4 easy must-do weekend trips from Los Angeles

Published by: BouncePosted Updated
Best weekend trips from Los Angeles

Los Angeles is the biggest city not just in Southern California but in the entire state. It's renowned for its connection with the film industry and that infamous neighborhood, Hollywood. With a population of almost four million, it can feel overcrowded and claustrophobic, especially when it's hot, and the humidity level is high.

Once you've exhausted all of LA's cultural activities, and there are quite a few (this city isn't known as the cultural center of California for nothing), the thought of taking a weekend getaway can start to sound like the best idea you've had all year.

You won't need to travel far to make your summer weekend getaway dream a reality either. There are some great towns near Los Angeles for weekend getaways, so forget disappearing into the San Bernardino National Forest to go hiking trails up Bear Mountain. Keep that for wintertime when there's snow on the slopes instead. Southern California is wine country, and if that's not incentive enough to take weekend getaways from Los Angeles every other week, then nothing is.

If you're not living in Los Angeles, but vacationing here for a couple of weeks or more, have had enough of the hubbub, and just want a weekend getaway to relax, that's understandable. LA can start to become a little overwhelming, but don't worry. Weekend getaways from Los Angeles aren't only for the city's residents. Vacationers can take them too, and there's no need to make excuses about doing it either.

What you won't want to do is go on a weekend getaway with all of your vacation luggage. Pack an overnight bag and leave the rest of your stuff in one of the Bounce luggage storage facilities in Los Angeles. It'll feel like the weight of the world has been lifted off your shoulders, and you'll be able to enjoy a weekend getaway in any one of the following towns near Los Angeles without having to worry about ruining your street cred by getting sweaty armpit stains on your shirt.

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Weekend trips to Palm Springs from Los Angeles

Palm Springs

Palm Springs is one of the best weekend getaways from Los Angeles. Palm Springs is a place that really rolls out the red carpet for its visitors, which is probably why it's been a popular weekend getaway resort for over 80 years. You'll get a well-practiced welcome at its spas, stores, museums, and art galleries, but there's much more to do in Palm Springs than go shopping or browse art and artifacts.

Distance from Los Angeles

Palm Springs is just over 100 miles southeast of Los Angeles. Skip considering catching the Greyhound bus, as that's a journey that takes over four hours which will eat up a lot of your weekend getaway time.

The quickest options to get from Los Angeles to Palm Springs are to drive or to fly. The drive from LA to Palm Springs will take you around an hour and 45 minutes. Flights take an hour, but you'll need extra time to get through airport security at either end.

Our activity recommendations

While you might want to just sit by the side of a pool when you're in Palm Springs, you won't want to miss going horseback riding, mountain biking, or just taking a leisurely stroll through one of the Indian Canyons. Andreas Canyon has fantastic hiking trails that wind through lush tropical landscapes past unusual geological formations. Murray Canyon is ideal for wildlife and waterfall spotting, while Palm Canyon is perfect for getting back to nature.

Palm Springs is renowned for its public art as well as for the Palm Springs Art Museum. The museum is one of the best art galleries in America and houses vast collections of Western, Californian, and modern art. To fully appreciate the public art that adorns the streets of Palm Springs, you'll need to get your walking shoes on. There are eclectic and colorful sculptures and murals all over Downtown Palm Springs and the rest of the city that will make for some pretty unusual souvenir selfies.

Weekend trip from LA to Palm Springs

One must-do activity when you go to Palm Springs is to take a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. The tramway is located just outside of the city on the edge of Mount San Jacinto State Park. The ride will take you from the bottom of the Coachella Valley to the summit of Mount San Jacinto. Be prepared to get dizzy as the tram car rotates as it makes the ascent. The views are amazing, so long as you don't have vertigo.

Best season to visit

Palm Springs is great at any time of the year, but it does get exceptionally busy during the winter months. You can avoid crowds by going in the spring or the fall.

Santa Barbara

If your idea of ideal weekend getaways from Los Angeles involves spending time in wine-tasting rooms, then you should head for Santa Barbara and the Santa Barbara wine country. Don't think you'll be spending all day in tasting rooms, though, as this Southern California city, backed by the beautiful Santa Ynez Mountains and fronted by the North Pacific Ocean, has more to offer than a glass or two of Cabernet Sauvignon.

Distance from Los Angeles

Santa Barbara is approximately 95 miles west of Los Angeles. If you were to drive from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, the most direct route is along the US101, which is a journey that would take you around one and a half hours.

If you wanted to make the trip to Santa Barbara a little more scenic, you can leave Los Angeles in the direction of Santa Monica, where you can join the SR1, the Pacific Coast Highway, until it merges with the US101 in Ventura. It only adds half an hour to the trip, but it's a detour that's definitely worth it.

Weekend trip from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara

Our activity recommendations

There's no denying that Santa Barbara is one of the best weekend getaways from Los Angeles for beach and wine lovers, as it really does have a surplus of sand and vineyards. Santa Barbara has seven exceptional beaches you can enjoy at any time of the year. One of the most popular spots in the city is the Waterfront District, where there are plenty of seafood restaurants on Stearns Wharf as well as the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center. There are also numerous boat cruises you can board from the wharf, so if you're hoping to take a romantic sunset cruise, this is the place to look. One memorable day trip you can take by boat is the one to the Channel Islands National Park, which is just offshore.

