day trips from los angeles day trips from los angeles

Top 10 Amazing Fun Day Trips from Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the most popular tourist places among national and international tourists, widely known for Hollywood, gleaming beaches, beautiful weather, museums to wander at displays, mountains to hike to enjoy the Aerial views of the city, and many more.

The Californian city of flowers and sunshine is just like most other tourist attraction cities; however, Hollywood and TV celebrities make it stand out on the list.

But did you know that beyond the tall mountains,  unavoidable traffic, busy streets, and hectic work days, several day trips that you should avail yourself if you are looking to rewind from the daily bustle of life? So, read further to add these places to your bucket list.

1. Top 12 Day Trips from Los Angeles

Day trips in Los Angeles included here are within the 3-hour journey from the city’s Center to ensure you get the max out of your one-day trip. 

1.1. Joshua Tree National Park 

Joshua Tree National Park is well known for hiking trails and rock climbing routes
Photo by Daniela Araya on Unsplash

A few parts of the Colorado Desert and the Mojave Desert are unique for the twisted Joshua trees, after which the park is named Joshua Tree National Park.

A 3-hour ride to a deserted park from the city offers some unusual nature experiences as Joshua Tree National Park is well known for hiking trails and rock climbing routes and is a must-visit place for bird watchers and astronomy people since the park is isolated and the night skies are clear and dark.

The best part about Joshua Tree National Park is that the campgrounds allow you to spend leisurely nights under the beautiful sky with stars sparking like a pearl in an ocean of dark sky. Yet, be well-prepared to hydrate yourself, as most campgrounds do not have water.

2. Laguna Beach 

Laguna Beach is popular for surfing and pleasant weather
Photo by Derek Liang on Unsplash

Nestled in Southern Orange County, Laguna Beach is popular for surfing and pleasant weather. It is widely known for its Pacific Ocean eight-mile beach in the city perimeters, offering nature views like the hills, sea caves, a beautiful picturesque sandy beach, and much more.

It is also known for its vibrant art culture, with many art galleries, museums, and natives celebrating every year’s major art festival, the Sawdust Art Festival, to showcase to the world. Laguna Beach can be a perfect day trip for painters, artists, and nature people.

3. Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is home to white sandy beaches and world-class golf courses
Photo by Zoi Palla on Unsplash

Santa Barbara is two and a half hours from Los Angeles, one of the most recognized cities worldwide. Popularly known as the Riviera of the West, Santa Barbara is home to white sandy beaches and world-class golf courses and serves city lovers perfectly with many shopping and dining options. 

The best feature of Santa Barbara is that you can effortlessly shift from city to wilderness and wilderness to the metropolis, as there are the Channel Islands to stay isolated and nestled within nature. The Santa Barbara Museum is where you can look back at history and hike the Santa Ynez Mountains.

To take pleasure in the city, you can visit Santa Barbara County to enjoy wine tasting and climb the Santa Barbara County courthouse to appreciate the 360-degree view of the city. Visiting Santa Barbara can be a fun-packed day trip with peers and family.

4. Palm Springs 

the pleasant weather enables tourists and locals to relish the city's beauty.
Photo by Cesar Cid on Unsplash

Palm Springs is another two and a half hour’s ride from Los Angeles, and it is an engaged city with many activities that keep you busy 24/7. While the city is known for world-class golf courses and hiking Indian canyons, the pleasant weather enables tourists and locals to relish the city’s beauty.

Palm Springs Art Museum and the Architecture and Design Center are the two museums you should check out to dig deep into the city’s history.

Also, Palm Springs celebrates many events, such as Modernism Week, the Palm Springs International Film Festival, and Coachella. It can be the best day trip for city and entertainment lovers.

5. Santa Monica Mountains

This coastal mountain range in southern California is a 49-minute drive from Los Angeles.
Photo by ronatory on Unsplash

This coastal mountain range in southern California is a 49-minute drive from Los Angeles. It is widely known for its wildness, trails, and beaches.

You can either walk 500-mile-long trails or enjoy the Pacific Ocean waves on one of those sparkling beaches and surf on Malibu Lagoon State Beach.

With many other historical and cultural sites, Santa Monica mountains can be a great day trip destination for people who are very much into nature.

