If you live in Los Angeles or if you just want to visit the City of Angels and leave the city, there are many possibilities for day trips.
To be on the same level, we don’t consider day trips to L.A. neighborhoods. Santa Monica, Venetian beach, Culver City and Pasadena are great places to visit, but they’re not really out of town, so we focus on real day trips from Los Angeles.
If you need a longer trip that could last a weekend, a week or even longer, take a look at our list of the best car trips from Los Angeles.
With the growth of Los Angeles it was a bit difficult to determine where we thought we should start, and to simplify the situation I went to City Hall. If you are in different parts of Los Angeles, some times and distances can be very different.
Our day trips include some of California’s best beaches, historic towns, desert and mountain climbing, children’s tours and amusement parks – we hope you find something you like!
We have compiled a list of the top 30 day trips from Los Angeles booked before your arrival in Los Angeles.
1. Spend the day at Knott Berry Farm.
30 minutes from Los Angeles (22 miles)
Montezuma’s Revenge is one of the many amazing roller coaster rides at Knott’s Berry Farm.
Knotte Berry Farm is just 30 minutes from Los Angeles in Buena Park. What started as a small bay along the road was on Highway 39 in the 1920s.
From there, it has slowly evolved into restaurants, visitor entertainment, cafes, rides and, before you know it, 4 million visitors a year and 40 exciting attractions, making it one of the most popular theme parks in the United States.
There are several roller coasters, but Knott’s Berry Farm is a family friendly place and offers many attractions for all ages, including classics like a pirate swing ship and a centuries-old merry-go-round, and Camp Snoopy, a variety of children’s rides.
If you’re looking for thrills, here are some great rides. The Revenge of Montesuma is the only remaining Black Ring cabotage shuttle in North America and one of the 5 remaining cabotage shuttle services in the world (it is interesting to note that there is exactly 1 cabotage shuttle on every continent except Australia).
The roller coaster starts at 60 miles per hour and goes through a hinge before stopping at the top of the high vertical section and then returns through the same hinge.
2. Discover the magic of Disneyland Park in Anaheim
35 minutes from Los Angeles (26 miles)
Disneyland in Anaheim is the perfect place for a family getaway from Los Angeles.
Image HarshLight – Link
If you haven’t visited Disneyland in Los Angeles, the obvious question is why not?
If you have children, you should definitely go to the original Disneyland that has come to Florida, Paris and other parks around the world. If you don’t have kids, you probably still want to go and you have to go!
The rides may not be as entertaining as Hub Farm or Magic Mountain (above and below this list), but the atmosphere, the Disney characters throughout the park and the original Sleeping Beauty Castle are things you should see at least once in your life.
Disneyland, California, can be a very busy place, especially in summer and weekends. A good idea is to book your tickets online before you arrive and to arrive before rush hour. Most days the park opens at 10am, but sometimes not before 9am – check the schedule before you leave.
There are several large cafes and restaurants where you can have breakfast and save a lot of time without having to queue up.
Make sure you stay late and eat at Disneyland. In the evening there are great shows and fireworks at 9pm and 10.30pm – the latter is usually a sign that it’s time to go out when you’ve walked so far into the night!
3. An adrenaline rush on the magic mountain of the six flags
45 minutes from Los Angeles (35 miles)
Magic Mountain Six Flags has the world record for the number of roller coasters in the amusement park.
Top Photo Company/Shutterstock.com
To close our section on involuntary amusement parks: The Six Flags in Santa Clarita is the magical mountain, and if you’re looking for excitement, this is the place to be.
The park has 19 roller coasters and other types of rides, events and places to eat and walk. It is more than any other amusement park in the world, which is an achievement.
While some of the old scaffolding is slowly opening up the road, they are still adding new scaffolding with the West Coast runners’ scaffolding to be added in January 2020. It is one of the few in the world that has a hinge part of Möbius.
If it only takes 20 minutes to walk, get up, get on and get off the slide, it takes 6.5 hours to ride each roller coaster once – that should be more than enough time for a day trip!
Tickets can be quite cheap if you book online in advance for less than $50 per person, although you expect to pay double if you pay per day. Early season tickets are a good option if you want to make at least two trips.
