Spring Break 2023: 12 Blissfully Easy West Coast Trips, from Baja to B.C.
A beachfront treehouse at Playa Viva eco-resort on the coast of Zihuatanejo, Mexico. (Kev Steele)

Spring Break 2023: 12 Blissfully Easy West Coast Trips, from Baja to B.C.


Just because you haven’t “officially” had a spring break since college doesn’t mean you don’t deserve one. Cast off those winter blues with a new adventure or a week of relaxation.

Just a few hours flight from San Francisco will get you to British Columbia’s endless vineyards or Powder Highway; down to Baja for fresh take on the taco and tequila tour; to Zihuatanejo for a stay in the coolest beachside treehouse ever; or to the rolling country hills of inland Hawaii.

Even if you only have a weekend to achieve your #springbreakgoals, you can nail it with easy escapes from the Bay Area to Petaluma, San Luis Obispo, Los Alamos, and Ojai.

A spring reset is just what you need to put a little bounce back in your step, so go ahead and plan your getaway.

Baja for Foodies: A Gastronomic Road Trip From Cabo to La Paz

(Courtesy of The Green Room, Todos Santos)

If you’ve been there and done that in Cabo, this three-city tour through some of the best eats and drinks in Baja will help you mix things up on your next Mexication.

The easy, two-hour road trip will take you from Cabo to the adorable and colorful town of Todos Santos to the lesser-known yet burgeoning destination of La Paz. All three have the key ingredients of a tropical getaway— sand, sun, and surf—but also some incredibly delicious dining spots that go far beyond your average taco; in fact, this itinerary includes both a cheese-crusted taco and a bone marrow taco.

This trip (one way) can be done in as little as a day, but it’s best to take your time and spend a night or two in each destination to maximize your eating potential. // Take our Baja culinary journey.

The Powder Highway: A True Snowy Wonderland in British Columbia

(Mitch Winton)

As I gingerly stepped onto the ice, I could see frozen air bubbles and fissures beneath my feet.

As a California girl, this was my first time experiencing a frozen lake. The sun behind the windswept clouds cast a beautiful pastel yellow hue throughout the sky. I was standing on Lake Windermere's The Whiteway, the world's longest ice-skating trail at nearly 20 miles in length.

The track was built by Toby Creek Nordic to connect the lake towns during the winter. People were walking their dogs, pushing strollers, and even driving on the ice to small outhouse-looking structures for ice fishing. There are also cross-country skiing and skate skiing paths, as well as areas for ice hockey and curling. Benches are strategically placed along the path for visitors to take a rest and enjoy the breathtaking views, which is what I did, unsure of my skating skills on the less-than-smooth ice.

This is just one stop on British Columbia's legendary Powder Highway, a 630-mile loop in the Kootenay Rockies. The region lies on the unceded traditional homelands of the Ktunaxa Nation, which is shared with the Secwépemc, Sinixt, and Syilx nations. Although it is renowned for its powder-covered slopes, it's also the charming ski towns, enthusiastic locals, and plenty of off-piste activities that make this a must-visit winter wonderland with activities that can last well into spring. // Check out three communities and alpine resorts along the Powder Highway three communities and alpine resorts along the Powder Highway.

Ojai: A Tiny, Laid-Back Town Takes Eating + Chilling Seriously


In his 1933 book Lost Horizon, James Hilton wrote, “Is there not too much tension in the world at present, and might it not be better if more people were slackers?”

For those unfamiliar, Hilton’s novel is about a fictional “utopian lamasery” in Tibet known as Shangri-La. When the film adaptation came out in 1937, it was filmed on location not in the snowy Himalaya, but in the Topatopa Mountains surrounding Ojai, less than 100 miles northeast of Los Angeles.

With all due respect, slacking is one of Ojai’s most cherished pastimes. A favorite getaway of overly tense Angelenos, the laidback town of around 7,500 has been attracting wellness seekers for nearly 200 years.

Long before Ojai garnered the nickname Shangri-La, however, it was known as the Valley of the Moon, its name a corruption of the Chumash Indian word ‘awha’y, or moon. The valley runs east to west, which makes for memorable sunrises and sunsets known as “pink moments,” but the Mediterranean climate and loamy soil also made Ojai formative in the early organic farming movement.

Today, some of the nation’s finest family farms operate in and around Ojai, producing the famed Pixie tangerines, strawberries, and tropical fruits; baby greens and avocados; and pasture-raised meats, which complement the pristine seafood of the nearby Channel Islands. The result: Ojai is one of America’s most underrated culinary destinations. // Make a weekend of it in Ojai.

