Vacations do not always require a passport and a booked flight, especially when you live in Los Angeles, California. It is nice to live in a city where others come for a vacation. To the West you have the coast and to the East you have the mountains and the deserts. Within a three hour drive you can transport yourself from one scenic place to another – it is all just a matter of packing your bags, preparing the car, and picking up your favorite road trip buddy! Not sure where to go? We are here to help! Consider one of the following recommendations for your next three day weekend.
The two hour drive north to Santa Barbara from Los Angeles is one of the most scenic routes along the 101 freeway. To your right you have beautiful, flower blooming hills and to the left you have the sparkling Pacific Ocean. Once you arrive in Santa Barbara you can dip your feet in one of the many beaches it has to offer; East Beach, Goleta Park Beach, and Carpinteria to name a few. If you feel like shopping, wining, and dining then you won’t be disappointed by the options available on State Street. Downtown Santa Barbara also has beautiful architecture and you can visit the Mission to learn about the city’s history.
If you are into vast open spaces, drive east where you will find Joshua Tree National Park. At Joshua Tree you will find beautiful rock formations, desert plants, and animals. Take a hike with a ranger to learn more about the park or try rock climbing. At the national park you will also find the well known Joshua Tree Retreat Center where you can find meditation and yoga retreats hosted throughout the year.
Does the idea of sitting by a fire while drinking hot chocolate and reading your favorite book sound perfect? Gather a group of friends, family, or significant other and rent a cabin at Big Bear Lake. You will find snowfall in the winter months of January and February where you can try skiing or snowboarding at the Snow Summit Mountain Resort. During the warmer months of the year you can hike the mountains or take a dip at the lake.
Topanga Canyon is one of L.A.’s unique gems. The moment you drive up the canyon you forget you are in one of the most traffic-dense cities in the country. At the town’s center you will find antique shops, cute coffee shops, and delicious restaurants. Some of the best pizza I have had in L.A. is at Rocco’s In The Canyon. If you are looking for the perfect dinner date restaurant you will for sure impress by going to Inn of the Seventh Ray. The food is exquisite and the restaurant’s ambiance is out of a fairytale. If you decide to stay the night up at the canyon – which I highly recommend because of its tranquility – then check out the many great options you have through Airbnb. Airbnb also has a very informative Topanga Canyon Guide to plan your staycation.
Sometimes we can take a place that is so close for granted. Venice and Santa Monica may be a short drive for many Angelenos but to fully experience these neighboring towns you have to stay the night. There are endless fun things to do in the sun! Begin by renting a bike at the Venice Boardwalk and ride it all the way to the Santa Monica Pier. At the pier you can ride the amusement park rides or take an outdoor trapeze class with the Trapeze School of New York. Once the sun is setting catch a drink either at the patio at Cabo Cantina on Washington Boulevard or on the rooftop at High Rooftop Lounge (make reservations in advance). If you are feeling adventurous and would rather catch the sunset in the middle of the ocean make a sunset parasailing reservation at Marina Del Rey Parasailing. When night hits you have endless options for bar hopping and dancing. My top three favorite bars are The Bungalow, The Del Monte Speakeasy, and The Misfit.
All these locations can stay budget-friendly with good planning, advanced reservations, and browsing through Groupon for deals. Enjoy the beauty that Los Angeles and its neighboring cities have to offer!