4. Driving at Surf City in Huntington Beach
50 minutes from Los Angeles (36 miles)
Pierce Huntington Beach is the perfect place to listen to the waves crashing from the ocean.
Huntington Beach is located south of Los Angeles and at Laguna Beach, a few miles south of the coast (#6 below) and in San Juan Capistrano (#10) and San Clemente (#12).
If you want to have a busy day, you can pack your suitcases as a foursome, but I would divide them into different rides and take advantage of the day of laziness to watch the waves.
Huntington Beach registered the trademark Surf City USA after a dispute with Santa Cruz in Northern California. So if you like surfing or just want to enjoy the ocean waves, this might be the place for you!
Huntington Beach is simpler and less chic than its neighbour Laguna Beach – it has 10 miles of pristine sand, a long pier that stretches out to the sea and several places to eat and relax.
If you are looking for art galleries, posing for photographers or celebrities seen in good restaurants, drive another 10 minutes south.
5. Vasquez Rock Nature Reserve
50 minutes from Los Angeles (44 miles)
The Vasquez Rocks natural park is a very popular backdrop for Hollywood films.
Vasquez Rocks is the right place if you want to go out without being too far from Los Angeles, or if you are a serious movie lover and want to see the famous place.
Vasquez Rocks is a short drive north of Los Angeles past Santa Clarita and on the edge of the Angeles National Forest and Antelope Valley.
The Rocks is not the biggest, but the band has such a unique look that the Hollywood producers have used them in some of the greatest movies of all time. We’re talking Star Trek, Planet of the Apes, Zorro, Flintstones and the A-Team.
If you look closely, in an incredible number of movies where you had trouble remembering the scene, the stones made a cameo appear. Jingle All The Way, Austin Powers and John Carter are just a few of the dozens of films made here.
If you’re a soap fan, I think it’s pretty hard to name someone who hasn’t filmed here yet. Lassie? Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. 24 ? Absolutely! It’s not far from Los Angeles! The C.S.I., the Lone Ranger and even the Power Rangers have all used them (I think you probably remember some of them)!
The Visitor Center will explain a little about the area, how the rocks were formed to resemble everything from Tibet to other planets, and will give you an idea of the hundreds, if not thousands, of advertisements that continue to use this place all the time.
6. Visit to the emblematic beach of Laguna in Orange County
at 1 hour from Los Angeles (50 miles)
Treasure Island Beach is located a few miles south of Laguna Beach and is a great place to spend the day.
Laguna Beach is one of the most famous beaches in California. In fact, it’s not just one beach, but a long stretch of coastline with different types of beaches, from white sand to rocky coves to explore.
Laguna Beach is not only known as a beach. The art scene has become a big event and there are several art galleries and shops where you can see and buy works by local artists.
But beware, as the city’s reputation grows, there are a lot of crazy places where the prices don’t respond to the visitor’s prices. You can always find great local masters, but you’ll have to look around.
Even if you’re not an art lover, a walk through the city centre is very pleasant – it’s a relaxed city with beautiful buildings, and you can have a drink while sitting in the sun in one of the cafes and watch the world go by.
Make sure you find tidal pools in rocky creeks and relax on wide sandy beaches. Treasure Island (pictured) is the best place to observe marine life, but don’t forget to touch or move them – they are fragile coastal ecosystems, so leave them alone.
7. Hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains
at 1 hour from Los Angeles (34 miles)
The Santa Monica Mountains offer breathtaking hiking opportunities overlooking the underlying Pacific Ocean.
The Santa Monica Mountains lie along the Californian coast, about north of the Malibu coast.
If you are in Los Angeles and want to hike, this is the closest option. There are hiking trails for all levels of difficulty that can take from 20 minutes to more than you can cover in a day.
Although the mountains are only 30 miles from downtown Los Angeles, it takes an average of an hour to cross traffic and get out of the city, but once you arrive, you’ll feel very different than on busy highways!
Parking spaces are plentiful and even on busy days you should have no trouble finding a place to walk and run. Take your dog with you when you have one – you’ll find that at least half the people you meet do.
If you climb higher, the view opens up to the mountains and you can see the Pacific Ocean reaching to the horizon.
