If you’re tired of sitting in traffic on the 405 or need a break from your Zoom calls in the City of Angels, you’re in luck: Los Angeles sits close to a wide variety of vacation spots that are perfect for a weekend away. The options can range from scenic mountain destinations to relaxing desertscapes to small coastal towns – or even to lively Las Vegas. To help you pick the right destination for your much-needed escape, U.S. News evaluated expert and traveler opinion to find the best weekend getaways from LA. Whatever you choose for your weekend trip, it’s time to take a break from the bustle of Los Angeles and head out for a new adventure with your best friends, significant other or entire family.
(Note: Some of the following activities, attractions and locations may be affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. New policies may be in place, including capacity restrictions, reservation requirements or mask mandates. Check with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Department of State and local tourism boards before traveling.)
Best Weekend Getaways from Los Angeles:
- Long Beach, California
- Catalina Island, California
- Newport Beach, California
- Laguna Beach, California
- Ojai, California
- Temecula, California
- Santa Barbara, California
- Big Bear Lake, California
- Palm Springs, California
- La Jolla, California
- Joshua Tree National Park, California
- Los Alamos, California
- San Luis Obispo, California
- Paso Robles, California
- Las Vegas
- Death Valley National Park, California
- Mammoth Lakes, California
- Carmel, California
- Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
- Vancouver, British Columbia
Long Beach, California
Long Beach boasts many iconic attractions – the Queen Mary ship and the Aquarium of the Pacific, for example – and thus makes for a wonderful weekend getaway or daytrip. Fill your time in this California city (only about 25 miles south of Los Angeles) with shopping, dining, art and roaming the coastline: Junipero Beach is one of the top LA-area beaches. You can start your trip on Fourth Street, also called Retro Row, to explore offerings such as the famous vintage shop Meow. Visitors can also catch an indie film at the recently renovated Art Theatre before riding a bike through the streets of Long Beach and browsing its other cultural attractions.
Long Beach is one of the most ethnically diverse U.S. cities, with a variety of cultures represented in its food scene. Options span Cambodian fusion at A&J Seafood Shack to Peruvian staples at El Pollo Imperial to fine Italian dining at L’Opera downtown. For an overnight stay, you’ll find popular chain hotels around downtown and Shoreline Village, such as Hotel Maya – a DoubleTree by Hilton or other Westin, Hilton and Hyatt lodging options.
Catalina Island, California
Rather than taking a road trip from Los Angeles, how about hopping on a boat? Catalina Island, located a little more than 20 miles from the Southern California shoreline, is accessible from the San Pedro neighborhood of LA or from Long Beach via a Catalina Express ferry. The island is full of adventure, romance, relaxation and sightseeing both on land and in the ocean. Once you arrive in Avalon, the main city, you can take a walking tour at the historic Catalina Casino, rent a golf cart to cruise around or experience the thrill of an ecotour by zip line. Vacationers may also enjoy hitting the beach at Descanso Beach Club or unwinding at the 15,000-square-foot Island Spa Catalina.
Seafood fans can enjoy fresh lobster at The Lobster Trap, among other popular dining options. For an unforgettable weekend stay, book a room at the sophisticated Mt Ada. This romantic bed-and-breakfast features a wraparound deck with expansive ocean views. Guests have access to their own golf cart, as well as complimentary breakfast, lunch and snacks. Just outside of Avalon, Hamilton Cove has private villas perched on a hillside overlooking the Catalina coastline – or, if you want to rough it in the outdoors, campsites are also available at the island’s campgrounds.
Newport Beach, California
Newport Beach sits in the heart of coastal Orange County, about 45 miles south of downtown Los Angeles. Getting out on Newport Harbor is a must in this nautical hot spot: Whether you go by yacht, electric boat, whale watching excursion, paddleboard or even on a floating tiki bar, an unforgettable experience awaits. You can dock at dozens of waterfront restaurants along the harbor specializing in seasonal and locally sourced cuisine. Two of the most popular Newport Beach communities to explore are Balboa Island – be sure to try the famed frozen banana dessert – and Balboa Peninsula, ideal for surfing or leisurely biking. Travelers in search of the best shoreline can check out Corona del Mar State Beach to experience firsthand why it’s such a beloved spot.
For upscale shopping and dining, the trendy Lido Marina Village is the place to be seen. After enjoying lunch at Malibu Farm Lido or picking up some couture pieces at the elysewalker store, plan for a sleepover at the Lido House to soak in the hotel’s Cape Cod-inspired aesthetic. If you have a posh pet with you on your weekend getaway, you can splurge for the Pampered Pooch Package at Balboa Bay Resort, where fur babies and “paw-rents” alike can enjoy a luxurious stay.
