Los Angeles is a city where most people drive or hire an Uber or other service because the public transport links aren’t so prevalent. If you’re heading to the “city of angels” sometime soon, you may want to hire a car for your stay.
It pays to go beyond just the well-known areas of L.A., though, since there are many great day trips in the area, all of which will allow you to have fun behind the wheel getting there. Check out some of the destinations worth heading out on the road for when you’re next in Los Angeles.
The small town of Los Alamos was once a major stagecoach stop. Today, though, this Old West-style location hides a trendy, cool Californian wine town heart that has something for everyone. Many young winemakers are here serving up tasty blends, so stop in at some of the area’s tasting rooms.
There’s a raft of delicious dining spots, too, including the popular Bob’s Well Bread, where you can chow down on delectable bread and pastries within a hip, stylish fit-out. Los Alamos is also home to many great antique shops and art galleries worth spending time in.
Plus, you might like to take a look at 1880 Union, an event space with an authentic stagecoach saloon. For more shopping time, head to the Los Alamos Depot Mall to sift through a broad collection of clothing, home décor, jewelry, and Americana.
Referred to as the “American Riviera,” Santa Barbara is a popular beach town destination for Hollywood movie stars and other celebrities who want to live away from the center of Tinseltown. Santa Barbara is about 100 miles north of L.A. and features charm and beauty in abundance with miles of beachfront to enjoy, plus scenic hiking trails along sea cliffs and through canyons, and historic Spanish-style buildings to admire.
Check out the Old Mission Santa Barbara to see one of California’s best-preserved 19th-century mission churches and the Santa Barbara County Courthouse for an excellent example of architecture that combines Spanish, Moorish, Byzantine, Romanesque, and Islamic architectural styles.
While in this part of California, you may also want to visit the Santa Barbara Zoo, Stearns Wharf, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, La Huerta Historical Garden, and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art. If you love your wine, drink up at one of the tasting rooms along the Urban Wine Trail, too.
Another funky spot to put on your itinerary is Ojai. You can go and rent a car (LAX or the city center have multiple agencies to choose from) and then head around an hour and a half northwest of Los Angeles to find a tightly knit artist community with plenty of laid-back boho vibes.
This place proudly stays “weird” and eschews big hotel chains or even neon signs. Spend your time here testing local drops from breweries and organic wineries, or get your chill on at the sprawling Ojai Valley Inn and Spa for beauty and body treatments galore. Ojai sits in one of the world’s limited east-west valleys, making it a perfect spot to be for sunrise or late sunset when the peaks of the nearby Topa Topa Mountains get painted in pretty pink hues. Photographers and artists love the light that gets splayed across the valley. There are many good galleries in town, too.
You might also like to unwind by chilling out at one of Ojai’s wellness retreats and meditation centers or soothe your body in hot springs. Many excellent festivals and other events pop up in Ojai over the year, too, which are well worth planning around.
Another area you’ve no doubt heard of a lot but perhaps have never visited is Palm Springs. A winter resort hideout for Hollywood movie stars since the 1930s, Palm Springs is a desert oasis that still attracts celebs and holiday seekers alike. Get your sunshine fix and take in the stunning local scenery from January until April when the weather is mild and comfortable.
You might also like to go swimming, have a round of golf, or go rock climbing or hiking while in the city, as it’s a hub for outdoor activities. Wilderness trails through pretty canyons are in abundance, plus there’s fantastic bird-watching for those who enjoy spotting feathered friends. Palm Springs also boasts cultural attractions such as the Palm Springs Art Museum and architecture and design center. There are also outlet and upscale shopping options to choose from.
These are just some of the top day trips worth doing from L.A. You might also like to visit Joshua Tree National Park, Oak Glen, Balboa Island, Big Bear Lake, and the Legoland California Resort, among other destinations.
California is full of interesting and quirky places to explore, so don’t confine yourself only to Los Angeles when you’re next in this part of the U.S.