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7 Best Weekend Trips from Orange County, CA: Top Getaways

7 Best Weekend Trips from Orange County, CA: Top Getaways

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, romantic getaways, or 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 in an attempt 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 out some places to try for a great weekend getaway in Southern California.

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).

TLDR; Our Favorite Accommodation in Orange County

Areas to Choose 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

An aerial view of Embarcadero Marina Park.
Image by Damek used under CC 2.0 License

With beautiful beaches, theme parks, and year-round sunny weather, downtown San Diego makes a terrific weekend trip from anywhere in Orange County.

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. Named the Giant Dipper, it’s 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 own private beach, or go surfing along the sandy beaches of Coronado Beach.

Budget Hotel

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.

Mid-Range Hotel

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.

Luxury Hotel

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

The entrance of Joshua Tree National Park Visitor Center
Image by Joshua Tree National Park used under CC 2.0 License

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 all 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 look out over 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.
  • If you enjoy bird watching, bring the binoculars and watch for red-tailed hawks, prairie falcons, and roadrunners.
  • 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, a mini-fridge, and a garden and picnic area. Some rooms are themed with vintage cars and forest settings. Book yourself 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, America’s Best Value Inn & Suites 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

Located 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 the 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.

Budget Hotel

Travelodge by Wyndham Palm Springs

 The pet-friendly Travelodge by Wyndham Palm Springs offers daily breakfast and free Wi-Fi. There’s a pool and a fitness center at this budget hotel, which makes it great for weekend getaways. It’s within access to hiking and mountain biking trails.

Mid-Range Hotel

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.

Luxury Hotel

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

Town Square Temecula fun activities and attractions.
Image by So-Cal Queen used under CC 3.0 License

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 a wide variety of 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 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 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.

Best Area for Families – Santa Barbara

View of the Santa Barbara port in California
Image by Dori used under CC 3.0 License

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 a two-hour drive 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 along 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.

Budget Hotel

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.

Mid-Range 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.

Luxury Hotel

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. When you’re not out exploring, you can book facials, massages, body scrubs, and yoga classes.

Best Area for Culture/History – Solvang

A historic village in Solvang California shows up the windmill.
Image by SUZUKI Hironobu used under CC 3.0 License

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.

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 there are a wide array of wineries within two to three miles.  

Luxury Hotels near Solvang

Hotel Corque

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 pool, mountain, 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

View of the Disney Adventure Park in Anaheim California
Image by Ken Lund used under CC 2.0 License

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 back to Balboa Island for a fun Southern California excursion on 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 and have 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 right 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

Old Orange County Courthouse, Santa Ana, California.
Image by Cbl62 used under CC 3.0 License

Orange County has all the traditional car rental companies such as Enterprise, Hertz, and Alamo. But what if you don’t want to rent a car? We’ve got some suggestions for you.

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 up 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.

FAQs

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. For culture, wineries, and outdoor attractions, check out Solvang or Joshua Tree National P

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’re planning to check out Disneyland, Anaheim is a great choice. For beaches and watersports, we suggest Long Beach or Huntington Beach

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