Credit: Belmond El Encanto
Credit: Belmond El Encanto

9 Cities You Can Drive to From Southern California for Your Next Vacation

Turns Out, You Don’t Have to Hop on a Plane to Feel Far Away

We’ll admit it: we’re pretty blessed to live in Southern California. The weather is nearly always perfect, and the beach is never more than an hour away. But getting a little change in scenery is always a good idea. If you’re in need of a little escape, these eight cities each offer their own unique feel and experiences. Whether you’re looking for something action-packed or just want to lounge the whole time, these staycation destinations belong on your bucket list! California Vacation


Destination: Palm Springs

Where to Stay: The all-new Margaritaville Resort Palm Springs—a tropical oasis in the heart of the desert.

Credit: Julie Soefer Photography

What to Do: Longing for a tropical vacation without the pricey plane ticket? A trip to Palm Springs’ reimagined Margaritaville Resort is sure to put you in an island state of mind. This desert paradise welcomes guests with lush landscaping and a colorful yet soothing decor that tips its hat to the region’s iconic midcentury modern vibe. Take refuge in a private cabana and sip a refreshing island-inspired cocktail by one of the resort’s two stunning pools. And when it comes time for some R&R, head to Margaritaville’s St. Somewhere Spa for a rejuvenating facial, body treatment/massage, mani/pedi or dip in a therapy pool. And while you likely won’t want to leave the property, we do recommend heading into town for some boutique shopping or an al fresco dinner, as Margaritaville is located in the Uptown Design District of Palm Springs. Take a stroll down the bustling Palm Canyon Drive and grab dinner at one of the many local restaurants! Then, head back to the resort’s License to Chill Bar for a nightcap. Your escape to paradise is only a road trip away.


Destination: Palm Desert

Where to Stay: Hotel Paseo, Palm Desert’s first luxury boutique hotel.

What to Do: When most think of the desert, cacti, pools and golf come to mind. But before you jump to conclusions, we’d like to highlight one of Coachella Valley’s most vibrant vacation destinations. The City of Palm Desert is a beautiful resort community bustling with things to do. Visit The Living Desert Zoo & Gardens for some serene hiking, to feed giraffes and see the all-new Rhino Savanna Habitat. And for those who’d rather shop, The Gardens on El Paseo features a host of trendy and tasteful shops and eateries like Pottery Barn, Sephora, Johnny Was and more. And for those who prefer vintage shopping, The Fine Art of Design is a great spot for upcycled clothing, jewelry, accessories and more. End your day with an authentic Italian meal at Palm Desert’s Ristorante Mamma Gina, and be sure to order the lobster ravioli—you’ll thank us later.

California Vacation

Destination: La Jolla

Where to Stay: Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa for some R&R at their full-service spa.

What to Do: If you’re a SoCal local, there’s no reason not to visit La Jolla—they call it Jewel City for a reason! For a picture-perfect brunch with breathtaking ocean views, stop by Cody’s La Jolla for their Awesome French Toast (their most-ordered item!) and crab cake Benedicts. Take a walk on Prospect St afterwards, and if you’re an adventurer, go kayaking or hiking! Finally, hit Westfield UTC for an open-air shopping experience and amazing restaurants, such as Din Tai Fung and Raised by Wolves.



Destination: Temecula

Where to Stay: South Coast Winery Resort & Spa, Temecula’s first and only winery resort.

Credit: South Coast Winery Resort & Spa

What to Do: Forget Napa, as we have our very own wine destination right here in Southern California. Visit Old Town Temecula for its rugged, Wild West theme and mom-and-pop shops you won’t find anywhere else. In between wine tastings, make sure you stop at the Alpaca Hacienda. Yes, there are real alpacas there! Complete your day with a meal at Small Barn for something hearty to soak up all that wine!

California Vacation

Destination: Santa Barbara

Where to Stay: Belmond El Encanto for a staycation with gorgeous, well-preserved Spanish architecture, an eclectic energy and a view of the ocean. 

Credit: Belmond El Encanto

What to Do: If you’re looking to get some zen in, the Salt Cave on iconic State St is made up of 200-million-year-old Himalayan salt for all your relaxation needs. Afterwards, grab a slice at Bettina Pizzeria for some Neapolitan-style meets East Coast ‘za. For more sightseeing, stroll through The Funk Zone for amazing murals, art galleries, boutique shops and more. 

Destination: Las Vegas 

Where to Stay: Resorts World for a luxury stay with fine dining and unrivaled entertainment.

Credit: NeONBRAND on Unsplash


What to Do: Vegas may be known for its nightlife, but there’s still plenty of nature to soak up at Red Rock Canyon, where you can do the 13-mile scenic drive to feel like you’re roving on Mars. To get a taste of everything, visit Famous Foods Street Eats at Resorts World for 16 different vendors that offer bites from around the world. You can’t go wrong with Malaysian “Dragon’s Breath” fried noodles or Korean Gochujang pork ribs. Finish the night with tasteful cocktails at Commonwealth, an industrial-chic watering hole with a rooftop dance floor.

California Vacation

Destination: Lake Arrowhead

Where to Stay: The Emerald Lake House offers luxurious lakeside living just outside of Cedar Glenn and a short drive away from Lake Arrowhead Village. 

Photography Provided By: Tessa Neustadt, Emerald Lake House

What to Do: There’s no shortage of hikes or gorgeous views in Lake Arrowhead, many of which can be found at Heaps Peak Arboretum. You’ll love these botanical gardens, especially if you’re a wildlife enthusiast. Fuel up at Higher Grounds Coffee House for organic brews sourced from small-scale farmers. And don’t forget to stop at Hearth & Sage General Store to get some ethically sourced souvenirs and goods, ranging from pottery and clothing to home decor.

California Vacation

Destination: Malibu

Where to Stay: Take your pick among a bungalow, estate room or private cottage at Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club, an ultra-trendy, 250-acre ranch resort that’s partially situated on the coast of Malibu. 

Credit: Calamigos Guest Ranch and Beach Club

What to Do: Head on over to the iconic Broad Street Oyster Co. for a round of stuffed lobster rolls, then visit Malibu Country Mart for some upscale shopping. Malibu can be pricey, but one of the best things it has to offer is free: the gorgeous daily sunset at Surfrider Beach—don’t miss it!



Destination: Ojai

Where to Stay: Capri Hotel, a newly renovated 30-room hotel situated just outside historic downtown Ojai.  

What to Do: Grab a meal at The Nest, an eatery serving up fresh American fare with vegan and gluten-free options. Visit Topa Mountain Winery for a glass of handcrafted wine and beautiful views of the Ojai mountains. Finish your trip by visiting the Ojai Valley Inn’s spa for treatments like massage therapy, purifying radiance facials and Ojai body polishes. For a true Ojai-only experience, they also offer spiritual sound energy therapy used in conjunction with indigenous plants and rituals.

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