Are you on your way to California and looking for weekend trips from Orange County? Maybe you live in Orange County and just want to get away for a girls’ weekend, a romantic getaway, or a family vacation.
Whether you’re a local or in town for business or leisure, there are lots of fun things to do around Orange County. The city is a great anchorage for visiting Southern California destinations within an hour or two of the city center and the Pacific Ocean.
Located along the Pacific Coast of Southern California, Orange County was founded in 1889. As the name suggests, it was named for the citrus fruit to sound like a tropical Mediterranean area. Sounds like an excellent marketing campaign to us.
Orange County is home to a variety of tourist attractions and fun sites. From beaches, amusement parks, and national parks to museums and cultural attractions, you’ll find Southern California weekend getaway ideas for the whole crew.
We’ve picked some places to try for a great weekend getaway in Southern California.
Show Table of Contents
- Getting to Orange County, California
- TL;DR Best Places to Stay in Orange County
- Best Places to Visit Near Orange County
- Best Area for First-Timers/Tourists – San Diego
- Budget Hotel
- Mid-Range Hotel
- Luxury Hotel
- Vacation Rental in San Diego
- Best Area for Budget Travelers – Joshua Tree
- Budget Hotel near Joshua Tree
- Mid-Range Hotel near Joshua Tree
- Luxury Hotel near Joshua Tree
- Best Area for Luxury Travelers – Palm Springs
- Budget Hotel
- Mid-Range Hotel
- Luxury Hotel
- Best Area for Safety – Temecula
- Budget Hotel in Temecula
- Mid-Range Hotel in Temecula
- Luxury Hotel in Temecula
- Best Area for Families – Santa Barbara
- Budget Hotel
- Mid-Range Hotel
- Luxury Hotel
- Best Area for Culture/History – Solvang
- Budget Hotel near Solvang
- Mid-Range Hotel near Solvang
- Luxury Hotels near Solvang
- Best Area for Entertainment – Anaheim
- Budget Hotels in Anaheim
- Mid-Range Hotels in Anaheim
- Luxury Hotels in Anaheim
- Vacation Rental in Anaheim
- Getting Around Orange County
- What is the best area to stay in Orange County?
- Where is a good place to stay in Orange County?
Getting to Orange County, California
The closest major airport is John Wayne Airport (SNA) in Santa Ana. Other airports in Orange County, California, include Long Beach (LGB), San Diego (SAN), and Los Angeles (LAX).
TL;DR Best Places to Stay in Orange County
- Best Luxury Hotel in Orange County – The Westin Anaheim Resort
- Best Mid-Range Hotel in Orange County – Kings Inn Anaheim at The Park & Convention Center
- Best Budget Hotel in Orange County – Key Inn and Suites
- Best Vacation Rental in Orange County – Disney Magic Dream House
- Best Family-Friendly Hotel in Orange County – Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground
Best Places to Visit Near Orange County
- Best area for first-timers/tourists – San Diego
- Best area for budget travelers – Joshua Tree National Park
- Best area for luxury travelers – Palm Springs
- Best area for safety – Temecula
- Best area for families – Santa Barbara
- Best area for culture/history – Solvang
- Best area for entertainment – Anaheim
Best Area for First-Timers/Tourists – San Diego
Boaters will appreciate the deep-water harbor, and music fans will want to jump the fence at Jason Mraz’s avocado farm. We’re only assuming there’s a fence. Either way, we don’t recommend trespassing on Jason Mraz’s avocado farm when you’re in San Diego County. Check out some of these fun things to do in San Diego County.
- Visit Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo. Hop aboard the Balboa Park Carousel, a Herschell-Spillman that dates to 1910.
- Channel your inner kid at LEGOLAND California and commune with sea creatures at SeaWorld San Diego.
- Ride a 94-year-old roller coaster at Belmont Park. The Giant Dipper is on the National Register of Historic Places.
