Alyssa has been writing about exciting travel topics for Trips to Discover since 2013. After living the big city life in Chicago, Washington, DC, and Atlanta, Alyssa sold the bulk of her possessions and became a digital nomad, living full-time in her camper and working from wherever she could find an outlet and an internet connection for her laptop.
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Life in Los Angeles is amazing, but sometimes we all need a little break. Fortunately, there are lots of things to see and do in the Los Angeles area that can easily be squeezed into a weekend. Options in the area include nature and adventure for outdoorsy types, wineries and vineyards for a break from routine, spa destinations for relaxation, and unique towns that’ll make you feel like you’re a world away.
Driving in Los Angeles can feel next to impossible sometimes, so plan your departure time wisely and hit the road to explore the surrounding areas in style. These are some of the best weekend getaway spots from Los Angeles to broaden your Southern California horizons.
Palm Springs epitomizes luxury with its alluring spa resorts. Here you’ll find golf courses, outlet shopping, lovely architecture, and some old Hollywood haunts. Come here with your group of girlfriends to indulge in spa time, shopping, and a fun pool scene. This town is also known for being very LGBTQ friendly, which is a big selling point for singles and couples coming from L.A. The nearby mountains make Palm Springs incredibly scenic, and it’s only about an hour and 45 minutes from Los Angeles. Other popular things to see and do here include taking a tour of Elvis’ Honeymoon Hideaway with Elvis and Priscilla Presley impersonators and visiting Desert Memorial Park to see Frank Sinatra’s grave.
This is a suburb of San Diego but is worth a trip all by itself. Come here to catch a performance at the La Jolla Playhouse and walk along the beach to see the seals. La Jolla is less than two hours from Los Angeles in no traffic. One place to go to if you’re looking for a little weekend seclusion is Black’s Beach, which can be accessed at Blackgold Road and La Jolla Farms Drive. This is a nude beach, so bring your suit only if you want to.
Napa and Sonoma aren’t the only places in California to go for wine country. There are some amazing vineyards and wineries in the Palo Robles too worth visiting. This is a great place to visit with your special someone for a weekend getaway or a group of girlfriends. The Danish town of Solvang is also nearby and known for its famous architecture and aebleskivers, which are delicious pancake puffs in a spherical shape.
This is an easy getaway that’s about 90-120 minutes north of Los Angeles and a true haven for artsy types. Artists, healers, and hippies have flocked here for many years and created a cozy and welcoming environment worth checking out. You’ll find everything from gourmet restaurants with the freshest of ingredients to biker bars to cycling trips in the countryside here. Make sure to spend some time at Los Padres National Forest to get your nature fix before you head back to L.A. There are also vineyards in the area so you can try some locally grown wine while you’re in town. Yoga, local art, and hot springs are definitely options too when you come to Ojai.
Santa Barbara is a popular resort town where you can enjoy top attractions that include great beaches and incredible restaurants. To squeeze a little history into your weekend, check out the Santa Barbara Mission. The city’s architecture has a strong Spanish influence, and you can go to the Spanish-style courthouse to get awesome views of the city. Then head to State Street for high-end bars and boutiques. It’s also interesting to take a walk around Stearns Wharf to watch the fishing boats unload their catches for the day. Other top things to do in Santa Barbara include biking, hiking, and simply enjoying the amazing weather. Don’t miss the Funk Zone arts district for craft breweries like Figueroa Mountain Brewing Co. and Telegraph Brewing Company.
People who love to shop and eat out will really enjoy a weekend getaway to Newport Beach. This is a place to see the yachts and glitz and glamour of Fashion Island. There are also some sailor bars here, which makes Newport Beach even more perfect for a girls’ getaway trip.
No matter what the season, it’s always a good time to take a weekend trip to Bear Lake. This is a mountain getaway destination that’s perfect for water sports, biking, and hiking in the summer. The summer temperatures are usually around a very pleasant 80 degrees. Big Bear is also a winter retreat, so check it out during both seasons to experience the difference.
This island is a tiny strip of land that can only be reached by ferry from San Perdo or Long Beach. Here you’ll get a little bit of everything – history, nature, and a relaxing beach town vibe. Expect to see plenty of golf carts driving around as you walk along the boardwalk and stop into boutique shops. If you’re looking to splurge and get a taste of adventure, you can find that here in zip lining, helicopter, and Jeep tours. But if you’d rather take the weekend at your own pace, you can go hiking or biking to explore the coastline on your own as well. Avalon and Two Harbors are both great options for a weekend trip that offer something completely different to L.A. residents.
This mountain town is about two hours from L.A. and southeast of Palm Springs, and the drive to get there is winding and gains a good amount of elevation. One good hiking route is the Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail. Recommended places to go for dinner are Idyll Awhile and the Lumber Mill Bar and Grill. You’ll want to spend time at the Mount San Jacinto State Park, Idyllwild Nature Center, Idyllwild Park, and Lake Fulmor here to get your weekend nature fix. Amazing views can be found at the Indian Vista Scenic Overlook, and Middle Ridge Winery is worth a stop as well.
You’ll only need to travel about an hour from Los Angeles to reach Malibu, a town famous for beaches, mansions, and the Hollywood elite. Top attractions here include the Getty Villa, Paradise Cove, and plenty of surf culture to slow down your face and change your state of mind. While in this area, make sure to visit the Santa Monica Mountains for trails that pass through canyons and travel to waterfalls. Top places to add to your Malibu itinerary include Zuma Beach, Point Dume State Beach and Preserve, El Matador State Beach, and Malibu Pier. Beaches here are plentiful, so keep exploring the area until you find one to fall in love with.
It only takes a couple of hours to reach San Diego from Los Angeles, so come here to experience the ultimate skating and surfing scene in SoCal. This is also an ideal weekend getaway for craft beer lovers because there are a huge number of breweries here. With a strong naval background, San Diego has amazing weather all throughout the year, so there’s rarely a bad time to visit. If you haven’t been to the city before, make sure to see Balboa Park, Mission Beach, Coronado Beach, the Gaslamp Quarter, and the San Diego Zoo.
For a healthy and inspiring dose of nature, head to Joshua Tree National Park for a weekend of outdoor adventures. Just be mindful that since the park is only a couple hours from Los Angeles, it does tend to be pretty busy with crowds on Saturdays and Sundays. This is the place to come to go on stunning desert hikes, climb big boulders, visit artist colonies, and listen to the blissful silence of Mother Nature. Expect to find impressive rock formations, wild yucca plants, and a nice alternative to the Palm Springs area. Some of the best rocks in the park can be seen at Indian Cove on a day hike. There’s also a spiritual sense to this place, including a dome called the Integratron where you can get a “sound bath” via soothing sounds on crystal bowls. Another odd place to add to your itinerary is the Desert Art Museum of Assemblage Sculpture, which spans about 10 acres and has everything from broken computers to clothing scraps as an art form. Nearby hotels can be found at Twentynine Palms.