Look, it’s been a few months now that we’ve been quarantining at home. And whether you’re all alone with your pets or housed up with your entire extended fam, chances are that you’re starting to get a bit of cabin fever.
While hopping on a plane and heading to the international locale of your choice is pretty much out of the question, there are still plenty of places nearby that you can turn into a 5-star experience. So without further ado I present to you, 3 California destinations for your next big escape.
The Mountain Trip: Yosemite
Since so much of California is still on lockdown, opting for a locale with lots of outdoor activity opportunities is key. And it doesn’t get more majestic than Yosemite. Nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains, this stunning stretch of land is famed for its giant sequoia trees and the granite cliffs of Half Dome. For a rustic yet luxe experience try The Ahwahnee. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is a National Historic Landmark, it’s considered a crowned jewel of the national park lodges. Or if you’re feeling a bit more adventurous, there are plenty of glamping options around town.
For the fitness enthusiasts attempt the challenging hike up Half Dome or try literally any of the dozens of equally gorgeous hikes nearby. If you’re looking for a culture fix, soak up the stunning photography at Ansel Adams Gallery (it’s now open from 10AM until 3PM). Or check out the restaurant and shop scene in Yosemite Village for local eats and artisan goods (opening hours may vary). Rent a car for a 5-hour straight drive, or take the scenic coastal route for a 10-hour picturesque road trip.
Or take the Amtrak from LA’s Union Station and transfer to a direct bus in Merced if you prefer someone else to do the driving. To ensure the safety of passengers, several cleaning, contact-free and convenience measures have been implemented into every part of the Amtrak journey. Just be sure to bring a mask (they’re required!) and plenty of sanitizer.
The Desert Escape: Joshua Tree
A favorite escape of LA’s style set, Joshua Tree never fails to disappoint. Characterized by rugged rock formations, ridiculously beautiful desert landscapes, and epic views of Coachella Valley, it’s easily one of my favorite places to visit in Southern California. Named for the region’s twisted, bristled Joshua trees, the park lies amidst the Mojave Desert, which is a sight to behold in itself. Plus the plethora of cool coffee shops, vintage boutiques, and local restaurants make it a covetable escape for a quick jaunt outside the city. For digs, the O Spa is a cute boutique hotel that boasts geothermal pools and BBQs for major lounge sessions.
But the area is chock-full of Airbnbs that are a design-lover’s dream, so definitely check out those options if you’re in the area. For grub, head to Pioneertown’s Pappy & Harriet’s — a rustic eatery with a huge open backyard seating area — for fresh-grilled fare and made-to-order cocktails (it’s currently open at limited capacity and masks must be worn at all times). For a daytime adventure drive out to Joshua Tree National Park to gawk at the stunning scenery, take a hike up the rocks, or have a chic picnic with your crew, socially-distanced of course.
Unfortunately you’ll need a car to get to Joshua Tree, but you’ll want one anyway to check out everything the area has to offer. Plus it’s a quick 2 hour and 14 minute drive from LA packed with rad views of the desert so you definitely won’t get bored.
The Beach Getaway: San Diego
If you’re looking for something less rustic, and a little more beachy, San Diego cannot be beat. The beaches have some of the clearest water in all of California, and the sand in La Jolla is so soft and white, you’d swear you were in the tropics. The Southernmost county in the state has no shortage of things to do, it all just kind of depends on what you’re into. For a more luxe escape, head to La Jolla for the best shopping, fine dining, and the most immaculate beaches in the city. La Valencia Hotel is a top pick, for its Spanish-style architecture, posh rooms, and proximity to the ocean. Or try the La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club, equipped with tennis courts and a private beach. If a little more action is what you’re after, head to the Gaslamp Quarter and take your pick from the plethora of luxe hotel offerings.
A few favorites are beachfront InterContinental or for something more boutique, the Sofia Hotel is amazing. Cruise the streets and nosh at one of the many delicious restaurants (most are now offering makeshift patio seating to stay safe) or drive 10 minutes to hit the harbor for fine seafood dining with a view. For activities, there are plenty of beachside activities to enjoy while practicing safe social distancing, from kayaking to sunbathing to snorkeling. Best of all, Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner train takes you straight from LA’s Union Station to San Diego in under 4 hours, plus you’ll get to enjoy magical views of the coastline while you wait. So pack your mask (it’s required on-board, as well as pretty much everywhere in California), some sanitizer, and your swimsuit and get exploring.
The pandemic has crushed many dreams of traveling abroad this year, but consider this prime time to explore what your state has to offer. From impeccable coastlines to majestic mountains to serene deserts, California has so much to explore. The state is still highly enforcing safety measures so plan ahead before hitting the road. Call for details and restrictions, make sure to maintain a safe distance from others, and please don’t forget your mask.