52 Weekend Getaways
Whether you want to hike, snorkel, stargaze, or spend time with the family, here are 52 great (and quick!) escapes—one for every weekend of the year.
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Despite a recent uptick in tourism, the beach town near Puerto Vallarta has maintained its signature laid-back vibe. Mexican street eats are delightful, but the real draws are the watersports. Novices will appreciate the beach’s beginner-friendly surf break. When you’re done, kick back at the nicely priced Technicolor-splashed Petit Hotel Hafa.
Distance: 3 hours by plane + 45 minutes by car
In the summer months, Tahoe turns into America’s most beautiful natural water park. Whitewater-rafting, kayaking, boating, sunbathing—they’re all impeccable choices here. And a trip to picturesque Emerald Bay on the South Shore is mandatory.
Distance: 9 hours by car or 1.5 hours by plane + 45 minutes by car
33. Channel Islands
This underrated (and criminally under-visited) gem, just an hour’s boat ride from Ventura, includes five nationally protected ecological islands that combine piercing blue water with 145 native species and miles of trails. Whale-watching tours are popular December through March.
Distance: 3 hours by car + 1 hour on the ferry
34. Catalina Island
It’s perhaps the only place in Los Angeles County that has crystal-clear water and no traffic lights. At this idyllic island just 22 miles from the City of Angels, divers, snorkelers, and fishing enthusiasts will delight in the watersport opportunities. The island’s first resort spa, Island Spa Catalina, opens in June.
Distance: 1 hour by car + 1.5 hours by ferry
35. Laguna Beach
Not all water adventures have to be heart-pounding. In Laguna Beach, you can try laughter yoga on the beach, sneak away to the secluded cove at Victoria Beach, and check out the tide pools at Treasure Island. And a spa treatment at the grandiose Montage is never a bad idea.
Distance: 1.25 hours by car
36. Pacific Grove
The rocky coastline of this town near Monterey is ideal for kayaking, surfing, and tide pool-hopping. Victorian-themed B&Bs are aplenty, ranging from the affordable Pacific Grove Inn to the luxurious Seven Gables Inn.
Distance: 1.5 hours by plane or 7 hours by car
37. Lake Havasu
More than just a spring breaker’s houseboat haven, Havasu is home to the original London Bridge (and nursery rhyme namesake). With summer temperatures that average over 100 degrees, the hot-dry climate is ideal for boating and watersports. Head to the part of the lake that joins the Colorado River—the water is cooler there, but the desert rock formations in Devil’s Elbow are stunning.
Distance: 5 hours by car
38. Cabo San Lucas
The Mexican hotspot is popular with spring breakers, but a little R&R is still possible. Hacienda Beach Club is located on the only swimmable beach in Cabo. The 22-acre private beach club offers homestyle accommodations with outdoor living areas, private pools, and full kitchens that beg for margarita mixing.
Distance: 2 hours by plane
39. San Juan Islands
This chain off the Seattle coast contains hundreds of islands that can be explored by powerboats, sailboats, and kayaks. Summer months at San Juan can be crowded—park on the mainland and enter via bike or foot—but spring is an ideal time to visit, especially to see the blooming wild roses.
Distance: 3 hours by plane + 30 minutes by seaplane
It’s hard to go wrong with any beach on Oahu, but if you want to do it right, rent a car to check out the variety. Kailua and Lanikai on the North Shore are loved for their clear waters and powder-soft sand, while Waimanalo promises excellent bodysurfing. For diving, snorkeling, and dolphin-spotting, make a trip to Electric Beach on the west coast. In Waikiki, the Moana Surfrider received a $20 million renovation last December and the Royal Hawaiian recently underwent a $70 million facelift.
Distance: 6 hours by plane
41. Paso Robles
This vineyard town proves that you don’t have to go far to enjoy good vino. The hilltop-perched Daou Vineyards is otherworldly, with pristine grounds, olive groves for miles, and panoramic views of the Paso Robles mountains.
Distance: 5 hours by car
A more small-business approach to NorCal’s wine country, amiable Healdsburg makes a great base town to explore. For a cool, laid-back vino experience, try Banshee Winery, which specializes in Pinot Noirs. And there’s no shortage of gourmet eateries in Healdsburg, including Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen. If you can swing it, a few nights at the opulent Honor Mansion is the ultimate getaway.
Distance: 8.5 hours by car or 1.5 hours by plane
43. Santa Barbara
The aptly named “American Riviera” boasts more than 80 wineries within 30 miles stretching into the Santa Ynez Valley. If you want a more compact itinerary, try the Urban Wine Trail, a self-guided tour on foot (or by bike, for the brave) that covers nearly 20 downtown wineries and tasting rooms.
Distance: 3.5 hours by car
With more than 400 vineyards to choose from, a little guidance might help. Scribe Winery’s appointment-only system guarantees a more intimate experience with its excellent menu, which includes Pinots, Chardonnays, and snacks. You can also buy a bottle, grab a blanket, and imbibe on their grassy lawns. Closer to San Francisco, the high-end Rams Gate Winery is housed in a stunning, Restoration Hardware-like building with wine flights, food pairings, and picnics.
Distance: 1.5 hours by plane + 1 hour by car