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Weekend Escapes for Southern Californians

Forty-eight hours of fun? You've got it. Here are weekend escapes that offer rest for the weary and restoration for the body and soul. Map

  • Savor summer's end with a kid-friendly getaway to Half Moon Bay

    Savor summer's end with a kid-friendly getaway to Half Moon Bay

    It was late summer, when beaches in Northern California shed their foggy coats and step into the sunshine. I was on a mission to savor every last moment before the rumored (and desperately needed) El Niño drenches our state. The masses flock to nearby Santa Cruz and Monterey, so my family and I...

  • Avila Beach's gentle charm makes for a relaxing Central Coast getaway

    Avila Beach's gentle charm makes for a relaxing Central Coast getaway

    Take the long, sandy shoreline of Huntington Beach. Mix in the gentle waves of Santa Monica. Add a dash of architecture from Key West, Fla. Then stir in a plethora of Central Coast wines. Presto! You have Avila Beach, a quaint but bustling beach town sandwiched between Pismo Beach and San Luis...

  • Chill out at Big Bear Lake

    Chill out at Big Bear Lake

    When the air-conditioning unit in my home goes on vacation every summer — it breaks down annually during the hottest days of the year — I hit the road in search of a place where I can chill with my two sweltering pups. This year's respite was less than 100 miles from Los Angeles: Big Bear Lake....

  • A train depot B&B, family-friendly beach, moonlight cliff walk in Capitola

    A train depot B&B, family-friendly beach, moonlight cliff walk in Capitola

    Santa Cruz might have name recognition, but Capitola, its tiny neighbor (population 10,000) just down the highway on Monterey Bay, was an ideal summer getaway for my wife and me and our young daughter. The village was a lumber port in the 1800s, but when the bloom was off that rose, it reinvented...

  • Boats, sea breezes, sun basking and food, food, food in San Diego

    Boats, sea breezes, sun basking and food, food, food in San Diego

    Shelter Island in San Diego is not an island — it's connected to the mainland by a strip of land — and that's a good thing. You can drive right onto the tiny "island" to enjoy its marinas, hotels, restaurants and bayside park. Sun, sea breezes and awesome views of the bay, downtown skyline and...

  • Chill but changing downtown Boise boasts a sophisticated food scene

    Chill but changing downtown Boise boasts a sophisticated food scene

    Oh, beloved Boise, or Boy-C, as the locals pronounce it. Spend a weekend in this rapidly changing Idaho city and you realize why its downtown has been rated as among the top 10 in the U.S. It also features cultural attractions such as the Basque Block and the Boise Philharmonic, and it's minutes...

  • Solvang's Danish charm gets millennial updates: craft beer, contemporary food

    Solvang's Danish charm gets millennial updates: craft beer, contemporary food

    Ah, dear, sweet Solvang. Founded by Danish Americans, this Santa Barbara County town of 5,385 bursts with windmills, turrets, cupolas, half-timbered inns, bakeries and souvenir shops that make you want to pinch their stucco-coated cheeks, even if sophisticates sneer at the kitsch. Solvang felt...

  • The summer side of Whistler, Canada: Golfing, mountain biking and more

    The summer side of Whistler, Canada: Golfing, mountain biking and more

    When you think of Whistler, British Columbia, you might recall the 2010 Winter Olympics and the area's prominence as a Canadian ski destination. But there's more to it than ski runs and après ski, as I learned on a recent trip. Whistler is about variety. It has Whistler Mountain Bike Park, a world-class,...

  • Unwind naturally at Yosemite National Park

    Unwind naturally at Yosemite National Park

    When you need a quick escape to recharge, there's no better place to find inspiration than among the towering granite spires of Yosemite National Park. On two recent trips to Yosemite, my family and I managed to do just that: first in May for a friend's wedding in Yosemite Valley, then a month...

  • Everything's bigger at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo

    Everything's bigger at the Big Texan Steak Ranch in Amarillo

    Those who know nothing about Amarillo, Texas, might assume it's nothing more than the sort of town where cross-country drivers get gasoline, stretch their legs and dream of being home. Although the Panhandle city is an ideal location to fill 'er up, there's one, shall we say "big," reason to visit...

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