15 Weekend Trips from Los Angeles You Should Take Now

Just because you don’t have a lot of vacation days doesn’t mean you can’t travel. Everyone has 52 weekends to explore to your heart’s content.

If you’ve ever lived in LA, you’ll know that it’s good to have an escape from the city every once in a while. A weekend getaway can do just the trick. Here’s our list of the the best places for a weekend getaway from LA.

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Last Updated: May 16, 2020

1. Hearst Castle

750 Hearst Castle Rd, San Simeon, CA 93452, map

Distance: 231 mi / 3 hr 50 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Heart Castle Tour, Old San Simeon, Elephant Seals
What to Eat:
Chief’s Galley Cafe, Camp Hill BBQ, Sebastian’s
Where to Stay: J Patrick House Bed & Breakfast (luxury), Moonstone Landing (mid-range), San Simeon Lodge (budget)Search Airbnbs Nearby

Hearst Castle is a National and California Historical Landmark. The photo below shows the Gothic Study on the third floor of “Casa Grande.”

Photo: Filosoph (createive commons)

37.7709411,-119.6237533, map

Distance: 310 mi / 5 hr 25 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Half Dome
What to Eat:
Village Grill, The Ahwahnee Dining Room, Curry Village Pavillion
Where to Stay: The Ahwahnee (luxury), Yosemite Large Loft Condos (mid-range), Tenaya Lodge (mid-range), Curry Village (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Yosemite has so much to offer. I always feel at peace when I visit. We’ve even talked about moving here for a year. You can hike, camp, rock climb, spend time in the valley, explore the less crowded backcountry.

36.4617545,-116.8688057, map

Distance: 265 mi / 4 hr 25 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Artists Palette, Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Badwater Basin
What to Eat:
Timbisha Tacos, Panamint Springs Restaurant, Stovepipe Wells Restaurant
Where to Stay: The Inn at Death Valley (mid-range),  The Ranch at Death Valley (mid-range), Death Valley Inn and RV Park (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Despite its name, Death Valley offers so much beautiful scenery. Avoid going in the summer because of the heat, but experience the extremes any other time of the year.

4. Mammoth Lakes

2510 Main St, Mammoth Lakes, CA 93546, map

Distance: 308 mi / 4 hr 40 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Rainbow Falls, Mammoth Mountain, Devils Postpile National Monument Monument
What to Eat:
Toomey’s, The Stove Restaurant, John’s Pizza Works
Where to Stay: The Westin Monache Resort (luxury), Tamarack Lodge (mid-range), Sierra Lodge (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Mountains, lakes, and valleys make this a popular getaway. The summer offers plenty of activities and you can visit in the winter for skiing and snowboarding.

Photo: Dustin Blakey (createive commons)

1 Visitor Center Dr, Lee Vining, CA 93541, map

Distance: 332 mi / 5 hrs (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Mono Basin Scenic Area Visitor Center, South Tufa Area, Mono Lake Park
What to Eat:
Epic Cafe, Mono Cone, Mono Cup Coffee
Where to Stay: Lake View Lodge (luxury), Yosemite Gateway Motel (mid-range), Lake Front Cabins (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

This lake offers a nice weekend away that feels like visiting another planet. Learn more about the tufa towers here.

303 Water St #100, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, map

Distance: 345 mi / 5 hr 10 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Holman Ranch, Garland Ranch Regional Park, Folktale Winery & Vineyard
What to Eat:
Cafe Rustica, ROUX, Corkscrew Cafe
Where to Stay: Carmel Valley Lodge (luxury), The Blue Sky Lodge (mid-range), Hidden Valley Inn (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Beaches, surfing, and hiking in Redwood forests are just a few of the things you can do in Santa Cruz. They have events year round and a beautiful beachside amusement park.

7. Santa Cruz

303 Water St #100, Santa Cruz, CA 95060, map

Distance: 345 mi / 5 hr 10 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk, Natural Bridges State Park, West Cliff Drive
What to Eat:
Lillian’s Italian Kitchen, Marianne’s Ice Cream, Laili Restaurant
Where to Stay: West Cliff Inn (luxury), Harbor Inn (mid-range), Ocean Pacific Lodge (budget)Search Airbnbs Nearby

Beaches, surfing, and hiking in Redwood forests are just a few of the things you can do in Santa Cruz. They have events year round and a beautiful beachside amusement park.

Photo: Thomas Hawk (createive commons)

401 Camino El Estero, Monterey, CA 93940, map

Distance: 318 mi / 4 hr 55 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Monterey Bay Aquarium, 17-Mile Drive, Old Fisherman’s Wharf
What to Eat:
Old Fisherman’s Grotto, Monterey’s Fish House, Loulou’s Griddle in the Middle
Where to Stay: Monterey Plaza Hotel & Spa (luxury), Wave Street Inn (mid-range), Lone Oak Lodge (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Monterey offers a lot to do! It’s one of the best spots in the US to do whale watching. You can also get outdoorsy and kayak, scuba dive, and surf, or relax on the beach, golf, shop, or eat. Last time we were there, we kayaked and explored their world-renowned aquarium!

Ocean Ave, Carmel-By-The-Sea, CA 93923, map

Distance: 321 mi / 4 hr 55 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Carmel Beach, Carmel Mission, 17-Mile Drive
What to Eat:
Dametra Cafe, Little Napoli, Flying Fish Grill
Where to Stay: Carriage House Inn (luxury), Carmel Garden Inn (mid-range), Carmel River Inn (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

This quaint town has a lot of charm. You feel like you’re far away from everything, but in reality, you’re just a short drive from Monterey, Pebble Beach, Big Sur, or Pacific Grove. We stayed at the Hofsas House Hotel.