- Discover Naval history at the aircraft carrier USS Midway.
- If you’re a nature enthusiast, head to Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve, along the northern coast, to see the endangered Torrey pine trees.
- Gaze upon the Star of India anchored in the Port of San Diego. It’s America’s oldest active sailing vessel.
- Drive across the scenic San Diego – Coronado Bridge and check out the Victorian-era Hotel Del Coronado, which has its private beach, or go surfing along the sandy beaches of Coronado Beach.
Wyndham Garden – SeaWorld
For easy access to amusement parks, the Wyndham Garden – SeaWorld is a terrific choice for a weekend getaway. Spacious rooms have seating areas, free Wi-Fi, and desks. There’s a pool, laundry facilities, meeting space, and a business center. The best time to book at Wyndham Garden is right now.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel
The DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel is located in the Little Italy area of downtown and has a pool, a stylish lobby, a fitness center, and a restaurant. Suites have extra seating and whirlpool tubs for a comfortable and spacious getaway near Orange County, California.
Bahia Resort Hotel
Located on a peninsula in Mission Bay, Bahia Resort Hotel has an Olympic-size pool, wedding and banquet facilities, a tennis court, a playground, shuffleboard, and beachfront cabanas. There are a couple of fine dining restaurants and a pool bar. Rooms have a mini-fridge, a coffee maker, free Wi-Fi, and offer bay or garden grove views. You can book at Bahia Resort Hotel for the best deal.
Vacation Rental in San Diego
The Sandy Feet Retreat
The Sandy Feet Retreat townhouse is located along Mission Bay. It offers two bedrooms and 2.5 baths. There’s a balcony and a BBQ grill as well as a two-car garage. You are within quick access to the ocean and the bay at this weekend’s getaway near Orange County, California.
See Related: Do You Need a Car in San Diego? Things to Know
Best Area for Budget Travelers – Joshua Tree
National parks are a great weekend getaway for budget travelers who enjoy the great outdoors. Pack a picnic and hit the hiking trails to your heart’s content. You can also go birdwatching, stargazing, and camping at this fun place near Orange County, California. The entrance fee to Joshua Tree is $25 per vehicle, but it’s good for seven days to come and go as you, please.
With 800,000 acres of cactus plants, palm trees, and exotic Joshua trees, the park is full of natural wonders and makes great weekend getaways from Orange County, California. Located between the Mojave Desert and the Colorado Desert in Twentynine Palms, part of Riverside County, Joshua Tree is about a 2.5-hour drive from Orange County.
Bear Mountain, Big Bear Lake, and San Gorgonio Mountain, all within the San Bernardino National Forest, are just northwest of the park. Big Bear Lake is the largest recreational lake in Southern California. Fishing, mountain biking, and hiking are popular at this great weekend getaway.
Pencil some of these ideas onto your Joshua Tree itinerary:
- Hike up Ryan Mountain for amazing views at 5,461 feet.
- Travel along the Keys View hiking trails to explore the Coachella Valley and the Salton Sea.
- Visit the 75-foot-tall desert palm fan trees at Fan Palm Oases.
- Gather the kids and head to Lost Horse Mine to learn about the California gold mining history.
- The kids will get a kick out of the unique formations of Skull Rock.
- Bring binoculars and watch for red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, and roadrunners if you enjoy bird watching.
- Walk along with the cactus-filled garden at Cholla Cactus Garden.
Budget Hotel near Joshua Tree
America’s Best Value Inn & Suites Joshua Tree
America’s Best Value Inn & Suites offers a pool, free Wi-Fi, mini-fridge, garden, and picnic area. Some rooms are themed with vintage cars and forest settings. Book a room at America’s Best Value Inn & Suites Joshua Tree.
