From the wineries and sophistication of the northern region to the wild rides at Disneyland and the best beaches in the country, California offers plenty of scenic places perfect for a weekend getaway. A weekend in California’s most popular cities and towns often features music, art, cultural institutions, and tons of fun. Book a stay at a California vacation rental today. Check out some of the top spots for an unforgettable weekend getaway in California.
1. La Jolla
La Jolla (pronounced “la hoy-ah”) means “the jewel,” and you’ll agree when you spend a delightful weekend there. This charming, art-oriented village is beautiful from any angle, and it’s home to some of the best beaches in Southern California. Book a vacation rental near La Jolla Shores if you want to spend your morning surfing, or head to the jewel-like downtown area to spend your time browsing through high-end art galleries and boutiques. If you’re theater lovers, book tickets to the La Jolla Playhouse, a regional theater that won a Tony Award in 1993. Bring your kids with you to see the sea lions relaxing around La Jolla Cove, and don’t miss the hidden cave at the Cove as well.
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2. Napa Valley
If you’re a wine lover or a foodie, Napa Valley is one of those weekend destinations that exists just for you. This modest valley is home to some of the best wines in the world. Drive the Silverado Trail from Napa to Calistoga to enjoy stunning scenery at any time of year, and make sure to stop at some of the wineries along the way. The Del Dotto Wine Gallery, Kuleto Estate, and Raymond Vineyards provide some of the best wine-tasting experiences in the Valley. Don’t forget to plan on some fabulous meals as well. Book months in advance to secure a table at Thomas Keller’s French Laundry, or stop at the Dean and DeLuca store in St. Helena to pick up some gourmet treats you can enjoy back at your vacation rental.
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3. Monterey Peninsula
Book your vacation rental in Pacific Grove to enjoy the return of the monarch butterflies to California in February, or come in the summer to enjoy Asilomar Beach, one of the prettiest stretches of sand along the Central California coastline. Just to the south, the 17-Mile Drive takes you through some of the most spectacular homes found anywhere, as well as giving you access to top golf courses like Pebble Beach – and if you don’t have time for a full game, check out the nine-hole public course right outside the Pebble Beach clubhouse. In Monterey, you can enjoy spectacular seafood along Cannery Row, and make time for the Monterey Bay Aquarium to get up close and personal with the local underwater creatures.
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4. A Weekend at Disneyland
Don’t overlook the sheer fun of spending a whole weekend at Disneyland and its sister park, California Adventure, when you’re planning your California fun. Spending more than one day at the parks lets you maximize your enjoyment without feeling rushed, and booking a vacation rental outside the park in Anaheim provides you with a relaxing place to head after a full day. Book a special dinner reservation at the Blue Bayou in Disneyland or, for a real treat, at Carthay Circle in California Adventure. Check out apps like Lines from TouringPlans.com that help you plan your visits to all the attractions with minimal time spent on line, and grab your FastPasses to make sure you enjoy the most popular rides.
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5. Laguna Beach
Art lovers find themselves in a state of bliss in Laguna Beach, with its many top-notch art galleries and arts festivals. Head to the one-of-a-kind Pageant of the Masters festival during the summer to see famous paintings recreated on a large scale, or check out the work of local artisans at the Sawdust Festival in Laguna Canyon. Shoppers also find themselves delighted with the boutiques and jewelry stores of Laguna. The tidepools at the edge of the Montage Resort let you explore the wonders of the ocean close at hand, and if you want to get into the water, grab your snorkel and head to Goff Cove.
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6. Newport Beach
Your vacation rental in Newport Beach might be a beachfront charmer overlooking the sweeping expanse of sand along the Balboa Peninsula, with a deck that lets you watch the sun drop into the Pacific Ocean each night, or you might choose a cozy cottage on Balboa Island. Either way, you’ll have a delightful home base to enjoy the surf and sunshine of this vacation destination. Stop for a frozen, chocolate-covered banana at Dad’s on Balboa Island’s main street, then take the ferry across Newport Harbor to enjoy the old-fashioned thrills of the Fun Zone’s carnival rides. During the winter holidays, you’re perfectly positioned to enjoy the holiday light boat parade, and world-class shopping is just a quick hop away at Newport’s Fashion Island.
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7. San Francisco
The City by the Bay is one of the most romantic weekend getaways in all of California; even the fog that creeps in nightly imparts an air of mystery and longing to this beautiful city. Enjoy being a tourist by riding the cable cars and visiting spots like Pier 39, and pick up some luscious chocolate at Ghirardelli Square to nibble on back at your vacation rental. Film buffs love San Francisco, not only because they can recognize so many locations from their favorite movies but also because every weekend seems to bring a new film festival to the town.
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8. Santa Cruz
Just over the hill from San Jose, you can take a weekend trip to a spot that lets you get a sense of what it was like to be a hippie when you book your vacation rental in Santa Cruz. Head to the Boardwalk to enjoy its old-school amusement park, complete with the Giant Dipper, a wooden roller coaster dating back to 1924. During October, enjoy touring the work of local artisans during the Open Studios event, or come during the summer to enjoy the Santa Cruz Music Festival, which draws big names from the music world. Book lovers won’t be able to tear themselves away from Bookshop Santa Cruz, a massive haven of beautifully curated choices that will definitely give you great beach reading or a fascinating tome to curl up with at your vacation rental.
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