Top SoCal Weekend Getaways to Visit Now

Getting outside and seeing natural beauty is easier than one would think for those living in Los Angeles or the San Francisco Bay Area. One amazing thing about living in California is how big the state is and the many wonderful communities to visit and explore outside of the two most popular cities. We’ve compiled a list of the best places to get away from the congestion of the city and explore in southern and central California.

In the southern part of San Luis Obispo county is the classic beach town of Pismo Beach. It’s conveniently located midway between LA and San Francisco on white sand beaches. When thinking of Pismo Beach, one would be wise to remember the phrase “wine and waves,” due to the close proximity to wineries and the fantastic surfing scene. Ten minutes away are a number of classic wineries with beautiful welcoming tasting rooms. You can explore both smaller Mom and Pop operations to large scale vintners that produce world class Chardonnays and Pinot Noirs in the Edna Valley Wine region.

Courtesy of Pismo Beach

The beautiful and diverse Santa Ynez Valley is only a 2.5 hour trip from the LA area. The valley is home to the towns Solvang, Los Olivos, Santa Ynez, Buellton, and Ballard. The quaint town of Solvang is known as the “Danish capital of America” and is like walking through a different country. The architecture resembles that of Denmark and there are plenty of unique products that can only be found there. Los Olivos is a wine growing region with an abundance of wineries and tasting rooms.

There’s a lot of history in California especially in the small towns in the central part of the state. One such hidden gem is historic Cambria situated 4 hours north of LA and up the coast from San Luis Obispo. The town is situated next to a forest of Monterey Pines and is one of only three forests in the world. Cambria has been meticulously preserved by the local historical society and certain businesses within the downtown make you feel like you’re stepping back to the 1870s. Just past that is Moonstone Beach where you can find wave-tumbled stones and spot sea creatures like humpback whales, dolphins and otters.

Off the beaten path, three hours due north of LA, is the census designated place of Kernville. Amid the giant sequoia trees, one can go mountain biking or on hikes of various lengths. The area is also known for some of the best rafting in all of California. Be sure to take a drive in the area as the views are scenic and there’s an award-winning brewery to have a pint after you’re done driving.

(Photo by David McNew/Getty Images)

For a mountain lake escape head to Lake Arrowhead northeast of downtown LA. There is plenty to do in the area known as the “Alps of Southern California. Take a ride on the paddle-wheel powered boat the Arrowhead Queen or go look at the local fauna in Heaps Arboretum. This mountain resort is the closest destination listed to LA and provides a quick nature-filled getaway.

There’s so much natural beauty in these smaller vacation destinations so go out and explore what the Golden State has to offer. Plan your trip to some of these amazing destinations by starting in Pismo Beach. Book soon as rooms will go quickly.

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