Laguna Beach, California
About 50 miles south of Los Angeles you’ll find picturesque Laguna Beach, also known as the California Riviera. This chic coastal town in Orange County comes complete with high-end boutiques, five-star accommodations, gourmet restaurants and art galleries galore. If you plan your weekend trip for the summer, you may be able to catch one of the world-famous art festivals hosted by Laguna Beach, such as the Sawdust Art Festival – but art lovers can also take a self-guided walking tour that showcases the city’s public art any time of year. Travelers seeking outdoor adventure will have plenty of opportunities, whether you opt to scuba dive in a kelp forest, peruse tide pools in Heisler Park, or head to 7,000-acre Laguna Coast Wilderness Park for hiking and mountain biking.
Laguna Beach has an abundance of upscale dining options, especially if you’re looking for waterfront views or a unique atmosphere. Enjoy sushi seaside at Hotel Laguna’s Fin restaurant, listen to live jazz at The Drake or sip Champagne while watching the sun set over the Pacific Ocean at the Surf & Sand Resort bar. For a luxury weekend stay, the Montage Laguna Beach resort features seaside balconies and an elegant indoor/outdoor spa. If you’re craving a cozy canyon environment, The Ranch at Laguna Beach is tucked into green hillsides and boasts an array of amenities, such as a golf course.
If your weekend trips typically include racing around to see all the top tourist attractions, maybe you’ll enjoy a change of pace in beautiful Ojai, where visitors can slow down and embrace nature. This small town, tucked into the valley of the Topatopa Mountains about 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles, is an outdoor paradise and a wellness retreat destination. Hike for miles and miles in the Los Padres National Forest (check to see if you need an Adventure Pass), kayak on Lake Casitas, embark on a rock climbing adventure or go horseback riding along the Ventura River valley.
Travelers interested in spiritual and holistic-focused establishments will find plenty in Ojai, such as The Crystal Corner, Center for Spiritual Living Ojai and Meditation Mount. Go for a deep detox with a treatment called Kuyam, which is inspired by the Chumash Native American people, at Ojai Valley Inn’s five-star Spa Ojai. Ojai Valley Inn has plenty more to offer overnight guests, with world-class dining and activities ranging from beekeeping to soap making.
You don’t have to go all the way to Napa Valley for award-winning wineries. About 85 miles southeast from the City of Angels, the wineries of Temecula Valley produce more than 50 varietals of wine; this year-round vacation destination pours plenty of craft beers and spirits too. Temecula is also home to a charming Old Town, farm-to-table cuisine, relaxing spas, the massive Pechanga Resort Casino, hot air ballooning and more. The ever-evolving culinary scene, small-town atmosphere, and outdoor recreation and entertainment in Temecula Valley culminate in a spirited destination inspired by the vine. Leave the kids at home for a romantic getaway with your partner in SoCal wine country.
The charming Ponte Vineyard Inn is located in the heart of Temecula Valley, surrounded by nearly 300 acres of mature vineyards and views of rolling hills. During your weekend trip, visit the inn’s on-site wine tasting rooms or hop in a motorcycle sidecar for a tour of other nearby wineries, such as Altisima Winery, Fazeli Cellars or Akash Winery.
Santa Barbara, California
For serene coastal vibes and seaside views about 95 miles west of LA, Santa Barbara is a great escape in Southern California – especially for pet owners, since it’s one of the top dog-friendly beach destinations in the U.S. With its balmy Mediterranean climate, cultural offerings, star-studded beaches and flourishing culinary scene, it’s no wonder Santa Barbara draws millions of vacationers each year. Oenophiles will have the opportunity to explore more than 30 local wineries along the Santa Barbara Urban Wine Trail – some, like Pali Wine Company, allow dogs. You can unleash your artistic side as you listen to live music or experience the city’s colorful wall murals, galleries and museums. Take a sunset stroll along the beach, or head out on the water on a kayak or sailboat during your weekend getaway in Santa Barbara.
The high-end Hotel Californian is just steps from the Pacific Ocean and the vibrant Funk Zone – a bustling enclave of the city’s best wine tasting rooms, breweries, boutique shops, art galleries, cafes and restaurants. The hotel boasts a rooftop pool and deck with 360-degree views alongside a Moroccan-inspired spa and myriad dining options, including a new wine tasting room that opened in March 2022. Santa Barbara has a compelling culinary scene overall, with plenty of farm-to-table options that focus on locally sourced ingredients – such as The Lark in the heart of the Funk Zone neighborhood.
