15 Best Weekend Trips From Los Angeles
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Escape to one of these 15 weekend trips from Los Angeles for your next adventure.
A cosmopolitan city like Los Angeles is no short of relaxing beaches and adventurous attractions. But to get beyond the hustles of a city like LA, one would certainly look out for a short escape worthy getaway. With so many places to visit near Los Angeles, it can get hard to decide where to go. Here’s a list of various beautiful nearby places that include nature, relaxation, adventure, wildlife and plenty of other sightseeing getaways, from which you will definitely find a weekend trip from Los Angeles that’s suitable for you.
So let’s explore all these weekend trips from Los Angeles that are just a short journey away from you, for an epic getaway.
Weekend trips from Los Angeles
1. Santa Catalina Island
If you’re looking for a weekend trip from Los Angeles that’s close to the city yet completely different from LA life, definitely check out Catalina Island. Santa Catalina Island, mostly referred to as just Catalina Island, is located only about 30 miles off the coast of California and an easy ferry ride from Los Angeles. There are four different ports to travel out of; San Pedro, Long Beach, Newport Beach, or Dana Point. And although it’s so close to Los Angeles, it feels like a different world. It will remind you of laid-back Caribbean islands in many ways.
With virtually no cars on the island and a population of only just over 4000 it’s the perfect city break. And although small, Catalina Island is filled with fun activities for anyone who visits the island. One thing you definitely have to do here is rent a golf cart to explore the island. It’s the most popular way to get around the island and so much fun.
You could visit Catalina Island as a day trip from Los Angeles if you leave early enough, but you can make it into a weekend trip to have enough time to unwind, explore and enjoy the friendly vibe here.
Where To Stay In Catalina Island : A good hotel option when staying on Santa Catalina Island is Pavilion Hotel, which is a very nice beach-side hotel only a short walk from the ferries.
By Sanne Wesselman of Spend Life Traveling
2. Palm Springs
Palm Springs is located roughly 100 miles from Los Angeles, which makes it a perfect weekend getaway destination. As the name of the area suggests there are 2 things that you should not miss in Palm Springs: palms and springs. There are a couple of popular hiking areas around Palm Springs that are famous for their beautiful palms oasis, namely Thousand Palms Oasis in Coachella Valley Preserve and Indian Wells. Both of these hiking destinations located near the bodies of water and have some shade which makes for a great hike in the desert.
In terms of springs, hot springs in the neighboring town of Desert Hot Springs, which is part of Greater Palm Springs area, are a perfect place for relaxation after a hike. Some of the resorts in the area only allow the staying guests to use their hot springs but some resorts allow visitors. You can purchase a day pass and enjoy yourself at Miracle Springs Resort and Spa, for instance. There are also spa treatments available at the resort at an additional cost.
There are also lots of great things to do in Palm Springs with kids. The best time to visit Palm Springs is between October and May.
Where To Stay In Palm Springs : You can stay in one of the multitude of resorts in town, most of which have pools and some of which even have golf courses and tennis centers, Double Tree by Hilton is one of such resorts.
By Tatiana of Family Road Trip Guru
3. Santa Barbara
Santa Barbara is about 100 miles north of Los Angeles and is less than 2 hours away from the city. The city is beautiful with Spanish colonial architecture, old missions, stunning beaches and is a perfect weekend getaway from the city. Thanks to the semi Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara is famously dubbed as the American Riviera and is pleasant to visit any time of the year.
The first place to visit in Santa Barbara is the downtown and the lively State Street. It gives you a feel of the stunning architecture and Mediterranean vibes of the city. Visit the most unique and beautiful Courthouse of Santa Barbara. Also climb the clock tower for spectacular views of the city. Old Mission, Santa Barbara is another beautiful place to visit to learn about the history of the missions in California. Stearn’s Wharf is also a great place to take a stroll, have some seafood and watch the sunset.
If you prefer to spend the day at the beach, check out East beach, Butterfly beach and Leadbetter beach. Santa Barbara is known for its Mexican cuisine so don’t forget to try some tacos and other Mexican dishes while you are there.
Where To Stay In Santa Barbara : Some of the best places to stay in Santa Barbara are Hilton Santa Barbara and the boutique style Hotel Milo.
By Aswani Kurra of A Charming Escape
4. Paso Robles
Paso Robles in California, is a great weekend getaway spot for those looking for a short trip from Los Angeles. Located approximately 3 to 3.5 hours drive north on the I-5 from Los Angeles, within a few hours, you can quickly transport yourself from the city’s hustle and traffic to the tranquil rolling hills and valleys of the vineyards enjoying a nice glass of chilled Cabernet Sauvignon.
