Skip to main content

Best Day Trips From Los Angeles for Your Next Getaway

Best Day Trips From Los Angeles for Your Next Getaway

If you want a full-day vacation, we’ve put together the best Los Angeles day trips for a relaxing and out-of-this-world getaway. Team


8 min read

June 09, 2023

While Los Angeles offers a plethora of attractions—including beaches, museums, parks, and gardens—we could all do with a relaxing getaway from the big city now and then. Fortunately, the City of Angels is close to some of the coolest destinations in the Golden State, perfect for anyone who likes to get out and explore. If you want a full-day vacation, take a look at the best day trips from Los Angeles perfect for an out-of-this-world getaway.

The Best Day Trips From L.A.

When in Santa Monica, go on a much-needed shopping spree at the Third Street Promenade.

Santa Monica

Distance: 30 minutes by car

First up on our list of cool day trips from Los Angeles by car is the cozy getaway that is Santa Monica. Just a half-hour drive brings you to an iconic coastline is one of the closest Los Angeles getaways. You’re guaranteed to have fun on the roller coasters and bumper cars at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier. Hit the arcade, win a prize, and enjoy panoramic views of the coast on the Pacific Ferris wheel.

When it’s time for a snack, treat yourself to the burger and pizza bars along the pier and finish off your meal with a creamy dessert at one of Santa Monica’s wonderful ice cream parlors. Then, head on down to the Santa Monica Pier Aquarium to catch a cool glimpse of life underwater. Wrap up your Santa Monica getaway with some luxury shopping at the Third Street Promenade.

Headlands, cliffs, and rocky coves make Point Dume one of the most dramatic places in Malibu.


Distance: 1 hour by car

A visit to Point Dume in Malibu is an easy affordable romantic getaway. Just one quick road trip from Los Angeles away, Malibu offers amazing beaches, high-class dining, and the luxuriant SoCal beach lifestyle. Have a delightful swim in the emerald blue waters of the Pacific and marvel at the beauty of Malidu’s sandy cliffside beaches. When dinner time rolls around, Malibu Farm Restaurant awaits you with its healthy eco-conscious menu and spectacular views from the pier. 

Once you’ve had a chance to recharge at Malibu’s award-winning hotels, bask in the glory of the great outdoors while hiking to Escondido Falls. If you have some time to spare, pay a visit to Malibu Creek State Park—the best nature lovers’ destination for a fun day trip from Los Angeles.

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.
The seaside city of Laguna Beach boasts some of the finest beaches in California.

Laguna Beach

Distance1 hour by car

This next road trip from Los Angeles is for all the surfing, kayaking, and nature-watching enthusiasts out there. Laguna Beach is a top-notch seaside destination and more than just another resort town. The Laguna Art Museum, California’s oldest art gallery, is home to 3,000 paintings, sculptures, and photographs dating back to the 19th century. 

After a visit to this coveted cultural institution, take a stroll in verdant Heisler Park and enjoy the glorious orangey hues of the seaside sunset. If you’re feeling peckish, a refreshing fruity yogurt bowl from Banzai Bowls is the perfect snack for a quick recharge. For dinner, we recommend Nick’s Laguna Beach, the ultimate venue to enjoy a fillet mignon with a beautifully garnished gourmet baked potato. Just be sure to make a reservation for this distinguished Californian fine dining establishment.

The fun never ends at Balboa Island.

Balboa Island

Distance: 1 hour by car

Despite the name, this exclusive harborside community in Newport Beach, California occupies three different artificial islands, all of which are connected by road bridges. Getting to the islands means taking a quick car ferry from the mainland, and it’s well worth the trip. The charming community is home to many chic coastal shops on Marine Drive, great restaurants and bistros that cater to many tastes, and of course, unrivaled views of the vast Pacific Ocean. 

