Best Winter Day Trips In Southern California

I grew up in the Inland Empire in Southern California. If you’ve heard of the Inland Empire, then you probably know it’s often referred to as the “armpit of California”. It’s not beautiful, and often trashy, but it’s very centrally located which meant I spent a lot of time exploring the surrounding areas. Below are my favorite day trips during the Winter in southern California.

Palm Springs

Left from Palm Spring Aerial Tram Right from Kayak

Most of my extended family lives in Palm Springs, so I’ve spent a lot of time there. It’s painfully hot during the Summer but mild during the Winter. Palm Springs is often known for the golfing, but there’s lots to do there. I recommend checking out some of the vintage shopping and restaurants along the 111 in downtown Palm Springs. If you want a more winter feeling getaway then I suggest taking the Palm Spring Aerial Tram. It offers stunning views and at the top you can hike, snowshoe, or just take in the scenery at one of the restaurants.

Big Bear

Photo from Big Bear Mountain Resort

Big Bear is home to a ski resort but also offers winter activities like snowshoeing and tubing. It also has a small walkable downtown area.

Joshua Tree National Park

Photo from Visit California

Joshua Tree is near Palm Springs and similar in that it’s miserably hot in the Summer but mild during the Winter. Joshua Tree has trails for any hiking level. Since we are talking about day trips here, I suggest the Arch Rock Trail, since it’s only 1.4 miles. Since it’s a short hike, you’ll be able to fit in seeing the Cholla Cactus Garden Trail which is less than a mile loop but packed with beautiful scenery that is iconic to Joshua Tree.


Photo from Visit California

Temecula is sort of known for being the little Napa of southern California. It has tons of great wineries and various ways to explore them. I think taking the Cable Car Wine Tour would be the most unique and charming way to explore wineries in Temecula. If you are like me, and not into wine, it’s still a beautiful place to visit. There are also activities that don’t involve wine, like fantastic spas, shopping in downtown, and biking trails.

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