With its throwbacks to the Golden Age of Hollywood and iconic film industry landmarks to world-famous theme parks, it’s no wonder that Los Angeles is one of the most popular cities in the United States. If you want to venture away from the Hollywood sign to explore some of California’s other excellent destinations, you’ll be happy to know that many are close enough to Los Angeles for a weekend trip. Take a look at what are the best day trips from Los Angeles to plan a weekend getaway.

Buildings on a street in Los Angeles

Los Angeles

Palm Springs

Close by Los Angeles and one of the most popular getaways for Hollywood’s Golden Age stars, Palm Springs is a desert oasis of adventure, dining, and sightseeing. Located just under 2 hours from Los Angeles, Palm Springs is nestled in the Sonoran Desert and boasts rejuvenating hot springs, high-end hotels, world-class golf courses, and luxurious spas. You can enjoy the high life of the stars, shop for vintage goods and home decor on Palm Canyon Drive, or hike in the desert of Coachella Valley during a weekend trip.

Mammoth Lakes

Just under 5 hours from Los Angeles, Mammoth Lakes is a great destination for a wilderness retreat. The town is nestled in the Sierra Nevada mountains and boasts popular ski areas and outdoor areas, such as Mono Lake. Yosemite National Park is close by as well, so you can find all types of outdoor adventure. You could ski, snowboard, bike, hike, swim, and more, and during a weekend, you could even camp overnight under the stars. In town, you’ll find family-friendly activities, dining, nightlife, and shopping for a break from the great outdoors.

Big Bear

If you want outdoor adventure and to get out of the city, Big Bear is just under 2 hours driving distance from Los Angeles. One of the top weekend getaways, Big Bear is home to incredible ski areas and a massive lake, which offers year-round outdoor fun. You could ski, snowboard, snowmobile, and more in winter, while summer brings wilderness hikes, horseback riding, watersports, swimming, and nights out by the lake. There’s plenty of waterfront dining and bars, perfect for family retreats and couple’s weekends.

Santa Barbara

For where to go near to Los Angeles and experience more of California living, Santa Barbara is the quintessential “California dreaming” destination. Located under 2 hours from Los Angeles on the central California coast, Santa Barbara is an idyllic city with Mediterranean-style houses, upscale boutiques and restaurants, and the backdrop of the towering Santa Ynez Mountains and the Los Padres National Forest. You can have a little bit of everything in Santa Barbara, from days surfing and sunbathing to nights in exciting clubs with live music.

Elephant statue at the San Diego Zoo in San Diego

San Diego Zoo

San Diego

Located about 2 hours from Los Angeles, San Diego is one of the best day trips from the city. The vibrant city is known for its verdant parks, pristine beaches, and sunny climate, as well as its range of exciting attractions. Places like the San Diego Zoo, SeaWorld San Diego, and the USS Midway aircraft carrier and museum are ideal for families with kids, while adults can explore the art galleries, studios, and gardens throughout the city, such as Balboa Park.

San Luis Obispo

San Luis Obispo is around 3 hours and 30 minutes from Los Angeles, so it’s perfect for a long weekend getaway. The city has a relaxed atmosphere and many unique attractions, such as Bubblegum Alley, a street covered in pieces of used chewing gum, and the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art. The epitome of Central Coast beach life, the city also has small beachside towns like Morro Bay, where you can swim and sunbathe with the kids. There are also galleries and shops to visit.

Laguna Beach

Just an hour from Los Angeles, Laguna Beach is the perfect spot for a weekend beach retreat. The Orange County city is renowned for its art events, such as the Pageant of the Masters and the Festival of the Arts, as well as its picturesque beach. With year-round sunshine, Laguna Beach has a range of beach resorts and seaside restaurants and bars, so you can enjoy days and nights by the water. Surfing and watersports are popular in Laguna Beach, so you could take surf lessons to master the waves during your stay.

Ships docked in Ventura Harbor in Ventura

Ventura Harbor


Located about an hour north of Los Angeles, Ventura is a clean, quiet beach area with quaint streets and a retro feel. Perfect for a weekend trip of relaxation and sightseeing, Ventura has charming architecture from the 20s and 30s, a beachfront area with a wooden pier into the ocean, and a harbour for watersports and boat trips. If you like the outdoors, Ventura’s harbour offers ferries to the Channel Islands National Park, a remote area where you can hike, bike, camp, fish, kayak, and surf.

Ready for your getaway?

Now that you know all the best weekend getaways from Los Angeles, you can start planning your vacation itinerary. Take a look at deals on Los Angeles hotels on Expedia to save on your trip and explore California!