Did you know that Los Angeles is home to almost four million people? Most of us have probably heard of the LA gridlock traffic. It makes sense that in a city that busy and large, it’s citizens and visitors might want to escape the city chaos for a while. Here are some relaxing ideas for weekend getaways from Los Angeles. Some of these are a short drive, while two require a bit more time in the car (note, drive times are approximate and depend on traffic). This post is written in partnership with Visit California and the Adventure Travel Trade Association.
Outdoors & Brews along the Central Coast
Distance from Los Angeles: 95 miles / 1 hr 45-minute drive time
The Central Coast of California is filled with beaches and trendy little towns that feature some great spots to discover on a weekend getaway. In addition to the great spots in the coastal towns, there are also some gorgeous outdoor adventure spots in the central coast. Head to Santa Barbara for a horseback ride in the foothills of the Santa Ynez mountains. Visit the Santa Margarita Ranch for a jeep tour, ziplining, and wine tasting. Coast through the waterways of the Ventura marina in a kayak.
After you’ve had your fill of outdoor adventures, head to San Luis Obispo for coastal town eating and shopping. Definitely stop into the Libertine Brewery for a flight of their craft beers, which are created and fermented with local materials like the sea water near Morrow Rock.
If you’re looking for a unique spot to stay while in the central coast, check out the Flying Flags RV Park in Buellton. You can stay overnight in one of their vintage airstreams, glamping tents, or themed cabins.
Hot Air Balloon Ride & Wine Tasting in Temecula
Distance from Los Angeles: 85 miles / 1 hr 30 minutes drive time
I have to say that seeing Temecula from the air via a hot air balloon has been one of my favorite California experiences. I’ve been on a couple of other hot air balloon rides, but floating over the vineyards and estates that are part of the Inland Empire of California was absolutely breathtaking. Chasing the sunrise with an early morning fly away is also a lovely getaway activity.
When you’re ready to head into Temecula, I highly recommend stopping by E.A.T. for a bite to eat. Chef Leah has created a lovely atmosphere and serves a unique menu created to highlight and feature local farmers and businesses.
Temecula is also a popular spot for wine tasting, so be sure to allow a visit to some tasting rooms during your weekend getaway.
Hiking and Star Gazing in the Deserts
Distance from Los Angeles: 170 miles / 3 hours drive time
If you’re willing to put in a little more time for driving, head out to the deserts. Of course, Palm Springs is a popular escape, however if you’re looking for a rural area head towards the Trona Pinnacles. You can call the military town of Ridgecrest your home base as you plan hiking adventures outdoors.
The highlight of this LA weekend getaway will be a night visit to the Trona Pinnacles. It’s the perfect spot for gorgeous night sky stargazing. We headed there shortly before dusk, then stayed to watch the Milky Way put on a show up above. Be sure to stop by the fish rocks on your way from Ridgecrest to the Pinnacles for some fun insta-worthy shots.
Mountain Escape to Mammoth Lakes
Distance from Los Angeles: 310 miles / 5 hours drive time
Mammoth Lakes is a bit of a drive for a weekend trip, however it’s absolutely worth it if you’re looking to escape to nature. The winter season will see a huge influx of Californians who are seeking to hit the slopes, but the off-season will be a delight of downtime and relaxation.
Stay in the main village of Mammoth Lakes for a mountain escape vibe and great restaurants and shops in walking distance. When you’re ready to get out and explore, head up the Mammoth Mountain tram for a mountaintop view and fresh air galore.
The area also offers some great adventures. There are miles of bike paths, including the Lakes Basin path I took from Horseshoe Lake down into the village. You can also go slab climbing if you have the right gear. Horseshoe slabs is a popular spot for this extreme sport, but offers climbs that even beginners can do.
Each of these weekend getaways from Los Angeles will help you reconnect with nature and recharge your batteries before you head back into the bustle of LA.