There are over 500 miles of trails in the mountains, and although you’re unlikely to see animals, the mountains are home to coyotes, lynxes and even mountain lions, so keep your eyes open and you’re lucky to see them.
8. Mount San Gabriel National Monument in the Angeles National Forest
1 hour 5 minutes from Los Angeles (50 miles)
On the Registered Ridge Trail you have a breathtaking view of the National Monument of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The San Gabriel Mountains are hard to miss when you’re in Los Angeles – they’re big peaks that form the backdrop for the city and can be seen from most places.
These mountains not only form a natural boundary of the metro, but also provide the city with drinking water and are an ideal place for hiking.
The mountains were declared a national monument by President Obama in 2014 to protect the city from expansion in the mountains and beyond and to preserve the plants and natural habitat for many animal species.
According to reports, there are more than 300 species of mountain plants, which are endemic in this region and grow nowhere else in the world.
The mountains of St. Gabriel offer a number of sights worth seeing during your day trip. If you’re a frost-free walker, you may find a bridge that leads nowhere in the Sheep Mount Wilderness. The bridge was built as part of a road construction project in the 1930s, which was abandoned 2 years later and mysteriously leads nowhere.
Mount San Antonio, also known as Mount Baldy, is the highest peak on the ridge and there are a number of different hiking trails that can take you to the top, including the famous Devils Backbone.
For those who like to cheat to keep their looks, the lift can take you to the top of the Top of the Notch, which at 7,300 feet is still almost 3,000 feet below the top of San Antonio. Despite the fact that you reduced the hike considerably, you still have to travel more than 6 miles to get there, but the views from the Top of the Notch are still very impressive. are quite excellent.
9. Malibu Beach holidays
1 hour 10 minutes from Los Angeles (33 miles)
The white sandy beaches of Malibu stretch beyond the horizon.
Malibu is a long stretch with some of the best beaches in the world that you can see along the Pacific Coast Highway. It starts shortly after passing Santa Monica and the Palisades on the Pacific coast.
Malibu is often associated with rich and famous seaside villas, but there is much more.
The beaches are varied, and although Malibu is very popular with angels at weekends, if you drive another 10 to 20 minutes along the coast you will find many places that are much less crowded.
Go to El Matador beach to find secluded bays far enough away to be wonderfully empty and ideal for a day trip.
If you want to do something other than lying on the beach, the mountains of Santa Monica are right behind you and offer unlimited hiking possibilities (see no. 7 above).
You can also visit one of the local vineyards. Malibu is one of the few places in the world with a mild Mediterranean climate that seems ideal for the vineyards. Although it’s not Napa or Sonoma, you might be surprised at what you find here.
10. See the story of Southern California on Capistrano San Juan.
1 hour 10 minutes from Los Angeles (55 miles)
The mission of San Juan Capistrano dates back to 1776.
The Capistrano San Juan mission is located south of Los Angeles, just over an hour from the I-5. Many of the Mission’s buildings date from 1776, many from the 18th and early 19th centuries, making this trip from Los Angeles a great day trip.
Most of the mission buildings are open to the public, including the chapel, the mission basilica and the special museum.
Make sure you also explore the small town around the mission. He grew up around the same time, and there are several houses and shops in the historic Los Ríos district that date back to the 1700s!
To go even further, you can visit Capistrano San Juan in the morning, then have a bite to eat at Laguna Beach (#6 above) and spend the afternoon watching the waves or exploring the tides on Treasure Island.
Another possibility is to drive a few minutes further south to San Clemente (no. 12 below) and have a bite to eat on the pier.
11. Weather delay on Balboa island at Newport Beach
1 hour 10 minutes from Los Angeles (45 miles)
Balboa Island has a unique coastal charm that makes a short trip very interesting.
South of Los Angeles lies the city of Newport Beach and in Newport Bay there is a small artificial island called Balboa.
Once you have arrived in Newport Beach, do not try to bring your car to the island via a small bridge or a three-seater ferry. Park and take the ferry on foot to save time and money and make life easier once you get to the island.
The walk around the perimeter of the island is about 2 miles long and is perfect for a leisurely stroll. Then head to Sea Avenue (where the Newport Bridge joins the island) and dine in one of the many fantastic restaurants.
