California Summer Escapes

California Summer Escapes

California Summer Escapes

Sweet Summertime in California 

Whether you’re looking for breathtaking hikes in a National Park, city vibes, or crystal clear water and perfect surf, California in summer offers an abundance of sun-filled experiences and adventures. While you can pretty much get away with an idyllic vacation anywhere in Southern California in summer, crowds are another important thing to consider. Around Los Angeles, SoCal really explodes with tourism in the summer. So if that’s something you’d prefer to avoid, definitely keep that in mind. Thankfully, there are plenty of great options below that can be taken advantage of during the summer months. Here are some suggestions for summer getaways in Cali.

1) Santa Barbara

Just north of Los Angeles and south of San Luis Obispo, it’s the gateway to California’s central coast. With the Santa Ynez mountains as a backdrop and colorful red tile roofs everywhere, Santa Barbara feels upscale and sophisticated—after all, plenty of celebrities have homes in Montecito here—yet easy-going and accessible.
Plus, the whole town is walk-able, making it a breeze to enjoy an evening out at any one of the many award-winning restaurants here. Santa Barbara’s foodie scene has always been on point.
Spend time at any of the beautiful beaches here or go wine tasting in The Funk Zone near lower state street. One of the best things about Santa Barbara is the beautiful bikes-only path that stretches from downtown all the way along the beach up to the university (UC Santa Barbara) north in Isla Vista.
Visiting Santa Barbara in summer is ideal. In fact, it’s famous for its June Solstice Festival a beautiful annual tradition with a world-class parade filled with colorful costumed revelers. With more time, head into the hills 30 minutes to access world-class wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley. Whichever activities you choose, your Santa Barbara visit is sure to surprise and delight.

2) Mendocino

Mendocino is one of the best places to visit in California in the summer. Located on the North Coast of California, Mendocino offers lots of fun things to do outdoors. Although Mendocino has a temperate climate all year long, the long daylight hours of summer make it possible to explore more.
Visit the Mendocino Coast Botanical Gardens, which are flush with blooms in the summer. The rose garden and summer heathers are particularly spectacular. Walk the coastal trail to enjoy the beautiful views of the Pacific Ocean.
Explore some of the state parks around Mendocino, which feature redwood forests, coastal bluff trails, and opportunities to spot wildlife. A little north, you can visit Glass Beach to look for the sparkling colored glass pieces on the beach.
In the town, stroll the pretty streets to admire the architecture, and visit a museum or two to learn more about the history of the area. Mendocino is home to charming inns, and great places to eat and drink: Trillium is both a cafe and an inn.
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3) Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Lakes is truly one of the most breathtaking destinations to visit in California in summer. The surrounding mountains serve as a picture-perfect backdrop to the bright blue lake, and you can take part in a multitude of outdoor activities ranging from mountain biking to hiking to kayaking.
Though Mammoth is super popular during the winter for skiing and snowboarding, the warmer weather and clear skies definitely bring crowds in the summer. In fact, typical summer in Mammoth Lakes sees about 1.5 million visitors, making it the busiest season of the year (and for good reason).
Thirty minutes north of Mammoth Lakes is Mono Lake, an unusual lake known for being two times saltier than the ocean with large tufa formations sprouting out of its waters. Estimated to be over a million years old, this beautiful body of water is thought to be one of the oldest lakes in North America.
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4) Channel Islands

The Channel Islands are one of the coolest and most underrated natural places in California. Though most people have heard of Catalina, the other Channel Islands are almost completely untouched, allowing you to connect with nature and see a totally new side to the West Coast.
To access the islands, simply take a boat from Ventura (which is only about an hour away from Los Angeles). While you do have the option to camp on Santa Cruz island, day trips are also an option, and you can do everything from kayaking to snorkeling to hiking. The water here seriously looks like something from another planet, and it’s crazy to think that these islands are actually a part of California.
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5) Laguna Beach

The artist colony of Laguna Beach is one of Orange County’s hidden gems, located halfway between Los Angeles and San Diego. The city’s topography is unique to other California coastal cities with its seven miles of coves and beaches where visitors can explore sea caves, tide pools, ocean side bluffs, natural tide pools, and of course, sandy beaches, all within city limits. Laguna Beach also boasts the most beachfront lodging options in all of California, making it an ideal spot for a beach getaway.
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6) Trinidad

If you’re looking for a true coastal getaway this summer that’s off the beaten path, then it doesn’t get better than Trinidad. This charming coastal town is located in Humboldt County, and with a population of around 400 (2010), it is one of the smallest inhabited cities in all of California.
Though more and more travelers have discovered the beauty of Trinidad, it still sees much smaller crowds in the summer when compared to places like Carmel-by-the-Sea and Point Reyes since it’s much further north and a bit of a trek to get to.
You’ll find that the beaches here provide a totally different setting from those in SoCal, with more hidden coves and rocky features. My favorite spots in particular are Moonstone Beach and College Cove. What’s even cooler is that Trinidad provides easy to access to the beaches one day and majestic redwood forests the next, as Redwood National and State Parks are just a 25 minute drive away.
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7) Sequoia National Forest 

A Land of Giants! Huge mountains, rugged foothills, deep canyons, vast caverns, and the world’s largest trees exemplify the diversity of landscapes, life, and beauty here.
If you’re into camping, hiking, and just general “outdoorsy-ness,” this is the place for you! During the summer, the weather stays pretty warm, making June through August the best time to visit. That being said, this is also the most popular time in the park, so being able to plan your trip during the weekdays can help cut back on the crowds.
Keep in mind that temperatures will depend a bit on the elevation. In lower elevation areas of the park, temps can reach the mid-90s during the day, though in higher elevations it’s a bit more comfortable with highs sitting around 70 degrees Fahrenheit. The evenings are cool and remain around the low 60s.
If you’re into photography, love the outdoors, or just want to check a new National Park off your bucket list, then visiting this California gem in summer is a must.
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8) June Lake

June Lake, located in the Eastern Sierras, is one of the most beautiful spots to visit in California. In the summer, June Lake has so much to offer: hiking, swimming, kayaking, camping and more! To get there, you could either fly into Mammoth Airport, Reno Airport, or drive about 6 hours from Los Angeles. Driving is the most popular option, as it’s a super scenic and easy drive!
If you’re planning on camping, Oh Ridge campground is one of the best. The views are epic and the campground is conveniently located right near the beach side of the lake – which is the perfect place to hang out during the summer. Make sure you reserve ahead of time, as the campsites fill up quickly, especially for weekends! If you’re not the camping type, there are quite a few cute Airbnbs or hotels/lodges located in the town of June Lake.
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9) Carmel-by-the-Sea

Carmel is a small, coastal city located just 1.5 hours south of San Francisco. It’s home to many bohemian artists, writers and poets and known for its whimsical feel and fairy-tale-like cottages.
You can sunbathe and listen to the waves on Carmel Beach or window shop and stroll art galleries on Carmel’s famous Ocean Avenue. And when you are ready for a snack, pick up a delicious treat from Carmel Bakery which is over 100 years old.
Take a short drive to Point Lobos State Park for some easy hikes to see Carmel’s breathtaking, rocky coastline. While you’re there, be sure to see China Cove’s crystal-clear, turquoise waters!
Summer travel to Carmel is perfect for travelers who love a good summer festival. Swing by the annual Carmel Art Festival, Carmel Surfabout or the world-class Carmel Bach Festival (just to name a few!).
Hope this gives you some fresh ideas. I love California! Let me know what your plans are for the summer!
All the best!

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