Welcome to a new travel series! We’ll be highlighting amazing cities and adventures just out your back door. We’ll start by covering each geographical region of the U.S. and feature trip options that don’t require much money on flights or extensive travel for a memorable vacation. Beginning with the West Coast (hey Pacific Northwest, we’ll cover you at a later date!), today we’re sharing five fun road trip destinations that are a guaranteed good time.
So West Coast women, if we weren’t already jealous of you, given your access to these locales, we are now. Regardless of where on the coast you reside, there is an endless list of incredible weekend destinations for you to venture to. Whether you’re in the mood for a nature retreat or a foodie weekend in the city, we have you covered (please invite us along though!).
Would a list of the best West Coast destinations be complete without Palm Springs? No! This desert oasis awaits you at just around two hours outside of Los Angeles. The perfect spot for a weekend trip with the girls, Palm Springs is the ideal place to have drinks by the pool, take in art and architecture, and splurge a bit on shopping and food. Regardless of where you are in the city, Palm Springs has a relaxed, desert vibe making it the perfect spot to unwind and escape for a few days.
When you tire of lounging by the pool (do we really ever tire of this?), take in the mid-century art and architecture the city is so famous for—Palm Springs really is a must for art and design lovers. Be sure to carve out time for vintage shopping—keep your fingers crossed in hopes of finding your own mid-century beauty at one of the many vintage shops (Dazzles, The Estate Sale Co and Revivals are just some of our favorites). And also make sure to save a bit of time to head to Joshua Tree National Park; it’s just under an hour away and well worth the effort.
A few hours south of San Jose, Big Sur is one of those destinations worth the hype. Big Sur is a 90 mile stretch of of stunning scenery, overlooks, and nature just waiting to be experienced. Even if you only have a day to spare, still venture out to the region to take in what Big Sur has to offer. You won’t be disappointed! And if you’re lucky enough to have a few days to spare, do some major exploring.
McWay Waterfall Trail is a must, combining a beautiful hiking trail with some of the most stunning views and vantage points in the region. You know that photo you saw of Big Sur in a magazine once? It was probably taken from here. Other highlights include Pfeiffer Beach, a beautiful spot for a selfie (it’s even dog friendly!), and the perfect location to watch the sunset. After hiking and reveling in the scenery, take a moment to relax at The Esalen Hot Springs—rest up in the warm waters while taking in views of the Pacific Ocean. The best.
Over the last few years, Scottsdale has earned a reputation as the new and luxurious destination: It’s the experience of a beach getaway (often referred to as the South Beach of the desert despite the fact that it isn’t on the coast) without leaving Arizona. Luxury hotels, high-end spas, and a fair share of wine bars have cropped up throughout the area within the past several years. What used to be a small, sleepy city has turned into a must-do destination with a vibrant nightlife and plenty of opportunities to pamper yourself. The W Hotel Scottsdale is home to a fun, lively vibe on the weekends while the Moroccan inspired Montelucia is perfect for some quiet rest and relaxation. During the day, Old Town Scottsdale is another favorite for history buffs looking to learn more about the city.
A note of caution: If you can’t handle high heat, avoid the city in July and August when temperatures easily soar about 100 degrees. On the other hand, if you are on a tight budget and don’t mind the warm weather, go during the summer to take advantage of discounted prices.
Napa and Sonoma
A weekend escape to California wine country is the best of the best. An easy drive from San Francisco (but worth the trek even if you live a bit farther), the wine region of northern California is peppered with award winning wineries and vineyards. Though wine is the main draw, the region is also home to Michelin star restaurants and world renowned spas, making it much more than just a place to sip wine.
With hundreds of vineyards in the area, it can be hard to decide which ones to visit. Luckily, there are dozens of tour operators throughout Napa and Sonoma that can make the choice easy with their local knowledge. This is especially helpful if you’re visiting the area for the first time, and are unsure of how to navigate the vineyards. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, do a bicycle tour! Though you’ll need to limit wine tastings and drink responsibly if you choose this option.
Arches National Park
Arches National Park is one of Utah’s most popular tourist destinations, and for good reason. The park is home to some of the most famous rock formations in the United States—including over 2,000 jaw-droppingly amazing sandstone arches. Because the 2000+ arches and expansive park can be overwhelming, we recommend the three hour hike through the region led by knowledgeable park rangers. While parts of the hike can be strenuous, the sights and landmarks you visit are well worth the extra sweat.
There aren’t very many lodging options in the area, but the Red Cliffs Lodge in the nearby town of Moab is one of your best bets. The lodge has a fun western vibe, stunning views of the park, and is just a few miles away from all of the action. If you decide to camp outdoors, the town of Moab is still a great place to visit for shops, art galleries, and farmers markets.
Tell us, any favorite spots on the West Coast we missed? We’ll be covering other U.S. regions in the near future so we’d love to hear about your favorite quick trips! Where should we go?