Vacations are expensive. Staycations can be boring. Why not try a 'Nearcation' for the upcoming 4th of July holiday week?
When you live and work every day in Southern California, it can be easy to forget that we live amid some of the biggest tourist destinations in the world.
Everyone needs to get away every once in awhile, but if you're like most, people you don't want to break the bank doing so. That's why we here at iHeartSoCal have gathered some of the best nearby destinations you and your family can enjoy without spending a ton of dough or time getting there.
All of these destinations are a short two or three hour drive away, long enough to feel like you're getting away, not so long that you are traveling forever. They can also be as expensive, or cheap, depending on how much you want to spend.
Big Bear Lake
This year-round resort sits 7,000 feet above Los Angeles and is only a short two-hour drive away. Filled with great camping, and spectacular hikes, Big Bear is the perfect family destination for people looking to get away from it all, without getting away from it all.
As a bonus, the Big Bear Chamber of Commerce always throws a huge party during Fourth of July, including a spectacular fireworks display that you can watch from the lake, or the shoreline. Get there early to claim your spot, but it doesn't matter where you sit, there's not a bad angle to be had.
Did you know one of the world's best snorkeling spots is located only a few miles off the Southern California coastline? Catalina Island, a beloved refuge for Angelinos looking to get away from the daily grind, offers a ton of things for your little getaway that will keep you entertained all day.
Besides all the stunning views, amazing food, and exciting adventures, Catalina offers visitors a chance to feel like you're in another world when it's only a few hours away.
If you're looking for more than a day-trip out to Catalina, there's plenty of options when it comes to accommodations. You can go with a low-cost camping trip, or break the bank by staying in one of the luxury hotels there. There's something for everyone!
America's Finest City earns its nickname since it offers so much for a 'nearcation' that it's hard to choose just one.
For one, Coronado Beach was recently named one of the world's best beaches by coastal expert and professor at Florida International University, Stephen P. Leatherman (or Dr. Beach as he prefers to be known). There's also La Jolla, one of San Diego's crown jewels.
Or, perhaps you're in the mood to take a tour through one of San Diego's many amusement parks. Sea World, San Diego Zoo, and the San Diego Wild Animal Park, are great ways to spend a day having fun with the family. A little further north (closer to Los Angeles) is Legoland, a destination your nine-year-old has probably been bothering you about for years now.
If you prefer to pass on the parks, you can always catch a show and a great meal in San Diego's Gaslamp District. Or, take a trip back in time by visiting San Diego's Old Town neighborhood, which boasts nine hotels, 32 restaurants and more than 100 specialty shops.
Temecula Wine Country
It used to be that Temecula was where people stopped for gas on their way down to San Diego. No longer! This Southern California bedroom community has thrived in recent years with the addition of wineries, casinos, and all sorts of other options that make this a premiere 'Nearcation' spot.
It's not quite Napa, but the wine is just as tasty and there are nearly as many vineyards (36 at last count!). Plenty of spots offer tasting tours that are sure to satisfy even the the snobbiest oenophile.
There's more than just wine here, with an abundance of top-tier restaurants that will fill your belly with that nice, "I'm on vacation and I can eat whatever I want" feel. There's also a rotating cast of events that include hot-air balloon rides, and guided tours of the various wineries in town.
Palm Springs has a long tradition of being a refuge for Angelenos looking to get away for the weekend and things haven't changed.
Dozens of boutique hotels offer Nearcationers their choice of stays. Whether you're looking for a place with plenty of pools, or a nightlife worthy of the Rat Pack, there's options for even the most luxurious of tastes.
And of course, no trip to Palm Springs would be complete without a visit to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. Catch a ride up to the Mountain Station where you can soak in the views from 8,500 feet. If you're in the mood to hike and explore, you have over 50 miles of trails that are easily accessible from the visitor center.
Do you have a favorite "Nearcation" spot? Let us know in the comments! We'll be updating this all month, so let us know where you like to get away from it all without breaking the bank.
Photos: Getty Images & Unsplash