Big Bear Lake, California
For a cold-weather getaway, Big Bear Lake – less than 100 miles east of LA – is a prime winter destination for skiers and snowboards, who flock to Big Bear Mountain Resort. In the warmer seasons, Big Bear Lake becomes a hub for boating, hiking and biking, so this small city in the San Bernardino National Forest makes an ideal trip year-round. You can get out on the lake in a rented pontoon boat, paddleboard, kayak and more – or, for an off-road adventure, the Big Bear Jeep Experience is a popular activity. Fuel up with a poke bowl from Tropicali, dine on Nepalese and Indian cuisine at the Himalayan Restaurant, or sip a craft brew at Big Bear Lake Brewing Company.
Although plenty of visitors opt for a daytrip to Big Bear, consider extending your getaway with a stay at the Viking-inspired Marina Riviera, which has the atmosphere of a vintage ski lodge and features fire pits, lake views and a heated pool. For budget-friendly accommodation, check out the Best Western Big Bear Chateau or the area’s numerous cabin and cottage rentals on Airbnb. In the nearby community of Lake Arrowhead, guests of the Lake Arrowhead Resort and Spa have access to a private beach and personalized boat tours.
Palm Springs, California
If a desert escape is what you’re craving, head to the Palm Springs area. Relaxation here may include lounging by the pool, cocktail in hand, at a stylish midcentury modern home or hotel. To explore more of what Palm Springs has to offer, visitors can hike through the desert and mountains, visit Cabot’s Pueblo Museum, browse shops on Palm Canyon Drive, or take the scenic Palm Springs Aerial Tramway for an incomparable view atop Mount San Jacinto (where you’ll see snow in winter). One buzz-worthy new attraction in this resort city is the Palm Springs Surf Club, which features a state-of-the-art wave pool.
With Palm Springs sitting a little more than 100 miles east of Los Angeles, A-listers flock to this desert destination for much-needed rest and relaxation. You can splurge on your overnight stay to vacation like a celebrity at the Jonathan Adler-designed Parker Palm Springs luxury hotel. Tried-and-true splendor can also be found at The Ritz-Carlton, Rancho Mirage, which boasts stunning views overlooking Coachella Valley. If your fur baby is in tow on this weekend trip, the new local hangout Boozehounds is a hit with dogs and owners alike; it offers a pet-friendly menu just for your pooch.
La Jolla, California
When you’re not kayaking through a sea cave, admiring adorable sea lions or zipping up the road to Mount Soledad on an e-bike, you can enjoy ocean views and Mediterranean food at La Valencia Hotel, also known as “the Pink Lady of La Jolla,” or dine alfresco on California cuisine under century-old olive trees at Herringbone. If you seek a romantic retreat, enjoy the soaking tub in a couples bungalow at Estancia La Jolla Hotel & Spa. Whatever you do in La Jolla, don’t miss the newcomers to town: The world’s smallest species of penguins can now be found at the Birch Aquarium.
Joshua Tree National Park, California
Experience the Zen of the desert and the majestic natural wonders that await in Joshua Tree National Park, about 130 miles east of Los Angeles (and not too far from Palm Springs). Explore the 800,000 acres of desert wilderness through hiking, biking, rock climbing, horseback riding, backpacking and photography. Before you head out, stop by the Joshua Tree Cultural Center in Twentynine Palms, California, to pick up maps, park information and safety tips; this museum space also has exhibits sharing Indigenous stories and more. As you traverse Joshua Tree, be sure to take in sights such as Skull Rock, Black Rock Canyon, Cottonwood Spring and Covington Flats.
With more than 500 campsites in the park – most of which are available by reservation – camping is one of the most accessible ways to experience an overnight stay. Or, upgrade to AutoCamp Joshua Tree, where guests sleep in stylish and modern Airstream trailers, for a glamping experience. If budget is not an issue, you may choose to rent one of the most exclusive homes in the world: the Kellogg Doolittle House.
Los Alamos, California
Los Alamos, California – not to be confused with a New Mexico town of the same name – is a laid-back destination with an authentic Old West heritage; the town was created in 1876 by two ranchers donating part of their land. Only about 140 miles north of Los Angeles, Los Alamos is ideally located for a daytrip or weekend getaway – especially for couples and wine lovers – amid Santa Ynez Valley wine country. Travelers can take time to peruse the one-of-a-kind shops and boutiques that adorn Bell Street, such as the new Elder Flat Farm store.
