Escape LA: Top Places to Visit From Los Angeles

places to visit from los angeles

Los Angeles is a vibrant city with plenty to offer, but sometimes you just need to get away for a day or weekend. Luckily, there are many amazing places to visit near Los Angeles that make for perfect day trips or weekend getaways. Whether you’re looking for stunning beaches, desert landscapes, or charming towns, these destinations have something for everyone. Let’s discover the top places to visit from Los Angeles.

Key Takeaways:

  • Explore the diverse range of activities and experiences near Los Angeles
  • Find relaxation, outdoor adventure, and cultural experiences
  • Discover breathtaking beaches, desert landscapes, and charming towns
  • Escape the city for a memorable day trip or weekend getaway
  • Pack your bags and start exploring these incredible destinations

Joshua Tree

Located just three hours from Los Angeles, Joshua Tree is a must-visit destination for nature lovers and outdoor enthusiasts. This magical national park offers a unique desert getaway, with its vast expanse of breathtaking landscapes and iconic Joshua trees.

The Joshua Tree National Park is famous for its distinct desert scenery, with jagged rock formations and rugged mountains. As you explore the park, you’ll be surrounded by the gnarled Joshua trees that give the area its name. These strange-looking plants, with their twisted branches and spiky leaves, create a surreal and otherworldly atmosphere.

One of the best ways to experience Joshua Tree is through hiking. The park offers a variety of trails, ranging from easy walks to more challenging treks. Lace up your hiking boots and explore the diverse terrain, where you’ll encounter hidden oases, rock formations to scramble up, and panoramic views of the desert landscape.

Camping in Joshua Tree is a popular option for those who want to immerse themselves in nature. The park has several campgrounds where you can set up your tent and fall asleep under a sky filled with countless stars. Imagine sitting by a crackling campfire, surrounded by the quiet beauty of the desert night.

For an unforgettable experience, don’t miss the opportunity to stargaze in Joshua Tree. The park’s remote location and limited light pollution make it an ideal spot for observing the night sky. You’ll be amazed by the clarity and brilliance of the stars above you.

Beyond the natural wonders, Joshua Tree also offers unique attractions. Visit Pappy & Harriet’s, a famous roadhouse known for its live music and delicious barbecue. Stop by the Integratron, a one-of-a-kind structure known for its acoustics and alleged healing properties. And don’t forget to explore the quirky town of Joshua Tree itself, with its eclectic shops and art galleries.

Whether you’re seeking solitude in nature, an exhilarating hike, or a desert camping adventure, Joshua Tree has it all. This extraordinary destination is a desert oasis waiting to be discovered.

joshua tree


For a peaceful escape from the city, Ojai is the perfect choice. Located just an hour and a half northwest of Los Angeles, this charming town offers a mix of old-school hippie vibes and new-school sophistication. Ojai is known for its microclimate and abundance of fresh produce and wine.

Visitors can enjoy a variety of outdoor activities in Ojai, such as hiking in Los Padres National Forest, exploring the town’s unique shops and restaurants, and indulging in a rejuvenating spa treatment at the renowned Ojai Valley Inn.

ojai valley inn

Weekend Getaway from LA

Ojai is the ideal destination for a weekend getaway from LA. With its close proximity to the city, you can easily escape the hustle and bustle and find yourself in a peaceful retreat surrounded by nature.

Spend your days meandering through the vibrant downtown area, browsing quirky boutiques and art galleries, or embark on a scenic hike in the nearby Los Padres National Forest.

A Peaceful Retreat

Ojai’s serene atmosphere and breathtaking natural beauty make it a truly peaceful retreat. Take a leisurely stroll through the town’s fragrant citrus orchards, visit the stunning Meditation Mount for panoramic views, or simply relax and unwind amidst the tranquil surroundings.

Immerse yourself in the local culture by attending a yoga or meditation class, or indulge in a farm-to-table dining experience, savoring the region’s fresh and organic cuisine.

Outdoor Activities in Ojai

  • Go hiking or mountain biking in Los Padres National Forest, exploring picturesque trails and enjoying stunning views.
  • Embark on a horseback riding adventure, trotting through scenic landscapes and experiencing the beauty of Ojai’s countryside.
  • Engage in outdoor yoga or meditation classes, embracing the harmonious energy of the town.

