With its buzzy nightlife, high-powered culture, and go-go-go attitude, Los Angeles is one of America’s most fascinating cities. And although life in the city of angels can be a big-screen dream, everyone needs to take five sometimes, so here’s a quick list of great weekend getaways from Los Angeles.
With its striking midcentury modern architecture, restorative desert climate, and world-class golf courses, Palm Springs has been drawing visitors for over a century. Come for the rest and relaxation – think ice cold daiquiris by neon-blue pools – but make sure to explore the kitschy tiki bars, pop by the Palm Springs Art Museum to see works by Anish Kapoor and Diane Arbus, and hitch a ride on the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway to soak up the unforgettable views of Chino Canyon.
Palm Springs is less than a 2-hour drive from Los Angeles, but its laid-back vibe and stunning landscape make it feel a world away.
If Los Angeles’ pedal-to-the-metal ambitions leave you wanting to pump the brakes, slow down, and enjoy the views, then hit Highway 101 to Santa Barbara. The 90-minute drive offers some beautiful views of the countryside, and as you drift into Santa Barbara’s radiant orbit – complete with Spanish Colonial buildings, golden beaches, and sailboats bobbing in the azure harbor – you’ll quickly discover why it’s been nicknamed The American Riviera.
Santa Barbara’s bursting with hip restaurants and bars, especially on State Street, as well as an impressive array of boutiques, galleries, and museums. History buffs will want to check out the Old Mission, while oenophiles can hike the urban wine trail.
Big Bear is one of California’s most bucolic escapes, and although it’s less than 100 miles from sunny Los Angeles, its location in the San Bernardino Mountains makes it a popular spot for skiing, snowboarding, and snowmobiling. Hikers and bikers visiting in the summer will find over 60 miles of pine-shaded trails, while swimmers and boaters will enjoy the seven-mile lake.
The area also hosts events throughout the year, so you can plan your getaway around Oktoberfest, Independence Day, or competitive fishing tournaments. If you’re looking to tour Big Bear, book a 4×4 Jeep journey, a treetop zip line trip, or a helicopter excursion to add a bit of spice.
If Santa Barbara recalls the manicured, light-dappled beauty of the Côte d’Azur in perpetual summer, then Solvang is its decidedly more traditional cousin from the cold north. Solvang’s calling card is its classic Danish influence – Danes founded the genteel town in 1911 – and visitors can stop into the Hans Christian Andersen Museum and the Elverhoj Museum of Danish History, as well as check out replicas of Copenhagen’s Round Tower and famous Little Mermaid statue. If you want the full-on Scandi experience, plan a trip to Danish Days in September, when the quaint streets are jammed with competitive aebleskiver eaters, traditional musicians, and folk dancers.
Why not turn your getaway up a notch by packing your passport and heading south of the border? Mexico’s Rosarito Beach is only a 3-hour drive from Los Angeles, and its beautiful Baja beaches, mouth-watering seafood, and star-studded past (it was once a haunt for Hollywood celebs looking for love nests or surfing lessons) make it a great weekend escape.
Visitors can check out the top-notch taquerias and tequila bars, immerse themselves in late nights of high-octane dancing, and spend the days exploring the dunes, shopping for Cuban cigars and handcrafted jewelry, and relaxing over a fresh lobster lunch in the tranquil village of Popotla.
Los Angeles is not only one of the world’s most invigorating cities, it puts you right on the doorstep of some of the West Coast’s most drive-worthy destinations. Book your Los Angeles weekend getaway today!