Mid-Range Hotel near Joshua Tree
Courtyard by Marriott Palm Desert
Located on Frank Sinatra Drive (how cool is that?) in Palm Desert, Courtyard by Marriott Palm Desert offers a pool, a fitness center, a lobby bistro, and free Wi-Fi. Modern rooms have a minibar, a desk, and a coffee/tea maker. For a weekend getaway near nature and golf, this is an excellent choice.
Luxury Hotel near Joshua Tree
Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas
For a luxurious weekend getaway, Marriott’s Desert Springs Villas is the way to go. Set among towering palm trees, ponds, and bubbling water features, the hotel features a pool, a fitness center, and a restaurant. Choose from regular guest rooms and one and two-bedroom villas with kitchens and separate seating areas.
See Related: Most Famous Landmarks in California to Visit
Best Area for Luxury Travelers – Palm Springs
In the Sonoran Desert, Palm Springs is a stylish spot in the Coachella Valley for a weekend getaway. The area offers hiking, biking, and horseback riding for adventure seekers or spas and hot springs for the meditation-minded. There are plenty of perfectly groomed golf courses to practice your swing.
A favorite resort destination for Hollywood notables since the 1930s, this area is about a 1.5-hour drive from Orange County. Here are a few things to get you started on a weekend getaway to Palm Springs:
- Go shopping among boutiques, designer shops, and more on Palm Canyon Drive.
- Take a driving tour of the local mid-century modern architecture, design, and arts scene.
- Pose for a selfie by John Seward Johnson’s Forever Marilyn sculpture at the Palm Springs Art Museum.
- Visit rhinos, leopards, wallabies, giraffes, and more at the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens.
- Soar to the top of the San Jacinto Peak on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. You’ll leave the desert floor and step off onto a mountain forest.
- Check into a luxury hotel and book facials, mani-pedis, hot stone massages, yoga sessions, and more for a relaxing weekend getaway.
Travelodge by Wyndham Palm Springs
The pet-friendly Travelodge by Wyndham Palm Springs offers daily breakfast and free Wi-Fi. This budget hotel has a pool and a fitness center, making it great for weekend getaways. It’s within access to hiking and mountain biking trails.
Caliente Tropics Resort
Built in the 1960s, the Caliente Tropics Resort features a tropical tiki ambiance. It has a pool, a bar, a restaurant, and a fitness center. Double and king rooms are available. Located within sight of the San Jacinto Mountains, it’s a great choice for weekend getaways.
Hilton Palm Springs
The Hilton has a large pool with sun loungers, a spa, an on-site restaurant, and amazing views of the San Jacinto Mountains.
See Related: Best Palm Springs Restaurants
Best Area for Safety – Temecula
Whether you’re thinking of relocating or just looking for a weekend getaway, Temecula is one of the safest cities in California. From wineries, golf courses, and shopping to horseback riding, swimming, hiking, and biking, there are many fun things to do in Temecula.
The 32-mile area of Temecula is located between Los Angeles and San Diego. Enjoy views of Mount San Jacinto, Mount San Bernardino, and Palomar Mountain. It’s about an hour’s drive from Orange County.
Check out these Temecula activities and attractions:
- Take a hot air balloon ride high above the Temecula Valley.
- Rent bicycles and pedal around town.
- Visit Wilson Creek Winery, Ponte Winery, or Thornton Winery for wine tastings, vineyard tours, and live music events. Check out these other top wineries in Temecula to visit.
- Explore local history at the Temecula Valley Museum.
- Visit the chocolate shop and petting zoo at Sugarplum Zoo. Book a wine and chocolate tasting experience.
- Take a day trip to Trestles Beach.
Budget Hotel in Temecula
Best Western Country Inn
Located near Old Town Temecula, the Best Western Country Inn is about a 20-minute drive from Temecula Wine Country. Enjoy free Wi-Fi and a daily continental breakfast. There’s an outdoor pool, a whirlpool tub, and sun loungers. Check out the Best Western Country Inn for affordable accommodation.