With its classically styled houses, strangely perfect streets, chic shops and restaurants, the island of Balboa has a certain Truman show – you know what I mean when you’re there!
If you arrive early, you may not want to spend the whole day on Balboa Island. The good news is that Laguna Beach (no. 6 above) and Huntington Beach (no. 4) offer excellent opportunities for an afternoon stroll by the sea to round off a perfect day.
12. A day at sea in San Clemente
1 hour 15 minutes from Los Angeles (62 miles)
Why not take a day trip from Los Angeles to a classic Californian beach in San Clemente?
Just when you thought we liked our beaches too much, we decided to add another option to the list. Don’t worry – these are the last beaches on our list, but beaches really are one of the best options to travel from Los Angeles, so let’s go.
San Clemente is a quiet coastal town, further down the coast from Laguna beach, and is located just after the detour to Capistrano San Juan (no. 10 above) in Punta Dana.
In fact, San Clemente and San Juan Capistrano go hand in hand if you want to combine these two excursions – my advice is to go to the Mission and the historic district in the morning before the tourist crowds and relax on the beach in the afternoon.
Unlike Huntington and Laguna Beach, San Clemente is more relaxed and less crowded. Far enough away from Los Angeles and San Diego for city dwellers looking for a better option when walking on the sand.
The main attraction is the marina of San Clemente, and the beach next to it is the best place to relax. The fisherman’s restaurant right next to the anchorage is very nice, and you can enjoy the fish with a view – one of the best ways to have lunch!
If you want to do something other than lazing around, there is a museum about the local culture and history a little further up the hill called Casa Romantica. If you go up there, you’ll have a good view and the gardens around the museum are included in the entrance fee.
13. Discover the history of California at Fort Tejon Historic Park
1 hour 15 minutes from Los Angeles (75 miles)
Historic Cannons is one of the exhibits at Fort Tejon Historic Park near the Swan.
Fort Tejon is a historic military fort in Grafewin Canyon, founded in 1854 as a defensive center and garrison to protect new settlements in California from Indian attacks.
Although the fort was occupied for only ten years, it was recently restored to show what life was like in the fort and in this part of California as a whole in the 1850s and 1860s.
There are actors in the fortress to help you explore the story in a more interactive way. You will find American armies, carpenters, blacksmiths, servants and workers trying to make you feel like you belong to the past.
Despite the fact that there is something to see here, you will notice that the fort has relatively few visitors. Tickets only cost a nominal US$6 per vehicle until a discount is granted.
Although it’s a small detour, the Vasquez Rocks Nature Park is a good stop on the way to Fort Techon or on the way back to save time.
You can go east from the fort and descend through the Valley of the Antelopes (see #14 below) – from there the Vasquez Rocks are directly on the way back to Los Angeles.
14. Walking in the poppy mounds of California near Antelope Valley
1 hour 20 minutes from Los Angeles (79 miles)
California corn poppy and other flowers bloom in spring in the California Antelope Valley
Sarah Fields Photography/Shutterstock.com
The Valley of the Antilles is located on the western edge of the Mojave Desert, north of the San Gabriel Mountains.
The valley is best known for the California Antelope Valley Poppy Reserve, which is only a relatively short distance from the city, and if you plan to take a day trip from Los Angeles in March or April, it should be at the top of your list.
Bright orange poppies and other wild flowers bloom at the beginning of March and remain bright until the end of April and sometimes until the first week of May.
The reserve has 3.3 miles of southern and northern trails that traverse hills completely covered with forest flowers.
Through the narrow window, when visitors come here for the flowers, you can expect a relatively large number of people, especially on weekends.
Be careful to stay on the paths and not to pick flowers. In California, not only is it illegal to pick wild flowers in the state, but the Mojave Green Rattlesnake also lives in the undergrowth, so stay out of it!
15. Visit to the small town of Oxnard
1 hour 25 minutes from Los Angeles (62 miles)
The vast Oxnard Marina is home to hundreds of boats, many of which have their own private berths.
Many people will not consider Oxnard a good day trip from Los Angeles and will go directly to Ventura and the Channel Islands (see no. 29 below), to Santa Barbara (no. 19) or further inland.
But Oxnard is a great place to spend a day – it’s less than 90 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, and as an added bonus you can stop anywhere on Malibu beaches.
