Chula Vista, California can be a great place to live. After all, it’s a large, diverse city full of events and things to do, but sometimes the other neighboring beach cities offer more exciting ventures. Go on a hiking excursion with your friends, or explore museums and historic points of interest. Luckily, plenty of phenomenal destinations are nestled just outside of Chula Vista. Look forward to enjoying breathtaking views and relaxing. Book a stay at a Chula Vista vacation rental for a day, then embark on a short drive to one of these surrounding cities and towns.

Source: Flickr/Frank Gabriel Garcia

1. Los Olivos

Located four hours away, this small, quiet town in Santa Ynez Valley is a complete opposite of Chula Vista. You can spend a day walking around, enjoying the view, and taking family pictures at Clairmont Lavender Farms, or head down to Stolpman Vineyards for a wine tasting session. The town also has a few antique shops and art galleries for you to enjoy, but if you prefer to do something more active after a week at the office, take a stroll through Foxen Canyon Wine Trail to get some exercise and fresh air.

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2. Encinitas

Even though Encinitas is located only an hour away from Chula Vista, it is a perfect place for a two or three-day trip, so pick a roomy vacation rental and pack your bags! On your first day there learn how to surf fish on Moonlight Beach, or simply spend an afternoon building sandcastles and swimming in clear ocean waters. Dedicate a few hours to visiting Self Realization Fellowship Hermitage and Meditation Gardens to meditate, get in touch with your inner self, and forget all about the noise of a large city. Head down to Leucadia Farmers Market to buy fresh local groceries for a home-cooked meal, or have an evening out at one of the town’s best restaurants, Solace and the Moonlight Lounge.

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3. La Mesa

La Mesa is a perfect place to get away from city life blues. Mount Helix Park provides a free observation deck that lets you share the beauty of a 360-degree view of the hills, little houses, and cozy streets with your loved ones. You can come here for a romantic adventure and watch the sun go down before heading to Brigantine, one of the best local restaurants, for their famous oysters on the half shell and a glass of white wine. What a great way to end the day, don’t you think?

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4. Anza-Borrego

Anza-Borrego, situated in the Colorado Desert of Southern California, is the largest park in the state. It offers 500 miles of dirt roads for drifting, 100 miles of hiking trails, and gives visitors a huge choice of active ways to explore the desert. Visitors can even get down to the coast of the Pacific Ocean, or pass through the green Laguna Mountains, climbing to heights up to 2500 miles above the sea level. If you are a fan of wildlife this place won’t leave you disappointed. The rich variety of flora and fauna in the park is simply stunning! And fortunately, Anza-Borrego has a large visitor’s center with free Wi-Fi where you can get assistance, ask for tips about the best spots and trails in the park, and get advice on choosing the best route depending on your group’s interests and ages.

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5. Ojai

Get your friends, load up the car, and head north for three and a half hours to find a small town of Ojai, and instantly fall in love with it. The town’s hippie vibe and many SPAs and wineries make it an ideal place for millennials to get away. Visit Topa Mountain Winery to have a glass of wine and listen to live music, or get a bottle to go and enjoy it back at your vacation rental. Stop by Ojai Valley Inn & Spa for a wide variety of rare spa treatments, such as a combination of a mud bath and sauna first invented by Chumash Native Americans, or stay for a session of meditation with their energy alchemist to get relief from anxiety.

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6. Santa Catalina Island

While it can be tricky to get to Santa Catalina Island since you need to take a two-hour drive and an hour-long ferry ride to get there, it is well worth it. Take a glass bottom boat tour with Catalina Island Company to observe colorful fish and other sea creatures in their natural habitat, bring fishing poles from home and rent a boat from Joe’s Rent A Boat to experience fishing fun with your kids, or just have a relaxing day sunbathing and swimming in warm waters. Don’t forget to visit The Lobster Trap for a fresh and delicious seafood meal before getting back home.

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7. Temecula

If you’ve been looking for a perfect place to visit with your friends — look no further, Temecula’s got it all: sun, nature, historical architecture, and wine. Visit one of the 40 wineries located in and near this town for a sophisticated wine tasting before setting off to Temecula Olive Oil Company to learn all there is to know about olive oil and pick up a supply of high-quality olive oil made locally. If you’re up for a little adventure, take a hot air balloon ride at sunrise — an experience you can never forget.

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