Playa Viva: The Off-Grid Eco-Resort of Your Zihuatanejo Dreams

(Kev Steele, Courtesy of Playa Viva)

It’s 6:23 in the morning and I’m stumbling alone in the dark along the Pacific coastline, south of Zihuatanejo in Juluchuca, Mexico.“

Just keep walking and you’ll see them,” they told me when I checked into Playa Viva, the regenerative eco-resort that is my home here for the next four days. Eventually, perhaps half a mile down the beach, I came upon a group of people staring at the ground. And then, in the still-dark, I saw it, a just hatched baby turtle taking its very first, sloppy steps into the surf. La Tortuga Viva, the onsite sea turtle sanctuary, has saved more than half a million turtles including some of the endangered leatherback species.

This is Playa Viva, where there’s a bigger turnout for the baby turtle release before 6:30am than at the bar come happy hour. The WiFi password is “disconnect2reconnect,” a slight jab reminding you to put the device down and be present to the incredible surroundings. The founding hotel in the Regenerative Travel collection, Playa Viva has 18 treehouses (and more), all solar powered, spread out over 200 acres of nature reserve. // Learn more about Playa Viva.

Los Alamos: A Tiny Santa Ynez Valley Town With a Bright Food Scene

Michelin-starred restaurant Bell's in tiny Los Alamos.

(Carter Hiyama)

One could easily call Los Alamos a hidden gem of the Santa Ynes Valley wine region in Santa Barbara County.

It’s not to say the seven-block main drag, Bell Street, isn’t hopping on summer weekends, but the general pace of life in Los Alamos can best be described as dreamy. And that’s just how the locals like it. All said, though, the town has a surprisingly sophisticated food scene—a reflection of the region’s outstanding family farms, ranches, and well-managed fisheries—and even its own Michelin-starred restaurant.

While many of the wines hailing from this region are first-rate—Santa Ynez Valley is exceptional among California wine regions because it’s cooled by ocean breezes and coastal fog, so grapes like pinot noir, chardonnay, chenin blanc, and gamay thrive here—it’s the family farms and Los Alamos’ burgeoning restaurant scene that have turned the little town into culinary destination. // Read more about Los Alamos.

Amangiri: The Southern Utah Resort With a Five-Star Landscape

The subtle modern architecture of Amangiri lets Utah's sculptural landscape take center stage.

(Courtesy of Amangiri)

Venture to Amangiri, a modern, storied resort cut like a cliff dwelling into the stark and stunning rock formations of southern Utah.

The 20-minute drive to the property from the small airport in Page, Arizona offers a first look at the region. Situated at the base of Utah's Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the northwestern edge of Navajo Nation, this is a quintessential southwestern landscape of plateaus, canyons, and a few odd hoodoos in a palette of sand and rust. You'll know you've arrived at Amangiri when you spy the megalith that's sometimes called the Praying Monk. It is a game guests play to see different faces in the rock.

The architecture here is exceedingly thoughtful, the design minimalist and of the place—think natural elements like stone and wood, rough-hewn water features, and Native pottery and baskets everywhere. The service is flawless and every last detail refined, but there is nothing at Amangiri that screams extravagance; it is for travelers who don't need to be impressed by material things, for wanderers who care about things like environmental conservation and cultural integration. The impressiveness of the landscape is allowed to shine, a much-needed refuge for connection between humans and nature. // Read more about Amangiri.

Okanagan Valley: The British Columbia Wine Region You Need to Know

A view of vineyards in Naramata, a wine-producing subregion of British Columbia's Okanagan Valley.

(John Hollands)

Wine might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Canada, but in south-central British Columbia there's a wine region with 10,000 acres of vineyards, nearly 200 wineries, an abundance of natural beauty, and year-round outdoor adventures.

You may not have heard of the Okanagan Valley, but this 124-mile-long, 12-mile-wide swath of viticulture goodness is home to a dozen designated wine subregions, some of which have been officially recognized as recently as 2022. The valley was carved by glaciers that left behind long narrow lakes, rolling hills, microclimates, and nutrient-rich soils that make it particularly good for growing grapes and fruit trees.

San Franciscans can get here in about four hours by flying into Kelowna International Airport through Vancouver International. (While you're at it, don't miss our Modern Guide to Vancouver.) // Read more about B.C.'s Okanagan Valley.

