25 Staycation Ideas around California | Things to Do, Unique Attractions

  • By: Nikita
  • Date: June 29, 2021
  • Time to read: 9 min.

Travel has evolved since the pandemic. Work from home culture enforced by corporates has enabled people to work as they travel. We have made a list of 25 scenic staycations just a stone’s throw from California for your consideration. A staycation can be a weekend getaway or even a long stay. Explore the list below and get on with your travel goals for the year!

Catalina Island

Located off the shores of Los Angeles, Catalina Island is a wonderful place to get away to relax for the weekend. Visitors to the Island can enjoy a laid-back time of shopping, soaking in the spectacular views, and a trip to the spa. For more adventure, you can also visit the Zip Line Eco Tour or hike the Trans-Catalina Trail. The most unique attraction of the Island is the Catalina Island  Museum and Wrigley Memorial and Botanical Garden. You can get to Catalina Island by passenger ferry from four mainland ports in southern California – San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach, or Dana Point – and the ride is only about an hour by boat or 15 minutes.  

Solvang

Solvang is a town in California with a unique theme that’s quaint and inviting. This is a pretty and festive European-style village with windmills, local bakeries serving Danish pastries, and lots of fun shops to explore for gifts. It’s also exciting that Solvang is a premier wine destination in the Sana Ynez Valley, so there are plenty of tasting and tour options in town and at the nearby vineyards. You can get to Solvang via train and night bus and the journey time between California and Solvang is around 4h 4m and covers a distance of around 240 km.

Santa Barbara

The idyllic city of Santa Barbara, California, just 100 miles north of Los Angeles and situated between the Santa Ynez Mountains and the Pacific Ocean, has always been the ultimate weekend getaway. The place is the perfect destination to relax and indulge in delicious food, wines, and café offerings Browse the art galleries and shops, rent a bike to explore the city streets, and head to the pier to enjoy the views. The closest major airport to the city is Los Angeles International (LAX), about 90 miles southeast of the city.  The city is also relatively easy to get to by car, too, since it’s right off the U.S. Highway 101. 

Napa

The Napa Valley is always a popular spot for a weekend getaway, and its enduring charm is still as wonderful as it ever was. The most unique attraction of the valley is its vineyards.  It is also a great place for biking, whether it’s on the paved paths that run through town or on the vineyard roads that have wide shoulders, rolling hills, and serene views. The Napa Valley is located north of San Francisco Bay, with several airports conveniently located nearby. Some of them are San Francisco International Airport (SFO), Oakland International Airport (OAK), and Sonoma County Airport (STS).  

Point Reyes National Seashore

If you are a nature lover, then Point Reyes National Seashore is the best weekend gateway for you! Here you’ll find more than 1,500 species of animals and plants that call the region home and impressive views of the ocean crashing against the rocky headlands. There are elephant seals to watch, salmon spawning season with the winter rains, and about 150 miles of trails that can be used for hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding. Point Reyes is located along the west coast of California approximately thirty miles (fifty km) north of San Francisco off of Highway 1. Visitors  may approach the park from the winding scenic Highway 1, either northbound or southbound

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Palm Springs

Palm Springs is Southern California’s best-known island resort destination. Palm Springs is famous for its shopping and spas, but it’s also fun to check out the Living Desert Zoo, the Palm Springs Art Museum, and the Moorten Desert Botanical Garden to get to know this area a bit better. The place is just two hours drive from Los Angeles or San Diego. 

Fort Bragg

The small region of Fort Bragg steals all the attention around California. This northern California town is known for its Glass Beach, where smoothed rounds of glass wash up on shore, and its sea kayaking adventures. It’s fun to bring your bike here for the weekend and pedal around town and also stop by the famous North Coast Brewing Company. The nearest airport to Fort Bragg is Santa Rosa (STS). 

Healdsburg

Another great California weekend getaway if you love wine is Healdsburg. This is a wonderful small town to visit for a couple days to enjoy the finer things in life, such as delicious food and locally produced wines. The most unique attraction is its wine tasting rooms where you can taste varieties of wine. The nearest airport to Healdsburg is Santa Rosa (STS) Airport which is 7.8 miles away.

