California Weekend Getaways to Take This Summer

One of the absolute best things California has to offer is its accessibility to so many different environments. You can have breakfast at the beach and get on the ski slopes by afternoon, and maybe have time to drive through the desert on the way home. This summer, why stay put when you could explore your beautiful state? Here are some fantastic day trips or weekend getaways virtually in your backyard. Get out there and celebrate the joys of micro-climates!

  Tenaya Lake - Yosemite National Park

Tenaya Lake - Yosemite National Park

Not from CA? Just all the more reason to visit the Golden State.

Yosemite National Park

I could not resist putting this one on the list -- at the top, no less. Yosemite is the most beautiful place I've ever been without a doubt, and if you haven't gone yet, head over right away. The monumental granite formations and cascading waterfalls are, to say the least, awe-inspiring.

If you just have a day - Glacier Point offers panoramic views of the valley that will take your breath away, including Half Dome and Yosemite Falls. This one-mile hike will give you an understanding of the magnificent landscape that inspired John Muir, still leaving you time to explore the valley floor.

If you're spending the weekend - Tenaya Lake is a bit off the beaten path, about an hour's drive from the valley, but it's worth your while. As you spend time away from the park's crowds, take a minute to appreciate the still water and quiet mountain breeze.

Venice Beach

I personally consider Venice the Berkeley of L.A. When I moved to SoCal, it made me feel right at home with its colorful folk and spunky atmosphere. 

One Day - If you spend the day catching some rays and people-watching at the historic Muscle Beach, you're sure to be entertained. Look out for the man with the yellow boa constrictor -- you can hold her, she doesn't bite!

A Weekend - Abbott Kinney is Venice's artsy, up-and-coming neighborhood, so once you've gotten a taste for its crazy culture, pay it a visit for some high quality coffee and lovely boutique shopping!


This beach town feels like something out of a dream. The tiny village seems to be its own world, with storybook architecture and a pristine coastline away from any city noise.

One Day - Take a hike! The best thing Carmel has to offer is its scenery, so walk or bike the gorgeous Bluff Trail and take it all in.

A Weekend - In Downtown Carmel, you can take a Mindfullness-By-The-Sea workshop to truly get away from the hustle and bustle of city life. The three-day sessions offer meditative exercises to practice after your trip to return to your happy place with ease.

  Image via  Carmel, California

Mammoth Mountain

For all my SoCal skiers, Mammoth offers excellent slopes that are a bit closer than Tahoe. When I said breakfast on the beach and skiing in the afternoon, it was no joke; Mammoth is only 6 hours from Los Angeles! Though you can still ski in the summer (until mid-July), Mammoth has plenty of other activities to offer.

One Day - Ride the gondola for a view of the landscape in the summer. Without the snow, you can see the beautiful variety of wildflowers that grow on the mountainside. There is even a cafe at the summit to further drink in the view!

A Weekend - The mountain is home to an expanse of mountain biking trails that will let you explore the landscape as much as you please. E-bikes are available for rent if you're not up to the task of pedaling up the hillside, so take advantage of the landscape sans-snow and have a look around!

  Image via CWW Collective

Image via CWW Collective

Tomales Bay

Take a trip to San Francisco Bay's Northern cousin -- yes, it's still within the 415 area code, but with none of the city's hectic feel. 

One Day - Nick's Cove is a famous restaurant on the Southern end of the bay with a seriously charming fishing-village feel. It's also home to the best oyster I've ever eaten. 

A Weekend - When I was a Girl Scout, we spent a day kayaking through the bay's choppy waters and exploring the coastline. What made it truly memorable, though, was the bioluminescence. These glow-in-the-dark microorganisms made the sand light up at night, looking like something straight out of Pandora.