The Top 5 Weekend Summer Getaways in California

If you’re anything like me, you catch the wanderlust bug about once a month. Yet, when you don’t have a never ending supply of cash, extended trips to far off destinations simply aren’t possible. Having taken our “extended” trip of the year in April (which seems so very long ago), we’re planning our summer getaways in the California area, with extended (and shorter) weekends at all of the below destination spots! In fact, while I was compiling this, I couldn’t help but excited to revisit all of our favorite California locations…

….And if you don’t live in California, I hope that this will inspire you to find some local spots that you can jet away to in your own state 🙂 I’ve often found that some of my most fun and memorable trips have come from exploring my own state. If you’re planning a getaway to CA anytime soon, hopefully this can serve as a guide 🙂 Happy Travels!

muddled lemonades Parker Hotel Pool

Palm Springs

Whenever I’m looking for somewhere close, warm, and affordable in the summer months Palm Springs is my go-to. From weekend girl’s trips, sister vacays, and rejuvenating trips with TJ, Palm Springs has never failed. I try to get out there at least 4-5 times during the summer…

The Parker: I had been wanting to stay at The Parker for years… then when it showed up on JetSetter, the price was just too good to pass up for a sister trip last summer. This is a great hotel, with excellent amenities (sans a gym though). You can enjoy a casual brunch at Norma’s, sip lemonade at the pool from the lemonade stand (with or without alcohol… I’m sure you know which one we sipped on), and enjoy a relaxing glass of champagne in the hammocks. Later in the evening you can enjoy making s’mores around the fire pit.

The Avalon (formerly The Viceroy): When Allison turned 21, she and I headed here to celebrate her ability to finally order a cocktail poolside. From the trendy black, white, and yellow decor to the relaxing spa, this spot has something for everyone (including a small gym). It’s perfect for bachelorette parties (you can book a villa and split it among 6 ladies… comes fully equipped with a kitchen!!) or a relaxing retreat with your boo.

La Quinta Resort and Spa: I’ve written about this spot several times (most recently here). It’s a perfect family spot, couples spot, or ladies’ weekend spot. World class spa, gym, tennis courts, and pools… you can bring your own beverages and food and lounge all day at the pool. Plus, they have multiple restaurants on the property so there really isn’t any reason to leave :).

The Ritz Carlton: TJ and I stayed here last year and loved it (we used to go to The Lodge until it was bought by The Ritz). It overlooks the entire valley, offers a kid friendly pool and an adults only pool. Some rooms come equipped with fire pits, or you can use the community fire pit with stunning views of the stars. Their restaurant is tres magnifique… we may or may not have ordered two desserts 🙂

Las Casuelas: Hands down one of our favorite spots to eat in the desert. With multiple locations in each desert city, you can’t go wrong with the authentic Mexican cuisine.

sunset at Lincourt Winery

Los Olivos/ Santa Ynez

A home away from home. I love Los Olivos, not only for its wine, but for its small town feel, slower pace of life, and all around gorgeousness. It’s a mere 3 hours from Orange County, but you feel like you are miles away. You can spend the day walking around the quaint town of Los Olivos, window shopping and sipping at the local tasting rooms. Or, you can choose to ride bikes, horseback ride, or simply picnic and taste at any of the beautiful vineyards (Lincourt, Firestone, Cambria, and Zaca Mesa are some of our favorite picnic/wine tasting spots). You also don’t want to miss wandering around Solvang, which is “Danish Town.” There are a lot of great tasting rooms (we like Lucas & Lewellen and Wandering Dog), restaurants, and shops to check out! And please don’t miss the Ostrich Farm 🙂 We recommend renting a house through VRBO, as most hotels are very expensive in the area. Or, if you’re up to it, stay at Pea Soup Anderson or Quality Suites. While not luxurious by any stretch of the imagination (they are motels) they got us up there, provided a clean bed/room (although I did bring my own pillow), and had friendly staff. If you are looking for more information check out this post (also here, here).

Las Olas, Cardiff Ca

San Diego

I can’t say enough about this beautiful city, a mere hour and a half (or 2, depending on your speed…) from Orange County. Allison, TJ, and I all went to school in San Diego and were crazy to actually move away. The options are really limitless here. If you’re craving an urban experience stay in the Downtown area and catch a Padres game, take the ferry across to Coronado, lounge at one of the rooftop pools (favorite here), or walk your way through the streets shopping and dining.

If you’re wanting a more “California” beach living feel, head to La Jolla or Del Mar (in college our go-to spots were in Mission Beach and Pacific Beach… ). Equally delicious restaurants (Los Olas, George’s, Cucina Enoteca) and beautiful accommodations, you simply can’t go wrong. I always love a beautiful coastal run down PCH, or a morning hike around Torrey Pines (absolutely gorgeous views). Waste the day away lounging and catching sun at the beach or pool. Some favorite accommodations are La Valencia, L’Auberge, and the Marriott.

Carmel Ca, itsy bitsy indulgences


Home to Pebble Beach golf course and some of the most beautiful coast lines, you won’t be disappointed with a Friday/Saturday spent in this quaint little town. The last time we were up there I compiled a “Guide to Carmel” with restaurant highlights, things to do, and lodging options. We haven’t been back up there since… but trust me, it’s on the list of summer getaway spots for us!

the carneros inn napa ca, itsy bitsy indulgences


There is really so much beauty in this part of the state from the lush vineyards, crisp blue skies, and clean air… I could go on and on. TJ and I have headed up to this region several times, and as a whole family (with Allison and my parents) have been up there twice. Of course there is the obvious wine tasting option (so many options to choose from… Peju, Chateau St. Jean, Domaine Carneros, Mumm… the list could go on and on…) and the world class restaurants… but you can also choose to ride bikes, stroll through the various little towns, and lounge at your hotel pool taking in the beautiful scenery (while sipping a glass of rose if you prefer :)). You can check out our posts here and here on Napa lodging and things to do!


  1. Aww you always make me regret ever moving out of California! I always tell my husband that one of the things I miss most is have places within weekend distance. Those places just three or so hours away that are perfect when you just want a weekend away. This is such a great list and shows just how much there is to do and see. If you haven’t already, you should also try to get to Yosemite some time! I know it would be much further for you coming from down south, and I have only been once, but it’s on my list to get back to because it is stunningly beautiful!

    xo Mary-Katherine

    • Shannon&Allison says:

      I couldn’t agree more about Yosemite! It’s such a spectacular destination! We spent 4 days there a few years ago and it was stunning! And so jealous that Sonoma is your former backyard!

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