Located in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains east of Los Angeles, the city of San Bernardino is surrounded by verdant desert oases, lovely sand beaches, majestic mountains, and a scenic wine country. Most San Bernardino vacation rentals offer proximity to plentiful opportunities for swimming, sunbathing, hiking, cycling, and other exciting recreational activities. There are also abundant museums, spas, and wineries in the area. Here are the seven best weekend getaway spots from San Bernardino.
1. Pacific Beach
Pacific Beach is a neighborhood in northern San Diego that lies about two hours south of San Bernardino. The wide beach of soft white sand that stretches the full length of the neighborhood is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, sand castle building, Frisbee throwing, and playing beach volleyball. Pacific Surf offers lessons to adults and children on how to ride the waves on a surfboard at this iconic beach. Walk, cycle, or skateboard along the 3-mile Pacific Beach Boardwalk to enjoy breathtaking ocean views. Fishing off the end of Crystal Pier is another popular pastime. Be sure to enjoy a rib-sticking breakfast on the outdoor terrace of the famous Kona Cafe. Vacation rentals at Pacific Beach offer convenient access to family-friendly Sea World San Diego in nearby Mission Bay. When the sun sets, head for Garnet Avenue, which is renowned for its many nightclubs, bars, and other entertainment venues.
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2. Palm Desert
The resort city of Palm Desert lies in the warm, beautiful Coachella Valley, less than an hour and a half southeast of San Bernardino. Known as the World’s Golf Capital, the city hosts numerous renowned courses, including the Desert Willow Golf Resort and the Desert Falls Country Club. Take the family to the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens, which features flora and fauna from desert ecosystems all over the world. When you need to cool off, head for the Palm Desert Aquatic Center, which features water slides, a splash park for young children, and an Olympic-size swimming pool. Desert Adventure Red Jeep Tours takes you out for a look at the surrounding scenic wilderness. For a bird’s eye view of the lovely Coachella Valley, enjoy a ride in a hot air balloon with Fantasy Balloon Flights.
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3. Lake Havasu City, Arizona
Located less than five hours east of San Bernardino on the Arizona side of the Colorado River, Lake Havasu City is ideal for swimming, sunbathing, and enjoying a range of water sports. The city’s defining landmark is London Bridge, which was bought from the city of London, shipped to Arizona, and reassembled piece by piece over a channel in the river. The Lake Havasu City Visitor Center conducts fascinating walking tours of the bridge. Near the bridge is London Bridge Beach, which features a swimming area, playgrounds, picnic sites, and sand volleyball courts. Desert Sun Watersports rents power boats, pontoon boats, and jet skis to help you have fun on the lake. Around the lake are over a dozen replicas of lighthouses from around the world, and Sunset Charter and Tour Company takes you on an excursion aboard the Kon Tiki Canyon Cruiser to view them.
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The beautiful city of Ojai lies in a valley surrounded by mountains at the edge of the Los Padres National Forest, less than three hours northwest of San Bernardino. Rent a bike at Bicycles of Ojai, and explore the miles of trails in the Ojai Valley Land Conservancy and the Los Padres National Forest. Alternatively, ride the trails on horseback with the Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company. If you want to try something more extreme, Ojai Rock Climbing offers guided excursions at various levels of difficulty. Ojai has numerous excellent restaurants, and the Eating Ojai Tasting Tour takes you around to sample the best of the local cuisine. Several tasting rooms of nearby wineries are located downtown, including the Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room, the Majestic Oak Tasting Room, and the Casa Barranca Winery Tasting Room.
Carlsbad is a coastal city between Los Angeles and San Diego that’s less than two hours from San Bernardino. The shoreline features wide beaches with soft, white sand that’s perfect for relaxation and recreation. The surrounding wetlands of Agua Hedionda Lagoon, Batiquitos Lagoon, and Buena Vista Lagoon all offer hiking trails, waterways for kayaking, and unique bird watching opportunities. Carlsbad hosts Legoland California, a vast amusement park for all ages that includes themed carnival rides, a water park, and an aquarium. Don’t miss viewing the extensive 50-acre Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch for an amazing flamboyant display of riotous color.
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The quaint, hospitable city of Solvang lies in the lovely Santa Ynez Valley, less than four hours northwest of San Bernardino. Founded by Danish pioneers in the 19th century, the city center resembles a northern European village and includes iconic Danish landmarks such as windmills, the Little Mermaid Fountain, and the Hans Christian Anderson Museum. Try some delicious fresh Danish pastries at the Aebleskiver Cafe, and browse for souvenirs at over 150 eclectic boutique shops. Solvang is in the heart of the Santa Barbara wine country made famous by the movie Sideways. Join Stagecoach Co Wine Tours to visit tasting rooms at some of the area’s finest wineries.
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7. Avila Beach
The town of Avila Beach is on the incomparably beautiful Central California Coast, less than five hours northeast of San Bernardino. Fossil Point on the east and San Luis Point on the west shelter the beach and make it warmer than other beaches along the coast, which provides ideal conditions for swimming, sunbathing, and water fun. Join Central Coast Sailing and Whale Watching for an excursion out onto the open ocean to view gray whales and humpback whales up close. Central Coast Aquarium at Avila Beach provides a fascinating look at local marine creatures, including giant Pacific octopuses and sharks. Be sure to visit the Point San Luis Lighthouse. A trolley takes you from the parking area to the lighthouse, where you can tour the grounds and hike the trails along the bluffs.
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