Sometimes you just need to get away, which is why these Los Angeles day trips can truly satisfy every travel craving for the LA resident or traveler alike. These picks just show why LA is a great home base for those infected with the travel bug, and why it’s truly a multi-faceted city with just about every different feeling you could ever want to find.
So, you caught the travel bug. Maybe you spent a month in Asia, maybe you backpacked through Europe, maybe you went on a family vacation to Hawaii or road tripped to the Grand Canyon. However far away you went, one thing is for sure: you went somewhere new and there is nothing you want more than to go somewhere new again. And again. And again. You now have a strange longing to continue to go new places where you can see new sights, meet new people, and understand how people live in places other than your little neighborhood containing all the same people and same sights.
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But, there are quite a few obstacles to just picking up and going. Like that little thing called college that you’re obligated to stay in for four plus years. Or, say, that job that you need to pay your rent and your bills. And the fact that said job hardly pays your bills let alone provides funding to travel as often as this little longing at the back of your head tells you you want to. You’re stuck here in Los Angeles for a little or a long while, and you need to find some way to satisfy your wanderlust here while also living your real life and making money to hopefully REALLY satisfy it one day. Well you’re in luck, because you happen to be stuck in a city where you can travel plentifully without stepping foot on a plane.
LA is one hell of a huge city (which can be seen by our complete lack of adequate public transportation). We encompass everything from the dirty downtown city vibes, the beachy surfer vibes, the nature-y mountain vibes, the suburban neighborhood vibes, the grungy street-artsy vibes, the bougie celebrity vibes, and everything in between, all in one place. Whenever you start to get queasy with the urge get out and go, this city will absolutely always have something new and exciting for you if you just have the curiosity to get out and find it.
Enough with LA, I need some culture. I want something different and foreign.
I don’t know if you’ve noticed before, but sometimes while you’re driving down LA streets like La Cienega or Venice Blvd, it may appear as if you’ve driven through 4 countries within ten minutes because of such heavy scenery change. It can change from luxurious to sketchy, residential to metropolitan, one way to a complete different other. As you clearly know if you have ever set foot in Little Tokyo, some areas of LA have concentrated areas of certain ethnicities where you can experience different ethnic food and mini-culture. Have you ever tried Ethiopian food from Little Ethiopia on Fairfax? I bet you didn’t know Washington Blvd has a small Brazilian area complete with the cutest little colorful motel you’ll ever see, a few gift shops, and some amazingly BOMB all-you-can-eat Brazilian Pizza. There are all sorts of little cultural places in LA – little Havana, little Armenia, Chinatown, Koreatown, Little India, Spanish/Mexican culture (hello, tacos) in El Pueblo, and even Alpine Village, a little German area in Torrance (and yes it does throw an Oktoberfest).
So I know its obviously not the same as really going and getting a real dose of culture from a different country. But not many other cities can boast such a diverse range of cultural specialities than here, and when you feel you need something new or maybe even just some authentic foreign food, these little day trips in LA are well worth exploring a bit yourself 🙂
Cultural Picks for Los Angeles Day Trips:
El Pueblo de Los Angeles
Visit 3+ Ethnic Neighborhoods in One Tour
This tour takes you to Thai Town, Koreatown, and Little Armenia with a guide!
I want to get AWAY from LA and RELAX. Somewhere tropical. Why is the Caribbean so far away?!
First of all, the fact that LA is so near the coast is too much of a blessing not to take full advantage of. We also just happen to live somewhere with beaches that are no less than gorgeous. Have you ever driven on PCH through Malibu on a nice sunny day? If you can’t get to the Caribbean, plan a stay-cation to LA’s local tropics right in our backyard. Malibu is one of the most beautiful places in California! There are SO many beaches and beach towns to explore in LA, each with their own unique character and super accessible as Los Angeles day trips.
The Santa Monica pier may get old and maybe you’ve been to Venice a zillion times, but what about Terranea and Trump beaches just south in Palos Verdes? Or anywhere in Malibu, which is basically a continuous gorgeous beach with tons of walkways down to the sand (and even parking on PCH!). From Redondo, Hermosa, and Manhattan to Zuma and Malibu Lagoon to all the lesser known shores in between, each are worth a good explore when you’re feeling like getting a nice relaxing beach day in and going somewhere new. It also helps that we have good, sunny weather basically every day. Beach days in December aren’t even out of the picture.
And yeah, these beaches aren’t AS tropical as places you wish you could go, but they sure are close, affordable, picturesque, and perfect for home-traveling when you can’t actual-travel. Hey, people all over the world dream of visiting these beaches, so we may as well make use of ‘em.
