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9 Inexpensive Weekend Getaways in Southern California

9 Inexpensive Weekend Getaways in Southern California

From desert escapes to quaint beach towns, these are the inexpensive weekend getaways in SoCal that belong on your bucket list.


6 min read

April 26, 2024

“Budget-friendly” isn’t exactly the first thing that comes to mind when talking about the Golden State—but it’s not impossible to plan an inexpensive weekend getaway. Once you get used to the California lifestyle, you’ll discover that there are many free things to do in Los Angeles, Palm Springs, Orange County, and many other coveted destinations. 

Variety is what makes SoCal so unique and spirited. You’re a short drive from forests, deserts, ski resorts, amusement parks, and bustling cities. Thanks to the region’s diverse places, going on a cheap weekend getaway in Southern California is pretty feasible. From desert escapes to quaint beach towns, these are the inexpensive weekend getaways in SoCal that belong on your bucket list. 

Cheap Weekend Getaways In Southern California To Book Now

Craving a coastal escape? Make your way to Oxnard to enjoy stunning scenery and water activities without breaking the bank.

1. Oxnard

Distance from Los Angeles: One hour

Often overshadowed by the nearby cities of Malibu and Santa Monica, Oxnard is a coastal paradise for those planning a romantic getaway in Southern California on a budget, especially if you love beautiful beaches. Visiting Oxnard and not going to the beach is basically committing a sin. Check out Silver Strand, Bass Rock, or Mandalay State Beach—each is unique in its own way—to enjoy an afternoon picnic and catch the sunset with your special someone. You can also stroll through the Channel Islands Harbor and partake in everything from diving and kayaking to sportfishing and whale watching. 

Or, show off your skills at Bedford Pinkard Skate Park before heading over to the Downtown Oxnard Farmers Market to grab local produce and freshly prepared goods. Art aficionados should pay a visit to the Carnegie Art Museum, the first building in Ventura County to be included on the National Register of Historic Places. When in Oxnard, also make sure to check out Casa Sirena, an abandoned seaside resort that was once a prominent destination. 

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Grab your board and head to Dana Point, which is home to some of the best surf spots and beaches in Orange County.

2. Dana Point

Distance from Los Angeles: One hour

Arguably the best surfing spot in SoCal, Dana Point boasts magnificent ocean views and endless opportunities for exciting activities, making the coastal city a top destination for an inexpensive weekend getaway in Southern California. Dana Point is home to many of the best beaches in Orange County—Poche, Monarch Bay, Salt Creek, and Dana Point Harbor Beaches are all wonderful places to lounge next to the glimmering waters. 

Later, check out the Dana Point Nature Interpretive Center to view the historical, cultural, and natural history exhibits. Whatever you do, don’t leave Dana Point without visiting Waterman Plaza to learn about local surf icons Hobie Alter and Phil Edwards. 

Unwind in spectacular, laid-back surroundings while vacationing in the coastal village of La Jolla.

3. La Jolla

Distance from Los Angeles: Two hours 

The upscale beachfront community of La Jolla is the perfect place for a mini-vacation in Southern California. Spending an eventful weekend here without breaking the bank is completely possible. When visiting San Diego’s “Jewel,” stroll along Children’s Pool Beach and watch the seals and sea lions who roam around the cove-like spot. Then, grab a free map from the La Jolla Historical Society and go on a self-guided tour of all the historical buildings in town. Enjoy a long walk on the Scripps Coastal Meander Trail, one of the best hiking trails in San Diego. Later, pay a visit to Legends Gallery to see Dr. Seuss’ artworks on display. 

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Romantic Getaways In Southern California For Couples On A Budget

Take a trip to the awe-inspiring Anza-Borrego Desert State Park for a secluded getaway with that special someone.

4. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Distance from Los Angeles: Two hours and 30 minutes

Fiery sunsets, stellar night skies, and weird desert art are only a few reasons why Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is an ideal weekend getaway in Southern California for couples. As the largest state park in the Golden State, Anza-Borrego offers plenty of inexpensive adventures to enjoy with your one and only. 