There are not 1, but 4 main reasons to visit Oxnard: Antique cars, local wine, whale and sea creature watching and strawberry festival.
For those who find their cars older than they are, there are two great oldtimer museums in Oxnard. The Mullin Automobile Museum has a number of impressive cars from the ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. The most expensive car in the world, the Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic from 1936, is in the museum as one of only 3 of the 4 remaining models ever made!
For muscle car enthusiasts, the Murphy Car Museum offers some of the best cars Detroit had to offer in the sixties and seventies, but the museum is only open on weekends, so plan your trip accordingly.
There are also 3 cellars in Oxnard, including the largest kosher cellar in the world, which also serves an excellent lunch – the Caves Ducales. Maybe you want to stay or choose a straw for the designated driver!
The Strawberry Festival takes place on the weekend of mid-May and is one of the biggest festivals in Southern California. You will find dozens of food stalls, endless stalls with handicrafts, rides and all kinds of dishes and drinks based on strawberries to try.
16. Live your childhood at Legoland in Karlovy Vary
1 hour 30 minutes from Los Angeles (90 miles)
The cities from Minyland to Legoland are incredibly impressive!
Legoland in Karlovy Vary was the first to open outside Europe and has been based in California for over 20 years.
It’s the perfect place to take the whole family with young children – Lego offers an endless range of activities and entertainment and a selection of amazing things built with Lego, including some of the world’s most famous sites and cities.
The best time to come is in the summer, because the water attractions of the park are one of the best, although the amusement park has more than 60 attractions that offer something for everyone and are much more valuable than just Lego entertainment.
Working hours vary from day to day and from season to season. So be careful not to arrive 2 hours before the opening!
Don’t miss the Sea Life Aquarium, it’s inside. There are many sea creatures and large tanks with lines and shapes on the Lego theme.
Spend an hour or two after your visit in Karlovy Vary itself. The city is often neglected, but it is worth taking a stroll through the streets and drinking coffee before returning to Los Angeles.
17. See the dinosaurs of Cabazon
1 hour 30 minutes from Los Angeles (91 miles)
Giant dinosaur structures can be found at Highway 10 in Cabazon – an undeniable success with young children.
When we talk about children’s entertainment, we should mention Cabazon’s dinosaurs.
You’ve probably never heard of them, but these life-size dinosaurs are next to the I-10 on Palm Springs Road, and they’re hard to miss from the highway.
It’s easy to leave the highway and park, and get close to the dinosaurs – for free. There are several fast food restaurants where you can make your children’s day even more perfect.
Don’t forget that you can climb into two dinosaurs to look around and visit a gift shop to buy a T-shirt or T-Rex toy!
Because you drive so far away and don’t want to spend more than an hour studying dinosaurs, you can combine a trip to Palm Springs (20 minutes drive – #20 below) or a walk in the San Gorgonio wilderness (#25) to make the most of your trip.
18. Wine tasting in the Temecula valley
1 hour 30 minutes from Los Angeles (85 miles)
Temecula Valley Winery may not be as well known as in Northern California, but it is worth a day trip from Los Angeles.
When you think of Californian wine, you think primarily of the northern regions of Napa, Sonoma, Mendocino and White River. But it’s a good seven-hour drive from Los Angeles.
Fortunately, the Temecula Valley is much closer, it is relatively unknown and has a surprising variety of very good vineyards. So if you want to go wine tasting and bring back a few bottles, go to the Temecula Valley, about 90 minutes southeast of Los Angeles.
The area has more than 40 vineyards with picturesque villages, with mountains in the background and rows of well-kept vines.
To make the best of it, you can spend the night here and enjoy a wine tasting without a driver assigned to you. The old town of Temecula is also worth a visit – there are many local shops, places where you can buy local wine or drink with live music.
19. Escape to Santa Barbara and Montecito
1 hour 40 minutes from Los Angeles (95 miles)
The classic town of Santa Barbara has a quiet atmosphere with beautiful squares and excellent restaurants.
Less than two hours off the coast of Los Angeles is the city of Santa Barbara. The congested highways that run through Los Angeles and the skyscrapers of the downtown area have been replaced by the casual culture of cafes and red tiles.