Ojai is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts, offering a wide range of activities that allow you to immerse yourself in nature and rejuvenate your senses.

Whether you’re seeking tranquility, adventure, or a combination of both, Ojai provides the perfect setting for a memorable getaway. Plan your visit to Ojai and discover why it is a beloved destination for those seeking a peaceful retreat amidst California’s natural beauty.

Santa Barbara

Just under 100 miles north of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is a stunning seaside city often referred to as the “American Riviera.” With its perfect weather and beautiful beaches, it’s a great place to relax and unwind.

Santa Barbara offers a variety of activities and experiences. One of the highlights of visiting Santa Barbara is exploring its beautiful beaches. From the golden sands of East Beach to the serene shores of Butterfly Beach, there are plenty of options to choose from. Whether you’re looking to soak up the sun, take a refreshing swim, or simply enjoy a leisurely stroll along the coastline, Santa Barbara’s beaches have it all.

Another popular attraction in Santa Barbara is wine tasting. The region is known for its vineyards and wineries, offering visitors the opportunity to indulge in the rich flavors of locally produced wines. Take a tour of the Santa Ynez Valley and sample some of the finest wines in the area. From bold reds to crisp whites, there’s something to suit every palate.

If you’re a fan of art and culture, a visit to downtown Santa Barbara is a must. The area is filled with galleries, museums, and theaters, showcasing the vibrant artistic scene of the city. Explore the historic State Street, lined with shops, boutiques, and restaurants, offering a perfect blend of modern and traditional charm.

beautiful beaches in Santa Barbara

For a luxurious stay, the Belmond El Encanto is a top choice. This luxury resort offers a secluded retreat with panoramic views of the city and ocean. Relax in the lush gardens, indulge in spa treatments, and savor exquisite cuisine at the resort’s restaurant. The Belmond El Encanto truly embodies the essence of Santa Barbara’s elegance and beauty.

Catalina Island

Just a short ferry ride from Los Angeles, Catalina Island is a quaint island getaway full of charm. Whether you’re seeking adventure or relaxation, this picturesque destination has something to offer everyone.

One of the highlights of exploring Catalina Island is the opportunity for outdoor activities. Diving enthusiasts can discover the vibrant underwater world surrounding the island, while fishing enthusiasts can try their luck in the abundant waters. Hiking trails across the island provide breathtaking views and a chance to immerse yourself in nature.

If relaxation is what you’re after, Catalina Island boasts beautiful beaches where you can unwind and soak up the sun. Descanso Beach, in particular, is known for its tranquility and crystal-clear waters. Spend a day lounging on the sandy shores or take a refreshing swim in the ocean.

When it’s time to refuel, Catalina Island offers a range of dining options to satisfy your taste buds. From seafood specialties to other culinary delights, you’ll find a variety of restaurants and cafes to choose from.

exploring catalina island

For comfortable accommodations with ocean views and easy beach access, consider staying at the Bellanca Hotel. It’s a popular choice among visitors, offering a cozy stay that complements the island’s laid-back atmosphere.

Escape to Catalina Island and experience an island getaway full of adventure, relaxation, and charm.

Laguna Beach

Located just an hour south of Los Angeles, Laguna Beach is a beautiful seaside town known for its artistic vibe and stunning beaches. Whether you’re a beach lover, a shopaholic, or an art enthusiast, Laguna Beach has something special to offer.

Beaches in Laguna Beach

  • Crystal Cove State Park: With tide pools and sandy coves, Crystal Cove is perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and exploring.
  • Main Beach: The heart of Laguna Beach, Main Beach offers stunning views, volleyball courts, and a lively atmosphere.
  • Thousand Steps Beach: Despite the name, this beach is a hidden gem with breathtaking views and a secluded feel.

Soak up the sun, take a dip in the ocean, or simply relax on the sandy shores of Laguna Beach.

Shopping in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach’s vibrant downtown area is a shopper’s paradise, with a variety of upscale shops and boutiques. From trendy fashion boutiques to unique art galleries, there’s something for everyone. Explore the charming streets of Laguna Beach and discover hidden treasures.

Festival of the Arts Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is home to the annual Festival of the Arts, a highly anticipated event that showcases stunning art masterpieces brought to life. Immerse yourself in the world of creativity and be inspired by the works of talented artists. From captivating paintings to mesmerizing sculptures, the Festival of the Arts offers a unique artistic experience.