Speaking of wine, and you can’t talk of Paso Robles without discussing wine. Attractions having to do with the “love of the grape” weigh heavily in this region since it is home to over 200 wineries. Paso Robles is a relaxing place to visit any time of the year, but wine lovers should travel to Paso during harvest season in the spring and late fall to attend one of the many wine festivals that take place annually.
Wine tours and tastings aside, other popular attractions nearby include guided tours of the famous Hearst Castle in San Simeon and Artist Bruce Munro’s Instagram favorite outdoor solar-power fibre optic light installation, “Sensorio.” If you are looking for some outdoor sandy fun, make your way to Oceano Dunes Natural Preserve.
ATV dune buggy rental or if sand and surf are more your style, visit Pismo Beach, both in and San Luis Obispo, a 30-minute drive away from Paso Robles.
Where To Stay In Paso Robles : Adelaide Inn offers an excellent and relaxing stay in the heart of Paso Robles wine county.
By Mary Chong Of Calculated Travel Magazine
5. Mammoth Lakes
Mammoth Lakes is a great weekend trip from Los Angeles. Located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California, it’s a 5 hour drive from Los Angeles. Perfect for the weekend adventurer leaving work Friday evening and returning Sunday even right in time to head to bed and back to the office Monday.
If you’re a skier or a snowboarder, Mammoth Lakes is a must visit in the winter. It’s one of the best resorts for winter sports in California, and also usually gets quite a bit of snow during the winter months. A lot of weekend warriors spend almost every weekend in Mammoth soaking up the full winter experience.
If you’re looking for a camping and hiking adventure, Mammoth is a must visit in the summer months. You can spend your days hiking around Convict Lake or on one of the many trails out of Devils Postpile/Reds Meadow. Ediza Lake and Minaret Lake are especially beautiful trails for a long day hike or backpacking trip. Lake Mary or Twin Lakes campground are beautiful places to stay at during the summer. You can also spend your days in the summer fishing, stand up paddleboarding, kayaking or boating.
The 395 Highway which leads to Mammoth is also full of wonderful places to stop, including Mt. Whitney in Lone Pine, Onion Valley and the hike to Kearsarge Pass out of Independence, the hikes out of Lake Sabrina and South Lake out of Bishop including Bishop Pass, are among some of the prettiest in the state.
Where To Stay In Mammoth Lakes : The Westin Monache Resort
By Jenny Kotlyar of Limitless Hiker
Located just 1.5 hours drive away from Los Angeles is Ojai, a small city in the Ventura County. The city has it’s own mystical charm and a laid back environment. Ojai features many camping sites, wineries, breathtaking scenic locations, biking trails and trekking trails. There are huge farmlands in and around Ojai, so be assured that you will be served farm fresh local cuisines at the restaurants.
The Downtown Ojai is a vibrant spot to discover local eateries, art galleries and local shops. To cater to your adventurous side, hike the Piedra Blanca Formations Trail and see some amazing rock formations. There are also many hiking trails in the Valley View Preserve near the downtown Ojai that would take you across scenic vineyards and orchards. Visit the Meditation Mount during the sunset to see the well known pink moment when the sky reflects a tone of pink to the surroundings.
Stock up some farm-fresh produce from the Ojai Farmers Market which is open on Sundays only. If you are visiting Ojai in June, make sure you visit the Ojai Valley Lavender festival which features gorgeous and splendid lavender fields.
Where To Stay In Ojai : Su Nido Inn
A trip to Buellton in Santa Barbara County is one of the best weekend trips from Los Angeles! The town was made famous by the 2004 movie Sideways that follows two men on a week long vacation in wine country.
Buellton is located in the Santa Ynez Valley, Just 2.5 hours from Los Angeles and 45 minutes from Santa Barbara. The best time to visit is during spring and summer, after all this town is known for its picturesque views, abundance of wineries, and amazing food!
Santa Ynez Valley produces some of the best wines in the United States, the area is not as popular and there are fewer crowds compared to Napa and Sonoma. There are several family owned wineries farms and distilleries that offer unique tastings. Pop into the legendary Pea Soup Andersen that has been operating for over 90 years. Enjoy one of the 2 million bowls of pea soup this restaurant serves every year!
While in Buellton, a visit to the Mendenhall Museum is mandatory. This is a private collection of one of the west coast’s largest petroliana collections including gasoline pumps, globes, and porcelain gas, oil, & road signs. The museum has race cars, memorabilia, license plates from World War 2, gas & oil items, and other interesting antiques.
Where To Stay In Buellton : Sideways Inn
By Julie Laundis of Wandering Sunsets
8. Joshua Tree
Joshua Tree National Park is less than a three hour drive away from Los Angeles, making it the perfect weekend getaway from the city. Named after the Joshua trees that call it home, the park offers up stunning desert scenery. There’s plenty of things to do here, most of them located along the main park road.