36.3315258,-121.9586056, map

Distance: 295 mi / 5 hr 15 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Hwy 1 Drive, McWay Falls, Purple Sand Beach
What to Eat:
Nepenthe Restaurant, Big Sur Bakery, Sierra Mar
Where to Stay: Post Ranch Inn (luxury), Carmel Garden Inn (mid-range), Carmel River Inn (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Big Sur is one of our favorite places on earth. Something about the cliffs and water is so magical and calming. You can camp or rent a place in one of the high-end lodges there. Pfeiffer Beach and McWay Falls are spots you can’t miss, but if you need more ideas, check out our Big Sur Guide. Drive one of the most scenic roads in America, and if you want to extend your road trip, go up or down the entire California Coast. There’s plenty to do and see on the coast.

749 Howard St, San Francisco, CA 94103, map

Distance: 380 mi / 5 hr 30 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Golden Gate Bridge, Painted Ladies, 49-Mile Scenic Drive
What to Eat:
Brenda’s French Soul Food, Tartine Bakery & Cafe, B Patisserie
Where to Stay: Golden Gate Hotel (luxury), Parker Guest House (mid-range), Beresford Arms (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

I’ve always had a soft spot for San Francisco, which has me coming back year after year. There is plenty to do whether you’re into food, the outdoors, or sightseeing. One of my favorite stops halfway from LA to SF on the 5 is Harris Ranch. You can get some delicious steaks and pecan drop cookies.

600 Main St, Napa, CA 94559, map

Distance: 401 mi / 5 hr 50 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Castello di Amorosa, Lake Berryessa, Domaine Carneros
What to Eat:
French Laundry, Morimoto Napa, The Boon Fly Cafe
Where to Stay: Elm House Inn (luxury), Candlelight Inn Napa Valley (mid-range), Hampton Inn & Suites (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Any wine lover needs to visit Napa Valley at least once. Take a weekend and enjoy all the different wineries and delicious food. We put together a list of our favorite 5 Napa wineries you should visit. If you love food, you can try your luck with getting reservations at Chef Keller’s French Laundry. It’s been my favorite dining experience so far.

13. Sonoma Valley

453 1st St E, Sonoma, CA 95476, map

Distance: 409 mi / 5 hr 55 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Wine Tours, Bartholomew Park, Charles M. Schulz Museum & Research Center
What to Eat: 
The Girl & The Fig, Sunflower Caffe, Della Santina’s Trattoria
Where to Stay: Cottage Inn & Spa (luxury), Hotel Petaluma (mid-range), Cinnamon Bear Creekside Inn (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Sonoma Valley is typically a bit less crowded than Napa Valley but still offers amazing wine. The town also has a rich history that you can learn about on tours.

Photo: Chris DeRham (createive commons)

1101 Zion – Mount Carmel Hwy, Hurricane, UT 84737, map

Distance: 428 mi / 6 hr 20 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Canyon Overlook Trail, Angels Landing, Zion Narrows
What to Eat: 
River Rock Roasting Co, Main Street Cafe, Dixie Pizza Wagon
Where to Stay: Heller House Inn (luxury), Zion Lodge (mid-range), Comfort Inn & Suites (budget), Search Airbnbs Nearby

Zion National Park packs a lot of punch in a small area. Go backpacking in the backcountry or stay at a hotel and enjoy it at a more leisurely pace. To get you started, here are 15 best hikes in the park.

15. Phoenix, Arizona

125 N 2nd St #120, Phoenix, AZ 85004, map

Distance: 373 mi / 5 hr 25 min (map)
Things You Can’t Miss: Desert Botanical Garden, Camelback Mountain, Musical Instrument Museum
What to Eat: 
Little Miss BBQ, Cocina Madrigal, Harumi Sushi
Where to Stay: Royal Palms Resort & Spa (luxury), Kimpton Hotel Palomar (mid-range), Hampton Inn Phoenix (budget)Search Airbnbs Nearby

Phoenix has beautiful weather and year-round activities. It’s one of the fastest growing cities in the nation and if you’re a golfer, don’t forget to book a tee time!

More Weekend Trip Ideas Under 7 Hours

  1. Temecula, CA (86 mi / 1 hr 35 min / map)
  2. Idyllwild, CA (87 mi / 1 hrs 25 min / map)
  3. Palm Springs, CA (107 mi / 2 hrs 5 min / map)
  4. Carlsbad, CA (114 mi / 1 hr 45 min / map)
  5. San Deigo, CA (120 mi / 1 hr 55 min / map)
  6. Joshua Tree National Park, CA (134 mi / 2 hrs 30 min / map)
  7. Tijuana, Mexico (137 mi / 2 hrs 20 min / map)
  8. Rosarito Beach, Mexico (150 mi / 2 hrs 45 min / map)
  9. Anza Borrego, CA (152 mi / 2 hr 55 min / map)
  10. Ensenada, Mexico (201 mi / 3 hr 50 min / map)
  11. Lake Havasu City, Arizona (298 mi / 5 hrs 5 min / map)
  12. San Jose, CA (340 mi / 5 hrs 20 min / map)
  13. Phoenix, AZ (373 mi / 6 hrs 5 min / map)
  14. Sacramento, CA (384 mi / 5 hr 55 min / map)
  15. St. George, UT (387 mi / 6 hrs 10 min / map)

Map of Best Weekend Trips from Los Angeles

What weekend getaways have you taken from Los Angeles? Which of these are on your list to visit?

See More Ideas for Los Angeles


“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, which is one of the top 5 travel blogs in the US. They believe that adventure can be found both 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.

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