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Best Day Trips from Los Angeles

LA may have a glamorous reputation, but let’s keep it real – this place can grind the best of us down. When burnout looms, though, there’s nothing like a quick day trip to recharge one’s batteries.

Compelling destinations surround Los Angeles. Let’s explore some of them together.  

Santa Barbara

Backed by mountains and boasting scores of sexy Spanish Colonial Revival buildings, Santa Barbara is one of California’s most scenic cities. Dubbed the “American Riviera” for having a similar climate to the Northern Mediterranean, you’ll feel relaxed the second you step out of your car.

If you’re in the mood for sightseeing, make sure you check out the Old Mission. Built in the 18th century, it is unquestionably this city’s crown jewel. After taking lots of pictures, hit up one of many wine-tasting rooms scattered around downtown.

Always meant to take up surfing? Santa Barbara’s smaller summer waves are perfect for beginners. Alternatively, you can roll out a towel and watch as others learn.

Lastly, thanks to its unique charm, many Hollywood stars spend significant time here. As you walk around, keep a sharp eye out for your favorite actors and actresses.

Catalina Island

Twenty-two miles south of Los Angeles in the Pacific Ocean, you’ll find its polar opposite. Here, Santa Catalina Island offers a laid-back, peaceful counterpoint to the hustle-and-bustle of LA.

Take the ferry from Newport Beach. Before you know it, you will have crossed into an alternative universe, where bikes take precedence over cars. Between the two towns of Avalon and Two Harbors, the island’s hilliness will literally take your breath away.

If dining in Catalina’s excellent local restaurants isn’t enough action for you, slip beneath the waves on a SCUBA expedition. The waters here are a state marine preserve – in it, you’ll find plenty of marine life amidst its rock formations and kelp forests.

Joshua Tree National Park

Are you looking for a drier getaway? Joshua Tree National Park, which sits 140 miles east of Los Angeles, offers some of the most stunning desert scenery in California.

This park is named after the ruggedly beautiful and unique trees that dot its landscape. Together with numerous cacti species, outcroppings of exposed rock, and sand dunes, it is a must-do experience for any outdoor lover.

If you’re looking for a more profound experience, hire an experienced guide to come along on your Joshua Tree hikes. As you walk amidst this park’s surreal landscapes, they’ll provide background, facts, and stories that’ll make your day an awesome one.  

San Diego

Craving a city break, but don’t have time for a weekend away in San Fran? Head down the coast to San Diego. If you plan on driving, leave super early – like 5 am – to avoid rush hour. Otherwise, take the Amtrak Pacific Surfliner later in the morning.

Once you arrive, there will be many options at your disposal. You could take in a variety of amazing animals at the award-winning San Diego zoo. You could walk amidst history in San Diego’s Old Town or the Gaslamp Quarter.

Or you could do what we would do – bliss out on Ocean Beach, Mission Beach, or La Jolla.

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