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The Best California Weekend Road Trips

by on February 4, 2015

There is something really harsh about the beginning of a new year. We all need something to look forward to. Are you ready to get out of town? While you may not be able to take time off from work, there’s always the weekend. Hop in the car, put on your favorite music playlist, and drive to one of these California destinations, where a weekend is just enough time to explore and none will disappoint.

Weekend-1

Lake Tahoe
Oh, the glittering blue waters of Lake Tahoe. Fah-reezing, but nice on the eyes. Some say that the best time to go to Tahoe is in the wintertime. With the many choices of top ski resorts, they may not be wrong. But snow, or no snow, it’s a majestic, peaceful place to enjoy the outdoors with your peeps. Tahoe is a big place: Should I go to the North or the South? North is more rustic and spread out. Come here to rent a cabin and really get away. South Lake Tahoe offers more to do in a compact area. Snow sports! Casinos! Resorts!

Road Trip Estimates (to South Lake Tahoe):
From San Francisco – 3 hours
From Sacramento – 1 hour, 45 minutes
From Bakersfield – 6 hours
From Los Angeles – 7 hours, 30 minutes

Weekend-2

Los Angeles
The only problem with a weekend trip to Los Angeles is that there is so much to do and see, and it’s all so spread out. As a kickstarter, here are some things we consider essential LA. Go to the Getty (pictured) for the antiquities, the architecture, and the view. Or LACMA for contemporary art and the outdoor sculpture. LA knows how to do art. And as the filmmaking headquarters of the world, there are unbelievably gorgeous movie palaces still up and running. The Vista for one, in Los Feliz, has screenings every day. And believe it or not, hiking is a popular pastime here. Check out the Observatory at Griffith Park, then take one of the many hiking trails for a view of the expansive city. While you’re in the neighborhood, stop by The Dresden (featured in several films), where the jazz duo Marty and Elayne perform almost every night, and have been for 30 years.

Road Trip Estimates:
From San Francisco & Sacramento – 6 hours
From Bakersfield – 2 hours
From San Diego – 2 hours

Weekend-3

Palm Springs
First of all, the average high temperature in Palm Springs rarely goes below 70F. (Isn’t that reason enough to make the trip?) And sometimes, on the weekends, one needs to restore a sense of sexiness. Palm Springs will certainly do that. With the swingin’ architecture, the numerous swimming pools, cocktail bars, and one really fabulous art museum, it’s the best place to regain your cool. Also, it’s fun to imagine Hollywood’s elite driving over for the weekend back in the 60s. Drive by Elvis’s honeymoon hideaway, which looks much as it did when the King was around town. Catch a glimpse of John Lautner’s fabulous architecture, which has been featured in numerous movies. Pay your respects to ol’ Frankie Blue Eyes, and last but most importantly, treat yourself to a massage. Or a mud bath. Or a facial. Or whatever.

Road Trip Estimates:
From Los Angeles – 1 hour, 45 minutes
From San Diego – 2 hours, 15 minutes
From San Francisco – 7 hours

Weekend-4

Point Reyes
Roll down the windows and breathe in the earthy air. A small, two-lane road winds in and out of the town of Point Reyes Station. Make sure to spend some time here. Stop by Cowgirl Creamery for cheese, Bovine Bakery for coffee and baked goods, and learn about the history of the area at the old restored dairy barn. Then, drive further up the coast to Tamales Bay, for oysters and kayaking. Also, don’t miss the glorious Point Reyes National Seashore. The lighthouse is a must. At least once.

Road Trip Estimates:
From San Francisco – 1 hour
From Sacramento – 2 hours
From Bakersfield – 5 hours
From Los Angeles – 6 hours, 30 minutes

Weekend-5

San Diego
We’ve heard San Diego referred to as a more relaxed, more conservative version of Los Angeles. We would have to agree. But don’t let the conservative part dissuade you. As a weekend destination, this place…c’est parfait. From the mild, sea air to the plethora of restaurant and bar choices to the numerous outdoor activities…it’s simply 100% pleasant. Check out the old footbridges in Hillcrest. Spend some time wandering around Balboa Park. Take a tour of the Salk Institute – there’s much more to the architecture than meets the eye. Eat Mexican food. Watch the hang gliders over the La Jolla cliffs. Check out some old ships. Visit one of America’s most haunted houses. And finally, drink a cocktail with a view.

Road Trip Estimates:
From Los Angeles – 2 hours
From Bakersfield – 3 hours, 45 minutes
From San Francisco – 7 hours, 45 minutes

Weekend-6

San Francisco
San Francisco is one of those unique places that you can return to time and again, and always find something new. Situated majestically on the bay, there are countless views, from the hilltops to the bridges to the beaches. For first timers, take a walk on the Embarcadero. Or, take a ferry ride. Visit City Hall, take the free tour, and gawk at the numerous newlyweds posing for photos. Walk or bike through Golden Gate Park, stop at a museum, then watch the rollerskaters. Eat oysters, burgers, or dim sum. Best place for a selfie with a view: Twin Peaks. At night, check out the Bay Bridge Lights.

Road Trip Estimates:
From Sacramento – 1 hour, 30 minutes
From Bakersfield – 4 hours, 30 minutes
From Los Angeles – 5 hours, 45 minutes

Weekend-7

Wine Country
Welcome to wine country: Napa, Sonoma, and all that surrounds. Each winery has its own special history and methods they share on their tours. Sit outside with a bottle of wine that was grown, harvested and fermented on location. Now, let’s talk about some places every wine country weekender should try. If you’re looking for an over-the-top experience, go to Castello di Amorosa in Napa. In Glen Ellen, visit the historic Benziger vineyard, where they use certified biodynamic, sustainable growing practices. Amista, in Healdsburg, is small and rustic, but personable and perfectly picturesque. Near Santa Rosa is Matanzas Creek, where there is an impressive lavender field that blooms every spring.

Road Trip Estimates:
From San Francisco – 1 hour
From Sacramento – 1 hour
From Bakersfield – 4 hours, 45 minutes
From Los Angeles – 6 hours

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