Easy Destinations for Solo Travel from San Diego | Travel


The last time I liked someone was two years ago. We had lingering picnics at Balboa Park. We played our favorite songs on my record player while lying side by side on my apartment floor. We were annoyingly adorable—but we hadn’t kissed. Then, he took me to Julian. After filling the sexual tension with road-trip chatter, we explored the town. We cooed at its charm, snapped polaroids in the graveyard, and somehow didn’t eat any pie. Eventually, like most romances, it ended, but the trip stuck with me.

Before our demise, we talked about visiting more of those cozy, romantic places I had wanted to go to: Idyllwild, Valle de Guadalupe, Catalina, and all of the California spots where coupledom seems to be the visa required for entry—if Instagram is to be believed—or are at least more enjoyable with someone by your side.

After the breakup, I felt like those destinations were off-limits. And if I did go, I thought it might be a study in boredom. But after spending a good chunk of time researching the single life, I am happy to report that there’s plenty of other places and ways to fill one’s time.

As we look towards Valentine’s Day—a holiday typically reserved for couples—I think it’s high time to buck the romance myths of these San Diego–adjacent getaways and enjoy them solo. No partner required.

Bloodlust Valle

Valle de Guadalupe

Valle de Guadalupe is a home away from home for the oenophiles of San Diego. It’s closer than Napa and has a culinary scene that can put its dukes up against any Thomas Keller concept.

Don’t have SENTRI? Start your cross-border sojourn by securing a driver to pick you up once you land in Tijuana. People & Planet is a friendly service that offers custom tours or simple driver service if you want to plan your own itinerary.

There is no shortage of wineries in the valley, but the standouts are natural wines made by female winemakers. Be sure to visit Pouya, helmed by Fernanda Para. Last seen in San Diego at 2022’s NatDiego natural wine festival, Para makes natural wines that complement, rather than fight, the natural terroir of Valle. Try her skin-contact chenin blanc and—if there are any bottles left—her collab with Tecate’s Bichi Winery, a pét-nat of colombard called (wait for it…) Pichi. Henri Lurton and Bruma also make the shortlist for winery visits.

For an overnight stay, Siempre Valle is a hotel-meets-vacation rental that has sprawling views of vines and some of the best off-season rates around. Take a quick room respite, then start your evening with some local bubbles and oysters at the charming Conchas de Piedra to, well, aphrodisiac yourself.

Cap off a stay with dinner at the newly opened hipster staple, Bloodlust, a wine bar. The architecture of the grounds nearly outshines the stellar food and natural wine list, as it plays host to an amphitheater- like stage for live music, while local DJs command the decks inside the garlic-bulb-shaped restaurant. (Blood… vampires… garlic… get it?) If you didn’t get enough wine in, stop by Baja Divina, a wine shop brought to you by Lauren Plascencia, daughter of chef and hospitality giant Javier Plascencia.

Julian cidery


To keep it even more local, go quaint with a jaunt to Julian. Known for its homespun charm, Julian is an ideal place to stroll on your own and take things slow. Bring a journal and snag a bench in the Julian Pioneer Cemetery that overlooks the town, featuring famous corpses dating back to the 1870s, including Julian’s founder, Drury Bailey.

Once you depart the home of the departed, peruse the bucolic vendors on Main Street, like the Antique Boutique that peddles vintage wares or the Julian Book House to find funky used volumes. Take a breather from touristing and settle in for bites and sips at Julian Beer Co., your North Park away from home, featuring nearly 15 rotating house beers and a shaded patio. If you’re abstaining, head to the cute and kitsch at the Julian Tea & Cottage Arts where you can have high tea for one with finger sandwiches and all the Laura Ashley décor you can handle.

On the way home, take a detour at Lake Cuyamaca, the 110-acre body of water that is surrounded by the wilderness of Lake Cuyamaca State Park, with campgrounds and water activities. Since you’re by yourself and can’t make out on the docks, opt for a meditative walk or a paddle boat (quite the workout for one) or kayak rental. Grab lunch at The Pub at Cuyamaca, partly owned by the same folks as Julian Beer Co.

Rebecca-Hicksville Pines-HighRes-18.jpg

The 420 room at Idyllwild’s Hicksville Pines is decked out in plush furnishings and glow-in-the- dark psychedelic velvet posters.


Due north some ways in the mountains is Idyllwild. This unassuming mountain town is home to some of the most creative getaways, namely the 420-friendly Hicksville Pines Chalets & Motel. With 11 themed rooms, ranging from a palace of Dolly Parton worship to a Twin Peaks reimagination of David Lynch’s Black Lodge and a suite rocking perennial Christmas trimmings, there is a room for everyone’s quirk. Pro tip? Enjoy the gratis nug you get upon arrival while lounging in the jacuzzi. (Bonus points if you go when the tub is surrounded by mounds of snow.) Who needs company for that?

After your submerged relaxation, head to the town to find a string of thrift stores and search for the off-the-beaten-path Speakeasy Books for graphic novels, books, and games. Interested in less indoors and more outdoors? Gear up for a hike at loops like Suicide Rock, Deer Springs Trails, and Panorama Point. Things close early in town, so get ready for the wind down with a bottle from the Wine Finch natural wine shop or wine and dine yourself at Ferro, the town’s hotspot Italian bistro.

Two Harbors

Bustling-with-boat-traffic Avalon Harbor on Catalina Island.


For San Diegans, snow is a novelty, but water is home. Catalina Island is familiar enough with its beachy surroundings but exotic and far away enough to soothe the travel itch. Drive up to Dana Point, then take in the sea air on the hour-and-a-half Catalina Express ferry that will set you back just under $100 for a round-trip ticket to the main town of Avalon. Rent a golf cart to see the beachy cliffs and local Bison lowing, or bathe in the winter sun (it does exist) at Crescent Beach.

Sink into the island life and take yourself out to Luau Larry’s. Is it a tourist trap? Yes, but if someone has to cuff me, I want it to be Larry. This decades-old tiki bar is an institution for a reason. Have a Wicki Wacker and revel in your excellent decision-making. To make things chicer, head to the Naughty Fox and sup on crab sandwiches in modern surroundings. If you decide to stay the night (probably a good idea after Larry’s) and want to splurge, consider houseboat rentals to live as some intrepid locals do. If you want to do a deep dive of the island, head to the only other town, Two Harbors, and glamp it at Whites Landing with its two-person tents just to yourself, just offshore.

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