There is so much to do in Los Angeles that you can explore it for months and still find cool neighborhoods and great venues you didn’t know existed. However, part of LA’s beauty is the incredibly diverse nature that surrounds it. Angelenos love taking road trips out of the city as often as they can on the weekends, to get a breath of fresh air and see some of California’s amazing pristine beauty.
If you are looking for a one-day excursion from Los Angeles, these are the 5 best day trips to take from LA. If you have more time, you can stay 1 or 2 nights, as they also make excellent weekend getaways from LA.
Best Day Trips to Take from Los Angeles
La Jolla is the quintessential laid-back California beach town. Just outside San Diego, only a 1.5-hour drive from Los Angeles, La Jolla is a playground for surfers, beach bums, volleyball players, and all others who enjoy the endless southern California sun.
Explore the sandy shore of La Jolla Cove, and get a glimpse of life under the sea by snorkeling or diving in the gorgeous Pacific waters.
There is no better desert escape than the national park and adjacent town of Joshua Tree. Explore the arid landscape, incredible rock formations, and groves of Joshua trees that give the areas its name. When you are done with the hiking trails – especially the beautiful Twentynine Palms Oasis trail – and have grabbed all your sunset shots, head to Pappy and Harriet’s.
This deceptively ramshackle-looking saloon hosts some of the best music acts around on their stage. Get one of their delicious burgers or steaks (there are vegetarian options, but Pappy and Harriet’s is really a meat-lover’s paradise), grab a beer, and settle in for the show.
If wine tasting by the sea and charming towns are your thing, you can’t go wrong with Santa Barbara. Just a two-hour drive up the California coast, Santa Barbara is known for its great vineyards and delicious wine, as well as its great combination of classic Southern California architecture, nature, and charming museums.
Make sure to visit Lotusland botanical garden, Grassini Family Vineyards, and the Santa Barbara Mission.
Take a break from the beaches, arid landscapes, and hills of Los Angeles to walk through the endless flowering fields of Antelope Valley. Blankets of yellow and orange flowers cover the normally grassy fields in the spring, with the constant breeze in the area creating a beautiful, never-ending ripple effect.
One word of caution: check wind conditions before you visit, as the unprotected valley can sometimes experience very strong winds, making enjoying your visit a bit difficult.
We’ve gone through almost the whole diverse range of California landscapes – desert, beaches, valleys – so finally we have arrived at southern California’s pretty, day trip, mountain retreat: Lake Arrowhead.
High up in the San Bernardino National Forest, placid Lake Arrowhead is surrounded by cozy cabins and quaint hotels. Whether you’re visiting in summer or winter, there is always something to do in Lake Arrowhead, ranging from biking and fishing to skiing.
Joanna Kalafatis is a travel blogger at LosetheMap.com and actress based in Los Angeles. She has lived in Athens and New York and traveled to over 35 countries, always seeking the best in local spots and culture wherever she goes. Follow her adventures on Instagram: @losethemap_!
Need some more California inspiration?
- Best California Road Trip Songs (For Your Road Trip Music Playlist)
- Best Quotes About California & California Instagram Captions
- California Bucket List: 30 Best Places to Visit in California
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