If you live in Los Angeles or have a longer visit planned, think about escaping the crowds and traffic of the city for a bit and heading out of town for a change of scenery. With mountain escapes, wine tasting tours and beach lounging all within a few hours’ drive, a quick trip out of town is a great way to relax and recharge. Whether you’re a city slicker or a stargazer (or both!), here are nine weekend trips for when you need to escape the City of Angels.
The Posh Beach Lover: Laguna Beach
Just an hour or so south of LA is the California “Riviera,” the highlight of which is Laguna Beach. Located in Orange County, this SoCal coastal town is charming and chic with high-end boutiques, five-star accommodations and plenty of gourmet restaurants. Sip champagne while watching the sunset at Studio restaurant, visit one of the many art galleries on Coast Highway or lounge poolside. Skip overcrowded Main Beach and head to Treasure Island Beach, a public beach at Montage Laguna Beach (see below).
STAY: Montage Laguna Beach
Feel the ocean breeze from the balcony of a luxury guest room at Montage Laguna Beach. The property includes an Instagram-worthy pool, fine seaside dining, and an elegant indoor/outdoor spa featuring coastal treatments.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 45 miles
The Mindful Hiker: Ojai
The spiritual-focused town of Ojai is bordered by Los Padres National Forest, which makes for great hiking. Situated just an hour inland from Ventura, Ojai is the perfect place to stop and calm your existential angst. Meditate on a rock in the middle of San Antonio Creek, listen to the call of the birds while hiking through the chaparral, browse for the perfect crystal in the New Age shops along Ojai Avenue, or dine on a farm-to-table vegan meal at a local eatery like AZU Restaurant and Ojai Valley Brewery.
STAY: Ojai Valley Inn
After a day of exploring the serene outdoor environment in Ojai, treat yourself to a night (or two) of pampering at the AAA Five Diamond Ojai Valley Inn. Enjoy a meal at one of the eight on-property restaurants, take a dip in one of the three pools, enjoy a curated shopping experience at the boutiques, or experience one of the many resort activities such as beekeeping and honey tasting, soap making or macramé.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 83 miles
The Outdoor Adventurer: Lake Arrowhead
Placid Lake Arrowhead is surrounded by the rugged San Bernardino Mountains, making it a naturalist’s heaven. This quaint mountain town offers plenty of outdoor activities, from fishing and cycling to skiing and boating. Get in touch with Mother Nature whether hiking a mountain or paddling a kayak. Don’t forget to pack your camera—the flora and fauna are photo worthy—and the fresh mountain air will be a welcome retreat from smog-laden LA.
STAY: Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa
Only an hour-and-a-half from LA, the Lake Arrowhead Resort & Spa is a secluded luxury mountain retreat. Relax by a roaring fire pit, enjoy fine dining overlooking the lake, indulge in a pine-scented massage at the spa, or take a stroll along the private beach.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 80 miles
The City Slicker: San Diego
Trade in LA sprawl for San Diego’s eclectic neighborhoods. From the hip Gaslamp Quarter to festive Little Italy and the beaches of Coronado, San Diego has it all. Climb the California Tower in Balboa Park, take a surfing lesson in Pacific Beach, go for an electric bike ride along Mission Bay, or eat your heart out (Kettner Exchange and Herb & Wood are our current faves). Whatever you’re in the mood for, this city keeps you on your toes.
STAY: Pendry San Diego
With chic décor, great city views, a rooftop pool, six unique dining options and an exquisite spa, Pendry San Diego is the perfect home base from which to explore San Diego. Located in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter, there is no shortage of walkable activities such as shopping, dining and nightlife.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 120 miles
The Wine Enthusiast: Temecula
Hop in your car and in less than two hours you’ll be in the rolling hills of Temecula Valley Wine Country. What better way to spend a weekend? Take a stroll among the vineyards and sip full-bodied wine at a local vintner like Briar Rose Winery (which replicates Snow White’s cottage), pick up some snacks at the Farmer’s Market, shop for artisan crafts in the Historic Old Town, and drink more wine. It doesn’t get much better. Well, actually a horse-drawn carriage ride through a vineyard or a hot-air balloon ride could kick things up a notch. Visiting more than one winery? Jump on the Winery Hopper.
