The coastal location of Los Angeles and the warm climate mean there is a wealth of day trip options that can be enjoyed all year. We rounded up 5 day trips from L.A. that showcase the diverse landscape and wealth of entertainment options less than 2 hours from downtown. Go to the desert, sip some wine, or visit an island that feels a world away from L.A. It should be noted that traffic is notoriously bad, so be sure to add extra time if you are traveling at peak hours.
Santa Catalina Island
Leave the congested freeways behind and take a ferry to Catalina (as the locals call it) where you can feel like you’re on a tropical island. This is one of the Channel Islands off the Pacific Coast, and the one with the most to offer for a day trip. The easiest way to get there is to take the Catalina Express ferry. It departs multiple times a day from Long Beach, San Pedro and Dana Point south of Los Angeles, and the trip takes about an hour. Once you get to the island you can walk around Avalon, go SCUBA diving, or go to Two Harbors at the other end of Catalina where you’ll find beaches and campgrounds.
Embrace your inner child or take your actual kids to Disneyland, the iconic theme park in Anaheim. Only about 30 minutes south on I-5 from downtown, you can explore the original park designed by Walt Disney himself in 1955. There are tons of things inside the park to take up a day, like Fantasyland and Tomorrowland, and of course, many rides.
Temecula Valley Wine Country
While California has no shortage of areas known for wine – Napa, Sonoma, the Central Coast – there is also the lesser-known Temecula Valley. There are more than 10 wineries in the area around Temecula, about 1 hour and 20 minutes southeast from L.A. While other wine-producing areas in the state are known for particular kinds of wine, Temecula Valley is known for its diversity, with more than 50 varietals produced. If you want to visit multiple wineries without driving yourself, there are multiple options for wine tours, including via cable car!
Palm Springs & Joshua Tree National Park
Situated in the Coachella Valley less than 2 hours east of L.A., Palm Springs is a great day trip option or a base for a weekend exploring the surrounding area including Joshua Tree National Park. Palm Springs is a resort town, with most people coming here in the winter months when the temperatures are milder. You can enjoy spas and resorts, and also just drive around and look at some of the mid-century modern architecture the city is known for. If you have time, the entrance to Joshua Tree is about a 45-minute drive from Palm Springs and is a great place to go hiking during the winter months when temperatures int he desert are more tolerable. Or, if you would rather skip Palm Springs and just go to Joshua Tree, it’s roughly 2.5 hours from L.A.
Less than 2 hours down the coast on I-5 is San Diego where you can visit the world-renowned San Diego Zoo, go to Sea World, or visit the USS Midway, an aircraft carrier-turned-museum. Walk or drive around Old Town, which is where San Diego was first settled. If you have time on the way to or from L.A., stop at La Jolla Cove for a swim or walk along the beach.
SIXT Rent a car in Los Angeles
You need a car to get the full experience of Los Angeles, including the infamous traffic jams. Luckily, you can find SIXT rent a car locations throughout the city, including at LAX and downtown. We also have multiple branches in the cities surrounding L.A., like Inglewood.