A major highlight of Los Alamos is the proliferation of top-notch dining options. A great California destination for foodies, the town is home to the Santa Ynez Valley’s only Michelin-starred restaurant: Bell’s, a French-inspired bistro. The artisanal Bob’s Well Bread Bakery and Pico Los Alamos, which serves upscale comfort food, are other popular local eateries. The primary lodging options in this town include the retro motel Skyview Los Alamos, the Western-themed Alamo Motel and the opulent Victorian Mansion B&B.
San Luis Obispo, California
With 315 days of sunshine, San Luis Obispo (nicknamed SLO) is the perfect year-round weekend destination – and one of the best places to visit in California – with picturesque beaches, a burgeoning farm-to-table culinary scene, rolling vineyards and plenty of small-town charm. Kick off a long weekend with a stop at a pedestrian-friendly farmers market held on Thursday evenings along Higuera Street downtown. Other SLO activity options include shopping for one-of-a-kind items at the JunkGirls shop, taking a surfing lesson or catching a movie at the nostalgic Sunset Drive-In. There are plenty of galleries to sate art lovers, but a more unconventional tourist attraction invites visitors to help make graffiti out of chewed gum in Bubblegum Alley. For a bit of California history, wander through the historic Mission San Luis Obispo de Tolosa.
One thing you won’t want to miss is the wine. Try some Malene rose in a 1969 Airstream mobile tasting room or visit the adjacent Chamisal Vineyards in Edna Valley to sip chardonnay and pinot noir with views of the vineyards. For an overnight stay, The Kinney San Luis Obispo, Tapestry Collection by Hilton, offers a casual college town atmosphere with board games and draft beers. A stylish boutique hotel option is the one-of-a-kind Madonna Inn: Each of the more than 100 guest rooms has a different theme, such as the Caveman, Love Nest, Pioneer America and Golfer’s Room.
Paso Robles, California
Head to central California’s wine country for a visit to charming Paso Robles, a city about 200 miles northwest of LA that’s located along coastal U.S. Route 101. Paso Robles is a community of cowboys, surfers and innovators; travelers can enjoy world-class food and wine as well as inspiring art and whole-body wellness here. You’ll find more than 200 wineries in the region, complemented by a variety of craft breweries, cideries and distilleries in Paso Robles. Check out about a dozen craft distilleries on the Paso Robles Distillery Trail. A can’t-miss nighttime activity is a self-guided stroll through the Sensorio lights display.
Thanks to the world-class wines and family farms, Paso Robles is a mecca for delicious dining – including The Restaurant at JUSTIN; the Michelin-starred Six Test Kitchen, located inside the Tin City makers market; and Paso Market Walk, a reinvented farmers market. From rustic hideaways to glamping sites, Paso Robles also has lodging options to fit any taste and budget. For luxury accommodations, consider the boutique Hotel Cheval, just off Paso Robles’ historic town square. For a unique experience, opt for a farm stay – such as in an RV on an alpaca ranch – or spend a night sleeping in a revamped shipping container at Geneseo Inn.
If an adults-only weekend trip is what you have in mind, head out to Las Vegas, a vivacious and walkable city. Sitting about 270 miles north of Los Angeles, Las Vegas checks all the boxes for a memorable vacation. You can hit the slots at the casinos, catch in-residency concerts from big names such as Katy Perry, indulge in a phenomenal treatment at a world-class spa or enjoy a meal crafted by a celebrity chef. More unique things to do include a boozy Upside Down Tea Party at Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, Curio Collection by Hilton, or a spin around the SpeedVegas off-road track. If you’re not afraid of heights, you can zip line over Fremont Street downtown or experience LIFTOFF at Area 15’s immersive playground for panoramic city views.
Live it up like a high roller with a Sky Suite atop ARIA Resort & Casino, the Sake Suite at the Nobu Hotel inside Caesars Palace or ultra-exclusive The Mansion at MGM Grand. Enjoy a feast for the eyes and mouth with innovative eateries all over the city – Las Vegas’ dining scene boasts a variety of culinary choices and the ability to cater to whatever your budget may be.
Death Valley National Park, California
From Los Angeles, the closest paved entrance to Death Valley National Park is on California state Route 190; whichever route you take to get there, you’ll likely want to budget around five hours for the drive, which is about 290 miles. Death Valley is the largest national park in the lower 48 states. Its 3.4 million acres include some of the most unique landscapes and sites you’ll find anywhere – such as the Badwater Basin salt flats, the Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Rainbow Canyon and Artists Palette’s colorful hills. Download the free National Park Service app to take a driving tour of “Star Wars” filming locations in the park. Death Valley also boasts some of the best stargazing opportunities in the U.S., as an International Dark Sky Park considered “Gold Tier,” meaning there is minimal interference from light pollution.