The cholla cactus garden is a short, easy trail that takes you through the aptly named teddy-bear cholla. This desert plant is fuzzy and photographs beautifully, especially in the early morning light. The park is also known for its rock climbing and rock formations. Two of the most include Arch Rock and Skull Rock. Arch Rock requires a short hike, but culminates at a large formation shaped like an arch. You will want to scramble around the rock to get pretty views, and Instagram-worthy photos.
Skull Rock is a large rock shaped like a human skull. You can scramble up the rock formation, and even do a short hike around it. The best viewing location is directly across the road, where you’ll also find the start of a few trails. Of course, don’t leave the park without photographing the Joshua trees themselves, which can be found throughout the northern part of the park.
Joshua Tree is best visited in the spring months for wildflowers, or in the fall or winter for cooler temperatures. Summer is hot, but you are likely to have the park to yourself.
Where To Stay Near Joshua tree National Park : If you can’t snag a campsite in the park, plan to stay in a Marbella Lane luxury tent for a unique stargazing glamping experience.
By Ale Leon of Sea Salt And Fog
Cambria, with its relaxed mood and picturesque setting, is a popular weekend destination from busy Los Angeles. At just 222 miles from Los Angeles, it is just a 3 and a half hours’ drive to this interesting town.
The Harmony Headlands hike is probably one of the top things to do here. Parking is free and this 4-mile round trip on a relatively flat beach is a must. Admire the gorgeous wildflowers in spring, and poppies – the state flower too. A good photo-op location especially at sunset with reflections in the water.
The Moonstone Beach – a great place for morning walks – is another attraction. It has dark pebbly sand and moonstones and jade rocks to admire. There are many restaurants near this beach for a quick bite and drink. The scenic drive to Fiscalini Ranch Preserve is simply amazing. There is a big choice of walks with various loops and wooden benches to sit and take in the scenery.
Cambria also boasts of several good places to eat. Mezzo Italiano on the Main street specializes in authentic home-cooked Italian dishes suitable for vegans too. The Café on the Bridge Street located in the historic Cambria house needs no introduction and is popular for its salads and sandwiches. The best time to visit Cambria is from late February to May due to the green hills and wildflowers in bloom.
Where To Stay In Cambria : If you want to stay overnight, Cambria Beach Lodge is a great choice.
By Jan of Leisurely Drives
10. Disneyland Resort
One of the most popular weekend trips from Los Angeles is to Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, California. The drive without traffic takes less than 30 minutes, which you can reasonably drive round-trip on the same day. However, many travelers choose to spend a night or two to immerse themselves in all things Disney.
It’s easy to fill multiple days exploring the rides and attractions across two theme parks — Disney California Adventure and Disneyland Park. Younger children love the character meet-and-greets and tame rides like “it’s a small world.” Older kids and adults may prefer the butterfly-inducing drops in thrill rides like Guardians of the Galaxy — Mission Breakout. The one not-to-be-missed ride right now is the new Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance, a dark trackless ride that also involves guest interaction with characters as the Resistance and First Order battle each other for control of the galaxy.
It is typically less crowded to visit on weekdays during the school year. You can save money with discount Disneyland tickets if visiting for multiple days.
If your budget permits, there are benefits to staying in the Disneyland Resort hotels. The most valuable is Extra Magic Hour which gives resort hotel guests early admission to one select park per day before it opens to the public. There are also plenty of moderate and value accommodation within walking distance of the park gates such as Homewood Suites by Hilton which families love it for its water play area and in-room bunk beds.
By Katie Dillon of La Jolla Living
11. La Jolla
One of the most enjoyable weekend trips from Los Angeles is La Jolla, just north of San Diego. A quick two hour drive and through the coastal highway bypassing some of the most iconic cities and coastal landscapes in the area, La Jolla is a fun getaway with lovely beaches, fantastic hiking areas, a cool downtown district and wonderful food and drink venues. For adventure seekers there’s so much outdoor activity available from surfing, kayaking, biking, hiking to all sorts of outdoor fun.
Art and culture lovers will enjoy the museum and art gallery scene in the area and the cool sophisticated vibe of this fun coastal city. Foodies will enjoy the delightful food choices, craft beer scene and lively bar scenes around the city. If you plan on visiting La Jolla and the area, check out the top things to do in the San Diego area here for more inspiration, cool things to do around this wonderful area in Southern California.
Where To Stay In La Jolla : Inn By The Sea
By Noel Morata of Travel Photo Discovery
12. San Diego
Sunny San Diego is one of the most visited tourist destinations in the USA, and for good reason! You can lounge around on some of the best beaches in Southern California, or head to one of the most famous zoos in the world. Just a 2-hour drive south of Los Angeles (about 120 miles) and you will be out of the chaotic traffic and noise of Los Angeles and into the slower vibes of San Diego. Since everything in San Diego is a bit spread out, the best way to get there is by car.
