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Summer Getaways That Don't Involve the Beach
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Summer Getaways That Don't Involve the Beach

While splashing around all day is a reasonable activity for a summer getaway, we’re spicing things up and heading inland this year.

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7 min read

June 13, 2021

Summer is here, which means it’s time to get a pint of ice cream, grab our towels, and hit the beaches—well, not exactly. While splashing around all day is a perfectly reasonable activity for a summer getaway, we’re spicing things up and heading inland this year. For every beach in California, there’s an equally beautiful rustic wonderland amidst redwood forests and mountain tops. With sunshine on our minds, we’re out to explore the Golden State’s state parks and discover interesting towns near Death Valley. Plan the best summer getaway yet and you’ll uncover countless hidden gems along the way.

The Best Summer Getaways in California 

Tucked away in a valley north of Los Angeles and east of Santa Barbara, Ojai is the ideal antidote to busy city life.

Ojai 

Nestled in a valley in the Topatopa Mountains, Ojai is where you’ll experience one of your best summer weekend getaways. Despite its closeness to bustling Los Angeles, this charming SoCal town truly feels worlds away.

The first thing to do at Ojai is head over to the evergreen Los Padres National Forest. Mountains, rivers, and forests create an abundance of recreational opportunities, starting with hikes. Journey through the oak woodland through a series of hikes, perfect for experts and novices alike. The Pratt Trail is a ten-mile hike that explores the foothills of north Ojai, giving you glimpses of lakes and valleys you’re not likely to forget. Alternatively, trek the Rose Valley Falls Trail for an easier experience and a chance to marvel at a cascading waterfall before heading back to downtown.

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Sate your appetite at the  Ojai Certified Farmers Market, where local produce, fair-trade crafts, and homemade goods add a little flavor to your weekend getaway. Better yet, make your way to Bonnie Lu’s Country Cafe for their infamous biscuits and sausage gravy served with potatoes or hashbrowns. During golden hour, head over to Cluff Vista Park and watch the sun disappear into the horizon—a perfect way to end the day.

For extended relaxation, check in at the wonderful Ojai Retreat and Inn. The five-acre secluded hilltop bed and breakfast offers top-notch amenities and affordable prices for an inexpensive getaway

Whether you’re looking for a sprawling vineyard estate or sumptuous spa treatments, Napa is where you'll be pampered to the max.

Napa 

From hot air balloon rides to olive oil tastings, Napa invites you to go on adventures sans vino. Art lovers don’t have to search far and long to find inspiration in the street—this Wine Country destination is filled to the brim with creativity. Walk along Main Street to see the Napa Valley Art Walk, a rotating exhibition of public installation art featuring sculptures by the West’s best and brightest. 

Locally grown produce is one of the many things that’ll get you hooked—the Napa Farmers Market is an organic dream-come-true. Oxbow Public Market is also a must-visit for gourmet food, handmade goodies, and eye-catching arts and crafts.

Feeling fancy? Dress up and dine at one of Downtown Napa’s world-renowned restaurants such as Carpe Diem—the baked feta dip with truffle fries is *chef’s kiss*. Then, make your way to the Napa Valley Opera House (open under normal circumstances) for a night at the opera. And when all that art-viewing, shopping, and fine dining wears you out, check into the Archer Hotel, where comfort meets luxury for a lovely stay.

Summer Weekend Getaways Your Friends Will Love

there’s plenty of hiking and sightseeing without having to go too far in Anza Borrego Desert State Park.

Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Flaming sunsets, stellar night skies, and unusual desert art—the top summer getaways are always spent at Anza Borrego Desert State Park. As the largest in the Golden State, this desert park has plenty for you and your friends to explore, starting from the giant metal sculptures dotting the area.

As soon as you arrive, a peculiar sighting appears in front of your eyes—a 350-foot serpent hissing, a colossal mammoth roaming around, and massive dinosaurs attacking each other. No, this is not a desert mirage. There are over 130 large-scale artworks of ancient creatures scattered in Anza-Borrego—find your spirit animal and marvel at the artworks. 

Hiking, as you might have guessed, is among the must-dos at Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. Explore the Slot Canyon Trail, trek to Fonts Point, or make your way to Sandstone Canyon via Fish Creek Wash. No matter which trail you end up taking, all roads lead to desert camping spots

If pitching a tent doesn’t sound like your kind of thing, book a room at the La Casa del Zorro—the forty-two-acre resort is located on the edge of the state park.