Mid-Range Hotel in Temecula
Courtyard by Marriott Temecula Murrieta
Courtyard by Marriott Temecula Murrieta has a restaurant, a bar, a fitness center, and a swimming pool. Guest rooms offer a desk, free Wi-Fi, and a daily continental breakfast.
Luxury Hotel in Temecula
Temecula Creek Inn
Temecula Creek Inn has a 27-hole golf course, a fitness center, a swimming pool, and a whirlpool tub as well as an on-site restaurant and in-room massage treatments. Guests can enjoy free Wi-Fi, a desk, and a Keurig machine. Pets are allowed so feel free to bring your four-legged friends along with you.
See Related: Fun & Best Things to Do in Irvine, California
Best Area for Families – Santa Barbara
With the Santa Ynez Mountains in the background and the Pacific Ocean to the west, Santa Barbara offers fun activities and attractions for all ages. The coastal city is about two hours north of Orange County on the Pacific Ocean. Families can spend days exploring the area and checking out the Spanish heritage and architecture of the downtown area.
Don’t miss these attractions and activities in this seaside community:
- Swim, fish, surf, and sunbathe at Mesa Lane Beach, Arroyo Burro Beach County Park, or Leadbetter Beach.
- Rent bikes or bring your own and pedal between beaches on the Cabrillo Bike Path.
- Gather the kids and head to the Santa Barbara Zoo, where you can feed giraffes, watch playful otters, and have a picnic in the gardens.
- Go shopping, dining, and boat-watching at Stearns Wharf. You can often see sea lions lounging in the sun.
- Book a whale-watching cruise. You may see dolphins, sea lions, and porpoises.
- Visit exotic plants at Lotusland.
- Spend the day at MOXI, the Wolf Museum of Exploration + Innovation.
- Enjoy the Spanish mission and gardens at the Old Mission Santa Barbara. Founded in 1786, it’s home to Franciscan friars and a museum.
Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Barbara/Goleta
Flanked by swaying palm trees, the Super 8 by Wyndham Santa Barbara/Goleta offers comfort and convenience at budget rates. Enjoy an outdoor swimming pool, free breakfast, and free Wi-Fi at this pet-friendly hotel.
Best Western Plus
The Best Western Plus is about three miles from the ocean, making it a terrific choice for family beach vacations to this tourist destination. Spend downtime at the courtyard pool, hang out in the cozy lobby, or grab a bite to eat at the on-site restaurant. Rooms have a mini-fridge, a microwave, and free Wi-Fi. Some guest rooms have extra seating, mini-kitchens, and patios.
Hilton Beachfront Resort
For comfort, convenience, and beachfront access, you can’t go wrong with the Hilton Beachfront Resort. There’s a pool, putting green, shuffleboard, and several on-site restaurants. Choose garden, mountain, or ocean views. You can book facials, massages, body scrubs, and yoga classes when you’re not out exploring.
See Related: Best Things to Do in Los Angeles
Best Area for Culture/History – Solvang
The historic village of Solvang is a fun and unique weekend trip from Orange County. Founded in 1911 by Dutch teachers, the Danish-inspired village is located between the San Rafael Mountains and the Santa Ynez Mountains.
Centrally located in Southern California wine country, it’s about a 2.75-hour drive from Orange County in the rolling hills of the Santa Ynez Valley. Often known as Little Denmark, you’ll feel like you’re actually in Denmark with windmills and authentic architecture on the main street. Mix fun with your culture fix by visiting some of these attractions:
- Revisit your favorite fairy tales at the Little Mermaid Fountain and the Hans Christian Andersen Museum.
- Check out the classic American and Japanese motorcycles at the Solvang Vintage Motorcycle Museum.
- Indulge your sweet tooth with Danish treats and goodies at local bakeries and coffee shops.
- Discover local Spanish history at the 1804 Old Mission Santa Ines, a National Historic Landmark.
- Head to the Alma Rosary Winery & Vineyards for wine tastings and vineyard tours. Claim picnic tables or a blanket and enjoy the beautiful views.
