Time To Get Away: The Two-Hour Road Trips From Los Angeles You'll Want to Take Next

Time To Get Away: The Two-Hour Road Trips From Los Angeles You'll Want to Take Next

By Rachael Medina October 16, 2019

When it comes to Southern California, Los Angeles gets most of the attention. While this is for good reason—I mean, where else can you find so many renowned art galleries, hip coffee shops, and gluten-free restaurants?—it’s not exactly fair to the other interesting towns nestled nearby. 

Although city life is exciting, there are plenty of remote destinations that can get your heart pumping and fill your stomach with butterflies. And thanks to Los Angeles’ incredible location, these destinations can be found just an hour or two away. So pack up the car, and get ready to experience these road trips from L.A. because you’ll definitely want (ahem, need) to go. 

1. Palm Springs

Distance from Los Angeles: 2 hours

Palm Springs makes for the perfect getaway without having to go too far. Tucked just two hours east of L.A., it's always a good time to recharge in the desert sun. 

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From music festivals, to vintage boutiques, to mid-century modern architecture, there’s a little bit of everything in Palm Springs. A popular retreat for Hollywood stars, this remote desert destination feels like a faraway place but is close enough for a quick trip. Make sure to stop by the art galleries, grab a bite to eat, and play a round of golf before you travel back to Los Angeles. With so much to do, you might want to set aside a whole weekend to explore before the weather starts to heat up again. Better yet, book a weeklong vacation to really enjoy the road trip from Los Angeles to Palm Springs and back. 

2. Oceanside

Distance from Los Angeles: 1.5 hours

Check out the swells in Oceanside before heading to the California Surf Museum. Photo courtesy of the California Surf Museum.

Best known for Harbor Beach, Oceanside provides the perfect road trip from Los Angeles to San Diego County. After catching a wave, head into the California Surf Museum to learn about the evolution of Southern California’s surfing. When you’re ready to pull yourself away from the swells, make your way over to the Oceanside Sunset Market or the weekly farmers market to check out the local vendors and take home some artisanal products.  

3. Carlsbad

Distance from Los Angeles: 1.75 hours

The Carlsbad flower fields come to life in the springtime, but there's plenty to see year-round.

As part of northernwestern San Diego County, Carlsbad is a beautiful coastal city that’s ready for visitors year-round. Though its most famous draw—the 50-acre ranunculus flower fields at Carlsbad Ranch—is only available during the springtime, there is plenty to keep you busy during the off seasons. Grab your board and hit a wave or two,join a paddleboard yoga class, or head off to LEGOLAND for an awe-inspiring weekend away. 

4. Pioneertown

Distance from Los Angeles: 2 hours

The popular filming location of Pioneertown makes for the perfect weekend getaway.

Whether you’re searching for a trendy retreat for your next girls’ trip destination or an intimate desert hotel for your next vacation, Pioneertown is the hottest place to be. It also offers one of the best road trips from L.A.; the highway passes through a variety of terrains before dropping you out in the barren landscape near the Joshua Tree National Park entrance. Since Pioneertown feels so distant from any other Southern California staple, it’s the perfect place to recharge and reconnect with nature. 

5. Big Bear Lake

Distance from Los Angeles: 2 hours

From summer to winter, Big Bear is a mountain escape you'll never forget. 

Perched high above sea level, Big Bear experiences cooler temperatures than the coastal cities near Los Angeles, making it a cozy getaway year-round. From skiing in the winter to splashing around the lake in the summer, there is no end to the region’s adventures. So whether you consider yourself a hiking, camping, or horseback-riding enthusiast, there’s something in this great expanse that will satisfy your desire to explore. 

6. Ventura

Distance from Los Angeles: 1.5 hours

Ventura is one of California's best laid-back beach towns. Cruise around town, catch a wave, and leave feeling refreshed.

Since this beach town is so close to the attractions of Los Angeles, it is the ideal destination for recurring weekend road trips from the city. And when it comes to California’s laid-back attitude, there is no better place to be. Hang out by the water, indulge in fresh oysters, and ride a bike through town to see what Ventura is all about.

7. Wrightwood

Distance from Los Angeles: 2 hours

With winter fast-approaching, there's no better time to start planning a trip to Wrightwood. Hop on the slopes and leave your stress behind. 

With ski slopes, ziplines, and fewer tourists than than the nearby Big Bear region, Wrightwood makes for the perfect road trip from Los Angeles. This destination was made for adventurers, so pack your hiking boots, snowboard, and a camera—this is one place you won’t want to miss. As the closest ski resort to L.A., Mountain High is a must-do during the cooler months, but that doesn’t mean the town should be off the list when it’s not snowing. Test your survival skills on the Pacific Crest Trail, take your dad to Pacific Crest to get your adrenaline going on the ziplines, and dine alfresco to get the most out of your trip.  

Now that you’ve taken all of the best road trips from Los Angeles, make your way up to San Francisco to check out the incredible getaways within three hours of the Bay Area.

Rachael Medina

WRITTEN BY Rachael Medina

Rachael Medina is the staff writer and content manager for California.com. She was born and raised just outside the Mojave Desert in Southern California and moved to the redwood forests of Humboldt C…

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