Summer is a great time for road trips and vacations, but peak season entertainment often comes at peak prices. Instead of fighting for fares or driving cross-country, consider a local getaway that won’t break the bank. A great summer trip doesn’t have to cost you an arm and a leg, especially when your home base is Orange County. Drive in any direction for a couple of hours and you’ll find yourself a budget-friendly trip fit to please even the most seasoned traveler.
Idyllwild & Tahquitz Peak
54270 Pine Crest Ave.
Idyllwild, CA 92549
It’s called the gateway to the San Jacinto Wilderness. Idyllwild is situated about two hours east of Orange County and is an idyllic mountain community perfect for hiking, fishing and mountain biking. Extreme rock climbers gravitate to this beautiful wilderness area to scale the face of the famous Tahquitz Peak. This granite rock formation towers 8,750 feet above the forest. Spend a day here or spend a week. All you need to pay is $5 per day for a Forest Adventure Pass and the essentials such as water, food and gas. Once you’re tired of eating freeze-dried food out of a bag, stop by Idyllwild’s quaint downtown historic district for some burgers and sodas.
Palm Springs Aerial Tramway
One Tramway Road
Palm Springs, CA 92262
Imagine yourself ascending 2.5 miles up a steep cliff overlooking a vast desert valley. That’s what you can do if you visit the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The view from the top will cost you about $24 and takes 10 minutes to get there. You’ll travel up the Chino Canyon cliffs in the world’s largest rotating tramcars to a beautiful mountain lookout. Couple this unique attraction with a soak in the nearby hot springs and you’ve got the recipe for an unforgettable day trip.
849 W. Harbor Drive, Suite D
San Diego, CA 92101
While San Diego doesn’t usually top the list of budget-friendly getaways, a trip to Seaport Village can be cheap and enjoyable. You can eat, shop, people watch and bask in the perfect sunshine. Admission to Seaport Village is free, leaving you to spend as much or as little as you like on food and entertainment. This place is known for its art and seasonal live music events as well as the beautiful view of San Diego Harbor. Enjoy a romantic stroll and take in the 14 acres of seaside scenery.
Temecula Wine Country
34567 Rancho California Road
Temecula, CA 92593
Forget Napa! If you’re looking for a great day of wine tasting with friends, take a quick trip over to Temecula’s popular wine country. There are approximately 35 family-owned wineries that make up the heart of California’s South Coast wine region. Taste test award-winning wines at around $20 per flight. If you start feeling a little tipsy during your day trip, take a breather and snack on warm brie and fresh-baked bread on one of the winery picnic grounds. You can top off the day with a winery tour or by dining at a local restaurant.
Related: Best Wine Tasting In Orange County
Hollywood Walk of Fame
Los Angeles, CA 90028
If you live in Southern California and have never done it, consider a day trip star gazing along the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Head north into Los Angeles County and enjoy what attracts millions of tourists a year to Southern California. See if you can find your favorite celebrity’s star along the sidewalk. If you’re seeking a close encounter, check out the TCL Chinese Theater during a movie premiere for a bona fide star sighting.
Truc Dever is a freelance writer covering all things Orange County. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.