Experience the lively atmosphere, visit galleries, and stroll through the booths of local artists.

laguna beach

For a truly memorable getaway, consider staying at The Ranch at Laguna Beach. Nestled in a canyon, this luxury resort offers tranquility and breathtaking views. Relax in the serene surroundings, indulge in world-class amenities, and experience the best of Laguna Beach.

Escape to Laguna Beach and immerse yourself in its natural beauty, artistic culture, and vibrant coastal charm.

Mammoth Lakes

If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, Mammoth Lakes is the perfect destination. This mountain town is known for its world-class skiing in the winter and offers activities like camping, hiking, and mountain biking in the spring and summer.

skiing in mammoth lakes

Skiing in Mammoth Lakes

Mammoth Mountain has 175 runs and is open for skiing from November through June. With breathtaking slopes and a variety of terrain, it’s a paradise for skiers and snowboarders of all skill levels. Whether you’re a beginner or an expert, Mammoth Lakes offers a thrilling winter experience.

Hiking in Mammoth Lakes

During the spring and summer months, Mammoth Lakes transforms into a hiker’s paradise. The area is surrounded by majestic mountains and pristine wilderness, offering numerous trails for all levels of hikers. From leisurely walks around scenic lakes to challenging summit hikes, there’s something for every nature enthusiast.

Camping in Mammoth Lakes

Immerse yourself in the great outdoors by camping in Mammoth Lakes. There are several campgrounds available, providing a unique opportunity to experience the beauty of the area up close. Wake up to the sound of birds chirping and enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

Whether you’re hitting the slopes, exploring the trails, or camping under the stars, Mammoth Lakes offers an unforgettable outdoor experience.

San Diego

Just a couple of hours south of Los Angeles, San Diego is a vibrant city with plenty to offer. Whether you’re a nature enthusiast, a history buff, or a beach lover, San Diego has something for everyone.

Attractions in San Diego

One of the must-visit attractions in San Diego is the famous San Diego Zoo. Known for its vast collection of animals from around the world, the zoo offers a captivating experience for animal lovers of all ages. Another must-see attraction is Balboa Park, a cultural oasis in the heart of the city. With its stunning architecture, beautiful gardens, and world-class museums, Balboa Park is a paradise for art and history enthusiasts.

Beaches in San Diego

San Diego is blessed with beautiful beaches that cater to different preferences. If you’re looking for a picturesque beach with golden sand, head to Coronado Beach. Known for its iconic Hotel del Coronado, this beach offers magnificent views of the Pacific Ocean. La Jolla Cove is another popular beach destination known for its crystal-clear waters and abundant marine life. Visitors can snorkel, swim, or simply soak up the sun on the sandy shores.

Balboa Park

Balboa Park is a true gem of San Diego. Spanning over 1,200 acres, it is often referred to as the “cultural heart” of the city. In addition to its museums and gardens, Balboa Park also offers walking trails, picnic areas, and open spaces where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful surroundings. Whether you’re interested in art, history, science, or simply want to immerse yourself in nature, Balboa Park has something for everyone.

San Diego is a city that seamlessly combines natural beauty, rich history, and a vibrant cultural scene. From its world-renowned attractions to its stunning beaches and the allure of Balboa Park, San Diego offers a diverse range of experiences that will leave you wanting more.


Ventura is a charming beach town located just an hour’s drive from Los Angeles. Known for its laid-back atmosphere and beautiful beaches, it is the perfect beach town near Los Angeles to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. One of the highlights of Ventura is Ventura Beach, a pristine stretch of coastline where visitors can soak up the sun, take a refreshing swim, or simply relax with a book under the shade of an umbrella.

ventura beach

A popular attraction in Ventura is the lively Ventura Pier. This iconic landmark offers stunning views of the ocean and the opportunity to catch a glimpse of local fishermen casting their lines. Visitors can take a leisurely stroll along the pier, enjoy a meal at one of the nearby seafood restaurants, or try their hand at fishing.

For nature enthusiasts, Ventura is also the gateway to the Channel Islands National Park. This national park is an archipelago of five stunning islands known for their unique ecosystems, diverse wildlife, and breathtaking landscapes. Visitors can explore the islands by taking a boat tour or embark on an adventurous kayaking or hiking excursion.

