This page is part of our A to Z index of California weekend getaway destinations.
In a single day in Berkeley, you can buy a lava lamp, a snake's skeleton or a live snake; attend award-winning theater and symphony performances or a tribal music concert, and dine on anything from authentic Indian curries to the highest of cuisines.
Berkeley is Popular With: arts lovers, shoppers and foodies.
Berkeley is within 200 miles of Lake Tahoe/Reno, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose.
Beverly Hills and West Hollywood are Popular With: arts lovers, shoppers and anyone looking for great nightlife.
California's Big Sur coast is the place most people think of when they say "California coast highway," a landscape of mountains diving into the sea, with a ribbon of highway clinging to the cliffs. In Big Sur, the stars are brighter and there's plenty of undeveloped landscape and some fantastic beaches.
Big Sur is Popular For: Romantic getaways, outdoor recreation, driving tours and hiking. It has some extraordinary beaches, too.
Big Sur is within 200 miles of Bakersfield, Fresno, Sacramento, San Francisco or San Jose. The nearest airports to Big Sur are in Monterey and San Jose.
The northernmost town in Napa Valley is our favorite. Calistoga is the spa capitol of Napa Valley, a charming small town with less pretense than some of its southern neighbors. You'll find some interesting things in the area besides its visitor-friendly wineries, making it a good place to enjoy Wine Country scenery but with different things to do while you look at it.
Calistoga is Popular For: Family outings, romantic getaways, wine tasting
Calistoga is within 200 miles of Fresno, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose. The nearest airports are San Francisco and Oakland.
Cambria is a longtime favorite of visitors to California's central coast, and with good reason. It's far enough from the ocean to be sunny even when the beach is shrouded in summer fog, it has a lot of nice bed and breakfast inns and a cute little downtown to stroll and browse through. The lodgings along Moonstone Beach below town represent possibly the greatest concentration of nice places to stay in the state.
Cambria is Popular For: Shopping, relaxing, visiting the beach. It's also a good place to base a visit to Morro Bay or Hearst Castle.
Cambria is within 200 miles of Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Jose.
Carmel lies on the southern side of the Monterey Peninsula. It's the poshest of the area's three towns, filled with art galleries and high-end shops, shaded beneath Monterey pine and cypress trees. As you might expect, it's a good place for a laid-back weekend or a romantic getaway.
Carmel is Popular For: Romantic getaways, shopping and nearby Point Lobos and Monastery Beach are very popular with scuba divers.
Carmel is within 200 miles of Bakersfield, Fresno, Reno/Tahoe, Sacramento, San Francisco and San Jose. Monterey has a commercial airport or try San Jose (SJC).
Catalina Island is only 26 miles from bustling Los Angeles, but a world apart. Preserved in a conservancy, the island has only one town of any size, where residents often drive golf carts instead of automobiles. It's a place of extraordinary natural beauty, and one of the best places to de-stress in the state.
Catalina is Popular For: Romantic getaways, active weekends (especially for diving), family fun. It's a good place to get away from it all, rest and relax or enjoy a romantic interlude.
Catalina Island is usually reached by a 60 to 90 minute boat ride. It is within 150 Miles of Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino and San Diego. The nearest airports are in Los Angeles, Orange County or Long Beach.
Cayucos is on the central coast between Morro Bay and Hearst Castle. It's an unaffected little beach town with some nice places to stay, an excellent restaurant featuring local cuisine and a pretty beach and pier.
Cayucos is Popular For: Antique shopping, fishing from the pier, relaxing on the beach. The saloon downtown has a card room where you can play poker. Cayucos is also a good base to explore Morro Bay and Cambria, or visit Hearst Castle.
Cayucos is within 200 miles of Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles and San Jose.
In Death Valley, the earth sheds its mantle of green and gives way to fantastic geologic formations with fanciful names like Devil's Golf Course and Badwater. It's the lowest (and hottest) place in the United States, yet its historic National Park lodge, the Furnace Creek Inn offers pamper-me luxury and finer cuisine and service than you might expect in the middle of the desert.
Death Valley is Popular For: Outdoor recreation and driving tours. Many visitors also enjoy the nearby ghost towns and it's a photographers' favorite.
Death Valley is within 200 miles of Bakersfield, Fresno, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino and San Diego
There's enough to do at Disneyland and California Adventure to keep people busy for days, but you can have a fabulous visit in just a couple of days if you use a few of our secrets.
Disneyland is Popular For: Family outings and a hit with kids of all ages
Disneyland is within 200 Miles of Bakersfield, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Bernardino and San Diego. Orange County (SNA) is the nearest airport to the park and less hassle-fraught than LAX.
Eureka is a good center for exploring Humboldt County and the redwood forests of Northern California. Or maybe you'd rather go looking for Bigfoot. He/she/it has been been sighted more here than in almost any part of California.
Eureka is Popular For: Hiking and outdoor recreation. Eureka and nearby Ferndale are popular with people who enjoy Victorian architecture.
Eureka is a little over 200 miles from Sacramento and San Francisco.