Los Angeles in California is a hub of entertainment, exciting things to do, and amazing attractions. You’ve already been to the Hollywood Walk Of Fame, Rodeo Drive and all manner of tourist hotspots, so where can you go nearby or travel to, to have a new experience?
We’ve gathered a list of 15 day trips and road trips from LA for you to try out. Whether it’s close by attractions, or some just a few hours away, you’re bound to find something or somewhere that you’ve never seen before!
Palm Springs has become the resort destination to go to. It’s been a popular haunt for Hollywood movie stars since the 1930s and continues to be today. It’s no wonder why, as this location is like a tropical oasis, or a sunny paradise.
In Palm Springs, you can bask in the sun, enjoy the lush greenery, or engage in outdoor activities such as swimming, golf, tennis and hiking. With wilderness trails such as the Indian Canyons, or the Palm Canyon, you can enjoy mountain views, waterfalls and rivers to dip your toes into.
If you want some retail therapy, there’s also lots of locally owned stores and shops to enjoy, along with high class fashion boutiques and malls to cater to everyone’s tastes.
For a taste of culture, you can head to the Palm Springs Art Museum to see an incredible display of Native American and Western American artifacts, or head to the Architecture and Design Center to explore some mid-century modern designs.
Palm Springs is the ultimate weekend getaway just a stone’s throw away from LA.
If you’re looking for one of the best and most memorable days out from LA, then you have to go to Disneyland in Anaheim. Whilst we all know Disney is for kids, Disneyland was actually designed as a place where adults can go to feel the nostalgia of being a kid again, and have fun with their own children.
As a result, there’s plenty of fun things for adults to do. You can enjoy cocktails over Pixar Pier, feast upon the abundance of snacks like churros and turkey legs, and of course enjoy your favorite rides like Pirates of the Caribbean, or the Haunted Mansion.
There’s also a recently opened Star Wars land called Galaxy’s Edge, where fans can become a part of the immersive universe of Star Wars, building their own droids and lightsabers! (if you need something to read on the away, check out ‘15 Best Star Wars Audiobooks For Long Road Trips‘)
Not only are the attractions incredible and always being renovated, updated and improved, Disneyland offers awesome eateries and shopping facilities both within the parks and in the Downtown Disney area (see also ‘15 Cool Things To Do In Orlando With Kids On Your Trip‘).
There’s some breathtaking hotels and resorts to kick back in if you prefer a weekend getaway to get the most that these amusement parks have to offer. Trust us on this one, you’ll never have a bad day out at Disneyland.
Santa Catalina Island
You may recognize Santa Catalina Island for its picturesque views and beautiful beaches and bays as this place is a star in its own right. Santa Catalina has been utilized in countless Hollywood films and TV shows, and still draws in visitors to this day.
It’s the perfect place to unwind as it truly is a paradise. You have the ocean waves dancing on the horizon, and the charming town of Avalon, filled with restaurants, bars, shopping, hotels and ocean views. Here, you’ll find palm tree lined beaches, botanical gardens, bright blue waters and relaxation wherever you go.
Santa Catalina Island can be the romantic getaway you’ve been looking for, where you can relax by the harbors, or take a dip in the waters. On the other hand, there’s lots of activities for you to participate in from snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking, paddle boarding, mountain biking, hiking, boating and fishing!
Santa Barbara is a beautiful beach town just 100 miles north of Los Angeles, and is also a much visited getaway for the biggest Hollywood movie stars. The appeal of this holiday destination is the historic Spanish styled buildings, lined with palm trees aplenty, and beaches to explore.
The lush greenery contrasts the architecture of this quaint town, and truly is a sight to behold. There is plenty of history to uncover, with 19th century landmarks and colonial art at the Old Mission Santa Barbara. You’ll also love the Santa Barbara County Courthouse, and the museum of art.
For kids and animal lovers, you can take a day trip to the Santa Barbara Zoo, or head up the canyons hiking to get some blood pumping! Whether it’s a romantic, relaxing getaway or a fun filled adventure in a scenic location, Santa Barbara has got it all.
Joshua Tree National Park
If you’ve ever wanted to wander in the desert just like in old Western movies, then Joshua Tree National Park is the place to do it. This is a place of incredible natural beauty, and you will be astonished at how stunning the views are here.
Just under a three hour drive away from LA, you will find this national park filled with unique trees, known as Yucca brevifolia, which are native to the Mojave Desert. It is said that Native Americans would use these trees to make beautiful woven baskets, and would eat the seeds and flower buds.
Here, you can find amazing trails and walks with the backdrop of canyons and greenery for breathtaking views. You can try the 49 Palms Oasis trail for a moderate three mile hike, or shorter more shaded walks such as the Cottonwood Spring Oasis. You will also want to try the Hidden Valley trail surrounded by rocks in one of nature’s most beautiful valleys.
As it’s a bit of a trek from the hub of LA, you may want to stay overnight and get the most out of this place, so check out some local camping grounds and sleep beneath the stars!
Laguna Beach is renowned for its beautiful beaches, culture and bohemian style. It’s the perfect place if you love art, with lots of galleries, art festivals and local talent to check out.