Ventura’s downtown area is another highlight, with its charming shops, boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants. Here, visitors can take a leisurely stroll, discover unique treasures in the local shops, sample delicious cuisine, and immerse themselves in the vibrant arts scene of the town.

Additionally, Ventura is a popular spot for whale watching. During certain times of the year, visitors can embark on a guided boat tour to witness these majestic creatures in their natural habitat, creating unforgettable memories.

Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach getaway, outdoor adventures in the national park, or a stroll through a quaint downtown area, Ventura has something for everyone. Its proximity to Los Angeles makes it an easily accessible and delightful beach town to explore.


After exploring the top places to visit from Los Angeles, it’s clear that there is no shortage of amazing destinations within a few hours’ drive from the city. Whether you’re seeking a beach getaway, a desert adventure, or a peaceful retreat, these destinations near Los Angeles offer a diverse range of experiences to suit every traveler’s preferences.

From the stunning beaches of Laguna Beach and Santa Barbara to the enchanting desert landscapes of Joshua Tree and Palm Springs, each destination has its own unique charm and attractions. Whether you want to relax on sandy shores, hike through picturesque national parks, or indulge in world-class dining and shopping, these destinations have it all.

So why wait? Pack your bags, leave the hustle and bustle of the city behind, and embark on a memorable getaway to one of these incredible destinations near Los Angeles. Whether for a day trip or a weekend escape, you’ll find adventure, relaxation, and cultural experiences that will leave you with lasting memories. So start planning your next excursion and discover the hidden gems that await you just outside of Los Angeles.


What are the best places to visit from Los Angeles?

Some of the best places to visit from Los Angeles include Joshua Tree, Ojai, Santa Barbara, Catalina Island, Laguna Beach, Mammoth Lakes, San Diego, and Ventura.

What can I do in Joshua Tree?

In Joshua Tree, you can enjoy activities like hiking, biking, stargazing, and visiting notable attractions such as Pappy & Harriet’s and the Integratron.

What can I do in Ojai?

In Ojai, you can enjoy activities like hiking in Los Padres National Forest, exploring the town’s unique shops and restaurants, and staying at the luxurious Ojai Valley Inn.

What can I do in Santa Barbara?

In Santa Barbara, you can relax and unwind on the beautiful beaches, go shopping, dine at excellent restaurants, and explore the city’s vibrant Funk Zone.

What can I do in Catalina Island?

In Catalina Island, you can enjoy activities like diving, fishing, hiking, and relaxing on the island’s beautiful beaches. There are also dining options and water sports rentals available.

What can I do in Laguna Beach?

In Laguna Beach, you can explore the town’s vibrant downtown area with upscale shops and restaurants, relax on the stunning beaches, and experience the annual Festival of the Arts.

What can I do in Mammoth Lakes?

In Mammoth Lakes, you can enjoy world-class skiing in the winter, as well as camping, hiking, and mountain biking in the spring and summer. The area also offers breathtaking views of the surrounding mountains.

What can I do in San Diego?

In San Diego, you can explore attractions like the famous San Diego Zoo, Balboa Park, and the Gaslamp Quarter. You can also relax on beautiful beaches, dine in Little Italy, and visit the historic Hotel del Coronado.

What can I do in Ventura?

In Ventura, you can enjoy the laid-back beach town atmosphere, explore beautiful beaches like Ventura Beach and the lively Ventura Pier, participate in outdoor activities like surfing and kayaking, and visit the Channel Islands National Park.

What are some must-visit places near Los Angeles?

Some must-visit places near Los Angeles include Joshua Tree National Park, Ojai Valley Inn, Santa Barbara’s beautiful beaches, Catalina Island, Laguna Beach’s vibrant downtown, Mammoth Lakes for outdoor adventure, San Diego’s attractions and beaches, and Ventura’s beach town charm.

What are some popular day trips from Los Angeles?

Some popular day trips from Los Angeles include visiting Joshua Tree, Ojai, Santa Barbara, Catalina Island, Laguna Beach, Mammoth Lakes, San Diego, and Ventura. These destinations offer a range of activities and experiences within a few hours’ drive from the city.