Skip the Airfare—These West Coast Destinations Are the Perfect Spots to Get Away
Summer might technically be over, but for Southern Californians, the changing seasons don’t necessarily mean an end to enjoying a road (or boat) trip to experience some warm-weather adventures. When the temperatures start to cool down, these SoCal destinations are still heating up. From the sands of Catalina Island and San Diego to the desert oases of Palm Springs and Phoenix, here are seven spots across the Southwest to travel and experience a seemingly endless summer—without having to get on an airplane!
Catalina Island in autumn still boasts warm SoCal temperatures but with fewer crowds. Relax on the sand at Descanso Beach Club while sipping a frozen cocktail or visit Island Spa Catalina inside the historic, 15,000-square-foot El Encanto building. Adventurous types can embark on a Bison Expedition in an open-air biofuel Hummer or take a boat trip to the rustic village Two Harbors on Catalina’s west end. Stay at historic Hotel Atwater in downtown Avalon, which recently underwent a multimillion-dollar renovation to preserve its authentic past while upgrading amenities to offer guests modern-day conveniences. You’ll forget it’s not even summer anymore as you take a dip in the ocean!
Palm Springs is a hot destination (literally and figuratively), year-round. Explore the trendy Uptown Design District to discover top shopping and dining spots in a classic but contemporary design-focused neighborhood. Take part in the new cocktail experience at Saguaro Palm Springs: El Jefe Desert Cantina. It’s part speakeasy-part lounge, accessible through a secret entrance tucked into a bookcase—serving a diverse collection of agave-based spirits. Spend the night at hidden gem Villa Royale, an adults-only hideaway tucked into the foot of the San Jacinto Mountains that has enticed Hollywood’s elite as an upscale desert escape since 1947.
Year-round perfect weather makes San Diego the ultimate endless-summer spot. Dine outdoors at rooftop restaurant Seneca Trattoria for harbor views and fresh Roman cuisine in a lively open-air atmosphere. Visit the Gaslamp quarter’s hottest hidden speakeasy-esque bar, Youngblood, which requires each guest’s active participation in a 1.5-hour immersive, interactive handcrafted cocktail experience. Spend the night at the newly unveiled Kimpton Alma San Diego, which welcomes guests to attend an October grand opening in the heart of downtown; the hotel features guest suites that boast sweeping city views and amenities like a rooftop pool deck and bar.
In Phoenix, desert adventures are always in-season. Outdoors enthusiasts can kayak the Lower Salt River at Saguaro Lake Guest Ranch and spot some wild horses or embark on a stellar stargazing tour in the Sonoran Desert. Cocktail aficionados will love Century Grand with its three immersive cocktail experiences. If you still want water in the desert, chill with a day pass at Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch’s nine pools, sandy beach and three-story waterslide. Stay at the Arizona Biltmore, A Waldorf Astoria Resort—a chic desert oasis with endless summer-themed spa treatments featuring special cooling effects, such as the Luminous Quartz Cryo and Thermal Facial.
Malibu’s beachy atmosphere makes it perfect for an autumn oceanside escape. Explore the Malibu Pier and grab a coffee or a cocktail with an ocean view from Malibu Farm. Head to Paradise Cove Beach Café to enjoy the sunshine in a secluded spot while sipping spirits right on the sand. Visit El Matador State Beach to explore beautiful beach caves and rock arch formations. And when it comes to accommodations, stay at Malibu Beach Inn, right off the PCH on Carbon Beach; this lavish hotel offers sweeping seaside vistas and an elegant, upscale atmosphere with a generous “summer savings” program through October.
Channel Islands National Park is a natural wonderland of plant and animal life offering a host of daytime and overnight adventures. Paddle in a kayak through the clear ocean waters beneath landmarks like volcanic arches, or you can choose to explore the treasured Painted Cave on Santa Cruz Island. Camp overnight on one of the islands or make it a day trip and stay in a comfy hotel close to the port in Oxnard; a great option is the newly opened upscale boutique property Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach.
Ensenada is known as the “Capital del vino Mexicano” (Wine Capital of Mexico), as it’s the gateway to the impressive Wine Route in Baja California. It’s also home to two national parks and additional outdoor spaces like the famous Malecón (boardwalk) and the Bufadora (The Blowhole) at the tip of the Punta Banda peninsula, shooting water nearly 100 feet into the air. Dine on tostadas at one of the famous seafood stands and stay at one of the dozens of affordable and upscale lodging options which boast ocean or mountain views.