Best Day Trips From Los Angeles

As one of the country’s largest cities and one of the world’s best-known locations, Los Angeles has something to offer just about everyone. Locals and visitors alike will find plenty in the City of Angels to keep them occupied, from the glitz and glamour of Hollywood to the hustle and bustle of downtown to the city’s abundant Pacific Coast beaches.

But LA is not without problems. Traffic, smog, and high prices can soon have you longing to head outside the city. Lucky, then, that Southern California is rich in a variety of different attractions well worth visiting. And many of them are only a few hours from Los Angeles.

So the next time the chaos of the city starts to wear you down, consider recharging at one of these locations. The best day trips from Los Angeles will have you refreshed and ready to face everything the city can throw you.

Laguna Beach

When it comes to rest and relaxation, nothing beats a day at the beach. Los Angeles boasts plenty of local beaches, but the city’s large population means that they can quickly get crowded. If you want to head out of town for the day, leave your extra bags at a luggage storage shop in LA and head to Laguna beach.

Laguna Beach is only an hour’s drive from LA, and so gets its share of visitors too. But if you visit early in the day or during the off-season, you may be able to find the perfect patch of golden sand to watch the crashing waves of the Pacific Ocean and let yourself unwind.

Main Beach is the most popular beach in the town, with its tidepools and boardwalk making it perfect for families. But if you explore a little, you may find isolated coves and beaches where you can get away from the crowds.

Additionally, Laguna Beach is right beside Crystal Cove State Park, a beautiful stretch of undeveloped coastal wilderness that will make you feel a million miles away from the city.

San Diego

From one city to another. Sometimes, a change is as good as a rest. And while San Diego may be only two hours drive down the I5, it has a completely different feel to Los Angeles that makes it ideal for a day trip.

San Diego sits almost on the border with Mexico, and as a result, has a distinctly Latin feel. The home of Sea World, San Diego is also the location of the USS Midway Museum and the San Diego Museum of Art. Along with the zoo and the beaches, there’s plenty here to keep everyone occupied.

While in the city, you should definitely check out La Jolla Cove. The crystal clear waters of this beach make it perfect for snorkelling and scuba diving, or just paddling in the water and relaxing in the sunshine.

Santa Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island lies just to the south of Los Angeles, about twenty miles off the coast. But that twenty miles may as well be a thousand for the difference between the buzzing city and the laid-back atmosphere of the islands.

As a mountainous island thrust out into the Pacific Ocean, Santa Catalina is known for its epic panoramic views. It’s also a great place for an encounter with the natural world. Glass-bottom boat tours launch from here, allowing you to see the vibrant marine life the island is known for.

Scuba diving and snorkelling are also popular ways to get up close with the local wildlife. Plus, the island is a perfect place for hiking, swimming, and relaxing on the abundant beaches surrounding it. At only an hour’s ferry ride from the city, Santa Catalina Island is a near-perfect day trip from Los Angeles.

Angeles National Forest

With all the abundant sunshine Southern California is blessed with, it’s no wonder so many residents of Los Angeles and the surrounding area like to spend their free time on the beach. But there’s more to this part of California than golden sand and dazzling blue waves, as inviting as those can be.

A perfect escape from the noise and commotion of the city, Angeles National Forest can be reached in as little as half an hour from the city itself. Despite this closeness to the city, Angeles National Forest offers you a chance to find that elusive solitude. With 650,000 acres to get lost in, it’s easy to forget the city is so close.

Hiking and equestrian trails wind through the trees of this protected wilderness. The lakes and rivers make good spots for fishing or for dipping your toes on a hot day. The forest and its mountains are also home to many species of birds and wildlife, including black bears and mountain lions.

The Angeles National Forest is the backyard wilderness of the city of Los Angeles. As such, it’s an ideal spot for a Los Angeles day trip.

Joshua Tree National Park

As you head inland from Los Angeles, you’ll be able to see the scenery change. The landscape gets drier as the elevation rises, and the ocean is left far behind. At almost three hours from the city, Joshua Tree is a long day trip from Los Angeles, but if you have the time, it’s a rewarding one.

This is a landscape like no other. The famous Joshua trees got their name from Mormon settlers who likened their strange rugged shapes to the prophet Joshua petitioning heaven. These rare plants are found only in the Mojave Desert which borders the National Park.

The rugged landscape of Joshua Tree National Park is a great place for hiking, biking, and horseback riding. And the open desert vistas make it a spectacular place for photography, especially at sunrise and sunset. Thanks to its dark skies, it’s also a phenomenal place for stargazing.

Day Trips From Los Angeles

Whether you’re looking to explore new cities, swim in the ocean, soak up relaxed island vibes, or commune with nature in the desert, you can do it all on a day trip from Los Angeles. Plus, the reliably sunny weather means it’s almost always a good day to explore this part of Southern California.

So hit the road, get out of town, and experience everything that’s waiting for you just outside of the City of Angels. You’ll be glad you did.


Jess is an experienced writer who loves to write about fashion, female empowerment and everything in between!

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