10 Day Trips From Los Angeles You Need to Take

Los Angeles, CA is a city known for its entertainment, beaches, and nightlife. While there are many activities to do in the City of Angels, you may have the urge to escape the city borders to explore something new. There are many unique day trips you can take – whether a longer trip to a national park or a shorter trip to an amusement park. Any of which are sure to pique your interest. To help you get started, we compiled a list of the 10 best day trips from Los Angeles. Keep reading to see what trips made the list.

1. Coronado, CA

A wooden hotel

Approximate distance: 130 miles
Estimated travel time: 3 hours

Just 3 hours and 130 miles south of Los Angeles lies Coronado, CA, a beautiful resort city located across the Big Bay from downtown San Diego, CA. Coronado, a name derived from the Coronado Islands, bears the nickname, “The Crown City.” There are many activities to do in Coronado such as visiting the USS Midway Museum, lounging at Coronado Beach, or going boating along the bay. If you find yourself wanting to stay for the weekend, book a room at the Hotel del Coronado, the second largest wooden structure in the United States.

2. Joshua Tree National Park

Stone rocks

Approximate distance: 130 miles
Estimated travel time: 3 hours

Known for its distinct plants and starry nights, there is no shortage of adventure at Joshua Tree National Park. The park comprises two desert ecosystems, the Mojave and Colorado, and encompasses about 790,000 acres making it the second-largest national park in California, second only to Death Valley National Park. There are many things to do at Joshua Tree such as trying out the various climbing routes, hiking the many trails like the Arch Rock Nature Trail and Ryan Mountain Trail; or taking in the views at Barker Dam. It takes approximately 3 hours to get to Joshua Tree National Park so make sure to wake up early for this day trip from Los Angeles.

3. San Diego, CA

San Diego harbor

Approximate distance: 120 miles
Estimated travel time: 3 hours

If you are looking for some fun and excitement take a trip to San Diego, CA. Located roughly 3 hours east of Los Angeles, San Diego, CA is known as, “America’s Finest City” with its beautiful beaches and wonderful weather. The city lies along the Pacific Ocean and has unique typography filled with canyons, valleys, and mesas. If you head out to San Diego, be sure to explore the San Diego Zoo where you can see more than 650 species; Balboa Park, a historic cultural park with gardens, open spaces, and walking trails; and La Jolla Cove, a beautiful beach with surrounding cliffs.

4. San Gabriel Mountains National Monument

Mountains

Approximate distance: 50 miles
Estimated travel time: 2 hours

San Gabriel Mountains National Monument spans over 340,000 miles and holds 600 archeological sites. It’s comprised of four different wilderness areas – San Gabriel, Sheep Mountain, Magic Mountain, and Pleasant View Ridge. San Gabriel Mountains National Monument is located about 2 hours and 50 miles east of Los Angeles making it a quick day trip from this city. When at San Gabriel Mountains National Monument you can do many different outdoor activities like hiking, cross-country skiing, and hunting.

5. Palm Springs, CA

a golf course

Approximate distance: 100 miles
Estimated travel time: 1 hour and 50 minutes

If you are looking for fun in the sun consider checking out Palm Springs, CA. Palm Springs is considered the golf capital of the world and is located about 100 miles east of Los Angeles. You can get to Palm Springs, CA in about 1 hour and 50 minutes. A couple of activities to try out include golfing at Pete Dye Mountain Course, Desert Willow, or Escena Golf Club; watching tennis at the BNP Paribas Open, or exploring the Living Desert Zoo and Garden. With the diversity of activities, it’s no wonder why Palm Springs is considered one of the best day trips from Los Angeles. 

6. Santa Catalina Island

Santa Catalina

Approximate distance: 50 miles
Estimated travel time: 1 hour

Located nearly 50 miles West of Los Angeles, Santa Catalina Island lies just off the Pacific Coast of California and is a favorite destination for boaters, adventurers, and tourists alike. A couple of activities to try out in Santa Catalina include lounging at Moonstone Beach, taking a tour of Avalon Theater, or visiting Catalina Museum for Art & History. Make sure to account for around one hour boat ride to Santa Catalina Island.

7. Tijuana, MX

Tijuana

Approximate distance: 220 miles
Estimated travel time: 3.5 hours

Located about 3 hours and 30 minutes from Los Angeles, the town of Tijuana, MX is known for its bullfighting and racetracks. In fact, Tijuana has one of the only seaside bullrings in the world, only second in size to Plaza México. Some things to check out in Tijuana include picking produce at the El Popo Market, checking out Avenida Revolucion, or walking along Tijuana’s scenic beaches.

8. Big Bear Lake

A lake with mountains in the background

Approximate distance: 120 miles
Estimated travel time: 3 hours

Around 3 hours and 120 miles east of Los Angeles, Big Bear Lake, CA provides access to a ton of outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, paddleboarding, and jet skiing. The city sits along a large fish-filled lake and is surrounded by beautiful pine trees of the San Bernardino National Forest. Many people go to Big Bear Lake to go skiing at Bear Mountain Ski Resort, visit animals at Big Bear Alpine Zoo, or hike Castle Rock trail. For an unforgettable experience, try to visit one of the many year-round events held at Big Bear like the Fishing for 50k Trout Derby or Big Bear Lake Oktoberfest.

9. Disneyland 

A castle in front of a street

Approximate distance: 30 miles
Estimated travel time: 30 minutes

If you want to try delicious food, love entertaining shows, or want to experience magic, this day trip is for you. Known as The Happiest Place of Earth, Disneyland is roughly 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles located in Anaheim, CA. Disneyland is full of fun activities for people of all ages. You can take pictures in front of the Magic Castle, ride Space Mountain, and travel up the Matterhorn. Make sure to wake up early for this day trip from Los Angeles as crowds can fill up quickly, especially during the weekends.

10. Solvang, CA

Solvang

Approximate distance: 130 miles
Estimated travel time: 2 hours

If the idea of shopping at small businesses, going wine sampling, or strolling through a village sounds fun to you, then take a day trip to Solvang, CA. Situated 130 miles and nearly 2 hours northwest of Los Angeles, Solvang, CA is a historic Danish town that you’ll never get bored exploring. Some favorite things to see are the Little Mermaid statue and the historic church of Old Mission Santa Ines. You can also visit the town during an annual event like Solvang Stomp held in October or Danish Days held in September. 

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