magnificent architectural work, along with rich lawns.

Downtown Tulsa with its red-tile roofs and white stucco buildings is great. And for an aimless stroll with a rich choice of shops, galleries, and restaurants, cafes, and theaters. Other places include the Funk Zone which is a slightly bohemian area close to the harbor comprising of wine tasting rooms, craft breweries, and art studios.

The campers can ride bicycles or take wines tasting tours in the neighboring Santa Ynez Valley. And or go hiking in the Los Padres National Forest. Some of the famous beaches to visit in Santa Barbara are the East beach and butterfly beach. They are good for sun bathing, swimming and enjoying beautiful scenery.

The essence of Santa Barbara is a perfect combination of the untouched nature, diverse cultural background. And elegant atmosphere that would suit those who want to have exciting experiences as well as a calm and serene vacation.

4. Big Bear Lake, California

Distance: 2.5 hours

This is one of the places to visit from San Diego. Big Bear Lake, California is a 12 month / year-round mountain resort area offering plenty of action and relaxation in the great outdoors. This cute spot is located in San Bernardino Mountains and offers clean water of the Lake, beautiful forests. And breathtaking views of the mountains.

When winter comes into the picture, the entire face of big bear lake changes into a beautiful snowy scenery. And the tourist activities of skiing, snowboarding and snow shoeing. Snow Summit and Big Bear Mountain Resort are among the several destinations. Which prides itself in having several slopes that range from easy to challenging ones. The concerning village area is also surrounded and filled with bright lights and warm cabins to make it look splendid.

During the summer season, the lake is the main attraction for water sports including fishing, boating, and kayaking. Many trails for hiking and bike riding for instance the Castle Rock Trail and Alpine Pedal Path, with stunning view and wildlife. The Skyline drive is a picturesque route that provides a view of the lake and some of the hills for the auto tourists or rather a place where one can take a nature hike.

Big Bear Lake Village is the central business district of the town with cute shops, good eateries, and many fun bars. With all the concerts being held in summer and festivals starting from the end of summer to winter, the spirit of the community comes out.

Big Bear Lake is a perfect place for adventurers and lovers of the beautiful nature in simple provincial cabins.

5. Temecula Valley, California

Distance: 1 hour

This is one of the places to visit from San Diego. The Temecula Valley which is in California is blessed with beautiful wine country and historical district known as Old Town. This wine lovers’terrestrial heaven is home to over forty wineries, which serve customers different wines and wine-making factory tours while set in picturesque environs. Old Town Temecula is lined with historical structures with some shops and restaurants and cuisines that have been newly established. The valley is also reputed for hot air balloon services which offers flexible view of the vineyards and the adjacent mountains. Given the combination of natural appeal, historical significance, and wine production, Temecula Valley should suit anyone’s idea of a leisurely and picturesque vacation.

6. Julian, California

Distance: 1.5 hours

Julian is one of the places to visit from San Diego. It is a small town in mountainous region in California with historical atmosphere and beautiful views of surrounding landscapes. Julian was founded during the gold rush era of the late 1800’s and still carries a Western theme and many historic structures and traditions to this day.

Most popular for its apples, Julian has its fair share of apple farms allowing visitors to pick the fruits particular during the Apple Festival. Julian Apple Pie Company is a famous place which simply has to be visited because it offers delicious home-made pies.

Understanding the history of Julian is a trip to the Julian Pioneer Museum or a walking tour of the Eagle Mining Company for its nugget finding past. The inviting Main street highly appreciated for its antique shops for arts & crafts, different kind of shops and good cafes where you can relax while shopping.

Lovers of nature will not have a shortage of things to do in Julian and the outside territories surrounding the town. Cuyamaca Rancho State Park has a lot of trails, beautiful terrains for view, and wildlife too. Cuyamaca Lake is great for fishing, boating and even take out some food and feast on the picnicking areas.

Julian has everything that can turn a traveler’s visit into an interesting and wholesome leisure – history, food, and attractive nature.

7. Laguna Beach, California

Distance: 1.5 hours

This is one of the places to visit from San Diego. Laguna Beach is an idyllic southern California town popular for beach culture and art. And with clear waters like in Meerwasser Beach oh Main and Thousand Steps Beach it also has good condition for sunbathing, swimming and surfing. Art has been a tradition in the town; there are several galleries which include the Laguna Art Museum; the Pageant of the Masters festival. Heisler Park is perfect for walking/jogging along ocean front, flower gardens and terrific tide pools. The centre of Laguna Beach is delightful with wonderful shops, exquisite dining places and pleasant coffee shops. This coast town is the best place to relax and get inspiration from the sea and the rich history of art.

8. Ensenada, Mexico

Distance: 2 hours

Ensenada, Mexico, is a liberal ocean side city with a population that is very lively and the city mostly surrounded by beautiful scenery. Sitting in the Baja California Peninsula, it has seaboard views especially from La Bufadora which is a natural waters gusher. Malison which is a waterfront of Ensenada has many shops, restaurants, amusement, etc. The wine country known as the Valle de Guadalupe is also nearby and offers very good wine producers and beautiful wine castles. Recently the Festival of the Fish Taco is organised in Ensenada, which is famous for the seafood recipes. Over the years, Ensenada has developed into a vacationer’s paradise fascination due to its combination of natural beauty, gastronomical offers and an amalgamation of cultural discoveries.


There are very beautiful places to visit from San Diego. Cultural visit, outdoor activities or simply, a place to unwind – there are numerous beautiful places to visit for the weekend within a drivable distance from San Diego. Jump in a car, grab your map and explore what beautiful locations are a mere driving distance away.

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