Five Day Trips in Southern California this Winter

Looking for fun and unique day trips in Southern California this winter? Here are five one-day getaways that are easy to get to and simple to enjoy. Put on your mittens, grab your sense of adventure, and enjoy these amazing day trips.

Are you looking for fun and unique day trips in Southern California this winter? Here are five one-day getaways that are easy to get to and simple to enjoy. Put on your mittens, grab your sense of adventure, and see how many of these amazing day trips you can enjoy during winter break.

Top 5 Day Trips in Southern California

  1. Bundle up for a quick 10-minute ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The Swiss-built tram climbs more than 6,000 feet, offering stunning views of the Coachella Valley. Embark in cool, retro-chic Palm Springs and step off minutes later to a winter wonderland in the San Jacinto Mountains. The elevation at the top of the tram is over 8,500 feet, so there’s usually plenty of snow on the ground all winter long. Enjoy playing in the snow, sledding, hiking, or simply having a drink and admiring the views at Peaks Restaurant.
  2. Lace up your ice skates to support Make-a-Wish San Diego at Skating by the Sea at the Victorian landmark Hotel Del Coronado. Southern California day trips don’t get more iconic than the Hotel Del, which has been around since 1888. Back for its 11th year, this popular ice rink sits on the hotel’s lawn right next to the Pacific Ocean. Enjoy a hot chocolate (or something a bit stronger) and take in the magic of twinkling lights and holiday music, all for a good cause.
  3. Settle in to watch a parade — a BOAT parade, that is. The Balboa Island Christmas Boat Parade is in its 107th year of delighting visitors with crafts ranging from small canoes to multi-million dollar yachts, all decorated for the holidays. The parade takes place every evening at 6:30 p.m. from December 16–20. The Balboa Island Ferry offers a quick 800-foot ride for $1 ($0.50 for children) from the mainland to the island, where you can enjoy less-crowded, off-season pathways for riding bikes rented from one of the many shops lining Main Street.
  4. Tour The Mission Inn, a National Historic Landmark that’s not actually a mission, but a charming hotel with a picturesque history. Every December, the hotel is decked out with thousands of lights, making winter the perfect time to visit. This Southern California day trip doubles as a mini history lesson when you take a docent-led tour to learn about the hotel’s fascinating journey from 1876 adobe guest house to turn of the century boardinghouse to luxury hotel. Later, have a steak at Duane’s Steakhouse or a margarita on the outdoor patio at Las Campanas, or savor a cupcake from Casey’s Cupcakes, owned by Cupcake Wars-winner Casey Reinhardt, daughter of Mission Inn owners Kelly and Duane Roberts.
  5. Catch animals at their most active during the cooler winter months at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park in Escondido. Get a bird’s eye view of the entire park on a balloon safari ride on a tethered hot air balloon, or watch a cheetah go from zero to 70 miles per hour in four seconds flat at Shiley’s Cheetah Run. The Safari Park sometimes is overshadowed by its sister park, the San Diego Zoo, but it’s an amazing destination in its own right, with plenty to do, see, and enjoy — and winter is the perfect time to do it.

Image Source: Flickr/Pink Sherbet Photography


They call me "The Temecula Answer Lady" because I am your insider source for everything local. My husband Scott and I have been raising our daughters in the beautiful Temecula Valley since 2003. My passion for contributing to our amazing quality of life here in the Temecula Valley leads me to volunteer for organizations like National Charity League, Inc., Temecula Valley Chapter (a founding member and 2015-2016 president), Hillcrest Academy, MOMS Club of Temecula-Central (a past president), Congregation B'nai Chaim of Murrieta, among others.

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