See Related: Best Vacation Rentals in California
Budget Hotel near Solvang
Svendsgaard’s Lodge America’s Best Value Inn
Svendsgaard’s Lodge America’s Best Value Inn is right in the middle of the Danish village in Solvang. There’s an outdoor pool and a whirlpool tub. Guest rooms have a mini-fridge, a microwave, a flat-screen TV, HBO, and free Wi-Fi. Enjoy a daily continental breakfast of Danish pastries, bagels, tea, and coffee. The cute Danish architecture makes this hotel a fun stay for a weekend getaway.
Mid-Range Hotel near Solvang
Solvang Inn & Cottages
The Danish farm-style Solvang Inn & Cottages has a heated pool and a whirlpool tub. Cottages have a mini-fridge, a microwave, and free Wi-Fi. It’s within walking distance to downtown Solvang and a wide array of wineries within two to three miles.
Luxury Hotels near Solvang
The boutique Hotel Corque is within easy access to wineries and other cultural attractions near Solvang. It has a pool, a fitness center, and an on-site restaurant. Spacious rooms offer free Wi-Fi, a mini-fridge, a microwave, and a coffee maker. Choose from rooms with pools, mountains, or city views.
Hampton Inn & Suites Buellton/Santa Ynez Valley
Hampton Inn & Suites Buellton/Santa Ynez Valley has an outdoor pool, a fitness center, a business center, and a daily continental breakfast. Spacious rooms offer seating areas, a mini-fridge, and a microwave.
After a day of exploring and wine tasting, relax around the fire pit and picnic tables and enjoy the sunset (with another glass of wine, perhaps).
See Related: Most Exotic Places in California to Visit
Best Area for Entertainment – Anaheim
Incorporated in 1870, Anaheim was Orange County’s first city. It’s now home to Disneyland, Disney California Adventure Park, and the Downtown Disney dining, shopping, and entertainment complex.
While it’s well-known as an entertainment capital for theme park fans, the sports fans aren’t forgotten. The Anaheim Convention Center, the Honda Center, and Angel Stadium are in Anaheim.
The San Gabriel Valley, north of Anaheim, makes a nice day trip. San Clemente, Laguna Beach, Salt Creek Beach, Newport Beach, and Santa Monica are other fun areas for weekend getaways. Don’t miss a glass-bottom boat tour out of Long Beach.
Check out some of these Anaheim attractions:
- Visit the galactic world of Batuu at Disneyland’s Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.
- Race with Mater and Lightning McQueen in Radiator Springs at Disney California Adventure Park.
- Take in an Anaheim Angels or Anaheim Ducks game.
- Head out to Anaheim GardenWalk for shopping, dining, and live music as well as art installations.
- Visit the 58-acre Oak Canyon Nature Center for walking trails and nature views.
- Learn about regional history at the Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center.
- Explore art at the Laguna Art Museum.
- Spend the day hiking and nature watching at Crystal Cove State Park in Newport Beach. Crystal Cove State Park, near Laguna Beach, has 3.2 miles of beachfront property, inland canyons, camping, and a section of historic beach houses.
- If you enjoy the Southern California beach life, take a day trip to the sand, surf, and tide pools of Laguna Beach, Corona Del Mar, Hermosa Beach, Salt Creek Beach, or Manhattan Beach. The gorgeous beaches of Newport Bay and Balboa Island are also within easy access of Anaheim.
- Take the Balboa Island Ferry to the Balboa Peninsula and return to Balboa Island for a fun Southern California excursion to Newport Bay and the Pacific Ocean. While you’re there, check out the Newport Beach Pier on the Balboa Peninsula.
- Visit the Spanish architecture and history of San Juan Capistrano and the beaches of San Clemente and North Beach. San Clemente is known as the Spanish Village by the Sea due to its stucco, red tile roofs, and gorgeous wooden doors.
