Sometimes we all need a break—and getting away from the hustle and bustle of our day-to-day city life can be great for your mental health, as well as a super opportunity to enjoy your fave playlists or albums on the way.
It’s easy to forget that the world exists outside of Los Angeles, but we’re happy to remind you that Southern Cali offers some of the very best in low-key entertainment, Instagram-worthy vistas, and family-friendly adventure.
Need some inspiration? Here are some of our favorite day trips around LA.
Get outside to see these iconic California sights
Joshua Tree National Park
After just over two hours in the car, you will find yourself in a totally different world at Joshua Tree National Park.
Two deserts, the Colorado and Mojave, meet at Joshua Tree, and the result is a stunning backdrop with a variety creatures and terrain and stimulate your senses. Hiking, camping, and picnicking are all great options to take a mental break at this popular, scenic park.
Tip: if you go during the warmer parts of the year, you’ll want to avoid the heat of the day. Arrive in the late afternoon to set up, then enjoy the cool night air while gazing at millions of stars. In the morning, wake up in time to witness the wonder of a Joshua Tree sunrise and explore the otherworldly landscape before the desert heat sets in.
Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park
Dreaming of a landscape that doesn’t include tall buildings? Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, lovingly known as the “Land of Giants,” is sure to wow you with some of the world’s largest trees and a diverse landscape.
Located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range, you won’t be able to turn away from the breathtaking views of the huge mountains—or the rugged foothills, canyons, and caverns below. Hit the national park at the right time of year, and you may get the added bonus of a little snow!
Right outside of Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Park, you’ll find one of the highest peaks in the lower 48: Mt. Whitney. At 14,494′, this mountain is a sight to see from the top or the bottom of the trail. Gorgeous waterfalls, spectacular sunset views, and challenging hikes await you.
This adventure is best if you’re physically fit; if you’re not much of a hiker, you might want to pick something less strenuous.
Family friendly adventures a short drive away from LA
Getting the whole family together for a trip can be quite an undertaking, but you can keep it low-key. If you want a taste of the wild without going too far, Millard Campground is the perfect spot for stretching your legs, getting some fresh air, and having a blast.
Waterfalls, streams, and camping are all available for the enjoyment of the whole family. Plus, it’s only 15 miles away from the heart of Los Angeles.
For the kids who would rather be home playing video games, Lake Casitas makes for a good compromise. Not only are the lake views beautiful and the water activities plenty, there is also a water park that will easily convince your “non-outdoorsy” kids that the trip is worth it!
Stargazing at Palomar Mountain
Catching a peek of the Milky Way through the heavy lights of Los Angeles is near impossible. Luckily, amateur astronomers can reach for the stars at Palomar Mountain.
In fact, one weekend per month, a 9PM light-free zone is enforced at the Observatory Campground’s north end—and you can get a glimpse of the galaxy through professional equipment supplied by the Palomar Observatory.
Be a tourist in a new town
One of the best day trips from Los Angeles is the coastal town of Catalina. If you love being outside, enjoying sandy beaches and crystal blue water, this is the place for you.
Whale spotting, waterfalls, fresh seafood, a casino…Catalina Island has something to offer everyone.
If charming and quaint is on your menu, Idyllwild is a must-visit. With a population of less than 4,000, Idyllwild has a small town atmosphere that’s easy to love.
Consider a whole-weekend adventure incorporating activities such as rock climbing, mountain biking, hiking, and camping, all while enjoying grand mountain views. Want to get wet too? Enjoy water sports at Lake Hemet, which is only about 15 minutes away. Satisfy your post-adventure cravings at one of the tasty restaurants in town; La Casita’s outdoor dining area is surrounded by fragrant pine trees, making it a perfect place to enjoy margaritas and tacos.
How do you like to escape the craziness of LA? Let us know in the comment section.