Among the first things you’ll notice are the giant metal sculptures scattered around the area; there over 130 large-scale artworks of ancient creatures to be discovered, so keep an eye out for them. Hiking here is a must, too—explore the Slot Canyon Trail, trek to Fonts Point, and make your way to Sandstone Canyon via Fish Creek Wash. If you prefer to stay at a hotel instead of camping in the desert, La Casa del Zorro has good deals for overnight stays.    

Impress your partner by whisking them away to the charming town of Ojai for a weekend.

5. Ojai

Distance from Los Angeles: One hour and 30 minutes

Nestled in a valley in the Topatopa Mountains, Ojai offers lots of scenic trails, stunning views, and hidden gems—it’s a wonderful cheap getaway in Southern California for couples. Despite its proximity to L.A., the charming SoCal town feels worlds away from the hustle and bustle.

Visit Los Padres National Forest with your partner and embark on an exciting, romantic journey through evergreen forests and oak woodland. You can hike the Pratt Trail for a challenging experience, or opt for an easier one and trek to the Rose Valley Falls Trails. Check out the Ojai Certified Farmers Market to find local produce, fair-trade crafts, and homemade goods. When golden hour is about to begin, head over to Cluff Vista Park to watch the sun disappear into the horizon. You won’t want your Ojai weekend getaway to end.

Spend a few days exploring the striking landscape of Joshua Tree National Park with your other half.

6. Joshua Tree National Park

Distance from Los Angeles: Two hours and 15 minutes

The Mojave and the Colorado Deserts meet in Joshua Tree National Park, creating a one-of-a-kind landscape with grand rock formations and striking desert flora. The magical destination deserves a spot on every national park bucket list. Here, you have plenty of hiking trails to explore—the Hidden Valley, Willow Hole, and Arch Rock Nature Trails are all worth checking out. 

Joshua Tree is also one of the most popular rock climbing spots in the Golden State. Get your heart pumping and rappel down the rocks of the most beautiful national park in SoCal. Make sure to stroll through the Cholla Cactus Garden—one of the coolest places in the park—during your visit as well. With countless other must-see attractions, Joshua Tree is undoubtedly a top destination for a cheap California getaway for couples

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Affordable Girlfriend Getaways In Southern California

Get your favorite gals together for a fun-filled trip to Temecula, one of the most underrated towns in SoCal.

7. Temecula

Distance from Los Angeles: One hour and 15 minutes

Temecula serves as one of the best girlfriend getaways in Southern California. So, gather together and drive toward the rolling hills and stunning vineyards of the city. Explore the antique shops and boutiques of Old Town Temecula, where rustic Western-era buildings transport you back to the 1880s. Don’t forget to buy souvenirs from Promenade Temecula, either. 

Bond with your closest girlfriends by the sandy shores of Laguna Beach—this beautiful town is home to more than 30 beaches.

8. Laguna Beach

Distance from Los Angeles: 50 minutes

Laguna Beach is always a good place for a girlfriend getaway in Southern California. Its nine-mile coastline is home to 36 beaches—you’ll have a busy weekend trying to choose between Aliso, Crescent Bay, Moss Street, and Victoria Beaches.

Enjoy a day at Heisler Park, an oceanfront spot with walking trails, gardens, picnic tables, and even a marine refuge with galactic tide pools. You should also head over to Treasure Island Beach Park for swimming, snorkeling, paddle boarding, and taking photos of every memorable moment. Don’t leave the seaside haven without surfing at Thousand Steps Beach.  

Shop 'til you drop at the Anaheim GardenWalk before visiting the city's many other attractions with your besties.

9. Anaheim

Distance from Los Angeles: 30 minutes

If you want an inexpensive weekend getaway in Southern California, you might want to skip the regular Disneyland adventures and discover the hidden gems of Anaheim. Make your way to Anaheim GardenWalk, an open-air entertainment and shopping center adorned with interchanging art murals.

Next on your Anaheim itinerary is visiting one of the most iconic food courts in the Golden State: the Anaheim Packing District, a walkable culinary collection of 50 artisans. Whenever you and your friends feel the need to take a break from the city, head over to Yorba Regional Park and the Oak Canyon Nature Center to escape the hustle and bustle and immerse yourselves in the great outdoors.

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