If you’re looking to swim or surf, the summer months are warmer, but most locals just don a wetsuit and head out to surf or ride around on a SUP board any time of the year. In fact, here’s a list of incredible things to do in California in December!
San Diego has the best of both worlds: a thriving downtown area with world-renowned museums and zoos as well as some of the most gorgeous beaches and ocean wildlife you can find in the USA. It’s the perfect weekend trip from Los Angeles!
Where To Stay In San Diego : If you’re looking to be close to the main attractions of Downtown San Diego, the best place to stay is in the Gaslamp Quarter. From there you can easily walk around the port and even take a ferry to Coronado Island. It’s only a short drive from there to visit Balboa Park and the San Diego Zoo.
By Dayna Brockbank of Happily Ever Travels
13. San Francisco
San Francisco is the perfect weekend road trip from Los Angeles. Via Interstate 5, the drive is approximately 6 hours long and is about 390 miles in distance. Flying is another great way to get to San Francisco since the flight only takes about 1.5 hours each way, this is definitely the best time saver.
Some of the best things to do in San Francisco are visiting the Embarcadero to see the San Francisco Bay coastline, grabbing clam chowder in a bread bowl, or taking a stroll along Golden Gate Park. On the weekends, Embarcadero usually has a farmers market at the Ferry Building, you will see a ton of local vendors with fresh produce, souvenirs, and even food stalls. Clam chowder can be found at the famous Boudins at Fisherman’s Wharf or Hog Island Oyster Company inside the Ferry Building. Golden Gate Park is the largest park in the city and is home to museums such as the DeYoung Museum and California Academy of Sciences.
The best time to visit San Francisco is during the spring and autumn months. The weather is warmer and the weather is typically sunnier than most days. During the summer, the city is usually foggy and it is not as pleasant.
Where To Stay In San Francisco : The best place to stay in San Francisco is in downtown or the Financial District. Here you will be located close to the action and near Union Square. Stay at Nikko Hotel and you will be steps away from all of the shopping by Union Square.
By Constance of The Adventures Of Panda Bear
14. The Queen Mary, Long Beach
Located at just 26 miles on Highway 710 from downtown Los Angeles, a weekend on the Queen Mary, Long Beach could almost be described as a staycation. Listed on the National Register of historic places and one of the Historic Hotels of America, the Queen Mary is now located in Long Beach Harbour. While you can visit the Queen Mary for the day, we recommend spending a weekend in this 1930’s era floating hotel. Originally an ocean liner, she made her maiden voyage from Southampton, England on May 27, 1936. She was known as the epitome of Art Deco luxury. You’ll find art deco staterooms in this historic hotel that is a resort in its own right.
There are beautiful decks to saunter along, 1930’s artwork and all the glamour associated with luxury transatlantic travel in the 1930s and ’40s. You can relax or experience some of the many attractions and yours here. Visit the engine room, the below decks experience or even the “haunted encounter”, where you will learn about all the legends and myths associated with this legend of the seas. There are bars and restaurants, the Sunday champagne brunch is highly recommended, and cocktails to sip in the Art Deco bars.
This is a marvelous way to spend a weekend not far from Los Angeles and experience the glamour of a bygone age.
By Sarah Carter of A Free Drink
15. Slab City
Slab City is an offbeat, off-the-grid community hunkered down in the dry hot desert near the Salton Sea. At first glance it looks like a random RV park, but the residents are a diverse community of artists, homesteaders and retirees living off the grid, on the cheap, and absolutely on their own terms.
Slab City is a great weekend trip from Los Angeles for people who are open minded and into art. On the way into Slab City, you can stop off at Salvation Mountain. This colorful religious shrine was a passion project of Leonard Knight. He felt compelled to build it as a testament to his faith. Another artsy stop is the East Jesus sculpture garden. East Jesus is a wacky assemblage of sculptures and Burning Man contraptions made from found objects.
The Slabs are located 200 miles southeast of Los Angeles, just east of the Salton Sea. It will take upto 3 hours to get there from Los Angeles. The best time to visit is from November to March. It’s very hot in California’s eastern desert and there are more residents (and thus more activity) in The Slabs in the cooler months.
Where To Stay In Slab City : You can actually spend the night in Slab City by renting a rustic “cabin” at the Ponderosa Camp. There are also some motels and homes for rent in nearby Bombay Beach, which is also worth a visit because they have Burner sculpture there too.
By Carol Guttery of California Crossings
These were all the very best weekend trips from Los Angeles we have come across. Whichever weekend destination you choose, we are sure you will make lots of cherishable memories.
Have you been to any of these weekend trips from Los Angeles? Or do have more getaway ideas to share? Let us know in the comments section below.
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