The Balboa Fun Zone is the ultimate destination for action-packed adventures. This historic amusement park on Newport Beach’s Balboa Peninsula has to be on your list of day trips from Los Angeles. After a long day of shopping and/or watersports, settle down for a home-style meal at Wilma’s Patio, Balboa Island’s top restaurant for the best in hearty American comfort food.

Huntington Beach

Distance: 1 hour by car

Full of exciting experiences, America’s Surf City is one of the best day trips from L.A. Visiting beaches, shops, and restaurants isn’t all there is to do in Huntington Beach. Experience a 1940s-style Hawaiian-style beach bungalow at Duke’s seafood restaurant and watch the surfers ride epic waves while enjoying a mouth-watering bowl of seared ahi.

Explore Huntington Central Park’s urban forest on horseback for a unique experience that transports you back in time. Enjoy great fishing with Wagner Charters, which also offers day trips to Catalina Island, another great destination for a last-minute trip from Los Angeles. For your last day at Huntington Beach, grab a juicy Billionaire burger made with Wagyu beef at Simmzy’s chich gastropub featuring unbeatable pier views.

Recomended businesses

Show me
Recommended Businesses near

Discover the best of California. Our recommended businesses are top-quality and are committed to their communities.


Distance: 1 hour, 37 minutes by train (Pacific Surfliner or Metrolink); 1 hour, 15 minutes by car

Since the charming coastal city of Oxnard is served by both Amtrak and Metrolink, it’s the perfect destination for a quick train trip from Los Angeles. Life goes at a different place in Oxnard, giving you a chance to slow down and enjoy the great range of entertaining family-friendly activities this beautiful place has to offer. Auto enthusiasts will love the premier collection of vintage European cars at the Mullin Automotive Museum, art lovers will enjoy a visit to the Carnegie Art Museum and a show at the Elite Theater Company. 

If you’re looking for wilderness and an old-world feel, Mandalay State Beach in Oxnard is the place to be. The sand dunes, scrub plants, and rugged flora and fauna allow visitors to enjoy the natural beauty of the most romantic beach in the state. Of course, no trip to Oxnard would be complete without a trip to one of Oxnard’s scenic vineyards, where good hospitality is a proud tradition. End the day with affordable Japanese delights at Anaba Sushi, a famous Oxnard dining spot that locals love.

Lying southwest of L.A., Catalina Island is by far the most picturesque destination in SoCal.

Santa Catalina Island

Distance: 1 hour by car

You’ll forget all about the bustling mainland once you find yourself at this oasis. Santa Catalina Island is not far from Los Angeles. You can easily get there with a one-hour ferry ride. If you’re in the mood to splurge, you can also take a helicopter to the island and get there in 15 minutes. While you cannot take your car to the island, getting around on Santa Catalina is easy. It doesn’t take long to walk across the island, and there are taxis, minibusses, and even golf carts that you can rent. Considering the abundance of attractions here, this is the perfect destination for a weekend escape from L.A. 

The Catalina Island Museum is a must-visit, especially if it’s your first time. Later, trek the 2.8-mile Garden to Sky Trail and visit Wrigley Memorial and Botanic Garden. The trail is so picturesque that it’s one of the best things to do on a romantic getaway near Los Angeles. There is a wide variety of small family-operated businesses to choose from when hunger strikes. Catalina Coffee and Cookie Co. is one of these must-try places. Gourmet bespoke coffee, cinnamon rolls, and the best brownies are all found here. As for dinner, Bluewater Avalon offers the finest sustainable seafood with a gorgeous waterfront patio to elevate your Santa Catalina experience to the next level.

Santa Barbara's Spanish architecture perfectly complements the city's luxurious lifestyle and stunning vistas.

Santa Barbara

Distance: 1 hour, 45 minutes by car; 2 hours, 33 minutes by train (Pacific Surfliner) 

Santa Barbara offers one of the best L.A. day trips thanks to its breathtaking coastline, historic Spanish Mission, and the ruins of Knapp’s Castle. It’s also a great destination for a fun train trip from Los Angeles purely for the journey. Although the train takes longer, it transports you along the length of SoCal’s majestic Pacific coastline and through countless charming beachside hamlets. Plus, you won’t have to worry about fighting coastal highway traffic. 

