For locals and travelers alike, there is so much of The Golden State to explore. California is so big and has so much to see, it's impossible to try to fit everything on your bucket list into one trip — or one lifetime, for that matter. But whether or not you actually live in the state, there are more than a few beautiful, charming, and picturesque places to plan the perfect birthday weekend getaways in California for you and your friends, family, or SO.
Both NorCal and SoCal have so much to offer — from the food, to the scenery, to the culture — so no matter which place you choose, you can't go wrong. Go wine tasting in Napa Valley, museum hopping in Berkeley, surfing in Santa Barbara, shopping in Palm Springs, or camping in Joshua Tree. California has options for people with all types of interests, so you can't go wrong booking those plane tickets.
If you're planning a weekend getaway for someone you love — or yourself, for that matter — you should definitely consider booking yourself a trip to one of these amazing California destinations. You're bound to have a vacation that California dreams are made of.
Do you remember reading fairy tales when you were younger and thinking to yourself, "I wish places like that existed in real life?" Well, you're in luck, because Carmel-by-the-Sea will make those dreams come true. The charming beach city looks like it popped straight out of a storybook, complete with cobblestone streets, vines running up the walls of the small cottages, and whimsy architecture.
Aside from the charm of the town itself, as the name suggests, you'll also have a chance to enjoy some time at Carmel Beach, which is dog-friendly and a great spot for surfers. All of this makes Carmel the perfect spot for you to have a quiet, but exciting, birthday weekend. If you're looking to really treat yourself, stay at the L'Auberge Carmel, which is a chateau-inspired hotel with an incredible wine list.
2. Palm Springs
Though many people think to go to Palm Springs during festival season, it's a great place to retreat to year-round. Everything there makes for a fantastic photo opp, from the retro feel of the city to the vast deserts that surround you.
You can spend your entire weekend lounging poolside, reading a book or catching up on your favorite podcasts. If you're looking for a quintessential Palm Springs experience, book a stay at L'Horizon Resort and Spa, which features mid-century modern decor, a pool that looks like it came straight out of a movie, and some seriously chic desert vibes.
3. Joshua Tree
If a birthday getaway with Mother Nature sounds up your alley, head to Joshua Tree for a weekend. You can totally unplug because most of the national park has no cell service, which makes for the perfect weekend off the grid. Keep in mind that staying overnight inside the park means camping, so be prepared.
Camping might not necessarily be your thing, so consider booking a unique stay at an Airbnb instead. This incredible tiny home in the middle of the desert has an open-air bedroom. And they really do mean "open air": The bedroom has no ceiling. The room offers an unobstructed view of the desert, and at nighttime, you can do some serious stargazing while nestled under the blankets.
4. Santa Barbara
Often nicknamed "The American Riviera," Santa Barbara has all the charm of a stunning European destination, but with a beachy SoCal twist. It has epic waves for the surfing-inclined, and foodies will fall in love with the scoops at McConnell's Fine Ice Creams and the burgers at Jalama Beach Grill. Take in the sunny skies, towering palm trees, and quaint buildings as you go shopping on State Street.
When it comes to places to stay, you can't go wrong with the Simpson House Inn. It's a boutique hotel with the feel of a B&B, so you can enjoy your weekend away feeling comfy and cozy.
Want to head to the Bay Area, but don't want to stay in San Francisco? Berkeley is a great alternative. You can check out the University of California Botanical Garden at Berkeley, go rock climbing at Indian Rock Park, or walk through one of the city's many museums. And if you're looking for a little more adventure, San Francisco is just a short car ride away.
If you want to splurge on your hotel stay, it really doesn't get better than the Claremont Club & Spa, A Fairmont Hotel. It's a gorgeous hotel in between Berkeley and Oakland, so you can enjoy all of the Bay Area activities and have a quiet place to chill outside the city.
What would a birthday weekend getaway be without some wine? There's no better place to have a birthday wine tasting than Napa. Not only can you visit a variety of vineyards and wineries, but you can also enjoy the fun activities offered in town.
From shopping for snacks at Oxbow Public Market to catching a show at the Uptown Theatre, you'll definitely have many options to include in your itinerary. For a spot to stay, check out Las Alcobas. It's a gorgeous hotel that overlooks vineyards, and it has a lovely pool so you can completely lounge. What could be better?