6. San Diego

San Diego is favored for white sandy beaches
Photo by Clayton Cardinalli on Unsplash

With two and a half hours away from Los Angeles and often called ‘America’s Finest City,’ San Diego is favored for white sandy beaches where you can swim, surf, sunbathe, shop with multiple options at your fingertips, and dine in the finest restaurants at downtown harbor.

The harbor boasts ten large museum ships, an expansive collection of multiple art pieces, and many walking and cycling trails to enjoy the city.

Legoland, SeaWorld, and San Diego Zoo are a few destinations you can travel to at any age with anyone you travel. 

7. Balboa Island

Balboa Island is known for its natural beauty
Photo by Starboard Creek on Unsplash

Nestled at a 49-minute distance in Newport Beach, the artificial Balboa Island is known for its natural beauty – picturesque sunsets, marine life, and vibrant days.

Not only does it leave you enchanted by its magnificence, but it also gives you a chance to enjoy all kinds of water games you have been delaying in one place – surfing, kayaking, or stand-up paddleboarding. And local cuisines are something you can never miss out on here.

Balboa Fun Zone amusement park entertains you when your entertainment juices go down, and the iconic sight of Balboa Pier helps you lower your stress levels as soothing ocean waves touch your feet while the warm air whacks your face.

Balboa Island can serve nature and foody people with many glorious sight views and multiple cuisine restaurants.

8. Big Bear Lake 

Big Bear Lake is a resort town nestled at a 2-hour distance from downtown Los Angeles
Photo by John Amarillas on Unsplash

Big Bear Lake is a resort town nestled at a 2-hour distance from downtown Los Angeles in the San Bernardino Mountains. From the moment you get in till you leave the place, you will be enchanted by the greenery during summers and snow-covered trees in winters.

Since the lake is in the mountains, vegetation covers all corners of the surroundings, letting you enjoy the local summer fun things like hiking, taking the walking trails, swimming, fishing, paddle boards, kayaks, jet skis, and more.

In winter, the lake is prominent for skiing in two well-known resort towns – Bear Mountain and Snow Summit.

9. Santa Catalina Island 

Santa Catalina Island is famous for natural views
Photo by Emma Svalstad on Unsplash

If you want to enjoy both land and water, look no further than Santa Catalina Island.

There are a couple more islands off the California shore. Santa Catalina Island is prominent and famous for hundreds of hiking trails, mountains, landscapes, other natural views, many beaches, and cultural and historical places such as the Catalina Island Museum.

But if you want to enjoy the water and explore marine life, you can lease kayaks or stand-up paddleboards, scuba dive, or go marine wildlife smudging on the various ocean tours. Starting your island journey from Avalon City can flip your view of the place. 

10. Disneyland 

It is a group of 9 lands designed with different themes and rides to enjoy for both kids and adults
Photo by Capricorn song on Unsplash

There is no better place to visit with your kids than Disneyland. Imagine your travel goals with your kids coming true the moment they see the Mickey Mouse they have been watching on screens or take pride in staying in their favorite movie character, Jack Sparrow.

Not just Disneyland Park, the whole Disneyland Resort is home to a well-known tourist attraction – Disney Adventure Park in Anaheim.

It is a group of 9 lands designed with different themes and rides to enjoy for both kids and adults. While the list of tourist attractions at the park is too long, Thunder Mountain roller coaster, Indiana Jones Adventure, and Pirates of the Caribbean ride are a few top rides to try.

Watch the fireworks show as it promises to show the beauty of colors, and you can also try the different kinds of foods available here.

These are a few well-recognized day trips. However, below is a list of other places to add to your bucket list.

  • Coronado 
  • San Gabriel Mountains 
  • Angeles National Forest 
  • Santa Cruz Island 
  • Legoland 

Bottom Line

Los Angeles is a city that keeps you busy if you are there for a short stay. But if your visit is more than a week, you might lose interest in the city just like most other cities you have been to.

Day trips can be the best source to break the boredom and have an adequate trip. From small towns to beaches to valleys to theme parks to national forests to beautiful cities, day trips can help you out.

Last Updated on February 17, 2024 by Sathi Chakraborty

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