When it comes to vacations, it is hard to find many places to beat the perfection that San Diego has to offer. From the epic surf, to the authentic Mexican cuisine, to the flawless weather and of course the good looking crowds, it’s no wonder San Diego is among the highest ranked vacation destinations in the country (U.S. News). But even sunshine burns if you get too much, and after 22 years, even this beautiful place I call home gets old.
That being said, I have been itching to get the f*ck out of Dodge. With big travel plans on the horizon [NYC & Paris, weeeee!], I have been looking for new and inexpensive trips to squeeze in between the long, slow work weeks. I like to call this a Daycation… a day or two away from home where you can unplug and relax without having the burden of paying an arm and a leg to get away for a night. If you can afford it, a quick ticket to Vegas or Scottsdale are great options, however both of these destinations can be on the more expensive side of the continuum.
Luckily, San Diego is in close proximity to a handful of other great places to visit [this does not include LA, because LA is the only a vacation if you pay a ton to stay at an upscale resort filled with people who think they are more important than you]. Good thing the weather in this part of the country is very conducive to road trips, because it looks like my car will be getting a lot of miles in the coming months as I check each of these great weekend getaways off of my list!
Temecula: Our close neighbor to the Northeast, Temecula resides in Riverside County and is conveniently located off of the I-15 about an hour north of San Diego. With over 35 wineries, nine golf courses and the massive Pechanga Resort & Casino, Temecula is a popular destination for Southern Californian’s looking for a weekend vacation. Seasonal festivals and vibrant nightlife will keep the fun alive at any time year, or any time of day. This is the perfect daycation for wino’s and poker players looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of coastal life.
Palm Springs: This desert oasis is most notably the home of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts [and Stagecoach] Festival, but attracts many visitors year round from all walks of life. Previously known for being a popular retirement destination, Palm Springs has transformed in the past 10 years or so to become a resort town for country club aficionados, artists and design junkies alike. The town reeks of vintage charm with it’s 1970’s architecture, Native American inspired art and long stretches of lawn dotted with aquamarine swimming pools. This is the perfect leisurely daycation for those looking to do nothing but lay in the sun with a cool drink in hand.
Anza-Borrego National Park: Located just east of Temecula and south of Palm Springs, Anza-Borrego is California’s largest state park and boasts 600,000 acres of mostly unspoiled wilderness with 500 miles of dirt roads and 110 miles of hiking trails. Like the rest of the Coachella and Death Valley’s, the area is laden with history and artifacts that will keep your inner Archaeology buff on your toes. Aside from the breathtaking day-time activities, Anza-Borrego is also very well known for it’s insane celestial display by night, and was even dubbed by USA Today as, “a stargazer’s paradise”. This daycation is perfect for the outdoorsy type looking to explore all the great features the desert has to offer.
Rosarito, Mexico: Once you get through the tedious line at the US-Mexico border, it is only a 20 minute drive straight down the coast til you arrive in one of Mexico’s top resort towns on the West side. In addition to spectacular surf swells year round, Rosarito is very well known for their Puerto Nuevo lobster. For only $30, you can have all the chips, salsa and lobster your seafood loving heart desires. Add a couple cervezas with an unobstructed view of the Pacific Ocean, and it feels like you are hundreds of miles from home. Rosarito is the ideal daycation for an easy get away on any budget, or for those looking to relive their spring break at Senor Frog’s.
Newport Beach: Just 45 minutes north of San Diego on the I-5, Newport Beach is a home-away-from-home for San Diegans. Whether you are looking for a romantic getaway, traveling with kids in tow, or just skipping town with some friends for a couple nights, there is something for everyone in Newport. Dining and nightlife have always been great draws for tourists, but the locals live for gorgeous days spent playing at the beach and cruising Balboa Island. This is the perfect daycation for those looking to relax by the water!
Santa Barbara: Sometimes called the “Pacific Riviera,” Santa Barbara is reminiscent of the Mediterranean and is located only three hours north of San Diego [one of the most beautiful coastal drives I have ever experienced]. Santa Barbara has lots in common with San Diego, from it’s Spanish history, gorgeous weather and long stretches of beaches, to it’s nearby wine tasting and plethora of outdoor activities. With two large colleges in the heart of nearby Goleta County, Santa Barbara has a youthful vibe that appeals to anyone looking to have a few drinks and wander State Street for some great shopping and people watching. This is the perfect daycation for anyone just looking to hop on a train and get out of town, but still enjoy an active, fun-filled weekend.