Ready to embrace the mantra of 'West coast, best coast'? If you're gearing up for a trip to the golden shores of California and seeking the best weekend getaways in SoCal, look no further! We've curated the ultimate SoCal city list that embody the epitome of sun, sand, and surf. From picturesque beaches to cities straight out of a postcard, get ready for an unforgettable adventure along the stunning coast of Southern California: Here's our 12 Best Weekend Getaways in Southern California. (For more information about Southern California check out our guides for best beaches, LA hotels, and Palm Spring Hotels).

  1. Santa Barbara, California
  2. Ojai, California
  3. Solvang, California
  4. Laguna Beach, California
  5. Palm Springs, California
  6. San Diego, California
  7. Santa Monica, California
  8. Temecula, California
  9. Joshua Tree, California
  10. Catalina Island, California
  11. Los Angeles, California
  12. Huntington Beach, California 

12 Best Weekend Getaways in Southern California

1. Santa Barbara, CA: the American Riviera

santa barbara
Santa Barbara, often dubbed the "American Riviera," stands out as a must-visit destination in California, blending coastal allure with a touch of sophistication. Its breathtaking beaches, quaint shops, vibrant street art, and delectable seafood eateries make it a destination worth exploring beyond a mere weekend getaway. With a chic yet laid-back beach vibe, Santa Barbara boasts world-class vineyards on its doorstep, contributing to its deserved comparison to the French Riviera. The city's weather remains consistently pleasant, with sunshine dominating over 300 days a year and temperatures averaging around 70-75 degrees.

2. Ojai, CA: Valley of the Moon

Ojai, CA
Ojai, nestled in a picturesque east-west valley, boasts centuries of rich history and natural beauty that have captivated people for generations. Originally inhabited by the Chumash Indians, it transitioned through Spanish land grants and cattle ranching before its modern development. Renamed Ojai, meaning "the Nest" or "Valley of the Moon." Ojai is a vibrant community renowned for its charming town, excellent dining options, scenic hiking trails, and vibrant farmers' markets, offering an idyllic escape against the stunning backdrop of the Topatopa Mountains.

3. Solvang, CA: European Style Getaway

Solvang california
Solvang, nestled in California's Santa Ynez Valley, offers a passport-free European escape with its enchanting Danish-style architecture, wineries, and picturesque scenery. Despite its sunny Southern California setting, Solvang exudes holiday cheer without the need for snow, making it ideal for leisurely strolls amidst light-bedecked buildings, iconic windmills, and outdoor eateries offering traditional smørrebrød. Particularly magical during the festive season, the village comes alive with dazzling decorations, yuletide events, and holiday markets, serving up delicious gløgg, or Scandinavian mulled wine.

4. Laguna Beach, CA: Coastal Highway Views

Laguna Beach Coastal Highway Views
Laguna Beach, California, is the quintessential coastal paradise, catering to art lovers, outdoor enthusiasts, families, and romantics alike. With seven miles of hidden coves, majestic canyons, and sandy beaches, Laguna Beach offers a scene straight out of postcard. Beyond its natural beauty lies 20,000 acres of protected wilderness, perfect for hiking and soaking in breathtaking vistas. Whether you're lounging on Main Beach, exploring remote spots like Thousand Steps Beach, or embarking on the Top of the World hike for panoramic views, Laguna Beach promises unforgettable experiences

5. Palm Springs: Desert Oasis

Palm SpringsIn just under three hours from San Diego, you can reach Palm Springs, a beloved desert getaway offering diverse activities year-round. From poolside relaxation and golfing to shopping in the Uptown Design District and exploring nature in Joshua Tree National Park, there's something for everyone. Accommodation options range from luxurious golf resorts to boutique hotels, catering to various preferences. Palm Springs exudes a unique blend of retro chic and desert hippie vibes, drawing in visitors like Frank Sinatra and modern-day Instagram influencers.

6. San Diego, CA: America's Finest City

sunrise in san diego
San Diego, dubbed America's Finest City, offers an irresistible blend of beachside vibes and big city excitement that's sure to captivate visitors. With its near-perfect weather, 70 miles of stunning coastline, and an array of world-class attractions, this vibrant city has something for everyone. From savoring the signature Cali Baja cuisine and indulging in craft beers to exploring diverse neighborhoods bursting with creativity, San Diego promises endless adventures.

