Who doesn’t love a quick getaway? Whether you want to escape with your loved ones or even try it solo, you deserve to take a short break. Take a weekend trip to one of these awesome locations without breaking the budget. If you just want to get out of Los Angeles for a change in scenery, start here!
(15-minute ferry ride from San Pedro or Newport Beach, 22 mi. off the coast)
I’m not sure if this deal ever expires, but Groupon has had a $39 round-trip boat ride to Catalina Island deal for a long time and I’m hoping it stays that way! The ferry boat ride is half the fun, but once you’re on the island there are plenty of activities. Try electric bikes, easy for all ages due to minimal vehicle traffic. (You can even race the golf carts!) Or choose to hike, whale watch, paraglide, kayak, snorkel, join a submarine adventure, and so much more. The town is perfect for a daytime excursion. If you wish to spend the night, the resorts can get pricey but camping is also a fantastic option!
(120 miles from LA, 2.1-hrs drive or train)
Still part of the southern California bubble, San Diego is a hop, jump, and a skip away! Head down to the La Jolla beaches or hang out downtown and enjoy the local vibes. Discover the Gaslamp Quarter, a lively downtown neighborhood full of shopping, dining, and nightlife. Check out Balboa Park, LEGOLAND, or the San Diego Zoo to satisfy your little ones. Visit the historic Hotel del Coronado, a unique beachfront resort right on the sand.
(33.2 miles from LA, 45 min drive)
Whether you want to explore nature or see celebrity homes, Malibu is as beautiful as what you see on TV. Malibu Creek State Park and Point Magu State Park are home to miles of hiking trails along Malibu’s beaches with natural rock climbing sensations. Malibu Creek State Park is even home to a large rock pool where adventurers like to cliff jump.
El Matador State Beach is one of my favorite beaches of all time. As soon as you park and look past the steps, the rocky shores along the ocean are simply mesmerizing. Go camping at Leo Carillo State Beach and enjoy swimming, surfing, hiking, and fishing. Located in between Santa Monica and Santa Barbara, Malibu is the perfect spot for a mini getaway.
Plus, try Ollo Malibu for brunch, the farm-to-table dining experience is fairly priced and oh so delicious.
(106.6 miles from LA, 2-hrs drive)
Desert adventure, outlet malls, Indian casinos, music festivals… What more can a city give you? The weather is perfect for a winter escape and the sun gets blazing during the summer. Take the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to see the city from an aerial perspective. Take a photo with the giant prehistoric dinosaur at the Cabazon Dinosaurs attraction or hide under Marilyn Monroe’s oversized dress at the Forever Marilyn Statue.
Take a short drive east to Joshua Tree National Park to see its rugged rock formations and unique bristled Joshua trees. Camp overnight under the stars. If you get lucky you’ll get to witness a meteor shower in the dark wilderness, a truly spectacular sight.
(50.2 miles from LA, 1.2-hrs drive)
Full of picturesque ocean landscapes, Laguna Beach is sure to please artists, photographers, and nature enthusiasts. Feel the sand beneath your bare feet as you approach the ocean and enjoy the view. Downtown Laguna, located along Pacific Coast Highway (SR-1), captures a unique Orange County essence with rooftop bars, art galleries, and local shopping. Visit my favorite five picture perfect beaches in Laguna Beach if you want to take a few scenic photos along the way.
(128.2 miles from LA, 2.5-hrs drive)
Located in the Santa Ynez Valley just north of Los Angeles, this small town is known for its Dutch inspired artictecture, food, and wineries. This Danish village hosts many events from wine tastings to boutique shopping. With or without a plan, this tiny city is so unique and fun to explore. Take a bike ride to visit all the bakeries and get a taste of the Dutch lifestyle for a day.
(95.1 miles from LA, 2-hrs drive)
The shoreline of Santa Barbara is absolutely spectacular. As you begin your journey along the central California coast, Santa Barbara is a must see. Downtown is buzzing all day with an eclectic yet relaxed crowd and the locals are super friendly. There are a great selection of wineries for those who enjoy wine tasting, the Santa Barbara zoo for animal lovers, hikes for all intensity levels, museums, discovery centers, street markets, and plenty of beach activities.
(80.0 miles from LA, 1.5-hrs drive)
Considered a small lake in the grand scheme of lakes, this small quaint town is the perfect escape. Nestled in the San Bernardino mountains, Lake Arrowhead has plenty of adventure for families, young couples, or a group of friends. After hiking, water skiing, riding ATVS, having a picnic, taking a boat tour, spend the night in the fresh mountain air at a campsite or one of Lake Arrowhead’s charming cabins. There are two main campgrounds, Dogwood and Northshore campgrounds. Both give you the alpine experience less than 2 hours away.
(85.2 miles from LA, 1.5-hrs drive)
I’ve recently discovered the beauty of the Cleveland National Forest, right past the Ortega Freeway, and it’s one massive forest filled with hikes and adventures. Most of the trails allow your furry friends to climb with you over the each mountain peak. You can spend all day here and more. If you prefer a more relaxing day, explore Old Town, Pechanga Resort and Casino, and don’t forget to try some of their famous wineries.
Temecula Bonus: Each year, the city hosts the Temecula Valley Balloon and Wine festival with live music, wine tasting, hot air balloon rides, and more.
(96.8 mi miles from LA, 2-hrs drive)
For southern California adventure enthusiasts, Los Angeles is only a few hours away from Big Bear mountain. Big Bear hosts recreational activities year-round including fishing, bike riding, boating, hiking, paddle boarding, wake boarding, and so much more. But during the colder months, Big Bear is known for its enchanted winter wonderland. Each season’s snowfall differs but regardless, the resorts will be open all winter for those who love to ski and snowboard.
(81.1 miles from LA, 1.5-hrs drive)
This quaint town shows off its Spanish-inspired style amongst the architecture. Most tourists come to Ojai for a spa getaway or to relax with nature. The Ojai area includes the Matilija Wilderness and part of the Sespe Wilderness, the largest wilderness area within Los Padres National Forest. Meditation Mount was built in 1971 as a public meditation center for those who want to learn to meditate or just take in the breathtaking views. Each summer, the Ojai Music Festival features classical music, promotes education and health, and promotes the city’s local wineries.
Written by Priscilla Lam