Tropical Picks for Los Angeles Day Trips:
El Segundo- town and beach
Terranea Resort beach
Abalone Cove – Palos Verdes
Paradise Cove – Malibu
Little Dume – Malibu
Naples Island Canals – Long Beach
I’d prefer getting out into nature and spending some time with mother earth herself. Somewhere to clear my mind.
The Santa Monica Mountain Range spans from north Malibu all the way into pretty much downtown. You know those big hills you see from everywhere in LA, the reason you can see the Hollywood Sign perched up high? This long stretch of mountains houses another world of adventures that make it seem like you’ve left LA entirely. From waterfalls and creeks to views and abandoned graffiti-covered houses, it’s safe to say there are a LOT of places to clear your mind and get into nature in LA’s own mountain range. There are a variety of hilltop trails with great views, from more trendy Runyon Canyon or Griffith Park hikes to more secluded Tuna Canyon, Los Liones, Solstice Canyon, and Point Mugu up in Malibu. You can do some cliff jumping far from the city buzz at Malibu Creek, or chase some waterfalls at Escondido Falls right down the road from PCH in Malibu.
Read More: Are you a Big Hiker or View Lover? Check Out my 8 Best Views in LA!
There’s an abandoned Zoo you can visit near Griffith Park, and if you want to get really creepy you can hike down to the remains of Nazi camp Murphy Ranch just an nourish hike from amazing Will Rogers State Park trails. If you want to make a full day of it, you can bring a picnic and head to my personal favorite cliff jumping spot: Hermit Falls. This one is only a bit farther up in Azusa, but very worth your while when you see this Fern Gully lookalike, with streams leading into small, medium, and large cliff-jumping spots between smooth marble rock. If you are getting city fever, escaping to any of these will leave you feeling recharged and happy with a dose of quiet, green, leafy, uninterrupted nature. It also helps they are all within driving distance from anywhere in LA, giving you no excuse not to get out there and spend some time with mother nature herself.
Nature Picks for Los Angeles Day Trips:
Tuna Canyon – Malibu
Murphy Ranch – Pacific Palisades
Sunken City – San Pedro
Solstice Canyon – Malibu
Escondido Falls – Malibu
Malibu Creek – Malibu
Hermit falls- Azusa
Griffith Park – Downtown
The concrete jungle is what my dreams are made of. Take me to the big city!
Well this one should be obvious. If you want to feel like you’re in the big city, you’re currently in one of the biggest in the world. The concrete jungle spans far here, with downtown LA being the first choice if you want to walk among the high rises and neon-lit developments. There are lots of sections of downtown worth venturing through; namely, LA Live, the Fashion District, Grand Park area, and the Jewelry District – with Grand Central Market and Pershing Square as definite highlights. There are too many amazing little spots in downtown to count off, but if you live in LA and haven’t checked it out, it’s a must.
Going into downtown is one of my favorite things about living in LA and is what truly makes it real to me that I live here. Walking through the high rises is the classic LA experience, and is what people who have never been here picture it to be. It’s a true Los Angeles Day Trip IN Los Angeles! Downtown is not alone with that experience, though, in that you can drive down Wilshire, Hollywood, or Sunset and come across many more areas with ambient big-city vibes. Walking along or going out on the Sunset Strip is a must, Hollywood Boulevard is a given, and there are a lot of developed areas along Wilshire with a classic Los Angeles look. The nightlife is booming and plentiful in these areas as well: another definitive Los Angeles characteristic. So, when you’re itching for a big-city experience, Los Angelenos, always remember that they are always at your fingertips!
Big City Picks for Los Angeles Day Trips:
DTLA, of Course
Downtown Long Beach – Pine Ave
Effortless Los Angeles day trips you can book and have someone take care of EVERYTHING for you!
Whether you live here or not, sometimes it’s simply refreshing to sign up for a day trip or day tour where you don’t actually have to worry about a thing the whole day. I always say it’s important to be a tourist in your own city so that you can satisfy your wanderlust without actually going anywhere, and LA is a better place to do that than ever. Here are a couple ideas of tours you can book in LA to do interesting, touristy, slightly splurge-y, out-of-the-box, or insider activities.
- Santa Monica Sweet Spots Bike Tour
- This actually sounds AWESOME. Bike between amazing hand made fresh dessert eateries in Santa Monica!
- Champagne Brunch Cruise from Marina Del Rey
- Go classic LA – don’t only go for a champagne brunch, but do it on a boat! Sounds rad to me, especially because the weather is always perfect.
- Universal Studios Skip-the-Line Ticket
- Have you ever actually been?
- Hollywood Hills Hike
- If you haven’t done it – you must!
