Weekend Getaway Recommendations for Californians

Unless you’re a full-time traveler, business school student, or lottery winner, you probably get to go on one or two big trips each year, tops. (If you don’t fall into one of those categories and you go on lots of awesome international vacations every year, please message me – you need to teach me your secrets!) That means that the majority of the trips that you go on are on the smaller side, and we haven’t discussed those types of trips too much on the blog, aside from the few mini-moon posts.

Many of my blog followers and I live in California, so I wanted to write a post about some of the best in-state weekend getaway destinations, and where to stay. We Californians are pretty lucky with a plethora of local vacation options; no matter what city we’re in, beaches, mountains, deserts, or forests are just a short drive away. Naturally, I asked my team of local travel experts (a.k.a. my friends) where they’ve recently stayed when they needed a a quick little vacation from their lives in the “big city” (a.k.a. San Francisco and Los Angeles). Some of the hotels are bigger splurges than others, but all of them have received an honorary gold star as a great accommodation for a weekend getaway.

California getaways

We’ll start the list with “North California” (ugh), and make our way south. If there are any cities/hotels that you’d like me to add to the list, please send them my way!

Mendocinoperfect for total relaxation by the sea.
Stanford Inn by the Sea
Stevenswood Lodge

Tahoe: perfect for skiing, snowboarding, hiking, and boating.
Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort
Ritz-Carlton Lake Tahoe

Healdsburg: perfect place to drink wine with your four-legged friends (there are lots of dog-friendly wineries!).
H2 Hotel
L & M Motel

Calistoga: perfect for drinking wine and soaking in mineral pools.
Indian Springs

Yountville: perfect for winos and serious foodies.
Vintage Inn

Napa: perfect for wine wine wine, and, oh yeah, wine!
Westin Verasa Napa Hotel
Napa River Inn

Half Moon Bay: perfect for those seeking classic elegance on the beach, and pumpkin festivals in October.
Ritz-Carlton Half Moon Bay

Carmel/Montereyperfect for golfers, beach-lovers and aquarium enthusiasts.
Carmel Valley Ranch
Bernadus Lodge & Spa
Sprindrift Inn

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Our Travel-Crazy October

I’m sorry for being a bit behind on blogging recently, but this month has been totally crazy with travel.  Aaron and I went out of town the last four weekends in a row, and we have one more wedding to travel to before things slow down for us.


This is what October looked like

Not that I’m complaining though — the last four weekends have been great!  First we took Aaron’s parents to Big Sur and stayed at one of my favorite resorts of all time: Carmel Valley Ranch.  We could not have asked for a more beautiful weekend to show the Minnesotans around Monterey Bay.

Next we went to Portland so Aaron could run the marathon.  Here’s a tip: if you want us to visit you, get a puppy like our friends Sarah and Nick did just a few days before we arrived.  We loved everything about Portland, and having a brand new puppy join us on our adventures was definitely the cherry on top.

The following weekend we went to Scottsdale for our friends’ wedding.  US Airways canceled our flight about 12 hours before we were supposed to leave, so we had to take a later flight and unfortunately didn’t have a lot of free time before the wedding.  However, the wedding was great and we had such a good time celebrating with the new Mr. and Mrs. Kaplan!

And last weekend we spent my birthday in one of the greatest towns of all: Ann Arbor, Michigan.  While Michigan may not be on the top of everyone’s favorite vacation destinations lists, I absolutely love visiting my alma mater, especially when the leaves change color in October.  A little rain on game day didn’t dampen our spirits, and staying in this amazing rental house with 23 friends was so much fun.

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Real Mini-moon: Carmel

I’m excited to share the second mini-moon on Peonies to Palm Trees!  And this one is extra special because it features my best friend Alice and her husband Jason.  Since their super fun Carmel wedding was the weekend before Thanksgiving, they didn’t want to go on a long honeymoon right away, and why rush to leave such a nice resort anyway?  Check out their relaxing mini-moon below:

When and where did you honeymoon?

We’re doing a delayed honeymoon about a year after our wedding, but decided to do our mini-moon right at Carmel Valley Ranch**, where we got married [in November 2012].


Carmel Valley Ranch

How long was your trip?

Including the wedding weekend festivities, we were at CVR for a total of 6 days.

How did you decide on your honeymoon destination(s)?

We decided that we didn’t want to go back to reality right after our wedding, and since we just wanted to relax and drink lots of wine, we decided staying put at CVR would be the best bet since it included a spa, pool, hot tub (!), vino, and access to great restaurants in Carmel.

Infinity hot tub

Just chilling in the infinity hot tub

The best part about our honeymoon was…

Relaxing poolside all day! The weather was pretty rainy on our actual wedding day, but it was beautiful after, so we were able to take advantage of the entire CVR area and just lounge all day. And hanging all day with Roxy the bulldog.


Hanging out with Roxy, the CVR mascot

If I knew then what I know now, I’d change…

I would have made earlier reservations to check out the bee-keeping area of CVR, sounds like so much fun!

How much planning did you do in advance?

Minimal for the mini-moon. Jason made reservations at some awesome restaurants (absolutely loved Casanova) but otherwise we did some good lounging.


Out on the town for a nice dinner

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