San Luis Obispo: Hip Vibes, Boutique Hotels, Fresh Eats + Wine Tasting

(Courtesy of @slopublicmarket)

There's a reason this place has been called America's happiest city.

Situated almost halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco, the county and town of San Luis Obispo—or SLO—is notable for its miles of pristine California coastline, mellow climate, and attractions like Pismo Beach, Hearst Castle, and the world-class wines of Paso Robles AVA and its sub-regions.

The town of just over 47,000 full-time residents is a worthy destination as well as one of California’s oldest communities. While SLO’s heritage as a late 18th century mission and farming and ranching hub are still evident, it’s now best known as the home of California Polytechnic State University. SLO has the energy of a small college town, but the vibrant downtown is also home to elevated eateries, stylish boutique hotels, and a slew of arts and cultural events.

SLO is more than a just a destination; it's also a state of mind celebrating slow living (no pun intended), small-scale agricultural heritage, and outdoor recreation. This dynamic enclave is the perfect getaway the next time you're looking to escape the hustle of city life. // Take our modern guide to SLO.

Petaluma: Fresh restaurants + a wicked hot tiki bar meet California history

(Courtesy of Sonoma County Tourism)

The evolution of rural Sonoma ranchland into a world-class food and wine destination has brought ever more intense focus to Healdsburg and the Russian River Valley. But the once sleepy farm town of Petaluma has been quietly undergoing its own transformation—and it's one worth seeing.

Just 40 miles from San Francisco, the quaint town is just right for an escape that feels much farther from home. (You can even ditch the car and take the SMART train straight from the Larkspur ferry terminal.)

Guided by farm-to-table practices, community collaboration and ethical agriculture, Petaluma’s historic downtown corridor has welcomed a new crop of restaurants, bars, and shops that rival those of its better known neighbors to the north. A luxury boutique hotel (and the town’s first rooftop bar) is on the horizon, too. For now, though, Petaluma’s vibe is as laid-back and welcoming as it was when the town was considered the chicken and egg capital of the U.S.

Find out why the town is ready for its moment in the spotlight with our weekend guide to Petaluma. // Check out our itinerary for a weekend in Petaluma.

AutoCamp Zion: A Stylish New Glampground at Utah's Beloved National Park

(Courtesy of Autocamp)

AutoCamp just debuted a new addition to its chic glampground family, this time in the otherworldy red rock moonscape of Zion National Park.

Like its other properties outside Yosemite and Joshua Tree, AutoCamp Zion has luxury Airstream accommodations complete with private bathrooms, fire pits and A/C, as well as dreamy canvas tent suites. At the handsome midcentury modern clubhouse you can kick back and relax, stock up on provisions from the general store or cafe, or cool off in the pool.

Best of all, AutoCamp Zion is just a 20 minute drive from the entrance of the national park, where epic hiking trails and iconic desert vistas await. // autocamp.com/zion

Waimea: Where Farm-to-Table Meets Hawaiian Cowboy Culture

The ranch-style Red 'Ohana in Waimea

(Courtesy of @redohana)

Less than an hour from the Big Island's flashy Kohala Coast, you can indulge your inner cowpoke, hide out on secret beaches, hike trails less traveled, and browse exotic fruits at an awesome farmers' market in upcountry Waimea.

Paniolos (Hawaiian cowboys) settled in this lush green saddle, perched between Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa to the south and the Kohala mountains to the north, and still work the cattle today, providing Waimea with its reputation for mouth-watering organic and grass-fed beef. This is clean eating to the max.

The region's rolling hills dotted with cows and wild horses and lined with white fences will remind you of rural Virginia—that is, until you take in the commanding view of the massive 14,000-foot volcanoes. At an elevation of about 2,000 feet, Waimea captures cooling sea breezes, making hiking and outdoor activities much more pleasant than at sea level. // Read more about Waimea, Hawaii.

Puerto Vallarta: Tequila, Taco Tours + Hidden Beach

(Photo courtesy of Marriott Puerto Vallarta Resort & Spa)

Need a reboot? There's an oft-overlooked tropical destination that's surprisingly affordable and just a few hours from San Francisco.

Puerto Vallarta is a lush, rustic, and charming oceanside destination. Spring temperatures are perfectly moderate in the 80s and, though hurricane season doesn't roll through till summer, Puerto Vallarta is also one of the most protected cities in Mexico when it comes to storms. Take our 72-hour itinerary filled with jungle adventures, hidden beaches, and plenty of tacos and tequila. // Plan your PV trip.

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