Laguna Beach can be found in southern Orange County, California (see also our article on Temecula), and is a wonderful coastal town and getaway. It’s full of restaurants, beaches, bars and art galleries so that you can cut loose and have a chilled weekend. You’ll definitely want to hit the Laguna Art Museum, before heading to the beach to enjoy some fun watersports.
If you want a fun day out at the beach that isn’t too far away, then head down to Huntington Beach! This place was put on the map by the Beach Boys during the 60s, and is now known as Surf City, USA as it is one of the biggest hotspots for surfing enthusiasts.
With wide, sandy beaches and crashing waves, you can ride the surf on the water, or catch a tan on the shore. You’ll love the beautiful harbor, and all of the beach games and nature walks that you can join in with.
Santa Monica is an icon in itself. In particular, Pacific Park has been featured in countless movies and TV shows across generations, from Forrest Gump to Beverly Hills Cop, Iron Man, and even Gilmore Girls. Santa Monica Pier is a must see and should be ticked off your bucket list.
Originally constructed in 1909, the Santa Monica Pier was actually the first concrete pier on the West Coast. It became a popular fishing spot, especially after 1941 when the iconic neon Santa Monica Yacht Harbor sign was erected.
There’s Pacific Park to enjoy, with a range of attractions and amusements, along with an old-fashioned arcade filled with vintage games and new ones to enjoy. There’s usually stalls of crafts and handmade products to take a look at, and often performers such as magicians and musicians to brighten up your day.
Take a walk along the pier, across the hot sands or cool off in the water, and stroll down to the funky, unique Venice Beach from there, taking in all the sights and sounds and the pure variety of people enjoying the boardwalk.
Big Bear Lake
Big Bear Lake is often referred to as Southern California’s premier mountain lake escape getaway. It’s perfect for a weekend vacation or road trip stop, with parks, lakefronts and beautiful scenery to enjoy.
If you want to explore the great outdoors, unwind and take some time away from the hustle and bustle of LA, then Big Bear Lake is the perfect spot for you.
Fun fact: Big Bear Lake is also where some of the iconic Hollywood film Gone With The Wind was filmed, despite many people being under the impression it was filmed on location in Georgia!
San Gabriel Mountains
The San Gabriel Mountains can truly take you out into the wilderness. You can hike these mountains, and enjoy a view of LA that you’ll never forget. Just keep in mind that this hike is only for the extreme adventurer, and experienced trail-blazer.
Why not head to Mexico on your next road trip? You can hit up Tijuana, and enjoy this vibrant, exciting and exhilarating Mexican city in all its glory. You can find beaches, bars, music concerts, festivals, restaurants, cultural events and so many different attractions. Grab a taste of the cuisine and local culture and head to the historic plaza!
You will have already seen these iconic dinosaurs in popular culture and on social media for sure! The Cabazon Dinosaurs is a unique and impressive roadside attraction that always stops travellers in their tracks. This attraction features two enormous steel and concrete dinosaurs that were first constructed in 1964!
The dinosaurs were initially built by Claude K. Bell in order to attract customers to his Wheel Inn Cafe, which originally opened in 1958. Nowadays, people from all over the states stop to see these weird and wonderful creations.
Visitors are also able to climb inside the staggering 150 foot Brontosaurus for free and head to the gift shop, whereas you have to pay for admission into the huge Tyrannosaurus Rex to take a peek through his massive teeth for awesome views ahead of you. Inside of the T-Rex, you’ll also find a small museum!
The good news is that this destination is near Palm Springs, so you can see these figures for yourself on the way to a romantic weekend getaway for a bit of fun.
Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park
If you want some peace, quiet and time to be at one with nature, then you’ll love Vasquez Rocks. This place was named after Tiburcio Vasquez, one of California’s greatest bandits in 1874 who used the rocks to escape capture. This park is now used for hiking, trailing, camping, picnicking and for horseback riding.
The park is 932 acres of mountains and picturesque beauty, with unique rock formations due to the sedimentary layering. It comes as no surprise that here you can rock climb, or horse ride or head up on foot to see the amazing views from the top.
Heritage Square Museum
Heritage Square Museum is a fun day out that all can enjoy, and it’s not too far away. It’s a living history and open air architecture museum near the Arroyo Seco Parkway in Montecito Heights. This museum is made up of a collection of structures from the 1800s and moved to this location for all to examine.
With architecture from the Civil War to the early 20th century, this museum gives you a taste of history, culture and a look into the lives of Southern Californians from the end of the 19th century.
If you’re looking for constant sunshine, bright blue waters and a seaside town, then you’ll have to make the journey to San Diego. The best part? There’s so much to do in San Diego, that it’s become one of the most popular places to visit in California (see also ‘15 Amazing Things To Do In Fresno During Your Vacation‘).
There is of course the San Diego Zoo, home to a vast range of exotic animals, along with SeaWorld for attractions, animals and water rides for kids to enjoy.
Not only this, but there are also historical attractions for you to enjoy such as the Old Town, and the Victorian Gaslamp Quarter. You can visit countless art galleries, restaurants, shops and so much more to get a taste of this town, or kick back one of the best beaches in the world!