Looking to get away from LA? Here are 15 fun day trips.
As much as there is to explore in LA, sometimes it’s nice to get away from the city, the crowds, and the traffic. We’re local adventurers, and we’re all about appreciating and exploring our own backyards. There are a lot of gems you can find in your own city or just short drive away.
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Last Updated: November 22, 2023
15 Popular Day Trips from Los Angeles
You can make any of these into weekend trips, but we also put together a list of trips that are longer drives and require at least a 2 day stay to make it worthwhile.
1. Catalina Island, California
Distance: 1 hr by ferry from Long Beach (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Catalina Island Casino, Catalina Island Conservancy, Garden to Sky Trail
What to Eat: The Lobster Trap, Bluewater Grill, Maggie’s Blue Rose
Catalina Island is a favorite getaway for Angelenos. Whether you’re looking for activities, like scuba diving or snorkeling, or just a place to relax on the beach, there is plenty to do on the island. Don’t forget if it’s your birthday, the ferry ride is free!
Local Tip: Did you know there are bison on the island?
Distance: 1 hr by ferry from Ventura (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Scorpion Beach, Smugglers Cove, Visitor Center
What to Eat: No food services on the island
The Channel Islands National Park on Santa Cruz Island is incredibly beautiful. You can stay on land and hike and camp or explore the waters on a kayak, scuba diving, or snorkeling.
Local Tip: Keep your eye out for whales on the ferry over. We spotted a couple of them!
2901 N Palm Canyon Dr, Palm Springs, CA 92262, map
Lots of people visit Palm Springs every year. It’s especially a popular spot for those of us who live in SoCal since it’s so close. The glamorous pools and trendy hotels give plenty of reasons to visit. There are even hot springs, golf courses, and spas!
Local Tip: When it’s hot in town, head up the aeriel tram for cooler temps and great views.
4. Ojai, California
130 W Ojai Ave, Ojai, CA 93023, map
Distance: 83 mi / 1 hr 25 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Ojai Certified Farmers’ Market, Ojai Meadows Preserve, Rose Valley Falls Trail
What to Eat: The Ojai Beverage, Osteria Monte Grappa, The Ranch House
Ojai is full of Spanish architecture, fruit groves, and wineries. It’s relatively close so it makes a perfect day trip, though I must mention it took us more like 3 hours to get out of LA traffic.
6. Santa Barbara, California
217 Stearns Wharf, Santa Barbara, CA 93101, map
Distance: 95 mi / 1 hr 30 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Shoreline Park, Old Mission Santa Barbara, Stearns Wharf
What to Eat: Santa Barbara Shellfish Company, Brophy Bros, Boathouse at Hendry’s Beach
Santa Barbara has a great wine scene. Now set that wine to the beautiful backdrop of mountains, valleys, and beaches and you have the perfect getaway.
400 Carlsbad Village Dr, Carlsbad, CA 92008, map
For family fun, you can go to LEGOLAND. There are also plenty of beaches and the Carlsbad flower fields.
40971 North Shore Drive/Hwy 38, Fawnskin, CA 92333, map
Distance: 99 mi / 2 hrs (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Big Bear Discovery Center, Boulder Bay Park, Big Bear Alpine Zoo
What to Eat: Saucy Mama’s, Grizzly Manor Cafe, Tropicali
You can fish, hike, camp, or kayak in the summer and ski and snowboard in the winter. There’s plenty to discover at this beautiful lake, so it’s a place people keep coming back to.
40971 North Shore Drive/Hwy 38, Fawnskin, CA 92333, map
We lived in San Diego for a year and still miss it. We especially love all the beaches and hikes to beaches. If you need some ideas for your trip, here are 101 Things to Do in San Diego. Be sure to save room for all the yummy tacos at Tacos el Gordo.
Local Tip: If you’re on a budget, check out these 25 free things to do in San Diego.
54270 Pine Crest Ave, Idyllwild, CA 92549, map
Distance: 109 mi / 2 hrs 10 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Mount San Jacinto State Park and Wilderness, Idyllwild Nature Center, Indian Vista Scenic Overlook
What to Eat: Ferro, Cafe Aroma, Restaurant Gastrognome
There are tons of hikes to explore in Idyllwild. If you’re not outdoorsy, you can enjoy the quaint downtown area. Be sure to see if they have any events going on.
6554 Park Blvd, Joshua Tree, CA 92252, map
Take a scenic drive, hike, or go bouldering in this beautiful park. We love visiting in the winter for the climbing.
12. Los Olivos, California
2900 Grand Ave, Los Olivos, CA 93441, map
This historic town is tucked away in the Santa Ynez Valley. Check out the amazing views of vineyards, browse through the art scene, go antique shopping, or join in on one of their fun festivals. Also, don’t forget to check out the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail
Photo: Anita Ritenour / creative commons
Beal Rd, Calipatria, CA 92233, map
Leonard Knight dedicated his life to this work of art in hopes to show that “God is Love”. Here’s an excerpt from a NatGeo photographer I follow who spent 7 years documenting his life and work. I’m really excited about his new book, Where the Heaven Flowers Grow.
I stumble when trying to find words to describe this man because I am so overwhelmed with love and admiration for what he was/is/has made. LeonardKnight, the creator of Salvation Mountain, was the greatest artist I have met in my lifetime. Leonard’s life and work drew from the deep and silent well of spirit that feels so far from many of us as we race through our lives. When Leonard took you around the mountain to share his vision (and he did personally take everyone around the place) you could drink from that well too, even if just for a few moments. His message transcended any individual religion and spoke to the larger need for a Universal Faith driven by LOVE. We need more Leonards in this world.
The Salton Sea is also nearby, which lies 234 ft below sea level!
14. San Luis Obispo (SLO)
733 Higuera St, San Luis Obispo, CA 93401, map
315 days of sunshine isn’t bad at all! Rent a bike, hike, surf, taste wine, or dine at the many farm-to-fork restaurants. The photo of us is from our anniversary shoot with Jeff Newsom.
47050 Generals Hwy, Three Rivers, CA 93271, map
Nothing gives you perspective like spending time amongst real life giants. Take a scenic drive or hike amongst some of the largest trees in the world.
Map of Best Day Trips from Los Angeles
Best Places to Stay in Los Angeles
Which of these day trips have you done? Any others we need to add?
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“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
Esther + Jacob
Esther and Jacob are the founders of Local Adventurer, one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found near and far and hope to inspire others to explore locally. They explore a new city in depth every year and currently base themselves in Las Vegas.