STAY: Ponte Vineyard Inn
The boutique Ponte Vineyard Inn offers vineyard views, wine tasting (of course!) at on-site Ponte Winery, a semi Olympic-sized pool, tours of the 300-acre ranch, and plenty of locally inspired, seasonal menu items at their restaurants. Whether you’re looking for a romantic escape or a girls’ weekend away, this is the spot to relax and indulge. Want to check out some other wineries nearby? Stop by the Wiens Family Cellars or Avensole Winery.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 85 miles
The Environmentalist: Channel Islands
The Channel Islands National Park, located off the coast of Ventura, offers a glimpse at unusual birds, sea life, and vegetation. Activities on the five islands range from kayaking or guided hikes to tide pooling or wildflower viewing. The boat ride to the closest islands, Anacapa and Santa Cruz, takes about an hour. Stop by the interpretive centers upon arrival for an orientation before heading out to explore. There are no shops, restaurants, electricity or transportation on the islands…it’s all about nature. Good time to take a break from your cell phone.
STAY: Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort
The Embassy Suites by Hilton Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort is an all-suite oceanfront resort located in Oxnard, not far from the Oxnard Harbor where you’ll catch the boat to the Channel Islands. Before or after your island escapade enjoy high-end resort amenities including complimentary, cooked-to-order breakfast and evening wine and cheese reception, access to golf courses, a variety of treatments at the on-property spa, tennis and basketball courts, and heated pool.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 60 miles to Oxnard
The Dreamer: Santa Barbara
Pinched between the Pacific Ocean and the Santa Ynez Mountains, Spanish-tinged Santa Barbara offers activities such as wining and gallery hopping in the post-industrial Funk Zone (don’t miss Les Marchands), shopping and dining on State Street (check out Sama Sama Kitchen), surfing and standup paddleboarding, unreal sunsets at Butterfly Beach or taking in some history by visiting the Mission.
STAY: The Upham Hotel
Hailed as one of the oldest hotels in California, the Upham Hotel offers a rich history with contemporary amenities. Conveniently located near downtown, the classy and comfortable hotel offers custom décor in each of its 50 rooms, milk and cookies at bedtime, a beautiful garden setting and cottage or inn accommodations.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 90 miles
The Stargazer: Joshua Tree National Park
The picturesque desert landscape of Joshua Tree National Park draws visitors to discover its hiking trails, geological formations, star-filled skies and rock-climbing opportunities. While wandering the desert pathways, keep your eyes peeled for bighorn sheep, archeological petroglyphs, turkey vultures, coyotes and, of course, Joshua trees. While in the area, stop by the Integratron for a sound bath and La Copine for dinner, explore the canyon landscapes and wildlife at Big Morongo Canyon Preserve and look upward at Sky’s the Limit observatory and Nature Center.
STAY: Pioneertown Motel
What says desert more than a rustic “ghost town?” Pioneertown was once a set for 1940’s Western movies and the Pioneertown Motel served as accommodations for the actors. It has now been restored to a quaint and rustic one-of-a-kind motel with Western town facades. Have dinner and listen to live music at Pappy and Harriet’s Pioneertown Palace where Sir Paul McCartney once played an impromptu show.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 130 miles
The Culture Vulture: Solvang
Looking for a little bit of Europe in California? The quaint town of Solvang is home to Danish architecture, plus, food and souvenirs…think windmills, wooden clogs and amazing pastries. You’ll feel like you deserve a Denmark stamp in your passport. Visit the Hans Christian Andersen Museum (the original author of The Little Mermaid), ride the horse-drawn Solvang Trolley, go wine tasting, feed giant birds at Ostrichland USA, or take in some history at the Old Mission Santa Ines.
STAY: WorldMark Solvang
The WorldMark Solvang offers family-friendly suites that sleep up to eight with a dining and living room, and the convenience of a kitchenette or full kitchen, plus a washer and dryer and patio or balcony. Kids will love the pool, pool table, arcade and ping pong table.
Distance from Los Angeles: Approx. 140 miles
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