Discover Your New Home: 14 of The Best Day Trips from Los Angeles, CA

Updated on August 10th, 2023

Reading Time: 5 minutes

Los Angeles is a diverse and exciting city with endless options for exploration and adventure. Whether you’re a local renting an apartment in Los Angeles, CA, looking to buy a house in the area, or a tourist, there’s always something new to discover. And if you’re looking to escape the city for a day and explore the surrounding areas, you’re in luck. 

From stunning coastlines and picturesque mountains to charming small towns and national parks, there are plenty of incredible day trips to choose from. In this article, we’ll highlight the best day trips from Los Angeles that you won’t want to miss.

Santa Monica beach and pier shortly after sunset _ getty

1. Santa Monica Pier and Beach

Located on the westside of Los Angeles, Santa Monica is a famous beach town that boasts a lively pier and pristine beaches. The Santa Monica Pier is home to Pacific Park, an amusement park that offers a Ferris wheel, roller coaster, and many other attractions. The beach itself is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and people-watching. 

In addition, the nearby Third Street Promenade is a great shopping destination that has a variety of stores, restaurants, and entertainment options.

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2. Griffith Park and Observatory

Griffith Park is a massive urban park located in the heart of Los Angeles. The park offers hiking trails, horseback riding, and a golf course, making it a great destination for outdoor enthusiasts. 

The park is also home to the Griffith Observatory, which offers breathtaking views of the city and the night sky. Inside the observatory, visitors can explore interactive exhibits and telescopes to learn about astronomy and space exploration.

3. Malibu

Malibu is a picturesque coastal city located to the west of Los Angeles. The city is known for its stunning beaches, including Zuma Beach, Surfrider Beach, and Point Dume State Beach. 

Visitors can also explore the nearby Malibu Lagoon State Beach, which offers a scenic lagoon, birdwatching opportunities, and hiking trails. In addition, the city has plenty of excellent dining options and art galleries to explore.

4. Catalina Island

Located off the coast of Los Angeles, Catalina Island is a beautiful destination that offers a variety of outdoor activities. Visitors can explore the island’s beaches, hike its scenic trails, and take a zip line tour over the island’s rugged terrain, just to name a few The island also has plenty of dining options, shopping opportunities, and a casino for those looking for indoor activities.

5. The Getty Center

The Getty Center is an art museum located in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The museum boasts an extensive collection of art from around the world, including paintings, sculptures, and decorative arts. 

In addition, the Getty Center has beautiful gardens and stunning architecture, making it a great place for a relaxing day trip.

6. Joshua Tree National Park

Located about two hours east of Los Angeles, Joshua Tree National Park is a popular destination for outdoor enthusiasts. The park is known for its unique rock formations and Joshua trees, which make for great hiking and rock climbing opportunities. Visitors can also explore the park’s desert landscapes and take in stunning views of the night sky.

7. Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake is a mountain town located about two hours northeast of Los Angeles. The town offers a variety of outdoor activities, including skiing, snowboarding, and snowshoeing in the winter, and hiking, mountain biking, and fishing in the summer. Visitors can also take a scenic chairlift ride to the top of the mountain for breathtaking views of the surrounding area.

8. Channel Islands National Park

Channel Islands National Park is a group of islands located off the coast of Southern California. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, kayaking, and snorkeling. Visitors can explore the park’s rugged coastline and take in stunning views of the Pacific Ocean.

9. Anza-Borrego Desert State Park

Located about two hours southeast of Los Angeles, Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is the largest state park in California. The park offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, camping, and stargazing. Visitors can explore the park’s desert landscapes and take in stunning views of the surrounding mountains.

10. Mount Baldy

Mount Baldy is a mountain located about an hour east of Los Angeles. The mountain offers a variety of outdoor activities, including hiking, mountain biking, and skiing. Visitors can take the scenic Mount Baldy Road to the top of the mountain for stunning views of the surrounding area.

11. Santa Barbara

Located just two hours north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is a charming coastal town that offers a variety of activities for visitors. The town’s Spanish-style architecture and palm-lined beaches make for a picturesque setting, and there are plenty of great restaurants, wine tasting rooms, and art galleries to explore. Visitors can also hike in the nearby Santa Ynez Mountains, kayak in the ocean, or simply relax on the beach.

12. Santa Ynez Valley

The Santa Ynez Valley is located just north of Santa Barbara and is one of California’s premier wine regions. The valley is home to a variety of wineries and tasting rooms, many of which offer stunning views of the surrounding countryside. Visitors can take a leisurely drive through the valley, stopping at wineries along the way to sample some of the region’s best wines.

13. Palm Springs

Palm Springs is a popular desert resort town located about two hours east of Los Angeles. The town is known for its hot springs, golf courses, and mid-century modern architecture. Visitors can explore the town’s many boutiques and art galleries, take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, or simply relax by the pool at one of the town’s many resorts.

14. San Diego

Located about two and a half hours south of Los Angeles, San Diego is a vibrant coastal city that offers a variety of attractions and activities. The city’s world-famous zoo is a must-visit, as is the nearby Balboa Park, which boasts a variety of museums and gardens. Visitors can also explore the city’s beaches, surf spots, and many waterfront dining options.

Golf course at dawn with sunrise kissed mountains _ getty

Embark on Unforgettable Day Trips from Los Angeles 

Los Angeles and its surrounding areas offer a diverse range of day trip options that cater to everyone’s interests and preferences. From relaxing beach getaways to cultural museum visits, outdoor adventures in nature, and bustling city experiences, there’s no shortage of things to do and see. So, get ready for an unforgettable day trip or adventure in and around Los Angeles.

Learn more about Los Angeles:

Saving for a House? 15 Free Things to do in Los Angeles

Los Angeles Breweries that Raise the Bar

10 Fun Facts About Los Angeles: How Well Do You Know Your City?

11 Unique Things to Do in Los Angeles for New Locals

10 Most Affordable Los Angeles Suburbs to Live In

9 Cities Near Los Angeles to Buy or Rent in this Year

If you are represented by an agent, this is not a solicitation of your business. This article is for informational purposes only, and is not a substitute for professional advice from a medical provider, licensed attorney, financial advisor, or tax professional. Consumers should independently verify any agency or service mentioned will meet their needs. Learn more about our Editorial Guidelines here.

Marissa Crum

Marissa is part of the content marketing team and enjoys writing about real estate trends and home improvement. Her dream home is a contemporary-style house with ample outdoor space.

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