From long stretches of sandy coastlines to sprawling desert landscapes, Southern California has so much to explore for those seeking a weekend getaway. Sip wine amongst the vineyards of Temecula, soak up the sun in Santa Barbara, travel back to the Old West in Joshua Tree, or head down to Baja California's up-and-coming wine country.

There's no better way to reinvigorate your traveling spirit after lockdown eases up than discovering the beauty of areas so close to home! Here's our list of recommended long weekend trips in Southern California to discover. With suggested highlights and tips for coffee shops and dining options along the way, we've got you covered. Jump in your car on the next long weekend and hit the road with one of these unforgettable trips. 

These trips are designed from Los Angeles and San Diego, but they can, of course, be taken from other starting points around the area. 

  Trip Style Activity Level Crowd Factor Total Driving Distance
Temecula Wine Getaway Food & Wine, Nature Relaxed Moderate 220 miles
Explore Santa Barbara Beach, Small Towns, Food & Wine Moderate Dense 400 miles
Joshua Tree & Death Valley Hiking, Nature & Outdoors Active Sparse 850 miles
Mexico Wine Getaway Food & Wine, Nature Relaxed Moderate 300 miles

Itinerary #1: Temecula Wine Getaway

With a glass of red in hand and hillsides of sprawling vineyards in the distance, Temecula makes for the perfect weekend getaway to unwind and relax. With a quaint Old Town, hot air balloon rides, and hiking areas nearby, recharge with a visit to SoCal's Inland Empire. 

Highlights: Food & Wine, Nature | Suggested Duration:  2 - 4 Days | Total Driving: 220 miles

See details

Views from a hot air balloon ride over Temecula

Itinerary #2: Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is no stranger to visitors but this laidback beach town has plenty more to offer than just sandy beaches. Take advantage of its charming neighboring towns, hike through the nearby Los Padres National Park, and explore the atmosphere of downtown Santa Barbara. 

Trip Style: Food & Wine, Small Towns, Beach | Suggested Duration:  3 - 5 Days | Total Driving: 400 miles

See details

Santa Barbara Old Mission

Itinerary #3: Joshua Tree and Death Valley

Disconnect and explore the unique desert landscapes of California's interior. This 5-day road trip takes you through the rock formations and desert flora of Joshua Tree, sandy dunes of the Mojave Preserve, and finishes off exploring the incomparable Death Valley National Park. 

Highlights: Hiking, Nature & Outdoors | Suggested Duration:  5 - 8 Days | Total Driving: 850 miles

See details

Death Valley landscapes

Itinerary #4: Mexico Wine Getaway

Venture into this still-unknown yet incredibly picturesque wine region in Baja California. These small-time, local wineries produce quality wines amidst sweeping views of the Guadalupe Valley. Spend the night in eco-friendly cabins along the Pacific Coast, enjoying the ocean breeze while partaking in a weekend filled with delicious food and wine. 

Highlights: Food & Wine, Nature | Recommended Duration:  3 - 5 Days | Total Driving: 300 miles

See details

Photo from Lechuzy Winery in Baja California

More California Trips

Looking for more ways to explore all of what California has to offer? Check out some of these top itineraries for ideas: 


Map of Long Weekend Trips in Southern California - 4 Unique Ideas
Map of Long Weekend Trips in Southern California - 4 Unique Ideas