7. Santa Monica, CA: Festive Pier

Santa Monica, CA

Santa Monica seamlessly blends the charm of a classic Southern California beach town with the excitement of a vibrant cityscape, offering an array of adventures, art, and style. Nestled alongside the Pacific Ocean, this seaside playground caters to every taste, from shopping and dining at the Third Street Promenade to enjoying the iconic Santa Monica Pier's shimmering ferris wheel at Pacific Park. Perusing farmers markets, exploring art galleries on Pico Boulevard, and soaking in the energy of Main Street or Montana Avenue are just a few of the diverse experiences Santa Monica has to offer. With upscale accommodations, world-class restaurants, and swanky nightlife, all set against the backdrop of laid-back surf culture, Santa Monica invites exploration and discovery.

8. Temecula, CA: Wine Country

Temecula, CA
During the harvest season, Southern California's Temecula Valley buzzes with excitement as vineyards prepare to collect perfectly ripened grapes. Renowned for its award-winning wines, Temecula Valley is a top destination for wine enthusiasts, outdoor adventurers, and foodies alike. With a vibrant community of passionate individuals, this spirited destination captivates visitors with its genuine hospitality and contagious energy, making it a must-visit spot for anyone seeking a unique and memorable experience in Southern California.

9. Joshua Tree National Park, CA: Mojave Desert Getaway

Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park offers an enchanting desert experience with its iconic Joshua Trees, vast boulder formations, and diverse adventures suitable for all skill levels. Beyond hiking, rock climbing, and stargazing, the surrounding towns boast quirky art scenes, delicious dining options, and eclectic shops. Nicknamed "J-Tree," this park sits at the crossroads of the Mojave and Colorado Deserts, showcasing a unique blend of flora and stunning landscapes. Despite its growing popularity, Joshua Tree retains its rugged charm and mystical ambiance, attracting artists, musicians, and nature enthusiasts alike

10. Catalina Island, CA:

Catalina, CA
Discover the hidden gem of Catalina Island, just an hour by ferry from Southern California, offering crystal-clear waters and a serene island vibe. Whether exploring Avalon's charming port town or the tranquil community of Two Harbors, Catalina promises a low-key escape from the mainland. With minimal cars and everything within walking distance or a short golf-cart ride away, Catalina invites visitors to unwind and embrace its laid-back atmosphere. From water activities and outdoor adventures to simply soaking in the island's natural beauty, Catalina offers something for everyone, making it the perfect weekend getaway for both locals and visitors alike.

11. Los Angeles, CA:City of the Stars

Los Angeles, CA
Of course, it wouldn't be a list of best weekend getaways in Southern California without adding Los Angeles, the ultimate must-see city in Southern California! From the star-studded streets of Hollywood to the breathtaking hikes of Griffith Park, LA is bursting with iconic spots just waiting to be explored. Take a stroll down the Hollywood Walk of Fame, where you can spot your favorite celebrities' stars, or hike up to the iconic Hollywood Sign for panoramic views of the city below. With endless entertainment, vibrant culture, and picture-perfect moments around every corner, LA promises an adventure you won't soon forget.

12. Huntington Beach, CA: Surf City USA

Huntington Beach, CA

Situated between Los Angeles and San Diego in Southern California, Huntington Beach, also known as Surf City USA, boasts 10 miles of pristine sandy beaches, making it a haven for families, couples, and surfers alike. Visitors can enjoy a variety of activities such as biking, kayaking, and beach bonfires, with the iconic Huntington Beach Pier offering breathtaking views of crashing waves and stunning sunsets. Despite its size, much of the city's activity is concentrated around the downtown area, ensuring that visitors can easily explore all that Huntington Beach has to offer. 

Weekend Getaway in Southern California with Flightgift!

Southern California is not short of coastal highways and iconic beach piers, we hope this list has helped narrow down your weekend getaway in SoCal. Whether you cruise through the desert oasis of Palm Springs or opt to hit the waves in Huntington beach, you’ll be sure to come back with sun kissed skin and a smile on your face. Send someone you love to the sunny shores of SoCal with an airline gift card! They can choose to fly to any of these beautiful cities whenever they like.

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