10 Best Day Trips from Los Angeles

Last Updated on September 04, 2023 by Nikki Jain

Southern California is known worldwide for its sunny beaches, liberal ways, entertainment scene, and free-spirited people. Also known as the City of Angels, Los Angeles is one of the most famous travel destinations in the world.

From Hollywood, Venice Beach, Beverly Hills, Malibu, and more — This city is filled with glitz and glam.

While Los Angeles is a must-visit destination that should be on everyone’s itinerary, sometimes it’s nice to get a little vacay from your vacay.

Here are the 10 best day trips from Los Angeles.

Best Day Trips from Los Angeles

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1: San Diego

San Diego
Dreamstime/Martin Molcan

One of my favorite places to visit near Los Angeles is San Diego. Located a short 2-hour drive away, San Diego is known as America’s Finest City. With endless miles of white-sand beaches and perfect temperature water, fun attractions, and so much more. You truly can’t go wrong with a visit to San Diego.

It also makes the perfect destination for families. San Diego is very kid-friendly with different theme parks, zoos, and an aquarium. It is the ultimate day trip from Los Angeles.

Address: San Diego, CA

Also Read: 26 Best Things To Do in San Diego

2: Huntington Beach

Huntington Beach

There is no better day spent than one by the water. Huntington Beach is located in Orange County, about 50-minutes away from Los Angeles. Whether you are looking to go surfing, shopping, bike riding, or would simply like to enjoy a nice dinner by the ocean, Huntington Beach has something to do for everyone.

Huntington is made up of five different beaches to choose from. Along with its pristine beaches, you can also find some great hiking trails to get some exercise in for the day.

Address: Huntington Beach, CA

3: Santa Barbara

Santa Barbara
Dreamstime/William Perry

One of the most beautiful and best day trips from Los Angeles is Santa Barbara, California. Although Santa Barbara is only about 95 miles away from the City of Angels, it couldn’t have a more different scene than LA.

You can travel from LA to Santa Barbara either by car, train, plane, or bus. However, I recommend driving by car because it is always the most useful and practical way to travel around California.

Santa Barbara is a lot more charming and tranquil than Los Angeles. You can find activities such as wine tastings, food tours, kayaking, and other fun water sports.

Address: Santa Barbara, CA

Also Read: Best Things To Do in Santa Barbara

4: San Francisco

San Francisco

While San Francisco is a bit of a longer drive, it is definitely worth it. Located about 6-hours by car and 1 hour and 30 minutes by plane, San Francisco is one of the best places to visit near Los Angeles.

Known for its world-famous landmarks such as Alcatraz State Prison, the Golden Gate Bridge, Fishermans Wharf, and more — It’s no secret that San Francisco has made such a wonderful name for itself so quickly.

Venturing through the winding hills of San Francisco is something that everyone should experience at least once in their life.

The city is only a mere 46.87 square miles (121.4 square kilometers), making it the perfect destination to visit if you only have a short amount of time. Visiting San Francisco in a day makes for the perfect day trip from Los Angeles.

Address: San Francisco, CA

Also Read: Best Attractions in San Francisco

5: Las Vegas, Nevada

Las Vegas, Nevada

I might be a little biased when it comes to Las Vegas since it’s been my home for the last 20 years, but this city should be on everyone’s travel bucket list. Las Vegas is about a 4-hour drive from Los Angeles and the perfect vacation if you are looking to have some fun.

The word on the street is that Vegas is quite an expensive place to visit, but on the contrary, there is an abundance of cheap things to do in Las Vegas.

One of my favorite things about this small Nevada town is that it is the perfect destination for every kind of traveler.

Whether you are looking for a lake day, a nice hike, a pool party, to dance the night away, to see one of its over-the-top shows, or to put it all on red. Las Vegas has something to do for people of all ages, no matter what kind of vacation you prefer.

Address: Las Vegas, Nevada

Also Read: What's so Special about Las Vegas?

6: Catalina Island

Catalina Island

I had the opportunity to stop in Catalina Island for a day when I was on a cruise to Mexico, and it was one of the best days of my life! Catalina is a fairly small island residing southwest of Los Angeles.

It is known for its incredible diving sights, scenic views, and fun activities. I recommend exploring the island by renting a golf cart as it is one of the most popular activities to partake in. What I loved about exploring the island through a golf cart is that we had access to parts of Catalina Island that cars didn’t. This allowed us to see it from a whole different perspective; it was absolutely breathtaking. You will be given a map to know where to stop and what sights to explore.

This one is for all the water-bugs out there, Catalina Island is known for its world-famous diving sites. If you are looking for more water-based activities, then Catalina is one of the best day trips from Los Angeles that you can take.

I had the opportunity to go snorkeling while on the Island, and I was surrounded by hundreds of different fish swimming all around me. It was an experience I will never forget.

Address: Santa Catalina Island, CA 90704

7: Disneyland


Located in Orange County, Disneyland is one of the easier day trips from Los Angeles. And let’s face it, who doesn’t like a fun day in Disneyland? Residing about 30-miles from Los Angeles, Disneyland is one of the most popular things to do in California.

Disneyland offers two world-class theme parks — Disneyland Park and Disney California Adventure. With over 50+ attractions in Disneyland and 30+ attractions in Disney California Adventure, you can easily spend more than one day exploring the parks and its surrounding.

Address: 1313 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA 92802

8: Big Bear Lake

Big Bear Lake
Dreamstime/Irina Brester

About 2-hours away from Los Angeles by car, Big Bear is an excellent destination for anyone looking to engage in water activities and get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. Big Bear is famous for its crystal clear waters, water sports, and other fun activities.

Some of the more popular activities that people enjoy while visiting Big Bear are horseback riding, fishing, kayaking, jet-skiing, golfing, and more.

While Big Bear is a great summer destination to enjoy all the water shenanigans that the small city offers, it is also wildly popular during the wintertime.

During the winter, people travel from all over the world to partake in all the winter sports Big Bear offers. Including snowboarding, skiing, alpine slides, and more!

Address: Big Bear Lake, CA

9: Palm Springs

Palm Springs
Dreamstime/Charles Dyer

Nestled away in the Sonoran Desert of Southern California, Palm Springs is about 2-hours away from Los Angeles.

While Palm Springs is more of a desert-themed city, there is still an abundance of things to do in this small California town.

People like to visit Palm Springs and look for wildlife, hiking, golf, horseback riding, and more. Palm Springs is also known for its famous hot springs and spas. It is the best day trip from Los Angeles if you are looking for a relaxing day away from the city.

Address: Palm Springs, CA

Also Read: Top Attractions to Visit in Palm Springs

10: Coronado Island

Coronado Island

Hands down one of my favorite places in all of California. Located 125-miles from Los Angeles, 20-miles from San Diego, and only 8-miles from the Mexican Mainland — Coronado Island is one of California’s most underrated gems.

Made up of white-sand and tropical blue waters, this island is one of the most beautiful sights that California has to offer. With an abundance of things to do on this island, I would recommend staying about 2-days to make sure to get the most out of your day trip from Los Angeles.

Coronado is famous for all the water activities it offers, scenic tours, bike tours, and more. With Coronado being so close to San Diego, I recommend combining the two-day trips from Los Angeles. Renting a hotel for a night in San Diego and spending one full day in San Diego, followed by one full day in Coronado before heading back to the City of Angeles.

Address: Coronado, CA 92118

Final Thoughts:

California is one of the top travel destinations in the world. With so many places to see and things to do, you can spend most of your life in the state and still barely scratch the surface. I hope this guide on all the best day trips from Los Angeles helps plan your upcoming trip to the City of Angels.

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