Whether you are originally from California or moving there from out of state, the West Coast is an awfully fun place to be for college. Since it’s easy to get wrapped up in the bubble of classes, extracurriculars, and experiences that college is, getting away from campus every now and then is helpful when you need to take a step back. Luckily, if you go to college in Cali, there will be plenty to explore in your college town and beyond. Plan to explore everything California has to offer during lighter or less busy periods of time throughout your four years. Here are our top eight weekend getaways in California:
First and foremost, if you haven’t yet gotten the chance to visit San Francisco, that should be your first stop. Just half an hour from University of California, Berkeley, there are numerous things to do in the city for a weekend. From biking across the Golden Gate Bridge, hanging out with the sea lions on Pier 39, or going on a whale tour in the bay, you and your friends will have a blast!
Napa Valley & Sonoma
Napa offers some amazing experiences and is great for a weekend trip, especially if you’re over 21! It is north of San Francisco and is California’s premiere wine country with miles of rolling vineyards and local wineries. The first obvious activity is to visit a winery and vineyard where you can go wine tasting with Napa’s noteworthy cabernet sauvignon. Highway 29 has countless wine tasting rooms you can choose from. If you’re looking to make an unforgettable memory, consider booking a hot air balloon ride at sunrise or sunset for stunning views of the valley.
Sonoma is a more rural and less expensive region offering similar wine tasting experiences! If you’re looking for a more laid-back experience, consider checking out Sonoma.
Yosemite National Park
A weekend in Yosemite is sure to be the perfect blend of adventure and relaxation. In the spring and summer, you can relish the great weather and partake in outdoor activities like hiking or swimming. Start with some of the most popular trails, like Yosemite Falls, the tallest waterfall in the US, or Glacier Point, one of the best views of the entire valley. El Capitan and Half Dome are also iconic spots in the park you should check out while there.
Once you’re sweaty and tired, cool off in one of the swimming holes in the park, such as Tenaya Lake or Merced River.
For all the SoCal students, Laguna Beach is a more feasible weekend trip to the beach. This small coastal city is known for its stretches of beaches, coves, and art displays. Main Beach is in the center of the city, and is the first place to hit up for some volleyball, sunbathing, swimming, or body-surfing.
Crystal Cove State Park is another wonderful, scenic spot known for its shimmering sand beach and beautiful natural landscape. Outdoor enthusiasts can take advantage of opportunities to surf, kayak, swim, hike, and much more in this area.
Lastly, Heisler Park offers great views of the Laguna Beach coastline. You can walk along the trail in the afternoon and see the many public art pieces on display.
Looking for another outdoor adventure with incredible views of sapphire-blue waters? Lake Tahoe is the perfect place to visit with friends and family alike. Emerald Bay State Park is a top attraction at Lake Tahoe that is great for photo ops. Whether you are into hiking, nature trails, cycling, skiing, or boating, there is something for everyone depending on the season.
Big Sur is the perfect destination for a relaxing, two day-weekend. Big Sur is a mountainous region off the coast of California where the mountains reach the Pacific Coast, offering remarkable, iconic landscapes. There are numerous areas to stop and see along the coastline, including Pfeiffer Beach and the Bixby Bridge.
Pfeiffer Beach is a beautiful gem loved by locals and tourists. Known for its violet-hued sand and home to Keyhole Rock, this beach is stunning with its backdrop of mountains and high tides. Bixby Bridge is another iconic landmark of Big Sur that you can drive through. It offers scenic and breathtaking views of the water. There’s a lot more to do in Big Sur, from hiking waterfalls to exploring campgrounds, so make sure to enjoy this place to the fullest!
Joshua Tree National Park
Known for its unique Joshua trees and complex landscape, if you get the chance to visit Joshua Tree National Park, you must take it! The vast park offers activities such as walking and hiking along its many trails, climbing huge rock walls, camping, or snapping pictures at stunning lookout points. Unlike anywhere else in California, Joshua Tree National Park has distinct vegetation and climate that bring immense beauty to the desert landscape. Hidden Valley Nature Trail, Barker Dam Nature Trail, Keys View, and Skull Rock are just a few popular attractions in the park.
No stay in California is complete without seeing the bustling city of Los Angeles at least once. This gorgeous city offers the best of both worlds with its huge entertainment district and gorgeous beaches. The iconic Hollywood sign, Walk of Fame, and Santa Monica Pier are some of the must-see attractions. There is plenty to enjoy in this city with friends, from walking the streets of Rodeo Drive and Hollywood Boulevard to watching the city from above at Griffith Park.