Arcata

A lesser-known California destination in northern California to check out is Arcata. This is a favorite spot among “hippie travelers” who enjoy a quieter pace of life and plenty of bike lanes to get around town. But the best thing about visiting Arcata for the weekend is its close proximity to the Redwood National and State Parks. Here you can walk among the towering, giant trees and feel so tiny among their impressive presence. Arcata is 5 hours drive north of San Francisco, 3 hours drive west of Redding and 7 hours drive south of Portland.

Pismo Beach

Pismo Beach sits almost halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, making it a convenient weekend trip option from either city. This small town on California’s Central Coast features relaxation-focused amenities like incredible beaches and top-notch wineries.Pismo State Beach offers ample opportunities for surfing, bird-watching and coastal walks (among other activities). While there are several airports close to Pismo Beach, California, the closest option is San Luis Obispo County Airport (SBP).  

Death Valley National Park

Situated at the California–Nevada border, Death Valley National Park is one of the hottest and driest place of US. In Death Valley, the earth sheds its mantle of green and gives way to fantastic geologic formations with fanciful names like Devil’s Golf Course and Badwater Basin. It is also popular for outdoor recreation and driving tours. The valley is two hours drive from Las Vegas. 

Hearst Castle

Built by newspaper tycoon William Randolph Hearst, the Hearst Castle is a fascinating look into the lifestyle of one of early twentieth-century America’s richest men. It sits atop a hill overlooking the Pacific Ocean, with the bigger-than-life main house, surrounded by guest quarters bigger than most visitors homes. The nearest airport to Hearst Castle in San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport which is about a 1-hour drive from the place. 

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Sausalito

Just a stone’s throw from San Francisco, Sausalito makes for an easy, laid-back weekend trip in the Bay Area. Drive across the Golden Gate Bridge or catch a ferry to reach this charming town, where the colorful houses lining the hilly landscape give it an almost Mediterranean feel. There’s plenty to see for free in Sausalito, including its famous houseboats,Viña Del Mar Plaza and The Marine Mammal Center. An easy way to get to Sausalito is by ferry. You can catch the Golden Gate Ferry from the San Francisco Ferry Building (Embarcadero at Market) or Blue and Gold Fleet from near Pier 39. The scenic ferry ride takes about half an hour. 

Mendocino Coast

California’s Mendocino coast is one of the best weekend gateways that boasts some of its wildest and most spectacular coastal scenery. The area seems almost littered with cute little bed and breakfast inns, and few can resist the sight of the town of Mendocino and its New England-style architecture. The forests are filled with blooming rhododendrons in spring, and the Mendocino Botanical Garden always has something in bloom. The Mendocino Coast is about 4 hours north of San Francisco and the nearest airport is San Francisco International Airport. 

Idyllwild

Those looking for more of a rustic weekend getaway should take a trip to Idyllwild. Sitting a little more than 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles in the San Jacinto Mountains, this small town is a mecca for outdoor activities, especially hiking and rock climbing. The most unique attraction of this place is Mount San Jacinto, State Park. Idyllwild is just a 4hrs train journey from LA. 

Pacific Grove

The westernmost of the Monterey Peninsula towns, Pacific Grove boasts a seaside drive that’s prettier than the 17-Mile Drive, a historic lighthouse, and a lovely downtown. It’s also home to some of the area’s nicest bed and breakfast inns and Asilomar Beach, one of the prettiest stretches of sand in the county. The place is best known for beach play and golf. The nearest airport to Pacific Grove is Monterey (MRY) Airport which is 4.3 miles away.

Sacramento

Although visitors commonly choose to visit California’s beautiful coastal cities instead of its capital, Sacramento is a terrific option for a weekend getaway, especially if you want to learn more about the state’s history. You can start your weekend trip with a free tour of the California State Capitol Museum before spending some time strolling through Old Sacramento Waterfront. The unique attraction of the place is the California State Railroad Museum depicts the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad, one of the country’s earliest technological feats. The easiest way to reach the city is through  Sacramento International Airport (SMF), which also serves as the gateway to Northern California. 

