Long Beach is the perfect starting point to explore Southern California during the weekend. Whether you head north to Santa Barbara to enjoy a weekend of wine-tasting and high-end relaxation; south to San Diego for fun at Legoland and the San Diego Zoo; or even west across the ocean to Santa Catalina Island, you can find weekend fun all across Southern California. Stay at a waterfront Long Beach vacation rental for spectacular views, or book a spacious house in a quiet suburb. Check out the most exciting cities and towns near Long Beach.

1. Disneyland

sleeping beauty castle disneyland

If your starting point is Long Beach, you may think of Disneyland as the theme park in your backyard. To truly immerse yourself in the Disneyland Resort, however, you need to devote a good weekend to it. Pick up a Park Hopper pass to let yourself bounce back and forth between Disneyland and California Adventure, and book your vacation rental right next to the park so you can be there at least half an hour before the park opens (and here’s a hint: you can get onto Main Street before the park is officially open, so you can grab your cinnamon roll and coffee and still be ready to go the second the rope drops at the end of Main Street). Use an app like Lines, from TouringPlans.com, to help you minimize line wait times, and top your weekend off with a spectacular meal at Napa Rose or Carthay Circle, both in California Adventure.

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2. San Diego

san diego marina
Source: Flickr/William Garrett

You could head to San Diego for a dozen weekend getaways and enjoy a different experience every time. Book a vacation rental right on the ocean in Pacific Beach or Mission Beach to spend hours of relaxation just watching the waves come in. Rent a sailboat on Mission Bay, or learn how to surf with lessons from Pacific Surf School. The San Diego Zoo, one of the top in the world, beckons you to learn about animals you never knew existed, or head to Balboa Park to take in fascinating exhibits at the San Diego Museum of Art or to enjoy Shakespeare at the Old Globe Theater.

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3. Cambria

santa rosa creek rd cambria ca
Source: Flickr/Craig Howell

Enjoy the peace and quiet of a Central California getaway when you spend a weekend in Cambria, about 250 miles up the coast from Long Beach. Whether you choose a vacation rental along the rocky shores of Moonstone Beach or under the towering oaks trees in the hills surrounding the village, you’ll be delighted at the charm of this artistic town. Visit the galleries to pick out a unique artwork to take back home, and stop in at Linn’s for a piece of yummy ollalieberry pie. Don’t be surprised if you spot wild peacocks here and there as you stroll through this beautiful seaside town.

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4. Catalina Island

avalon catalina island ca
Source: Flickr/Everett Carrico

Did you ever sing that old song, “26 miles across the sea / Santa Catalina is a-waiting for me”? Well, Long Beach is the place that 26-mile journey begins. Take the hovercraft for a fast journey, or the old school boat to enjoy the sail, right from Long Beach Harbor. In Avalon, your destination on Catalina Island, you can settle into your vacation rental and enjoy an ocean view before you head out to enjoy buffalo milk cocktails at Luau Larry’s – or maybe you’d rather take a tour of the island’s inland area to view those buffalo herds. Have fun zip lining through the canyon or parasailing in between some long stretches of sheer relaxation.

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5. Newport Beach

oceanfront newport beach ca
Source: Flickr/Ken Lund

Drive straight down Pacific Coast Highway into the heart of Orange County to spend a luxurious weekend in Newport Beach. Choose an oceanfront vacation rental along the shore of Balboa Peninsula, or opt for the quiet waterfront view of Newport Bay or Balboa Island. Newport Beach truly offers the good life. You can spend your day sailing in the bay, or head to the ritzy shopping mecca of Fashion Island. If hiking or mountain biking is more your thing, head to Crystal Cove State Park, and don’t forget to grab a handmade milkshake at the Shake Shack (not related to the chain).

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6. North San Diego County

horse racing solana beach ca
Source: Flickr/Ewen Roberts

A beautiful drive of just under 100 miles that runs along the ocean in many spots takes you to San Diego County’s North County region, where your vacation rental puts you in close proximity to wine-tasting, horse racing, and Legoland. Book a vacation rental near the ocean in Del Mar, Solana Beach, or Encinitas to try your hand at surfing or watch surfers at play. From the middle of summer to early fall, Del Mar is the place to be as the famed racetrack opens up where the turf meets the surf. If you’re traveling with kids, don’t miss a day at Legoland; the kids will enjoy the rides and getting the chance to build and race their own Lego cars or robots, while the adults in your party are likely to appreciate the incredible design and construction of Miniland; take the time to look for all the fine details in each display.

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7. Santa Barbara

santa barbara waterfront
Source: Flickr/Michael Theis

Whether you book your vacation rental in Santa Barbara proper or just a little down the coast in the beautiful towns of Montecito or Summerland, you have a weekend of relaxation ahead of you. Stroll down State Street to do a little shopping in a venue that combines small-town friendly with high-end cosmopolitan, or head to Summerland to browse the quaint antique shops. In the summertime, book tickets to a concert at the Santa Barbara Bowl. This outdoor facility is set amid beautiful trees and has a bit of an ocean view, and it’s small enough to feel truly intimate, even though you’re seeing the same big names you’d pay through the nose for in a massive stadium.

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