Rather than just going regular sightseeing, the thing to do when you're in Santa Barbara is taking the Urban Wine Trail. You could actually spend your entire weekend getaway on the Urban Wine Trail, as it takes two days to complete if you include the sections that take you out to the countryside or, as they call it locally, wine country. The area of Downtown known as The Funk Zone is where the majority of urban tasting rooms are located. There are also various art galleries and numerous restaurants there that you can drop into to give you a break between tippling in the tasting rooms.

Best season to visit

The best times of the year for weekend getaways to Santa Barbara are spring and fall. That's when the temperatures remain at a constant level that's comfortable for exploring. Plan to go from April to mid-June or anytime from September through to November.

Laguna Beach weekend trip from LA

Laguna Beach

One weekend trip that should be on everyone's agenda, whether they're living or vacationing in Los Angeles, is one to Laguna Beach. Go to Laguna Beach, and you'll have one of those tranquil seaside weekend getaways that will leave you feeling completely refreshed and rejuvenated.

Distance from Los Angeles

The distance between Los Angeles and Laguna Beach is just 50 miles, so if you're hoping for a quick weekend trip where you won't need to spend hours traveling, this is it. To drive from LA to Laguna Beach won't take you more than an hour and a half. If you don't have a vehicle at your disposal, you can take the Metrolink Orange County Line bus, the Pacific Surfliner, or a Greyhound bus, but it'll take two and a half hours to get there.

Our activity recommendations

Laguna Beach is an especially popular place for a weekend trip for people who love outdoor activities like camping, golf, surfing, beachcombing, scuba diving, or hiking. This small beach town on the west coast is right next to the Crystal Cove State Park, where there are three miles of unspoiled beach with tide pools, a unique historic district of beach bungalows where you can stay if you want to, and 18 miles of hiking trails running through a variety of coastal landscapes.

There are also some amazing day trips you can take from Laguna Beach. One of the best is the boat ride over to Santa Catalina Island, where you can go ziplining, explore the towns of Avalon and Two Harbors, or go on a submarine expedition. Santa Catalina Island is such a peaceful spot that you might even find yourself planning another weekend getaway there to discover it in depth. Santa Catalina Island is definitely a place you could fall in love with.

Best season to visit

The weather in Laguna Beach is good all year round, so it doesn't matter when you plan to go. It does have a very busy summer season, though, so if you want to avoid the crowds go in spring, fall, or winter.

San Diego weekend getaway from Los Angeles

San Diego

As long as you're okay with swapping one big city for another, then San Diego can turn out to be one of the best weekend getaways from Los Angeles you can have. San Diego is renowned for its year-round excellent climate and its multiple cultural offerings, and who knows, if you're single, you might even meet a handsome sailor or marine on shore leave from one of the ships docked in San Diego Harbor. That would certainly make your stay in the city one of the best weekend getaways from Los Angeles ever.

Distance from Los Angeles

San Diego is 120 miles south of Los Angeles, so getting there won't be the shortest drive you could have. Calculate the trip will take you around two and a half hours minimum, but be careful not to take a wrong turn, or you could end up at the state border with Mexico. If you don't want to drive, your options to get to San Diego from Los Angeles are the Greyhound bus, which takes roughly three and a half to four hours, or a flight with Delta or United Airlines, which takes around an hour.  

Our activity recommendations

There is so much to do in San Diego that it deserves an article of its own. In brief, whatever you like to do on weekend trips away, you'll find it in this city. Here you can take a boat cruise around the harbor, go whale watching, kayak your way into the La Jolla sea cave, or visit the USS Midway, which is an aircraft carrier turned into a museum.

For more terrestrial experiences, you can visit Seaworld or the San Diego Zoo, both of which are great if you're with kids, as is Belmont Park with its scream-inducing roller coasters. For more sedate experiences, consider exploring the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park or think about going horseback riding through the Torrey Pines State Preserve.

If it's your first time in San Diego, then jump on the hop-on hop-off trolley to get to know the city or take a ride on the SEAL amphibious bus. You can discover all about the San Diego food and wine scene by going on walking tours through Little Italy, East Village, and Barrio Logan. There's so much to do in this city that you may well need several weekend getaways to fit it all in.

Best season to visit

San Diego is a fantastic city to visit any time of the year. Winter, spring, summer, or fall just pick your season, pack a bag and go.

Exciting weekend getaways from LA


There really are some amazing places to go to for weekend getaways from Los Angeles. If you head south, the choices seem almost limitless. If you don't have a whole weekend to spare, don't worry. There are some equally great day trips you can take from Los Angeles that will make you feel like you've had a weekend away too. Big Bear Lake, Lake Arrowhead, and Newport Beach, while they might not be Las Vegas, are all places you can get a breath of fresh air, enjoy California cuisine, and some pretty decent craft beer.

Joshua Tree National Park, Sequoia National Park, and Los Padres National Forest are great trips, too, if you have an RV at your disposal. They'll work out well if your idea of a romantic getaway is going mountain biking during the day, then sitting around fire pits under the night sky toasting marshmallows at night rather than eating in a fine dining restaurant.

If you're only in Los Angeles for three days, that's a shame. You won't have time for a weekend away, but if you don't do anything else while you're here, make sure you go to Catalina Island. There might not be a private beach there or even a restaurant with a rooftop pool, but go anyway, you won't regret it.

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