If your head’s still at the beach reliving the days spent in the LA sunshine, you are not alone. Transitioning from the dog days of summer to the daily grind of school and schedules is no easy feat. But the summer lovin’ doesn’t have to end; check out these 5 easy weekend getaways that keep the sunny fun going well into fall (and maybe even winter!).
photo: Tim Sackton via Flickr
This is one mini vacation where the trip can be just as much fun as the destination. Instead of piling into the family car (queue backseat mayhem), ditch your wheels and take the Pacific Surfliner train from Union Station to beautiful Solana Beach. Be sure to sit on the west side of the train so you are treated to gorgeous views of the Pacific all the way there. Kids will love handing their tickets to the conductor and choosing snacks from the concession cart; you’ll love not fighting traffic and getting to relax with a magazine.
Once there, summer doesn’t seems very long ago. Walk along the quaint streets of downtown Solana Beach for shopping and ice cream and if you’re there on a Sunday, don’t forget to stop by the farmers market. But the biggest draw of Solana is the crystal clear beaches that never seem to fill up. So plan a lazy day where you can dip your toes into the ocean one last time at Fletcher Cove Park and stay for the sunset at one of the best views on our coast. If you want to extend your trip a bit farther south, Solana Beach is just 30 minutes from Downtown San Diego where you can find all sorts of family friendly fun like restaurants, arcades, museums, boardwalks and bowling.
photo: Robert S. via yelp
If rushing into autumn straight from summer gives you the chills (and not the good Halloween kind), try gradually getting there with a trip to Julian. This mountain town in San Diego County is home to some of the tastiest bakeries and hometown restaurants thanks to Julian’s sprawling apple fields. So get ready to do some picking and take home a basket or two. Pack a few of those fresh apples as a snack and work up a sweat on a hike and picnic with the Cuyacama Mountains as your backdrop. There are great paths just for beginners and few ones that would be great for older kids and an adult. Go ahead and choose your own adventure, just don’t forget the sunblock and water bottles. Sure, the apple picking says fall, but the weather says, “what’s winter?” It’s a great bridge.
Plus, you can pack in a little history. Julian was founded in 1870 during the California gold rush, so if you have an aspiring geologist on your hands, there are tons of opportunities to learn about fine stones and gems and even pan for your own gold at various locations through out the city.
Learn about planning a trip to Julian with our inside scoop.
photo: Steve Depolo via Flickr
When you hit a cool-ish fall day in LA and want some sunshine, head to the desert—specifically the city of a million swimming pools. If visions of black jack and slots dance in your head when you hear the word Vegas, you’re not alone. But a lot has changed, and there are plenty of family friend adventures to be had. You can visit the larger than life aquarium at the Mandalay Bay for a day filled with tide pools and sting rays. You could also ride a gondola down a canal at the Venetian. Top the day off with a trip to Hershey’s Chocolate world at the New York New York hotel where you can choose from 800 different kinds of chocolates and candies, all while oogling at the shops centerpiece—an 800 pound candy replica of the Statue of Liberty! There are loads of shows, many free, that entrance kids, or you can stay off the strip at a sun-filled resort. Viva Las Vegas, indeed.
photo: Big Bear Mountain Resorts
No snow yet at this ski-lovers mountain town, but to be honest, we kind of prefer it that way. Just clean, fresh air and lots of fun family friendly activities to keep everyone busy. While it might be too chilly to take a swim in Big Bear Lake (although it’s never stopped the kids), you can still plop down a picnic blanket and chill for an entire afternoon filled with games on the sand. For more heart pumping fun, hit the snow-less resorts for mountain biking, euro bungee, slides and more. You’ll never miss the skiing and snowboarding.
Be sure to check out the Big Bear Alpine Zoo, nestled in the heart of Big Bear Mountain. While it’s definitely not the LA Zoo, it has it’s fair share of mountain wildlife on view including bald eagles, wolves, bears, and bobcats. Live music and Native American dance shows are also part of the fun, and with Halloween approaching, there are special evening flashlight tours.
And if you still have energy, take a trip to the Big Bear Discovery Center and take any one of their free self-guided nature hikes. Spot grey squirrels, fox, quail, and deer. Now, you don’t see those in the city everyday!
Get the scoop on having fun in the summer and fall at Big Bear here.
photo: Catalina Island Camps
From Long Beach take the Catalina Express to not-so-far-off Catalina Island. A day is enough to catch a handful of sites, but we suggest spending the night for maximum fun. When summer ends, so does high season, making boat rides and hotels easier to come by, not to mention less expensive and less crowded. And it’s an island, so water fun rules in all but the chilliest months.
For a low key day take a hike in the Wrigley Botanical Gardens or for the more adventurous, schedule a Catalina Zipline Adventure. And if you’d rather sit back, relax, and let someone else do the work (super great for kiddos with suddenly tired feet) take the Catalina Island Skyline Drive tour which will take you into ten miles of protected wilderness area.
What’s a weekend, driveable getaway you take that makes you feel like it’s still summer? Let us know in the comment section
—Christina Montoya Fiedler