The Oasis at Death Valley – part of the Xanterra Travel Collection – encompasses the romantic Inn at Death Valley and the family-friendly Ranch at Death Valley. The Oasis completed a $150 million restoration in 2022 and now features a revitalized town square and new shops, including an ice cream parlor with an old-school soda fountain. If you’re looking for a quirky desert experience, stay overnight in the Pyramid, a one-bedroom glass pyramid bookable on Airbnb, or pick from the seasonal campgrounds, inns and motels in the park.
Mammoth Lakes, California
If the mountains are calling you, head to the Sierra Nevada for a weekend in the resort town of Mammoth Lakes. From LA, take U.S. Route 395 for a scenic road trip across approximately 310 miles. Winter ushers in world-class downhill skiing, snowboarding, tubing and cross-country skiing in the Mammoth Mountain Ski Area. During the warmer months, visitors can ride gondolas for panoramic views on Mammoth Mountain in addition to hiking and mountain biking there and at the Mammoth Lakes Basin. Other popular lake activities include fishing, paddleboarding and boating.
Located in Mammoth Lakes’ The Village, the rustic yet elegant Westin Monache Resort, Mammoth, offers access to dining, shopping and the gondola up the mountain. Dine at the on-property restaurant, Whitebark, for tasty and healthy options. Travelers can also indulge at Gomez’s Mexican Restaurant in The Village, visit Tamarack Lodge & Resort for a romantic dinner at the Lakefront Restaurant or stock up on gourmet snacks at Bleu Market & Kitchen.
The 1-square-mile, European-style village of Carmel seamlessly blends history, arts and culture, and stunning ocean views for a relaxing and unique travel experience. Just off of state Route 1 near Monterey, this charming seaside destination about 320 miles northwest of LA is ideal for dreamy weekend getaways any time of year – especially if you have a canine companion in tow. Carmel boasts world-class art galleries, whimsical architecture, nearly 20 wine tasting rooms, the dog-friendly Carmel Beach, a few dozen secret passageways and more restaurants per capita than any other small U.S. city. Enjoy Mediterranean, Italian or French cuisine at quaint local eateries like La Balena, Dametra Cafe, Yafa, La Bicyclette and many more.
Book a stay in one of the historic inns, such as the “Grande Dame of Carmel”: La Playa Carmel, a historic hotel with a prime view of Carmel Beach, is perfect for evenings spent gazing out at the sunset or taking a moonlit walk in the sand. If you bring your fur baby with you on your weekend jaunt, Cypress Inn provides an array of amenities to welcome pets, such as its daily “yappy hour.”
Puerto Vallarta, Mexico
If you’re willing to take to the skies, you can leave California – and the U.S. – altogether for a quick weekend trip to Mexico. Grab your besties or your significant other for a flight to Puerto Vallarta, a resort town on Mexico’s Pacific coast, and after about three hours on a plane, you can be sipping margaritas with your toes in the sand. There’s plenty to do in Puerto Vallarta: Sail to the Marieta Islands to discover a hidden beach, take a whale watching tour or stroll along the iconic El Malecón boardwalk for souvenirs, ocean views and street performances. Beyond the shoreline, travelers can visit the nearby village of Sayulita for artwork by Huichol Indigenous people or dance the night away in lively nightclubs.
For an all-inclusive stay, Casa Velas is a boutique, adults-only resort that offers laid-back luxury in an intimate setting. If you’re traveling with your family, consider Grand Velas Riviera Nayarit, which features entertainment, dining and activities like kids and teens clubs. Try the Hydrotherapy Circuit at the five-star spa or feast on innovative global cuisine at the property’s many restaurants.
Vancouver, British Columbia
Vancouver sits perched on the west coast of Canada, surrounded by water and woods, and is only a three-hour flight from Los Angeles. The beauty of the environment lends itself to outdoor activities, such as boating, fishing, hiking, biking, skiing and more. And, even though the scenery is rustic, there is plenty of luxury in this coastal Canadian city – from top-notch hotels and restaurants to bountiful art and culture. Must-do activities in the area include a thrilling boat ride with Vancouver Water Adventures, a foodie tour at Granville Island Public Market and an outdoor adventure at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, where you’ll experience a 450-foot-long suspension bridge, the Cliffwalk and a treetops excursion. Vancouver is also full of parks and beaches for when you need some relaxation.
Stay at the JW Marriott Parq Vancouver for bountiful amenities and impeccable service; there’s a spa, access to a casino and plenty of dining choices. For a city-chic boutique hotel, the DOUGLAS, Autograph Collection, brings the outdoors inside with creative design elements, such as an urban park on the rooftop.
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