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10 Killer Road Trips to Take From Los Angeles

October 01, 2020

If you're looking to escape LA for the day and you're ready for some adventure, then keep reading. We've rounded up 10 of our favorite LA day trips. Plus, they're all under three hours!

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Photo: iStockphoto/DavidMSchrader

Santa Barbara


The scenery in Santa Barbara is so beautiful you may decide you never want to leave. Across from the showstopping Four Seasons Biltmore Hotel, Butterfly Beach is a great place to start out your day. After some quality beach time, you can walk across the street and enjoy a posh lunch overlooking the ocean at Bella Vista (it's currently closed for renovations but is expected to reopen in 2021). Check out the downtown area and walk down State Street for some window (or real!) shopping. Before you hop in the car to head back, order a custom box of chocolates at an adorable little candy shop: Chocolats du CaliBressan. (Just try not to eat them all before you get home.)

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Photo: iStockphoto/Ron_Thomas

Big Bear Lake

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Big Bear is a great spot to visit in warmer months, but it's also an ideal destination during the winter. (Yep, you can actually see some snow and go skiing!) Hop on the Scenic Sky Chair Lift for some breathtaking views on your way to the top of the mountain. If you're not up for skiing, you can go tubing in Tube Park. But check the website before you go; some attractions are currently closed due to COVID-19, but will re-open when possible. Before heading home to the City of Angels, treat yourself to an outdoor breakfast, lunch or dinner at the Teddy Bear Restaurant. Take-out is also available. Finish your meal — even breakfast — with a slice of delicious, homemade apple, French apple, berry or rhubarb pie.

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Photo: iStockphoto/DOUGBERRY

Palm Springs

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 2 hours and 45 minutes

Channel Frank Sinatra's Rat Pack and head out to Palm Springs for the day. Stop on the way at open-air Cabazon Outlets for some discount shopping, and don't miss getting a famous date shake at Hadley's. (It sounds gross, but we promise it's so yummy!) Once you hit town, take a Celebrity Tour to see iconic old homes and learn a bit more about the city. Do some vintage shopping, then end your day with a meal at the Jonathan Adler-designed Parker Hotel. Restaurant capacity is limited due to the pandemic and advance reservations are required. Other access to the hotel is currently limited to registered hotel guests.

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Photo: iStockphoto/cliffwass

Catalina Island

DRIVING DISTANCE FROM LA: 45 minutes to Long Beach + 1-hour ferry ride

On a beautiful, sunny California day, hop on a ferry to Catalina Island. (Ferry seating is limited during the pandemic.) Head straight over to the Descanso Beach Club. You can reserve a private cabana or a chaise on the beach. Grab some boozy ice cream from Descanso Fresh before you tackle your juicy beach read. For lunch, enjoy fresh, sustainable seafood on the waterfront patio at the Bluewater Avalon Grill. Visit the beautiful Catalina Casino before you head home. There's no gambling here anymore, but you can see the gorgeous, round structure which was built under the direction of William Wrigley, Jr. for two million dollars back in the day.

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