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happy friday + long weekend getaways…

Oh Joy Family / Palm Springs

Oh Joy Family / Palm Springs

Around this time of year, everyone starts planning their summer vacations, and I keep getting asked, "Where are you guys going on vacation this summer?" And my answer is…no where! It's not that I don't want to take a vacation, but you guys, I am really bad at taking vacations. I wish I could shut my brain off, relax, and just enjoy a two-week long vacation away somewhere. But being away from the routine of my life is really hard for me. I've been to Paris, Mexico, and London in the last few years, but this year I am all about the mini vacation and just taking some long weekends away.

After our weekend getaway to Palm Springs recently, I realized that just a few days away somewhere not too far away gives me just the right amount of time to re-charge, and I can keep my computer at home and just enjoy being somewhere new with my family.

So, I need some suggestions! What are some fun places that we can go this year for a long weekend away that's either within a couple hours driving distance or a couple hours flying distance from LA? Any places you guy have been to and recommend? I'd love any and all of your suggestions!

Have a great (long) holiday weekend guys! If only every weekend, was a three day weekend!


  1. If you’ve never experienced Southern Utah, I think your family would love visiting Zion National Park and Moab. It’s a quick flight to Vegas then you could drive the rest of the way OR you could even fly into the tiny St. George airport. The landscape is stunning and I always feel inspired and recharged after a visit.
    Happy summer travels!

  2. Omg! I can’t easily get a vacation because of the nature of my job (i book vacations for other people aka hello, high season!) and I feel so left out! I try and benefit from the weekends, but in the end it gets tiring getting away in the weekends and having to do all your personal jobs on workdays afternoons! I get a few days off toward the end of August if I’, lucky, and at best I find a friend who wates to go on a small getaway again to come with me! :p
    I say try to teach yourself how to do that, and take some days off, kids will create diffeerent memories from these days as well…

  3. Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, Omni La Costa Resort & Spa (Carlsbad), Lake Arrowhead (rent a cabin)

  4. Hi Joy, have you guys already gone to the santa barbara zoo? We lived a n hour n half away n had a year membership. It was always a fun getaway. Enjoy, time really does go by so quickly. Happy travels!

  5. I have 2 little girls as well and we love taking them to Cayucos, a small town on the CA central coast. It’s a little longer drive than you asked for (about 3 1/2 hours from LA), but it’s the perfect family getaway destination. We also love Big Bear in the summer. Lots to do with kids: hiking, renting a boat on the lake, and just walking around town.

  6. I have to jump on the Denver bandwagon. I lived there for six years, but moved away 2 years ago. I miss it everyday and dream of moving back. People are usually surprised by Colorado and think of either ranchers or bros. So not the case. It’s got a wonderful food scene, art, music, a ton of public open spaces, tons of events for families. Denver has grown into a much more cosmopolitan city and it’s a quick drive to CO Springs, Boulder, or a up to the mountains. We try to make a trip back every year, sometimes twice. I can’t get enough!

  7. Lake Arrowhead is not far from LA and it’s so quaint, like a little mountain village. On July 4th they do fireworks over the lake and everyone goes out on their boats and watches the fireworks overhead.

  8. Port Townsend, WA if you don’t mind flying to Seattle, then renting a car to take the ferries. Beautiful town full of independent shops and a Victorian main street next to the water. Also, if Canada is a possibility, then Vancouver, BC is wonderful. Wherever you go, I hope you have fun!

  9. big bear is my go-to weekend getaway. the lake is lovely in the summer and you’ll find way more deals when there’s no snow on the ground! yosemite is a little far, but it’s a killer trip if you can manage it. (stay in upper/lower pines so you’re near yosemite village or get a quaint little cabin if glamping is more your style.) temecula and paso robles are more appropriate for the adults, but a totally manageable day or weekend trip. and if you’re looking for some serious relaxation, check out glen ivy spa. it’s about an hour and a half outside of LA and one of the best day trips i’ve ever taken.

  10. So, I don’t have a suggestion but I’d really like to know where the dress you’re wearing is from. It’s SO pretty!

  11. Hello Joy If you have not been to Cambria, it is a must. Beautiful place. Great shops, small town, great food, great hikes, so much to see. Just a few miles north of Cambria there is an Elephant Seal preserve where you can watch them from above the beach. Wonderful. I think you will love it. It is about 4 hours from Los Angeles. MaryJane

  12. You know where I’m gonna say!! Come visit me!! For realz!
    But I hear you on the vacation and being off track from the routine. I love the mini getaways too since I’m not the greatest at planning bigger things far in advance. But yes, the bay area is calling your name, especially berkeley. ha!