Santa Barbara is known as a great place to live – the coastal climate is close to perfection, the streets are charming and the emphasis on fresh air and health has made Santa Barbara home to many rich and famous Hollywood residents.
If you want a cultural attraction on your way, the Mission of Santa Barbara is a Franciscan mission that has been open to visitors since 1786.
Montecito is a small town near Santa Barbara, on the edge of the impressive mountains of the Los Padres National Forest. Where Santa Barbara attracts the rich, the Montecito is where the super rich, such as Oprah and Brad Pitt, are at home.
If you want to feel what it’s like to live here, the Casa del Herrero is an open air museum in the city.
20. Palm Springs – an oasis in the middle of the desert
1 hour 45 minutes from Los Angeles (107 miles)
Palm trees, manicured lawns and water on a golf resort in Palm Springs, California Green lawns, palm trees and water on a golf course in Palm Springs, California .
Palm Springs is some kind of anomaly. With lush green lawns, golf courses, streams, ponds and palm trees, the city lies in the middle of a hot and inhospitable desert with the mountains of Mount San Jacinto National Park on one side and the tree of Yeshua National Park on the other.
If you want to spend a day relaxing at the spa, playing golf (not in summer!) or climbing to the top of Mount San Jacinto in the rotating air gondola, Palm Springs is the place for you.
Don’t forget that summer is hot in the desert. I’m talking about a daily average of 100s (over 40°C), so you don’t want to spend too much time outdoors and jump from one air-conditioned environment to another.
In many ways, the architecture of Palm Springs dates back to the time when it was known as a party town in the 1950s and 1960s. The modernist houses with sharp, square corners give the city a unique look and feel of retro chic.
21. Spend a day on retreat in Ojai
1 hour 45 minutes from Los Angeles (81 miles)
The Ojai Valley and the surrounding mountains of Topa Topa are beautiful in spring.
The Ojai Valley lies between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara, hidden under the mountains north of Ventura.
It is becoming increasingly popular with Los Angeles residents, who manage to escape the city on weekends to relax, get a stone massage and walk through the orchards.
The city of Ojai is dedicated to health and well-being, and the city’s restaurants offer a wide choice for any diet, whether vegetarian, paleo, keto or other.
Hotels in Ojai can be quite expensive, even if you’re at the bottom of the scale. A day of relaxing and refuelling is therefore a good way to test your budget.
If you’re staying here, don’t forget to taste the local wine and stop in town to visit the quaint little shops that sell homemade jewellery and historical clothing. This place is really trendy!
22. Release the wind for the day on Santa Catalina
2 hours from Los Angeles (24 miles from San Pedro + ferry)
The port of Avalon is the main gateway from Los Angeles to Santa Catalina.
It is quite easy to get to Santa Catalina from Los Angeles. You will have to go to Long Beach or San Pedro to take one of the fastest ferries to the island. You have to leave your car. You don’t need him on the island!
It takes an hour to get off, the ferry usually takes just over an hour and you have to take into account the time it takes to park, pick up the ticket and get on the ferry. Despite the fact that it is a two hour drive, you will usually relax and not drive.
Santa Catalina Island is all you need for hiking and exploring the beautiful nature. Surrounded by rocky cliffs you can explore various shipwrecks and observe flying fish, seals and sea lions.
The island also has its own herd of buffalo, which roam the island. 14 of them were brought here in 1924 to make a film and then left the island to save money.
The bison scene was carved in the last movie, but now you can enjoy watching beautiful animals in their home.
Avalon harbour, where the ferry comes and goes, is the ideal place to have lunch and enjoy the view of the marina, surrounded by the hills of the island. Place your visit so that you can eat there on arrival or just before boarding!
23. Arrowhead and Great Bear Lakes Route
2 hours from Los Angeles (100 miles)
The tranquil, wooded shoreline of Arrowhead Lake is a great place to relax and unwind.
Lake Arrowhead and Big Bear Lake are a 2 hour drive east of Los Angeles in the San Bernardino National Forest.
Two lakes are only 15 miles apart, but due to the mountainous and winding roads it takes an hour to get from one to the other. And on the condition that you don’t drive in winter!
