Los Angeles is home to diverse and multifaceted neighborhoods, iconic landmarks, world-class museums and film-famous destinations. The city is full of endless attractions and possibilities, but many nearby locales also offer amazing sites to explore. Whether you prefer a serene spa experience with a late lunch afterward or rollerblading on a boardwalk, here are some of the best day trips to take from LA.
1. For the Serene: Ojai
You will find one of the most serene locations for a day trip in a small valley east of Santa Barbara and north of Ventura. Ojai’s culture is art, wellness, spirituality and nature. The small town is known for its lavender fields and scenic hills, which make it the perfect place to wind down and indulge in a bit of self-care. You’ll love the Ojai Garden Spa Studio at the Lavender Inn, which features a menu full of all that relaxation you deserve. Grab a deep tissue massage with sacred oils or maybe a customized herbal exfoliation. This is your spot for full physical and mental rest. After your massage, visit The Oak Kitchen for al fresco dining with a view overlooking Ojai’s hills and 200-year-old oak trees. There’s an extensive lunch menu with small plates and you can’t leave without trying the lavender lemonade or estate rosemary spritzer with fresh lime juice. You can also try an olive oil-tasting experience at the Ojai Olive Oil Co. For just $10, you get various oils and balsamic vinegar flavors with bread to taste. You also might want to pass through TikTok’s famous outdoor bookstore, Bart’s Books, to find an out-of-gem to add to your reading list.
2. For the Photographer or Muso: Hollywood Heights
This iconic Hollywood landmark is home to the Hollywood Bowl stage. If you book a visit while a concert is playing, take a picnic basket and hang out with a view. Pro tip: Buy a pillow to sit on to be comfortable while you vibe out to the music. Another date idea with a friend is to take a museum tour to learn about Hollywood’s history. You’ll see exhibits of events that have been held there for many decades. There’s a lot to see, from opera and symphonic to rock and jazz to the LA Philharmonic Orchestra performances. If you still want to feel like you’re in Old Hollywood, stop at the High Tower Elevator in Hollywood Heights for a few pictures. The design was inspired by Italian campaniles and bell towers designed as showpieces to accompany Florentine Gothic architecture. While only residents can access the tower, the scenic route with palm trees and beautiful flowers makes the perfect background for that IG post.
3. For the Sommelier: Solvang
You can feel like you’re on a European vacation without stepping foot outside of California. Visit Solvang and stroll along Copenhagen Drive, trying iconic baked goods like owl-eye cookies or kransekage. You can also enjoy wine tasting at one or more of the 20 tasting rooms. Royal Oaks Winery is a favorite. The winery offers an alternative to the abundant dry wine in Solvang with a sweet selection from Concord to Moscato. You can sample your wine in an indoor tasting room or an outdoor patio. It also has a tasting experience with chocolatier Jessica Foster’s handmade chocolate truffles that pair well with specific wines. If you want to switch it up, take a vineyard-to-table wine-tasting tour on an e-bike or hire a private sidecar.
4. For the Adventurous: Catalina Island
Catalina Island is a hidden gem with tons of activities, from ziplining to a cute downtown shopping experience. Located 30 miles off California’s mainland coast, it’s a destination for the adventurous and adrenaline junkies. Hop on the one-hour ferry trip or a 15-minute helicopter flight. You can take an underwater cruise and get a close-up view of the island’s marine life and undersea gardens. You can dive into the crystal-clear waters for snorkeling and swim with schooling fish or bat rays. If you’re up for an adventure, book a zipline tour and explore Catalina Island from 300 feet above ground. You’ll zip above the Avalon Hills and descend through the Descanso Canyon. When it’s all over, settle at the main beach with a cocktail. Ice cream lovers will adore Scoops’ homemade rose petal raspberry gelato.
5. For the Playful: Long Beach
LA locals love this coastal city for its walkability and affordability. It’s a filmmaker’s favorite and the scene of Barbie’s car chase and escape from the Mattel headquarters into the real world. With 345 days of sunshine in a year, this coastal neighborhood is one of the best locations for a quick day trip from Los Angeles. It’s located on the outskirts of LA, so it’s fairly easy to get to with public transport. For a full-day experience, start at Shoreline Village and stop by the marina to view the ocean and colorful boats. You can rent rollerblades or a bicycle and explore the boardwalk in style or take a walk to the Rainbow Harbor Esplanade. You’ll love taking selfies at the Lion’s Lighthouse or the swan boats on Rainbow Lagoon. There are also several murals and installations around the city. Every year, Long Beach has an arts festival and introduces new artwork in different locations. Follow the map to find the perfect Instagram snap. End your day with a rooftop dinner at BO-beau Kitchen, famous for its California-French fusion cuisine.
If you want to stay closer to home, check out the best scenic views in LA.