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Gorgeous Weekend Getaways from Los Angeles, California

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.

horseback riding in santa barbara california
Horseback riding in Santa Barbara. © Kimberly Tate

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.

hot air balloon ride in temecula california
Floating over the wine region of Temecula, California aboard a hot air balloon.
© Kimberly Tate / Stuffed Suitcase

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.

fish rocks in california desert near ridgecrest
Fish rocks in the desert region of California near Trona Pinnacles. © Kimberly Tate

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 and love mountain vacations. 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 within 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.

mammoth mountain summit
Mammoth Mountain summit in Mammoth Lakes is a great weekend getaway from LA. © Kimberly Tate

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.

Don’t miss these other escapes: Day Trips from Southern California, LA to the Grand Canyon on Route 66, and Things to Do in Los Angeles with Kids

Planning a California vacation or looking to get out of the city? These weekend getaways from Los Angeles are gorgeous and relaxing trips. #travel #california #losangeles
Gorgeous and relaxing weekend getaways from Los Angeles, CA. © Kimberly Tate

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Tuesday 27th of March 2018

I and my daughter were in California last summer, house and pet sitting in a small town called Anza, about 40 minutes drive from Temecula. If we'd been aware that one can ride in a hot air balloon we would have jumped at the opportunity!

Another very nice getaway is the small town of Idyllwilde in the San Jacinto mountains. Plenty of local small restaurants (even a vegan cafe, The Plant Food Supper Club, with gorgeous food!), stunning views with the mountains surrounding the town. We went there for 4th of July and watched the parade. You can rent a cabin outside the town itself and enjoy the nature. Great destination during summer as well as winter!


Tuesday 27th of March 2018

Sounds great Katrin! Thanks for the additional ideas for spots to visit. I love how California has so much to see with such variety!