Big Bear Lake is the next of two, and it’s all about staying active. In the summer you can kayak, row or sail on the lake, while in the cold winter months you can ski in the Snow Mountain and Bear Mountain ski areas.
Lake Arrowhead is very different: almost all shores are private and the village of Lake Arrowhead has a more luxurious atmosphere than the type of resort Big Bear Lake.
Arrowhead Lake is also lower, which means there is less snow and it is less cold in winter. If you want to relax in the pine forest, sit in the spa for a few hours and dine the rest of the day, then Lake Arrowhead is for you.
24. San Diego and La Hall
2 hours from Los Angeles (120 miles)
San Diego’s Guslamp district is the heart of the city.
Another major city in Southern California is just two hours from the coast. A day trip from Los Angeles is therefore an easy way to see the main sights and explore some of the neighborhoods.
As you know, San Diego’s climate is one of the least seasonal in the United States, making it ideal to visit all year round.
The heart of San Diego is the Gaslamp district, where you can sit at night in restaurants, bars and cafes and enjoy the relaxing sea breeze.
La Hall is an area north of downtown San Diego. It is not only known for its rich inhabitants and trendy restaurants, but also for the sea lions that have made La Jolla Cove their home and can usually be seen here.
Apart from the famous San Diego Zoo, I wouldn’t spend too much time visiting museums and staying indoors. The two best activities are driving traditional red carts and waking up to a street dish of fish tacos – the spicy salad and avocado are worth missing lunch!
25. San Gorgonio Oak Gorge and Wilderness
2 hours from Los Angeles (98 miles)
The Oak Glen Mountains and the San Bernardino Mountains give you the feeling that you are millions of kilometers away from Los Angeles.
Oak Glen is a small village located about 90 minutes from downtown Los Angeles, known for its passion for apples.
The best time to visit is of course the apple picking season in September and October. Fall in California may not be filled with golden and red leaves, but it’s a great place to experience that fall feeling.
You can buy a U-package for the whole day and walk through the orchards picking apples, or you can go straight to Oak Tree Village, which is full of shops, entertainment and everything to do with apples, right down to cider!
Once you have picked the apples, you can drive another half hour to the wild animals of San Gorgonio. This protected mountain area lies on the edge of the National Forest of San Bernardino, around the top of Mount San Gorgonio.
You need a free game license before you come – you can get one online from the National Forestry Service.
Most wildlife is over 2,100 m high and there are two small rivers (streams for people outside California), so make sure you get in layers, because it can get cold!
The area has recently been declared a National Sand and Snow Monument, and there are many marked hiking trails where you can hike to Oak Glen Falls to park and find trailheads.
26. Yeshua Tree National Park
at 2 hours 20 minutes from Los Angeles (130 miles)
Yeshua Tree National Park is one of the most spectacular desert landscapes you have ever seen.
The Yeshua Wind will be closest to Los Angeles and is named after the Yeshua Wall that grows in Southern California and Nevada.
The park is a large desert with many hiking trails, more than 300 different places to camp and several interesting rock formations.
Be careful if you plan to visit a Yeshua in the summer – daily maximum temperatures average 38°C (100°F) and do not interfere with facilities in or near the park, so bring plenty of drinking water and basic necessities.
Most of the most popular cliffs and Yeshua tree paths are located near Los Angeles. The junction and the rock arch are only a few kilometers apart and the skull rock is in between.
There are several easy routes in the area – the popular Hidden Valley Trail starts just a mile from Intersex Rock and you can reach the highest point of the park, Keys View, which overlooks the mountains and the Coachella Valley.
27. Discover the Danish village of Solvang, California
at 2 hours 20 minutes from Los Angeles (130 miles)
The Danish village of Solvang is a way to reach Europe in one day from Los Angeles!
Solvang is a village originally founded by a group of Danish settlers, and it has remained so incredibly Danish that it is only a two hour drive from Los Angeles.
The village has traditional Danish houses with a distinctly European look, 4 windmills and classic Danish shops.
You can visit Solvang by tram or in one of the horse-drawn carriages. Not that you have to drive far – the city is quite small and very pedestrian.
Besides visiting the Danish village, Solvang is also home to the Santa Ynez mission, which dates back to 1804 and is definitely worth a visit. The Santa Ynez Valley also has a number of large wineries in case you want to store the wine directly from the vineyard before returning to Los Angeles.
