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10 Best Day Trips from Los Angeles

Taking day trips from Los Angeles is very easy because of being such a unique colorful city surrounded by miles of mountains and coastline. Los Angeles may be an expensive city to live in, but finding the best places to visit and outdoor activities doesn’t have to be.

Whether you’re simply visiting Los Angeles or have lived here for years, you can go on these day trips from Los Angeles many times and they will still be just as interesting as the first time you went. So, here are some of the 10 of the best day trips you can take from Los Angeles according to SoCal Field Trips.

Taking day trips from Los Angeles is very easy because of being such a unique colorful city surrounded by miles of mountains and coastline. Los Angeles may be an expensive city to live in, but finding the best places to visit and outdoor activities doesn't have to be.

Visit The Los Angeles Piers For A Weekend Getaway

It’s impossible to go on a day trip from Los Angeles without going to the beach. One must-see is the Santa Monica Pier, just twenty to thirty minutes west of Los Angeles. It’s a great place for tourists and families alike.

People can often be seen on the beach roller skating, sun tanning, playing volleyball, tide pooling, walking their dogs, or swimming. These activities never get boring year-round and the cost is free.

The Pier itself and the surrounding area is the perfect place that is identifiable from miles away by its giant Ferris wheel and other assortments of rides. People often come with their kids in the summer months for the day to go on the rides, see the street performers and then move back to the beach only yards away.

An alternative to the Santa Monica Pier is the Redondo Beach Pier. Similar to the Santa Monica Pier, there are miles of sandy beach and various street performers during the day.

Redondo Beach has more restaurants and shops, so it would make a great choice for the evening. There is live music playing at many places on most nights and you can find everything from ethnic food like Mexican and Hawaiian to various Seafood restaurants.

Best Road Trips from Los Angeles

Visit The Theme Parks For A Weekend Trip

No day trips from Los Angeles would be complete without vising the theme parks. A little north of downtown Los Angeles is Universal Studios Hollywood. Open from 10 AM – 5 PM on most days, this theme park is fun packed for kids and adults. There are various TV and movie-inspired rides like the Simpsons and the Jurassic Park ride and also a studio tour so you can see where movies like Jaws and Psycho were filmed.

Disneyland is located 45 – 60 minutes south in Anaheim, depending on the infamous traffic. It would best to start heading to town to his popular destination at times other than morning and afternoon rush hour.

This park is divided into two areas. One has calmer attractions, for smaller children and adults that like to take it easy. The other side of the park has more fast-moving rides for adrenaline-rush seekers and older children. Don’t forget to take in the ever popular fireworks show as night draws near.

Best Road Trips from Los Angeles

Short Drive Down To San Diego For The Best Time

Depending on the traffic, beautiful San Diego is only two to three hours south of Los Angeles. San Diego has its own set of beautiful beaches and local attractions. One place often visited by nature lovers is Balboa Park, one of the nation’s largest cultural parks which has 15 museums, beautiful gardens, and the San Diego Zoo.

San Diego has several delightful attractions for a day trip. At the top of any list is the San Diego Zoo. Located in Balboa Park, the Zoo is considered one of America’s finest wildlife recreational areas. The Zoo opened in 1916 and was one of the first zoos in the entire country.

Today this stunning park is home to over four thousand rare animals. Highlights include the Panda Bear Research Station and enclosures devoted to gorillas, polar bears, and orangutans.

If you have children, be sure to let them explore the children’s section. Over twenty interactive exhibits are on display, including a petting zoo and an area housing the zoo’s nursery.

Once you’re done with the zoo, consider coming back for another day to investigate Balboa Park’s other attractions. Fifteen museums await exploration. Visitors will find fascinating exhibits on everything from model railroads to folk art to photography.

If you plan to stay for more than a day, make sure to check out San Diego’s other zoos and rehabilitation centers in the area including Free Flight Exotic Bird Sanctuary and EcoVivarium Reptile Zoo, just to name a few.

Best Zoo in San Diego
credit: San Diego Zoo

Sea World San Diego

Another animal-centered attraction is SeaWorld San Diego. Here the focus is on marine life. SeaWorld has live shows and a guided tour showcasing the parkís uncommon marine mammals. You’ll also find exhibits where you can feed a bat ray, watch sharks glide by, and mingle with otters and dolphins.