All roads lead to S.F. The City by the Bay is best spent on a summer vacation with your friends who just want to have fun!

San Francisco

With iconic landmarks, unique restaurants, and plentiful items to check off your bucket list, S.F. answers the age-old question—“what does the ideal getaway look like?” Visitors flock to see the Golden Gate Bridge, take advantage of the photo ops, dine at Michelin-starred restaurants, and ride the waves. But this time, we’re skipping the beaches and adding new activities to our itinerary. 

One activity you and your friends will enjoy without breaking the bank is a picnic at the Palace of Fine Arts. Located just a few minutes away from the Golden Gate Bridge, this iconic structure is where you’ll be next to a body of water without actually going to the beach. If you’re craving something more adventurous, take a 15-minute ferry ride from the Embarcadero to the famed Alcatraz Island—a Golden State historical landmark.

After the last bits of light dim, relax and recharge at the gorgeous Hotel Zetta for an ideal place to lay your head. Sweet dreams!

Unforgettable Romantic Summer Getaways 

Welcome to Palm Springs, an oasis of pool parties and mid-century modern architecture in the middle of the desert.

Palm Springs

We’re going to say this upfront—who cares about going on the best summer lake vacation with your boo when a desert resort city is literally right there? Travel 100 miles from Los Angeles to find year-round sunshine, gorgeous resorts, mineral hot spring spas, and renowned golf courses in the radiant Palm Springs.

For the quintessential Palm Springs experience, pay a visit to the Palm Springs Art Museum and soar through the skies with the help of the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Keep yourselves busy and join the Palm Springs Historical Society’s walking tour to learn about the town’s history and marvel at fine examples of mid-century modern buildings. And, when shop o’clock hits, El Paseo Shopping District and  Desert Hills Premium Outlets offer the best deals on designer goods.

Top off your best summer getaway yet with a stay at the Renaissance Palm Springs Hotel. This indoor oasis is the perfect way to conclude your Palm Springs adventure.

With a Victorian-styled Old Town and plenty of natural beauty, Eureka is the best place to explore California's north coast.

Eureka 

A getaway to Eureka is nothing short of breathtaking, especially with your partner by your side. While this quaint harbor town is a fisherman’s paradise, we’re cutting back on hitting the waters and instead, we’re discovering the hidden gems Eureka has to offer. As you meander through the streets of this town, you’ll literally be transported back in time. Victorian mansions and upscale townhouses decorate Eureka in buttercup yellow, pistachio, and magenta. 

One of these iconic places is the Carson Mansion, which is considered arguably the highest execution of American Queen Anne-style architecture. Many claim this mansion is the grandest Victorian home in the U.S., which is why checking it out should be on the top of your summer getaway itinerary.

Once you’re done admiring local architecture, go for a drive on the Redwood Highway, where the sheer amount of scenic overlooks will put you in a daze. Follow the route to reach the stunning Sequoia Park Garden to enjoy a romantic picnic in rustic paradise. If you two are hiking enthusiasts, you’ll love exploring the winding trails that guide you to towering redwoods, meadows, creeks, and even a quaint little duck pond.

Conclude your romantic summer getaway with an overnight stay at the Carter House Inns, where Victorian opulence meets modern amenities. Picture fancy four-poster beds, modern art, and relaxing hot tubs all in your room—this is what we’re talking about. 

The Top Summer Getaways for Families 

A trip to L.A.’s Griffith Park and one ride around the merry-go-round inspired Walt Disney to create the iconic theme park.

Disneyland 

Name a better place to bond as a family than the “Happiest Place on Earth”—we’ll wait. Honestly, does it really get better than Disneyland? Running around the parks, hopping on the fun rides, and donning those mouse ears really hit the mark; this is the top summer getaway we’ve been waiting for. 

The Big Thunder Mountain Railroad is a thrilling adventure you’ll love to go on. The Haunted Mansion will give you the adrenaline rush you so badly need. Standing in lines will also give your dad plenty of time to practice his latest jokes. Whichever ride you choose to go on, don’t forget to take a picture in front of the iconic Sleeping Beauty Castle—that’s a holiday postcard waiting to happen.

While Disneyland is not the tropical summer getaway you have in mind, we’re willing to argue that theme park attractions might just beat sunbathing at the beach all day.  If you want to extend your vacation, there’s plenty of things you can do in Anaheim after going to Disneyland. But until then, the magic kingdom awaits. 

What’s your idea of a summer getaway without going to the beach? Let us know in the comments. 

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