Sometimes, you just need to escape your city and go somewhere different. A weekend getaway can be the perfect change to a monotonous routine. California is such a big, beautiful state and this is your sign that it’s time to explore past Los Angeles.
1. Santa Barbara
One-Way Driving Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
One-Way Driving Distance: 95.1 miles
Santa Barbara is a beautiful, short drive from Los Angeles that truly feels like an escape. This luxurious beach town has so much to offer. You can spend a day relaxing on the beach or getting a bit active by surfing, windsurfing, paddleboarding, or kayaking.
When you’re done with the beach, you can make your way to the downtown’s famous Urban Wine Trail. This “trail” is a self-guided trail of over 20 tasting rooms of Santa Barbara County wineries. We highly recommend making a stop at the famous Kunin Wines tasting room and grabbing a bite to eat at The Lark for a shared dining experience that features artisanal and seasonal ingredients of the local region.
2. San Diego
One-Way Driving Time: 2 hours
One-Way Driving Distance: 120.3 miles
San Diego is another beach city that offers spectacular weather all year long. This city has so much to offer, so you can easily have a jam-packed weekend. Take a visit to the San Diego Zoo in Balboa Park, where you can see leopards, elephants, Chinese alligators, giraffes, and more. Then, take some time to enjoy the beautiful water by booking a whale-watching cruise, a San Diego harbor cruise, or a classic sunset sail.
And a trip to San Diego wouldn’t be complete without spending some time in the famous Gaslamp Quarter. Grab some authentic Mexican food at La Puerta and then move onto The Nolen for some fantastic cocktails on a hotel rooftop.
3. Palm Springs
One-Way Driving Time: 1 hour 42 minutes
One-Way Driving Distance: 106.6 miles
Palm Springs can have this reputation for being a “retirement community,” but it’s so much more than that. If you’re looking for a weekend of wonderfully intense desert heat, then Palm Springs is the getaway for you. Make sure to leave incredibly early to avoid the weekend traffic.
You can spend the day golfing on a luscious golf course or hiking one of the 70+ trails in the area. Make sure you book a hotel or Airbnb with a pool, so you have an escape from the mid-day heat.
If you’re an interior design enthusiast, take some time to drive through the neighborhoods of unique mid-century modern homes and buildings. Go to the downtown shopping district to do some fun furniture shopping at modern and antique shops. (Don’t worry, most shops deliver to Los Angeles!)
End your trip with a stop for dinner at the fantastic sushi spot Sandfish Sushi and Whiskey. This fine-dining restaurant knows how to deliver on both food and cocktails!
One-Way Driving Time: 1 hour 23 minutes
One-Way Driving Distance: 84.9 miles
Temecula is such a short drive from Los Angeles; it can be a one-day trip or a whole weekend getaway. If you love wine, Temecula is the destination for you. The area has over 40 wineries to visit. You can book a private limo or bus tour to escort you all afternoon from winery to winery. Make sure to visit Wilson Creek Winery and Vindemia Vineyard Winery.
If you feel like making it an extra memorable trip, consider booking a hot air balloon ride for stunning views of Temecula’s landscape.
5. Catalina Island
One-Way Driving Time: N/A
One-Way Driving Distance: 26 miles
If you don’t want to spend your weekend driving, consider hopping on a ferry to visit Catalina Island instead. This gorgeous island is accessible via ferry from San Pedro, Long Beach, Dana Point, or Newport Beach. This beautiful island truly feels like an escape.
You can spend your trip exploring the island and all it has to offer. Some of the most popular activities on the island include:
- The Zipline Eco Tour
- The Catalina Island Conservancy
- Glass-bottom boat tours
- The Trans Catalina Trail
There’s so much to do on this small island, you’ll probably have to come back for another weekend trip!
One-Way Driving Time: 1 hour 39 minutes
One-Way Driving Distance: 81.1 miles
Ojai is a small hippie town that feels like the opposite atmosphere of bustling LA. The city is surrounded by the beautiful Topatopa Mountains that offer a gorgeous landscape and the feeling of clean, crisp fresh air. You can explore Ojai’s downtown’s boutique shops, art galleries, and restaurants, and cafes.
Spend your weekend in Ojai taking a hike through the Los Padres National Forest, touring the famous Ojai Olive Oil Company, and booking a wine tasting at the Casa Barranca Tasting Room. You’ll probably leave Ojai with bottles of wine, olive oil, and gifts from the local shops.
7. Big Bear
One-Way Driving Time: 1 hour 57 minutes
One-Way Driving Distance: 96.8 miles
Have a nature-filled weekend getaway by escaping to Big Bear Lake. This area is mainly known for becoming a ski-resort in the winter, but also has a lot to offer during the summer. Spend a sunny day in Big Bear swimming, kayaking, fishing, boating, or jet-skiing. If you want to explore the area further, you can book a horseback riding excursion, go biking through the 15-mile Skyline Trail or go hiking around one of the many trails that circle the lake.
Don’t forget to indulge in some of the local flavors. Grab your morning coffees from Big Bear Roasting Co. and your lunch beers from Big Bear Lake Brewing Company.
Big Bear is a popular destination, so make sure you leave early to avoid weekend traffic.
It’s time to escape Los Angeles for a few days. Now the only question is, what destination will you choose?