The strange Danish village has become very popular over the years, which means it might be a bit on the tourist side. If you are an early scarecrow, you can spend the morning here and then spend the afternoon in the picturesque Los Padres National Forest (#30 below) or stay in Santa Barbara and Montecito (#19) or Oxnarda (#15) to interrupt your trip.
28. Journey to a time forgotten place in Salton C
2 hours 30 minutes from Los Angeles (164 miles)
The Salton Sea is an astonishing, if somewhat strange, view in the middle of the California desert.
People differ depending on whether the Salton Sea is a lake, a kind of inland lake or an artificial reservoir. It is curious that it came about by chance in 1905, when engineers calculated a small diversion of the Colorado River for a local irrigation project.
Because the land here was a desert, once covered with seawater, the large amount of salt in the soil meant that the water in the lake was anything but fresh. In fact, there is almost twice as much salt as in the Pacific Ocean, and the salt content increases by 3% per year.
A popular tourist destination in the 1950s, the Salton Sea shrank considerably in the following decades. Today it is interesting to visit old signs, small ghost towns and abandoned buildings.
If you have time to drive around the lake, one of the attractions is Salvation Mountain, a large hill built by a local with many transcriptions of biblical verses.
The sculptures of Borrego Springs are located a few kilometres west of the Salton Sea and are definitely worth a visit. Just when you thought this place couldn’t get any stranger, you see huge metal statues representing things like snakes, pterosaurs and elephants in the middle of the desert.
29. Ventura, California National Park and the Normandy Islands
2 hours 30 minutes from Los Angeles (68 miles from Ventura + ferry)
The National Park of the Normandy Islands is a wonderful place to be alone with nature all day long.
The Normandy Islands National Park is located off the coast of California, on a series of 5 large and some small islands, about 20 miles from Ventura.
The difficulty of getting there makes the Normandy Islands the least visited national park in the United States, but it is a very undeserved title and makes it a good excuse to get there.
Ventura is about two-thirds of the way from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara along the coast, and the journey should take just over an hour. From Ventura you have to take the ferry to the Normandy Islands. The nearest group of islands is the Anacapa Islands, which can be reached in about an hour, in 2 hours – on the much larger island of Santa Cruz and in 3 hours – to Santa Rosa.
There is not much to see on Anacapa – from the top of the ridge (on the picture above) there are beautiful views of small narrow islands, but to really explore the area you have to go to Santa Cruz.
Here you can walk around the island, discover hidden coves and rocky caves where you can see dolphins, flying fish, seals and whales in the water, while condors and bald eagles roam through the air.
If you’re lucky, you can visit Island Fox, which is a native island and only lives on islands.
Don’t forget to take the last ferry back to the mainland. There are a limited number of accommodation options. There are no hotels or accommodation, no shops and very few amenities. So be there when you land, so you don’t have to sleep downwind under the stars.
30. Climbing Mount Figueroa in Los Padres National Forest
3 hours from Los Angeles (143 miles)
Seen from Monte Figueroa, the clouds descend into the Santa Ynez valley.
Carolin sunshine / Shutterstock.com
Okay. Okay. Okay, okay. A three-hour drive in one direction from Los Angeles slightly broadens the definition of a day trip, but there is a good reason why a trip to Mount Figueroa is on the list.
Going up and down the mountain is an experience. You have come here to enjoy the view as you drive along the roads through the flowering fields, as you can see more and more of the Pacific Ocean.
For the other 29 destinations on our list, what you see when you get there is a reason to go. So take the day off, get in the car and get ready for the mini trip that you’ll finish before dinner!
Mount Figueroa is located on the edge of the Los Padres National Forest and offers a view of the Santa Ynez Valley below. You can get there a little faster on Highway 101, but if you take the road half an hour earlier, you can take the scenic drive along the coast through Malibu.
Places like Oxnard, Santa Barbara and Montecito are all on our list. So there are plenty of places to stop for a drink or lunch.
When you reach the summit, a large sign will tell you that you are at the viewpoint of Figueroa, from where you have an almost uninterrupted view of the mountains and valleys along the whole route!