Once you get to Santa Barbara, we recommend visiting one of the countless exhibits at the local Spanish mission’s history museum. Later, head over to the neighboring La Huerta Historic Garden to see the botanic history of Spain’s agricultural transformation. Once you get the munchies, indulge in delicious Spanish fare at Loquita or delectable Indian curries at Bibi Ji. If you’d prefer the best of everything, the Santa Barbara Public Market offers a large variety of premium cuisines from some of the best local chefs.

Palm Springs

Distance: 2 hours, 15 minutes by car

Boasting desert landscapes and distinctive mid-century modern architecture, Palm Springs deserves its day trip from Los Angeles. Visit the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens where you can feed giraffes and get up close to all kinds of fascinating critters. Make your trip educational and visit the Palm Springs Air Museum where you can see perfectly preserved World War Two bombers. If you’re feeling adventurous you can even book a flight in one of these vintage warbirds. 

For nature lovers, there are over 60 miles of trails at your disposal in the Indian Canyons not far from the city. The Palm Springs Aerial Tramway is another great attraction. Once you reach the top and have had your fill of the panoramic vistas, treat yourself to a delicious meal with a glorious view of the Coachella Valley at Cascade Café.

Fascinating desert plants and bizarre rock formations make up Joshua Tree National Park.

Joshua Tree National Park

Distance: 2 hours, 40 minutes by car

For your next day trip from Los Angeles by car, why not visit one of the best national parks in California? Discover the many Joshua Tree hiking trails that meander through gigantic boulders, cacti gardens, and fields of kaleidoscopic wildflowers. There are many great bird-watching and photography spots throughout this scenic desert park as well. Climb the towering rock walls, experience mind-blowing scenes of untouched natural wonder, and soak in the stellar night sky on your Joshua Tree getaway. It’s easy to get hungry and thirsty out in the desert, so be sure to bring plenty of water and some snacks (please don’t litter in the park!).

There's never a wrong time to visit Big Bear Lake.

Big Bear Lake

Distance: 4 hours, 25 minutes by car

Known as the ultimate four-season mountain escape, Big Bear Lake is a great weekend getaway destination for a road trip from Los Angeles. From the scenic drive itself to the scenic vistas and Swiss-style ski locations, everything about this place is magical. 

The outdoor recreation opportunities here are endless—hiking, fishing, camping, snowboarding, snow tubing, and skiing are only the tip of the iceberg. In the evening, enjoy some authentic MezCal cuisine at the Hacienda Bar and Grill or enjoy a round of pool and some classic Americana fare at the Big Bear Bar and Grill.


Distance: 2 hours, 30 minutes by car

Famous for it’s Scandinavian architecture, the city of Solvang was once a hub for Danish immigrants looking for a better life in the American West. Although the Danish community is long gone, Solvang’s Scandi-infused character remains as the city is replete with Danish farmhouses and even a classic Scandinavian windmill. 

Here, you’ll find the Hans Christian Andersen Museum which houses a variety of exhibits from the famous playwright, widely known in the English-speaking world as the “Danish Shakespeare”. Make the most of this day trip from Los Angeles with some traditional Danish sausage or meatballs and some Aebleskiver (glorious fried dough balls topped with jam and often filled with fruit) for desert at the Solvang Restaurant.

Need help with a home improvement project? Get a free quote today!

Enter Your Zip Code

Enter Your Zip Code

RELATED Articles

Discover More

fueled by the power of California love
We're committed to helping you discover the places, people and businesses that make our state Golden. Our online publication, updated daily, brings you all the content you need to live your California dreams. And that's just the beginning…
Purpose section
Purpose section