5 of the Best Day Trips from Los Angeles

May 18, 2018

No matter if you’re dying for a beachside escape, a mountainside adventure, or a stroll through a cute little town, these five day trips are sure to satisfy your wanderlust.

There’s no denying Los Angeles is an entertaining city. With numerous neighborhoods to explore and sites to see, you can spend your entire vacation right in the metropolis of LA. But even the greatest of cities begin to feel drab after a while. When you need a break from the city’s hustle and bustle, consider going on one of the best day trips from Los Angeles.

Photo Credit: Catalina Island Chamber of Commerce / Facebook

1. Catalina

A quick 25 miles off the coast of California, you’ll find Catalina Island. This quaint island paradise is so calm and peaceful, it doesn’t have a single traffic light!

To access the island, you’ll need to take a Catalina Express boat from either San Pedro, Long Beach, or Dana Point. These are the only three ports which access the island. If boats aren’t your thing, take to the sky. You can hop on the Catalina Flyer from Newport Beach or IEX Helicopters.

While in Catalina, take time to check out the village of Two Harbors and the city of Avalon. Both offer ample shopping and dining opportunities. Among the things to do in Catalina are:

  • Lounging on the beach
  • Sailing
  • Paddleboarding
  • Ziplining
  • Camping
  • Hiking
  • Jeep Tours
  • Glass Bottom Boat Tours
  • Shopping

And while you’re on the island, be sure to crack a “Catalina Wine Mixer” joke or two. That is, if you’re a fan of the movie Step Brothers.

Photo Credit: Visit Big Bear / Facebook

2. Big Bear

Anytime I travel, I try to include some sort of outdoor excursion. When you’ve had enough of the city and want to escape to the mountains, head to Big Bear, California.

About 99 miles away and 7,000 feet high in the San Bernardino Mountains, Big Bear is an outdoor enthusiast’s dream come true and one of the best day trips from Los Angeles. With activities and excursions for every season, you’re bound to find something fun to do on your trip.

During the summer, make a visit to the lake where you can go paddle boarding, jet skiing, kayaking, swimming, and more. In the fall, go for a hike on one of the endless trails or cast your line and go fishing. The winter season offers unparalleled thrills for snowboarders and skiers at Snow Summit and Bear Mountain. And in the spring, celebrate the warmer weather with a walk in the woods or bike ride along the lake.

Of course, if the great outdoors aren’t calling your name, there’s far more for you to experience in Big Bear! The Village is the premier destination for shopping, dining, and entertainment in Big Bear. You’ll find everything from live concerts to fine dining to cozy lodging options here.

coastline in san diego with people

Considering going on a day trip to San Diego for endless fun.

3. San Diego

Did you know San Diego is only a quick 2.5-hour drive from Los Angeles? If you’re traveling with family, a day trip to San Diego is a must.

Among the top things to do in San Diego are the theme parks, such as SeaWorld and LEGOLAND. No matter if you’re a roller coaster junkie or want to spend time with family, these parks are bursting with thrills, shows, and more.

Plus, San Diego is also home to the infamous San Diego Zoo! What day trip to San Diego would be complete without a trip to the zoo? Although, if museums are more your thing, check out the variety of options at Balboa Park.

Of course, as one of the best day trips from Los Angeles, San Diego is also home to other activities and entertainment, such as:

Although, with so much to do in San Diego, a day trip can easily turn into a weekend getaway. If that’s the case, book your hotel room ASAP!

Photo Credit: Solvang, California / Facebook

4. Solvang

Who knew one of the best day trips from Los Angeles would be to Denmark? Well, sort of…
A mere two hours away by car, Solvang is known as the Danish Capital of California. When you arrive, you’ll instantly see why. The architecture and culture of the city are reminiscent of old-world Denmark. On top of touristy boutiques, Solvang also boasts 20 wine tasting rooms and 120 wineries within Santa Barbara County.

If traveling to Solvang during the winter holidays, make sure you check out Solvang Julefest! This Christmas festival happens each year and transforms the charming town into a winter wonderland. Visitors from all over flock to California for this Danish Christmas retreat!

On top of festive holiday parties and ample wine sampling opportunities, you can also check out these things to do in Solvang:

  • Golfing
  • Historic Tours
  • Shows and Entertainment
  • Cycling
  • Hiking
  • Horseback Riding

If you’re looking to go international without the expense, a day trip to Solvang will do the trick.

A trip to Joshua Tree National Park is a must.

5. Joshua Tree

Rounding out the list of best day trips from Los Angeles is Joshua Tree, California. Located 2 hours and 15 minutes away from LA by car, the town is most famous for Joshua Tree National Park.
Joshua Tree National Park is where the Colorado and Mojave desert converge, resulting in a multitude of natural plants, wildlife, and rock structures. Of course, the main draw are the Joshua Trees with their captivating, Seuss-like appearance. While at the National Park, you can experience everything from camping to hiking, and dogs are allowed in certain areas of the park.
Now, if visiting a National Park isn’t your favorite thing to do, you can also enjoy the eclectic arts community in Joshua Tree. Be sure to check out Noah Purifoy's Outdoor Desert Art Museum, which boasts 10 acres of intriguing outdoor sculptures and art installations.

Which of the Best Day Trips from Los Angeles Will You Take?

Are you gearing up to escape the busy city and take a day trip? Where are you heading to from Los Angeles? Let us know!

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