- FLY over Los Angeles
- I am guessing this might be a view of the city you’ve never seen before. And it’s a tiny prop plane! Or you could also do a helicopter. 🙂
- Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach
- Check out Long Beach while you’re at it, there’s actually so much to explore! One of the most necessary Los Angeles Day Trips is seeing Long Beach.
- A Day Trip to San Diego and La Jolla
- Or sign up JUST so you don’t have to drove yourself to SD.
I already KNOW we’re in a big city, but sometimes I wish we weren’t. I want a more cute and quaint and small-town getaway from LA.
Believe it or not, there are tons of charming little areas in LA that can make it temporarily feel like you’ve been transported to a little village somewhere far away. A lot of the beach towns can give this feeling, with cute little shops and family-owned bars and restaurants lining pedestrian- filled walkways. El Segundo has the cutest little downtown that is so much fun to explore. There’s a little stretch of Montana Ave in Santa Monica with some amazing cafes and shopping, with big leafy green trees shading you from the sun in this family-oriented yet upscale neighborhood. The Pacific Palisades and Brentwood have multiple adorable little markets that are worth a wander, with high quality farmer’s markets each Sunday to match the quaint atmosphere. Most centers in Malibu give off the same small-town beachy vibe that is much different from the hustle and bustle of downtown, and are really easy day trips from Los Angeles.
Small Town Picks for Los Angeles Day Trips:
Fisherman’s Village – Marina Del Rey
Most of Malibu
Downtown Hermosa/Manhattan Beach
Downtown Palos Verdes
I want trendy and contemporary. Somewhere young & artsy, hip, designer, and fashionable.
Trendy LA is everywhere. There are several modern neighborhoods where you can find tastefully designed shopping, eats, and bars, and lots of impressive street art too. With a large population that absolutely always needs to stay up on the latest style and even strives for that avant-garde, there are tons of places you can go around here where you can feel like you’re among the trendsetters. Take a step down Abbott Kinney in Venice and you will understand just how stylish LA can get… Abbott Kinney is the hip place of west LA. It’s the kind of place that I want to look my cutest so that I can fit in with all the young and fashionable people walking around, and so that the store owners don’t look at me strangely every time I walk into their store that sells $99 rosewood tea strainers, $450 knit sweaters, and $600 native American headdresses (I wish I was kidding…).
Heading down Abbott Kinney and along onto Main Street in Santa Monica you’ll find some more chic places; think ‘succulents growing in a pattern on the wall’ or ‘coffee shops that play only underground deep house’ kind of trendy. All of which, in fact, are awesome and so much fun to discover. Melrose is another huge trendy area, with some upscale retailers and many adorable and scrumptious places to dine for lunch, brunch, dinner, a nice coffee, or some classic LA designer juice. On an even more hipster note, we have Silverlake, with its organic local eateries and enjoyable night life among like-minded people. I would definitely say that there is at least a small dose of trendiness anywhere you want to go around here… it’s what makes LA, LA.
Trendy + Edgy Picks for Los Angeles Day Trips:
Bergamot Station – Santa Monica
DTLA – FIDM, Art Walk
I want LUXURY. I wish I could go to a ritzy place as a day trip from LA without spending the money on a high-class resort…
On the even more upscale end, we of course have the lovely Beverly Hills. If you enjoy the type of shopping where you walk into an all white room with two racks of clothes and a worker wearing a suit, then take an afternoon and walk down Rodeo Drive. It’s always been a dream of mine to put on the nicest clothes I own and walk down Rodeo pretending like I can actually afford anything there… But, all sarcasm aside, these swanky LA neighborhoods are a nice getaway from the usual routine, and you can indulge in some luxuriousness without any real traveling.
I always like a good drive past some of LA’s richest areas so I can check out the aaaamazing mansions that some lucky people own… namely, Montana area in Santa Monica, the Pacific Palisades, the Hollywood hills, and even Palos Verdes (Come on… you’d be lying if you said you don’t enjoy checking out some nice houses. It’s always fun to stalk some pretty homes). Brentwood has some areas that can definitely also reach the luxurious end of the scale, shopping and dining alike. The Golden Triangle by the split of Wilshire and Santa Monica is a standout, with the famous Sprinkles cupcake ATM machine… if that isn’t glamorous, I don’t know what is.
Luxury Picks for Los Angeles Day Trips:
Golden Triangle/Rodeo Drive
The Getty Museum
Anyway, fellow wanderlusters, I hope these Los Angeles day trips provided you with some inspiration to get out there and discover LA! There are unlimited vay- and stay-cations to be had around here, in one of the most varied, enormous, and multi-cultural cities on the planet. The one travel craving I can’t find you in LA is cold weather (unless you go to Big Bear), but most people would say that that’s a good thing. 😉