  13. I second weekend getaways. With two little kids, a few days away is perfect. The thought of packing for a week, coming home to do laundry, and all the other life things, keep us from going away for too long.

  14. You can always go back to Palm Springs! It’s my favorite year-round destination! Or, you can take a quick flight up to San Francisco, get a hotel downtown, wander the streets by day and eat delicious food at night 🙂 Good luck and let us know where you decide to go!
    The MAMA Gazette

  15. Cambria is really cute – about a 4 hr drive from LA. Pine trees, coastline and rolling hills/farmland all within 10 min of each other.

  16. Also – plan a mid-way stop in Santa Barbara and go to the zoo. You can feed the giraffes there – just check the times before you go (giraffe feeding is only a few hours a day).

  17. We’re so lucky that California has so many great destinations!
    I love Los Olivos/Santa Ynez (Solvang could be fun for the littles). Montecito…Ojai…Joshua Tree…and lots and lots of trips back to PS!

  18. someplace with mermaids!!!! in florida we have weeki wachee springs. 3 mermaid shows a day in an underground amphitheatre, an old timey waterpark on a spring fed lake with a lazy river. there is a nature animal show and a little boat ride. but the mermaids. they are magical. there must be mermaids in cali. if you go to philly (my old hometown too) check out the spruce st harbor park thingy they have going in summer.

  19. Love this post for all the ideas it’s giving me for vacations when living in LA! I also recommend Cayucos, Paso Robles, and Morro Bay. btw, where is your cute watermelon bag from?

  20. Cayucos! It’s close to slo, which has so many fun kids things. The beaches are wide and open and theres a few awesome food spots. You really feel like you get away when you go for a weekend.

  21. Santa Barbara! Tons of fun things to do with the kids.
    Natural History Museum has a creek made for toddlers complete with buckets, spoons, and all kinds of exploratory things for them to get into.
    The zoo as mentioned in another comment is also a beautiful, non-crowded place to spend an afternoon. Even if you go just to enjoy a picnic on the pretty grounds it’s worth the trip.
    Shoreline Cafe is a great place to have a meal. The tables are right on the sand so the little ones can play with the sand toys while you have a drink and a hot second to actually enjoy your food.
    And you can’t beat Padaro Grill in Carpinteria. They have a HUGE sandbox, sand toys, reggae on in the background, and it’s on a cliff above the ocean. The train goes by all the time too which they love.

  22. Hearst Castle, San Luis Obispo and Madonna Inn, Pismo and Avila Beach. My home town and where I get to vacation now to see the family 🙂 Perfect for families and plenty of activity choices.

  23. I’m expecting our third baby any day so we are sticking close to home (Orange County) this summer by going to Catalina Island. I also love San Diego and Monterey/Santa Cruz for a close getaway.

  24. I always love looking through Sunset Magazine because they always feature places in the West (especially CA) that I’ve never been but then suddenly want to! Or, they have stuff to do in places that you wouldn’t expect…like a Hindu temple in Malibu!

  25. I love Southern Utah/St. George too! It’s one of my favorite places to visit for a few days. The red rocks are amazing

  26. We are headed to Sun River/ Bend Oregon in a couple weeks. We are coming from Australia though, so it’s a bit further away for us. I’ve heard Sun River is really kid friendly and there are lots of VRBO options. It’s a quick flight from LA to Redmond, OR and then I think less than a twenty minute taxi. You don’t need a car in Sun River as it’s all linked up by walking/biking trails. We are going with our three year old and 1 year old in a couple weeks so I’m hoping it’s great!

  27. Try Alisal Ranch in Solvang. We went with our 3 year a few months ago and she loved playing with the animals in the barnyard.

  28. It’s cracking me up that so many people are suggesting Cayucos/Cambria. It’s the place I call home. Super quaint and beautiful! really anywhere in SLO County is the best. Though I am kind of impartial. 🙂

  29. A “couple hours” away can mean a 3-4 hour flight to Houston, right??? 🙂 Lots of great restaurants for a foodie like you and great sights to see! Everything is bigger in Texas!

  30. we just went to Seattle for a weekend getaway and loved it. the flight is about 2.5 hours from LA and there’s so much to see there. very cool city.


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