As part of the greater Los Angeles metropolitan area, the city of Anaheim, California is within easy driving distance of refreshing coastal beaches, pristine desert oases, lovely mountain lakes, and verdant wineries. From Catalina Island to Temecula, enjoy an abundance of opportunities for profound relaxation, sightseeing, fun recreational activities, wine tasting, and fine dining. After settling into your Anaheim vacation rental, head out to explore these exciting nearby cities. Here are the top weekend getaway destinations from Anaheim.

big bear lake

1. La Jolla

La Jolla is a beautiful coastal community just north of San Diego that is less than two hours from Anaheim. Among its main attractions are numerous lovely sand beaches. For instance, the Children’s Pool with its shallow waters, protecting sea wall, and nearby seals and sea lions to view, is perfect for families. Black’s Beach and Windansea Beach are prime surfing locations, while Torrey Pines State Beach offers great hiking opportunities on the nearby dunes. Play 18 holes at Torrey Pines Golf Course, renowned as one of the best courses in the world. Everyday California rents kayaks and offers guided tours to help you explore the fascinating coves and sea caves on the coast around La Jolla. The Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, through its fascinating underwater habitats, gives you a look at sharks, seahorses, coral reefs, tidal pools, and many other amazing undersea phenomena. La Jolla is also full of fine dining opportunities, such as George’s at the Cove, a famous restaurant with a breathtaking ocean view.

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2. Rancho Mirage

Rancho Mirage is an idyllic resort city that sits between Palm Springs and Palm Desert in the beautiful Coachella Valley about two hours east of Anaheim. The favorite vacation getaway of numerous celebrities and presidents of the United States, the location offers year-round warm weather and proximity to some of the country’s great golf courses, including the Westin Mission Hills Country Club and the Omni Rancho Las Palmas Country Club. Nearby attractions include the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, which takes you from the valley floor in a rotating tramcar through breathtaking Chino Canyon to near the summit of San Jacinto Peak. The family-friendly Living Desert Zoo and Garden in Palm Desert houses numerous exotic desert plant ecosystems and animals such as cheetahs, mountain lions, gazelles, ostriches, and many others. Don’t miss a visit to The River in Rancho Mirage, a lushly landscaped complex with boutiques, spas, restaurants, entertainment facilities, and a winery.

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3. Big Bear Lake

Vacation rentals in the city of Big Bear Lake lie on the south shore of the namesake lake in the mountains of San Bernardino National Forest about two hours northeast of Anaheim. At Big Bear Marina, rent pontoon boats, fishing boats, kayaks, and stand-up paddleboards for fun on the water. Take a tour of the seven-mile lake aboard the Big Bear Queen paddlewheel boat. Big Bear Charter Fishing out of Holloway’s Marina guides you to the best spots on the lake to angle for trout, bass, and catfish. Rent mountain bikes, and pick up a trail map from Bear Valley Bikes, and explore the magnificently beautiful surrounding woods. Baldwin Lake Stables at the east end of Big Bear Valley gives you the opportunity to enjoy horseback riding through the beautiful countryside. When you’re hungry, relax with delicious steak or seafood at the lakeside Evergreen Restaurant.

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4. Avalon, Catalina Island

Avalon is the main city on Catalina Island, which is in the Pacific Ocean about 22 miles southwest of Los Angeles. One of the most popular family-friendly water activities is a tour of the kelp beds near Avalon Harbor by glass bottom boat with Catalina Adventure Tours. Dive Catalina offers scuba diving lessons so you can get up close to the abundant sea life. Alternatively, soar over the beautiful waters with Parasail Catalina. On land, Zip Line Eco Tour starts on the hills high above Avalon and takes you on five separate zip lines through a rugged canyon back to sea level. For more sedate activities, peruse the exhibits at Catalina Island Museum, and go shopping at the Metropole Market Place, a fascinating cobblestone village mall with eclectic shops, art galleries, spas, bakeries, and entertainment facilities.

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5. Temecula

The beautiful city of Temecula lies just over an hour southeast of Anaheim in the midst of the southern California wine country. Stroll along the wooden boardwalks of rustic Old Town as you explore the boutiques, antique shops, restaurants, and entertainment venues. Temecula Carriage Company takes you on a wine tasting tour by horse-drawn trolley, complete with a picnic basket full of crackers, cheese, meats, chocolate, and other goodies. Alternatively, fly high over the hills and wineries in a hot air balloon with Magic Adventure Balloon Rides. Temecula Valley Museum offers fascinating insight into the history of this lovely valley. Temecula is renowned for its many yearly festivals, including the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine Festival, the Temecula Valley International Jazz Festival, and the Temecula Street Painting Festival.

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6. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is about two and a half hours northwest of Anaheim on the breathtakingly beautiful California Coast. Known as the American Riviera, the Santa Barbara area has numerous beautiful beaches, and a great way to explore them is to rent bicycles from Wheel Fun Rentals. Downtown Santa Barbara hosts the Museum Mile, which features 12 renowned museums, including the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum. Don’t miss a visit to the impressive Mission Santa Barbara, founded in 1786, which sits on a hill overlooking the harbor. For some incomparable California cuisine, stop in at Opal Restaurant and Bar. Sanford Winery in downtown Santa Barbara offers wine tasting paired with select chocolates.

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7. Pismo Beach

Scenic Pismo Beach is just over four hours northwest of Anaheim. This beautiful resort city offers innumerable outdoor activities. Pismo Beach Surf Shop provides lessons in the iconic California sport of surfing, while Xtreme Big Air offers lessons in kiteboarding and paragliding. For a more relaxing adventure, rent a horse from Pacific Dunes Stables, and enjoy a ride along the beach. After all the exertion, Sycamore Mineral Springs at nearby Avila Beach offers soothing soaks in hot natural mineral water as well as facials, massages, and other body treatments.

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