If your idea of “alone time” is a few quiet hours spent cozied up on the couch, it might be time to stretch outside of your comfort zone. California’s array of opportunities makes it the perfect place for solo travelers. And with Valentine’s Day right around the corner, now is a great time to take these creative ideas and plan a self-date trip to that allows you to reconnect with yourself—on your own terms.
Find big-tree solitude in Calaveras
Experience the magic of forest bathing—a therapeutic and meditative walk among the trees—in this hidden gem of a park. At Calaveras Big Trees State Park, you’ll find the solitude you might not experience in more popular redwood-laden areas. Hike the five-mile South Grove Trail to admire the massive Agassiz and Palace Hotel Trees. Book a stay at The Murphys Historic Hotel, a former resting spot of one of America’s most famous solo travelers—Mark Twain—who once dubbed himself “a self-appointed Ambassador at Large of the U.S. of America.”
Embark on a food tour in the East Bay
If you’re looking for a solo activity that still has a social component, a group tour may fit the bill. Eat your way through San Francisco’s East Bay, home to the culinary hotspots of Oakland and Berkeley, the latter of which is often credited as the birthplace of California cuisine. Local Food Adventures offers ice cream tours through Oakland’s Rockridge neighborhood, while Edible Excursions will take you through Berkley’s affectionately named “Gourmet Ghetto.”
Take a solo road trip along Highway 1
Channel your inner Jack Kerouac with a journey along the Central Coast—all on your own timeline. The stunning stretch of highway from Monterey to Santa Barbara offers some of the country’s most dramatic ocean views and can be accomplished in a weekend. As you make your way south, hike the Bluff Trail at Garrapata State Park, climb to the top of the Piedras Blancas Light Station, dig into a bowl of chowder in Pismo Beach, and walk among the monarchs at Goleta Butterfly Grove. If big trees or desert flora is more your thing, try one of these other scenic California routes.
See a rooftop movie in Los Angeles
Watching a movie is a tried-and-tested solo pleasure, and you can take it up a notch with a cinema-under-the-stars experience in Los Angeles. Both Melrose Rooftop Theatre and The Montalbán host winter screenings, complete with a full bar and concession stand. Afterward, treat yourself to a nightcap at one of the city’s stunning and breezy rooftop bars and lounges.
Hit the theme parks
Visiting a theme park alone might sound odd at first, but there are some serious advantages—the expeditious single-rider lines being at the top of that list. Also, solo travelers who want to go on the same ride four times in a row can do so without explanation or negotiation. Take yourself to Universal Studios Hollywood to experience The Wizarding World of Harry Potter™ or Jurassic World™ – The Ride. At Disney California Adventure in Anaheim, test your mettle at the stomach-churning Guardians of the Galaxy – Mission: BREAKOUT! then head to Disneyland to kick back with refreshing cocktail and Mickey-shaped beignet at Mint Julep Bar.
Fuel your need for speed near Indian Wells
Bring out the best in yourself by learning a few skills while having some high-octane fun. Visit the BMW Performance Center in Thermal (25 miles from Palm Springs) to learn how to drift, throttle, and race against the clock around the thrill-inducing track. Unwind after your day of driving with an overnight at Miramonte in nearby Indian Wells. Book the Rejuvenation Package, which includes a massage or classic facial at the beautiful WELL Spa.
Museum hop in San Diego
There are few experiences more enjoyable than spending a day people-watching your way through a museum alone—and with more than 90 cultural institutions, San Diego has no shortage of such places for you to explore. Purchase an all-day ticket on the Old Town Trolley to hop on and off wherever you please. Create a plan that fits your style with options including The Museum of Us (exhibits focus on everything from cannibalism to beer), The Model Railroad Museum, and the new Comic-Con Museum.