- Check out the Sherman Library and Gardens in Corona Del Mar.
Budget Hotels in Anaheim
Key Inn and Suites
Located about 20 minutes from Disneyland, the Key Inn and Suites is an excellent choice for a Disney vacation. Guest rooms have a mini-fridge, a microwave, and free Wi-Fi. There’s an outdoor swimming pool to take advantage of that year-round sunshine. Book now for the best deal on Key Inn and Suites.
Anaheim Islander Inn and Suites
The Anaheim Islander Inn and Suites is a budget-worthy option for family vacations to Disneyland and the surrounding Anaheim area. Guest rooms have coffee makers and free breakfast is available each day.
Mid-Range Hotels in Anaheim
Kings Inn Anaheim at The Park & Convention Center
Stylish in décor, the Kings Inn Anaheim at The Park & Convention Center is approximately a 10-minute walk from Disneyland Park. Knott’s Berry Farm is about 5.5 miles away. The hotel has an outdoor pool with sun loungers and umbrellas. Complimentary breakfast is available every day. The Anaheim Convention Center is about a five-minute drive from the hotel.
Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground
For resort-style fun, the Howard Johnson by Wyndham Anaheim Hotel & Water Playground is a great Southern California choice for families. There are two pools, a hot tub, and a water park with kid-sized slides and water dumping buckets. Guest rooms have bright and contemporary décor with a table and chairs. Some rooms are Disney-themed, with bunk beds and separate seating areas for extra room to spread out.
Luxury Hotels in Anaheim
The Westin Anaheim Resort
Located within walking distance to Disneyland, the Westin Anaheim Resort makes a great choice for luxury California weekend getaways. It has several restaurants, a bar, a coffee house, a convenience store, a sun terrace, and a pool. There’s a business center and a fitness center for guest use. All rooms have a coffee maker, free Wi-Fi, and a complimentary breakfast. Enjoy daytime strolls in the garden or evenings around the fire pit.
Vacation Rental in Anaheim
Disney Magic Dream House
If you’re looking for an alternative to the traditional hotel, or just want more room for a larger group, the Disney Magic Dream House is the perfect vacation rental in Anaheim. This townhome has two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and sleeps up to six guests.
This California vacation rental is in a neighborhood across the street from Disneyland Park and Downtown Disney. The community has three pools, a hot tub, and a playground.
See Related: Best Places to Visit in Southern California
Getting Around Orange County
The Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA) offers bus service and Metrolink. Metrolink is a system of seven train lines that run through counties such as Orange, Los Angeles, Riverside, and San Diego. It’s a great option for hassle-free travel to surrounding areas.
The OC Bus System, also managed by OCTA, has 60 routes that travel around the area and even connect with the Metrolink transport system.
Bicycles are another popular alternative to traditional vehicles. Bike Nation has bicycle kiosks available around Anaheim for your pedaling pleasure. Bikes even have GPS to help you find your destinations.
Beach areas like Huntington and Laguna have a variety of bike and e-bike rental shops, such as Jack’s Beach Concession and Bike Rentals and Bolt Electric Bike Tours and Rentals.
What is the best area to stay in Orange County?
Depending on what you want to do while on vacation, you have an array of areas in Orange County, California, to choose from. Looking for a beach destination? Try Laguna Beach or San Diego. Check out Solvang or Joshua Tree National Park for culture, wineries, and outdoor attractions.
Where is a good place to stay in Orange County?
Orange County has a wide variety of fun and family-friendly places to stay. If you plan to check out Disneyland, Anaheim is a great choice. For beaches and watersports, we suggest Long Beach or Huntington Beach
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- About the Author
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Sandy is a freelance writer based in Richmond, Virginia. Her specialties range from hotels, dining, beaches, and yacht charters to theme parks, urban settings, mountain getaways, and other fun spots. In addition to Via Travelers, her work appears at AFAR, PierShare, Cozymeal, and more.