Weekend Trips and Getaways From Los Angeles

Palm Springs is a relaxing desert retreat with a mid-century vibe
Palm Springs is a relaxing desert retreat with a mid-century vibe | © Robin Smith / Getty Images
Photo of Molly Codyre
26 March 2021

Los Angeles has its fair share of nature, but sometimes a hike up Runyon Canyon isn’t enough of an escape. Luckily, the city is surrounded by California’s show-stopping landscapes and soothing small towns. Head out towards palm-dotted desert, craggy coastline and life-affirming mountains – all of which can be found within driving distance of the City of Angels.

Palm Springs

This desert playground has so much more to offer beyond being the home of Coachella. When the festival stages are packed away and the worldwide revelers have headed home, the city is a peaceful destination. New restaurants seemingly pop up every week, and its palm-lined avenues are full of glamorous hotels and mid-century homes that wouldn’t be out of place in a Slim Aarons photograph. Long a favorite with LA dwellers looking for an escape, this is one place where your best bet is to follow the crowd.

Twisted palm tree. Palm Canyon. Indian Canyons. Palm Springs, California | © Dennis Frates / Alamy Stock Photo

San Luis Obispo

Life in this inland town runs at a sleepy pace, with a dash of liveliness thanks to the students of the CalPoly University. Its proximity to popular spots such as Pismo Beach make it the perfect base for those wanting to explore the coast without dealing with the heaving coastal towns. With an abundance of Spanish-Colonial architecture and a lively food scene to boot, it’s easy to see why this town makes an attractive weekend getaway.

View of the Pismo Beach pier into the Pacific Ocean along the Central Coast of California | © Timothy Swope / Alamy Stock Photo

La Jolla

Spanish settlers named this town “the jewel” when they arrived in the 1700s. Now, with its much-loved surf breaks and collection of incredible restaurants, it continues to live up to the moniker. While this is an affluent town – the mansion-dotted cliff sides should give that away – there is still a laid-back beachside vibe.

Beach in La Jolla, California, USA | © Chris A Selby / Alamy Stock Photo

Yosemite National Park

A Unesco World Heritage site, Yosemite is a jaw-dropping and otherworldly place that must be seen in person. Towering sequoias, shimmering lakes and world-famous hiking trails are all overlooked by neck-craning mountains – standing among it all, the magnitude of Mother Nature feels overwhelming.

Yosemite National Park, California, USA | © travellinglight / Alamy Stock Photo

Monterey Bay

You may recognize Monterey Bay as the setting of Big Little Lies, where the sweeping cliffs and white-sand beaches were the backdrop to small town murder and intrigue. The reality of Monterey Bay is much less noir, drawing you in with its incredible coastline, down-to-earth vibe and storybook forests.

Central Coast, Big Sur near Monterey, California | © SeBuKi / Alamy Stock Photo

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