10 Killer Road Trips to Take From Los Angeles

If you're looking to escape LA for the day and you're ready for some adventure, then keep reading. We've rounded up 10 of our favorite LA day trips. Plus, they're all under three hours!

Photo By: DavidMSchrader

Photo By: Ron_Thomas


Photo By: cliffwass

Photo By: Joel Carillet

Photo By: skodonnell

Photo By: delray77

Photo By: Kevin Panizza

Photo By: San Diego Convention & Visitors Bureau

Santa Barbara


The scenery in Santa Barbara is so beautiful you may decide you never want to leave. Across from the showstopping Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, Butterfly Beach is a great place to start out your day. After some quality beach time, you can walk across the street and enjoy a posh lunch overlooking the ocean at Bella Vista. Check out the downtown area and walk down State Street for some window (or real!) shopping. Before you hop in the car to head back, make yourself a custom box of chocolates at an adorable little candy shop: Chocolats du CaliBressan. (Just try not to eat them all before you get home.)

Big Bear Lake

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Big Bear is a great spot to visit in warmer months, but it's also an ideal destination during the winter. (Yep, you can actually see some snow and go skiing!) Hop on the Scenic Sky Chair Lift for some breathtaking views on your way to the top of the mountain. If you're not up for skiing, you can go tubing in Tube Park. On Thursday through Sunday, you can go for a Creole brunch at the Knickerbocker Mansion before heading home to the City of Angels.

Palm Springs

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Channel Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack and head out to Palm Springs for the day. Stop on the way at the Cabazon Outlets for some discount shopping, and don't miss getting a famous date shake at Hadley's. (It sounds gross, but we promise it's so yummy!) Once you hit town, take a Celebrity Tour to see iconic old homes and learn a bit more about the city. Do some vintage shopping, then end your day with a meal (and a quick tour) of the Jonathan Adler-designed Parker Hotel.

Catalina Island

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 45 minutes to Long Beach + 1-hour ferry ride

On a beautiful, sunny California day, hop on a ferry to Catalina Island. Head straight over to the Descanso Beach Club. You can reserve a private cabana or a chaise out on the beach. Grab some boozy ice cream from Descano Fresh before you tackle your juicy beach read. After some relaxing beach time, head over for lunch at an island favorite: Lobster Trap. Everything on the menu is worth a try, but the coconut shrimp and the monkey balls can't be missed. Visit the beautiful Catalina Casino before you head home. There's no gambling here anymore, but you can see the gorgeous, round structure which was built under the direction of William Wrigley Jr. for two million dollars back in the day.

Joshua Tree


Begin your desert adventure with a trip to the Integratron, about 20 minutes north of Joshua Tree. At this one-of-a-kind wood dome, you can book a one-hour sound bath (where crystal quartz bowls are played live) for a completely immersive relaxation experience. From there, head off to Skull Rock Nature Loop. This is a two-mile hike where you can see some spectacular rock formations. Next, hit up Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Art Museum to see outdoor sculptures. Noah Purifoy was an African American artist who was best known for his "assemblage sculpture," and the museum includes more than 100 pieces of his unique works. On your way back to La La Land, stop and grab a bite at Pappy & Harriet's in Pioneertown. This quirky restaurant has open mic nights and live performances, legendary barbecue and cheap beer.

Temecula Valley

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 2 hours and 10 minutes

You can't make it up to Napa Valley for a one-day road trip, but if you're a wine lover, you can head to the Temecula Valley. Start the day off in charming Old Town Temecula, and walk around to see some of the old buildings, antique shops and adorable cafes. From there, you can join a horse-drawn carriage tour of the local wineries. Stop and have a picnic along the way. To cap off your day, take a short balloon ride above Temecula Valley before heading home.


DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 2 hours and 17 minutes

On your way into the majestic town of Ojai, stop by one of our favorite stores: Summer Camp. We predict it will be hard for you to resist their adorable "Oh, hi" t-shirts. Drive into town and have brunch at the Knead Baking Company. Even if it's not breakfast time, you must get the breakfast sandwich. After you fill up on some yummy food, head over to the Ojai Valley Inn and enjoy a massage or facial at their positively dreamy spa.



When you drive into Solvang, a small town in the Santa Ynez Mountains, you might feel like you're actually in Denmark! This adorable Danish town is actually in Southern California. Embrace the Danish spin by starting your day off at the Hans Christian Andersen Museum. The museum is actually just one room but includes a number of the author's works and ephemera (and you can buy any of his books). After you explore the downtown area, you can see the rest of the city by taking a Segway Tour, which will also fill you in on some of the area's history. Before you leave, make sure to stop at Olsen's Danish Village Bakery and stock up on some pastries to bring home. Everything there is next-level yum, but the Danish waffle and Swedish delight are two of our favorites.

Laguna Beach

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 1 hour and 30 minutes

Start your day in the coastal town of Laguna Beach with a trip to the "Top of the World" lookout point. From here, you can get a bird's-eye view of the town and see the most stunning views of Laguna Beach. Nick's Laguna Beach is the spot to stop at for lunch. (Don't miss the fried deviled eggs!) Nick's gets booked up weeks in advance, so make your reservation as soon as you know you'll be breezing through town. After lunch, head over to the Mission San Juan Capistrano. If you're there the third week in October or the third week in March, you might catch a glimpse of the world-famous Cliff Swallows. In October, the swallows depart from the mission and head back to Argentina for the winter, and in March they make their grand return. Before you head back to LA, grab a sunset cocktail (or mocktail) at the Ritz Carlton Laguna Niguel at their 180Blu lounge. You can sit out on the deck at the hotel overlooking the Pacific Ocean to watch the sunset.

San Diego

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 2 hours and 30 minutes

The drive down to San Diego is an easy one. But if you don't feel like jumping in your car for the day, you can also hop on Amtrak's Pacific Surfliner train and relax the whole way. First, stop for an early lunch at Tacos El Gordo for a traditional Mexican feast. Their flagship location is across the border in Tijuana, so you know the tacos at this place are the real deal. Next, head over to the world-famous San Diego Zoo where you can see animals up close and personal in their natural environments at their "Animals in Action" experience. You can also learn how the zoo is helping to save a number of different animal species there and around the world. If you're short on time, skip the zoo and board a boat for the San Diego Seal Tour around the whole city (as well as some time with the California sea lions who live in the area). On your way out of town, stop at the Baked Bear and grab a custom ice cream sandwich.

Shop This Look