15 Most Popular Day Trips From Los Angeles

15 Most Popular Day Trips From Los Angeles

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.

15 Most Popular Day Trips from Los Angeles.

15 MOST POPULAR DAY TRIPS FROM LOS ANGELES

1. Catalina Island

Travel Time: One hour by ferry from Long Beach

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!

Catalina Island (15 Best Day Trips from Los Angeles).
Photo: Ravi Komatireddy / creative commons

2. Santa Cruz Island

Travel Time: One hour by ferry from Ventura

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.

More: Kayaking the Channel Islands

Santa Cruz Island (15 Most Popular Day Trips From Los Angeles).

3. Palm Springs

Travel Time: 1.5-2 hours by car

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!

More: 15 Unforgettable Things to Do in Palm Springs

Palm Springs (15 Most Popular Day Trips from Los Angeles).

4. Ojai

Travel Time: ~1.5 hours by car

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.

Ojai (15 Best Day Trips from Los Angeles).Ojai (15 Most Popular Los Angeles Day Trips).

5. Temecula

Travel Time: ~1.5 hours by car

Wineries and hot air balloons give you nice options for a day trip away!

More: Hot Air Ballooning in Temecula

Temecula (15 Most Popular Day Trips from Los Angeles).

6. Santa Barbara

Travel Time: 1.5-2 hours by car

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.

Santa Barbara (15 Most Popular Day Trips from LA).
Photo: Michael Theis / creative commons

7. Carlsbad

Travel Time: ~1.5 hours by car

For family fun, you can go to LEGOLAND. There are also plenty of beaches and the Carlsbad flower fields.

More: Your Photo Guide to the Flower Fields at Carlsbad Ranch

The Flower Fields Carlsbad Ranch // localadventurer.comThe Flower Fields Carlsbad Ranch // localadventurer.com

8. Big Bear

Travel Time: 2 hours by car

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.

More: 7 Best Things to Do in Big Bear California

Big Bear (15 Most Popular Day Trips from Los Angeles).
Photo: Hrishi Chandanpurkar / creative commons

9. San Diego

Travel Time: ~2 hours by car

This is our current hometown. 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.

More: 101 Things to Do in San Diego + Most Popular Instagram Spots in San Diego + 25 Free Things to Do in San Diego

San Diego (15 Best Road Trips from Los Angeles).

10. Idyllwild

Travel Time: ~2 hours by car

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.

More: Glamping in an A-Framed Cabin in Idyllwild

Idyllwild (15 Best LA Day Trips).

11. Joshua Tree

Travel Time: ~2-2.5 hours by car

Take a scenic drive, hike, or go bouldering in this beautiful park.

More: 11 Incredible Things to Do at Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park (15 Most Popular Los Angeles Day Trips).

12. Los Olivos

Travel Time: ~2-2.5 hours by car

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

Los Olivos (15 Most Popular Los Angeles Day Trips).

Photo: Anita Ritenour / creative commons

 

13. Salvation Mountain & Salton Sea

Travel Time: ~3 hours by car

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!

More: Photo Guide to Salvation Mountain

Salvation Mountain (15 Most Popular Day Trips from Los Angeles).Leonard Knight's Salvation Mountain CA (15 Most Popular Day Trips from Los Angeles).

14. SLO or San Luis Obispo

Travel Time: ~3-3.5 hours by car

315 days of sunshine isn’t bad at all! Rent a bike, hike, surf, go wine tasting, or dine at the many farm-to-fork restaurants.

San Luis Obispo / SLO (15 Best Day Trips from Los Angeles).
Photo of us taken by Jeff Newsom

15. Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon National Park

Travel Time: ~3-3.5 hours by car

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. Can you see a tiny Jacob in the photo? #tinypeopleinbigplaces

More: 15 Amazing Things to Do at Sequoia National Park + Kings Canyon

Sequoia National Park (15 Best Road 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 (posting soon!). If you’re looking for some great hikes in the LA area, check out this book that we used to use when lived there! It doesn’t have a pretty cover, but we found a lot of great hikes through it.

Have you been to LA before? Are there any popular day trips I’m missing?

This Post Has 4 Comments

  1. Just be prepared to double any of these travel times depending on the traffic.

  2. Solvang!

  3. Hi Esther & Jacob !!!
    I am a landscape photographer and I have been visiting the L.A. area for 3 weeks now . I have spent ALOT of my time in Venice and little around the city . It’s overwhelming not sure on where to go or what to see. Thank you so much for the time you out in this . This is great .

    Now off for my Local Adventures.
    Hollie Linder

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