Sequoia National Park

Home to some of the tallest trees in the world, Sequoia National Park is a humbling place to visit during the weekend. With the magnificent trees towering hundreds of feet above you, it’s easy to feel small in comparison. Located about 80 miles east of Fresno, California, in the southern Sierra Nevada mountain range, the park was established in 1890 as a measure to protect the giant trees from being logged, making it America’s second national park. The most unique attraction of the place is its giant Sherman tree and Kings Canyon Scenic Byway. To reach Sequoia, most travelers fly into Fresno Yosemite International Airport (FAT), which is about 65 miles northwest of the park. Renting a car to reach the park is common. 

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Ferndale

Nestled between the California Redwoods and fabled Lost Coast, the Victorian Village of Ferndale is a hidden oasis of small town charm, spectacular architecture, enchanting natural beauty and welcoming Humboldt County culture. With its fusion of old-fashioned Americana and modern quirkiness – and a scenic setting straight out of the movies – this small but vibrant dairy town near Eureka is the perfect destination for a weekend getaway. The nearest airport to Ferndale is Bellingham (BLI) Airport which is 4.4 miles away. Other nearby airports include Abbotsford (YXX) (15.5 miles), Vancouver (YVR) (36.2 miles), Victoria (YYJ) (41.1 miles) and Nanaimo (YCD) (60.3 miles). 

Morro Bay 

If you are a Bird-watcher, the Morro Bay is your best weekend gateway. The place is best known for Morro Rock, an ancient volcanic mound at the end of Morro Rock Beach. The rock sits within Morro Bay State Park, home to lagoons, trails and a bird-rich saltwater marsh. The unique attraction of this place is Morro Bay State Park’s Museum of Natural History that features exhibits on ecology and local Native American culture. To reach Morro Bay, the nearest airport is the San Luis Obispo County Regional Airport, with flights from San Francisco, Phoenix and Los Angeles.

Yosemite

Yosemite National Park is in California’s Sierra Nevada mountains. It is best known for its waterfalls, towering granite monoliths, deep valleys and ancient giant sequoias. In Yosemite, you can visit the giant, ancient sequoia trees, Bridalveil Fall, and the granite cliffs of El Capitan and Half Dome. The Fresno-Yosemite Airport (FAT) is approximately 2.5 hours drive into the Yosemite Valley. 

Joshua tree National Park

Travelers looking for an weekend escape should consider visiting Southern California’s Joshua Tree National Park. From hiking and rock climbing to bird-watching and stargazing, there are countless outdoor activities to keep you occupied during a weekend trip. The park is located near several convenient airports, the nearest one is Palm Springs International Airport (40 miles).  

Ventura

Located about 70 miles northwest of Los Angeles, Ventura appeals to those who want to enjoy their weekend away from LA’s traffic. This coastal city is home to excellent beaches, including San Buenaventura State Beach, which is known for its pier. The park offers a variety of fun activities, from hiking to whale watching to water sports like boating, kayaking, and snorkeling. The closest airport to Ventura with direct and connecting flights all over the country is Santa Barbara Airport just 30 miles north of Ventura. 

Big bear lake

Nestled high in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear Lake is the ultimate year-round destination for outdoor enthusiasts. While the area is probably best known for skiing and snowboarding, water sports like boating and water skiing are also adventurous during spring and summer. The place is California’s top fishing destination. The lake is 114 miles, 2hrs drive of LA International airport.  

Ojai 

Ojai is a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation about 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Spend a weekend here exploring the outdoors along scenic trails or perusing the art galleries and shops around town. The most unique attraction is Bart’s Book, the country’s largest independent outdoor bookstore. The nearest airport to Ojai is Santa Barbara (SBA) Airport which is 34.1 miles away.

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