Other San Diego sites worth a closer look include the San Diego Botanic Garden, U.S. Olympic Training Center, and taking a hike to see wildflowers in the local mountains.

Best Road Trips From Los Angeles
credit: SeaWorld San Diego

Take The Scenic Route Mulholland Drive And The Santa Monica Mountains

One of the perfect day trips from Los Angeles is driving through Mulholland Drive, which begins west of Highway 101 of North America. This winding two-hour drive begins in the small town of Calabasas and moves through the Santa Monica Mountains and eventually ends at the Leo Carrillo State Beach.

There are various overlooks on Mulholland Drive with fantastic views of the coastal town. Different overlooks give panoramic views of the San Fernando Valley, the Simi Hills, the San Gabriel Mountains, and even a view of Hollywood where you can see the Hollywood Sign and the Hollywood Bowl.

Of all day trips from Los Angeles, it is one of the most relaxed and inexpensive. Before you head back, you can drive down to Carrillo State Beach in Malibu where you can walk on the sandy beaches, and explore the caves and tide pools.

Best Day Trips from Los Angeles
credit: Roadtrippers

Pacific Coast Highway And The Malibu Coast

Another option for day trips from Los Angeles is driving down the beautiful Pacific Coast Highway along the Malibu Central Coast. The best way is to drive south where most of the views of the beautiful coastline are. Otherwise, driving north to the small city of Santa Barbara is fine also.

You will have plenty of opportunities to stop at one of the beaches, great restaurants or simply to have a picnic. Otherwise, you can buy food along the way. Although there no upscale restaurants, there are plenty of seafood shacks along the way that have their own unique charm.

The total drive is about an hour or two, depending on traffic and how many stops you make. Weekends also tend to draw the most traffic, but the scenery of the coastline makes it worthwhile.

Best Day Trips from Los Angeles

Hearst Castle Is An Excellent Place To Visit

Los Angeles is a sprawling city centrally located in the southern part of California that offers the visitor the best things to see and do. The city also affords travelers a great base from which to explore the surrounding sights.

Hearst Castle is one of the best-known Southern California tourist attractions. An easy scenic drive from L.A., Heart Castle is a beautiful mountaintop mansion on the California coast. The main house and all the outlying buildings were built by media mogul William Randolf Hearst as a place to house his magnificent art collection. Construction of the entire property took over twenty-eight years.

The Hearst family donated the mansion to the state in the 1950s. Today the area is part of the California State Park system and open to everyone. Five guided tours of the estate’s many treasures are available including one at night.

Some tours focus on Hearst Castle and the several outlying buildings that were used to house famous guests. Other tours bring visitors to the lush surrounding gardens. Visitors can even see an IMAX film about the park in a nearby theater.

Best Road Trips from Los Angeles
credit: California State Parks

Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara is another petite lovely coastal city a quick hop from Los Angeles. This semi-suburban metropolis offers tourists access to fine beaches and interesting architecture. Santa Barbara has one of America’s best small zoos, a children’s museum called the MOXI, horseback riding at Circle Barb B Dude Ranch and an art museum specializing in Asian art.

At the heart of Santa Barbara is the harbor area. You can feast on fresh fish at fine restaurants, admire paintings at the weekly art show, or join skateboarders at Skater’s Point. Skater’s Point is a park designed especially for them.

Circle Bar B Resort in Santa Barbara offers guests the opportunity to go horseback riding, relax by the pool or take a scenic hike on one of the many private trails around the 1,000 acres property.

Catalina Island

If you like the islands and palm trees, consider a trip to Catalina Island. Many chartered boats are available to get there in less than two hours. Located just off the Pacific ocean coast, Catalina is the preferred habitat for dozens of exotic birds, plants, and animals. The channel islands offers visitors many wonderful opportunities to observe wildlife in a natural setting.

Bald eagles nest there along with hummingbirds and Barn Swallows. If you want to get closer to the shore go kayaking at one of the many kayak rental places. You can also take a dive or snorkel tour to one of the island’s spectacular reefs.

Los Angeles Best Day Trips

Los Angeles is not just Hollywood and skyscrapers, but a gateway to Southern California’s many other attractions. We hope you enjoy a day trip from Los Angeles very soon!

Happy Field Tripping!