San Jose is surrounded by great cities and towns ideal for a weekend getaway. Whether you choose to enjoy a weekend touring Hearst Castle and exploring the charming shops of Cambria, or venture to Napa Valley for a blissful weekend of wine tasting and fine dining, you can find a welcoming and comfortable vacation rental in San Jose to serve as your home base. Check out the top weekend getaway spots near San Jose.

1. Napa Valley

san jose vineyard
Source: Flickr/Sarah Stierch

The first place wine lovers go when they have a free weekend is the Napa Valley, which is no surprise given the world-class wines made in the region. Book your vacation rental in town to enjoy the classic architecture, and stroll around the River Walk as you pick a place for dinner. If you’d rather eat in, stop at the Oxbow Public Market to pick up amazing treats. Then, there’s the wine. Del Dotto Winery lets you taste wine straight from the barrel, or check out the winery tours provided by Blue Heron and A Friend in Town to enjoy a curated winery experience with no need for a designated driver.

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2. Mendocino

san jose water rocks
Source: Flickr/John Fowler

Head up the coast and across the Golden Gate Bridge to Mendocino to enjoy a weekend of sheer relaxation. Enhance that relaxation by checking in at one of the town’s many spas for massages and other treatments, and then enjoy a delicious dinner made with locally sourced ingredients at Mendo Bistro. Check out the zebras, giraffes, and antelopes at the B. Bryan Preserve, or take a ride on the Skunk Train to get an unencumbered look at the beautiful scenery in this section of NorCal. Beaches beckon you to explore further. Pick up sea glass at Glass Beach, or take some selfies with the spherical boulders dotting Bowling Ball Beach.

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3. Carmel

shops san jose
Source: Flickr/Prayitno

Carmel, only 75 miles south of San Jose, is one of the most charming towns in California. Don’t be surprised when your vacation rental doesn’t have a street address. This village names its buildings rather than providing street addresses, but don’t worry; you’ll get great directions that get you where you want to go. Bring good walking shoes to navigate the cobblestones throughout town, because you’ll want to do a lot of walking just to enjoy the charm of the village, including the hidden courtyards. Start your day with breakfast at the Tuck Box, and then take the 17-mile drive that connects Carmel to Pacific Grove, and enjoy some of the most spectacular oceanside scenery in the region. If you’re a golfer, bring your clubs to play at Pebble Beach or one of the many other courses here (including a bargain 9-hole course open to the public). After a day of exploring, enjoy world-class cuisine at Aubergine or Forge in the Forest.

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4. Cambria

museums san jose
Source: Flickr/Anna Irene

Book your tickets to tour Hearst Castle when you choose a charming vacation rental in the seaside village of Cambria. This artist’s colony just three hours south of San Jose is filled with galleries and quaint shops to browse through, and restaurants like Robin’s, Linn’s, and the Sow’s Ear welcome you to a relaxing lunch and dinner. As you drive north for your Hearst Castle tour, don’t be surprised to see some unusual-looking horses on the grounds– yes, that’s actually a herd of zebra. While most people opt for the main tour at Hearst Castle, spend a little extra time and add the guest house tour as well to enjoy a look into this spectacular residence.

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5. Big Sur

cliffs water
Source: Flickr/Esther Lee

A weekend in Big Sur is truly a getaway that gets you off the grid; you may even have trouble finding a cellular connection. Feel the stress rolling off you as you hike through the Ventana Wilderness, or meditate on the beauty of nature at Jade Cove, the Point Sur lighthouse, or McWay Falls in Julia Pfeiffer Burns State Park (a waterfall that falls straight into the ocean). Stop at the Esalen Institute to enjoy the hot springs, or book some body work at the Spa at Ventana Inn. Even the drive to Big Sur and down Highway 1 toward Cambria is beautiful (though those prone to motion sickness should take precautions against the incredibly twisty curves). Treat yourselves to lunch at Nepenthe to enjoy one of the most beautiful views in all of California.

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6. Yosemite

mountains trees
Source: Flickr/edward stojakovic

Only four hours to the east of San Jose lies one of the most beautiful national parks in the country: Yosemite. Book your vacation rental near the gates to avoid backups during a summer visit, or plan to take your weekend getaway during spring or fall, when the park is less crowded but still spectacularly beautiful. If you visit at Christmas, make a reservation for one of the famous Bracebridge Dinners at the Majestic Yosemite Hotel. Rangers lead tours to show you all the prime points in Yosemite, or just hike through the Yosemite Valley to be surrounded by Half Dome, El Capitan, and Bridal Veil Falls, all of which are especially photo-worthy at sunset.

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7. Gold Country

Source: Flickr/Grant Montgomery

A weekend getaway in Gold Country, which lies southeast of Sacramento and about three hours away from San Jose, lets you travel in time as well as space. Visit the Columbia Historic State Park to enjoy panning for gold and riding in a stagecoach, all with an authentic 1850s feel. When you book your vacation rental in Gold Country, you’re near the Tuolumne River, perfect for some fun whitewater rafting. Check with Zephyr Whitewater Expeditions or Sierra Mac to book your trip.

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