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Top 5 California Weekend Getaways
Top 5 California Weekend Getaways

Top 5 California Weekend Getaways

The weather is warming up, summer is peeking it's head around the corner, and you're itching to get out of town. The looming, most important question is: "Where should you go?" We would like to offer some suggestions for places we have found to be perfect California weekend getaways for family fun, romance or a little of both.

Monterey Bay

Hosting one of the world's best aquariums, abundant scenic wonders, and mild coastal weather, Monterey County is our number one choice for a delightful weekend getaway with or without the kids. Top choices for activities with kids include: whale watching, Dennis the Menace Park (absolutely the best children's park we've ever found in California, and it's free), black-light mini golf at the American Tin Cannery , sea-otter spotting, free lighthouse tour at Point Pinos, and strolling along Cannery Row. Best activities without kids include: driving scenic 17-mile Drive, wine-tasting at one of Monterey's world-renowned wineries, discovering art galleries in Carmel-by-the-Sea, walk the Asilomar Beach coastal trail while looking for sea otters, sea lions, and tide pools, or dining at Old Fisherman's Grotto on Fisherman's Wharf. There is more to do here than we have room for. For everything Monterey County, as well as an up-to-date calendar of events go to www.vismonterey.com.

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Mammoth Lakes

The geological wonders of Mammoth Lakes are enough to keep you busy for days at our #2 pick for the best weekend getaway in California. A trip to the mountains will refresh your soul as you breathe in crisp clean air and marvel and the scenic wonders that surround you. If you are a nature enthusiast you will love the sightseeing and hiking adventures that await you in Mammoth. You must see Devil's Postpile, one of nature's most impressive displays of hardened basalt lava sliced and shaped by glaciers revealing a 60 foot high wall of wonder and beauty. Two miles upstream you can walk or take a shuttle to Rainbow Falls which is a beautiful 100 foot high waterfall that does not disappoint when looking for that rainbow in the mist. Another must-see is Bodie State Historical Park, which is a well-preserved late 1800's gold-mining ghost town. The town has preserved the artifacts and buildings from this miner's village which was known for one of the wildest of all gold rush towns. Hot Creek is another geologic wonder at Mammoth, where hot springs warm a cold mountain creek.

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Pismo Beach

A classic California beach town, Pismo Beach is where you'll want to go for relaxation, warm weather, and a kick-back state of mind. Located almost halfway between San Francisco and Los Angeles, Pismo Beach is easy to get to and even easier to get around in. There is virtually no traffic and in some places, like the Pismo Dunes, you can camp and drive right your car right on the beach. Be sure not to miss these sights and attractions: Butterfly Grove Sanctuary off of Hwy 1, The Great American Melodrama (for the best laugh you've had all year), whale-watching off the Pismo Pier, horseback riding right on the beach, Dinosaur Caves Park overlooking the cliffs, or dining at the famous McLintocks Steakhouse.

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San Diego

Consistently voted as one of America's Favorite big cities, San Diego offers everything you can dream of for your weekend excursion. Beach-lovers flock here in the summer months, but you can enjoy warm beach weather almost year-round in San Diego. If you're traveling with kids our top choices for San Diego fun include: Legoland, Sea World, San Diego Zoo, San Diego Wild Animal Park (in that order). Free or low-cost fun for kids include: a day at Balboa Park (museums, gardens, and performing arts), Belmont Park (free admission, but rides cost $), SeaPort Village (free concerts on Sunday), Mission Bay Park, tide-pool exploration at Point Loma, or a hike at Torrey Pines State Reserve in La Jolla.

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Morro Bay

A working fishing village, Morro Bay is a delightful small town that will offer you a variety of sightseeing adventures, shopping treasures, and explorations in nature. The famous Morro Rock sits at the mouth of the harbor and offers impressive photo opportunities in this cool, coastal town. Just a few miles south sits Montana de Oro "mountain of gold" aptly named for it's brilliant display of wildflowers in the early summer. This state park is a favorite for hiking, sightseeing or picnicking at the seashore and is notable for it's rugged coastal bluffs and large sandbar. Just a few miles north of Morro Bay you will find one of California's #1 tourist attractions Hearst Castle, which offers tours year round. Be sure to make time to view the largest colony of the northern elephant seals at Point Piedras as they sunbathe, play and even fight. It's an amazing display of nature and it's just minutes from the castle. Another Morro Bay favorite activity is renting a kayak in the bay and spotting playful sea otters and seals. Visitors love to shop along the Embarcadero, known for it's famous fish and chips. Be sure to sample some salt water taffy and homemade candy at Crills, experts in candy making for 40 years. You can also explore, touch and discover nature at the Morro Bay Natural History museum, enjoy bird watching at the marine estuary, and golf overlooking the ocean.

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