Suggested Getaways Between 1 and 7 Hour Drives from LA

One of my absolute favorite things about living in Southern California is the amazing variety of destinations you can visit within a day's drive. In 1 day (or less) of driving, you can reach three other states, another country!, and plenty of amazing places in your own backyard. In this post I am sharing my suggestions for getaways that are 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, and 7 hour drives away from Los Angeles. Keep in mind that the time in the car can vary greatly based on what time of day you are driving; my estimations here are based on non-peak hours. Some of the destinations below I have visited, and others I haven't but am excited to go one day. I linked blog posts or photos of the places that I've been!


Also, here is a great tool that a friend recently showed me: a map that shows you the area you can travel within however many miles (200-300 is a good start for a moderate day's drive) or a certain number of hours driving at a given speed. I highly recommend it as a starting point for daydreaming about road trips!

1 Hour Drives: MalibuSan Bernardino Mountains; Orange County; Catalina Island (one hour by ferry); or a Staycation within LA! There are so many different neighborhoods in LA, it can be super fun to do a staycation within your own city. Grace and I once stayed at a hotel in downtown LA that is rumored to be haunted!

2 Hour Drives: OjaiSanta BarbaraSan Diego (usually more like 2.5 hours); Temecula Wine Country; Lucerne Valley Desrt/Dry LakebedJoshua Tree (2.5 hours); PioneertownBig BearLake Arrowhead

3 Hour DrivesPalm Springs; Tijuana, Mexico (but could actually take much longer depending on the situation at the border); Pismo Beach (and other towns right nearby, like Cayucos, San Luis Obispo, and Morro Bay); Kernville (where our favorite campground is); Idyllwild (I've always wanted to go there! And will soon, I hope); the Salton Sea and Salvation Mountain (I've been dying to go ever since reading Elsie Larson's blog post about it); Anzo-Borrego Desert State Park--site of one of the recent "super blooms" from this past spring

4 Hour Drives: Paso Robles Wine Country; the Mojave Desert; Las Vegas

5 Hour Drives: Lake Havasu City in Arizona; Mammoth Lakes; Santa Cruz Redwood Forest (our next getaway in ten days staying at this cottage--sooo excited!); Monterrey/Carmel-by-the-Sea/Big Sur (all super close together); June Lake (this one is HIGH on my list for a weekend getaway soon); Death Valley National Park

6 Hour DrivesYosemite; the Bay Area (I lived here for three years, but here's one favorite photo from a recent trip back); Half Moon Bay (I took a girls' weekend here once with my mom and godmother and it was lovely); Mono Hot Springs

7 Hour Drives: Various destinations in Baja California, Mexico (Grace went to Ensenada recently and had a great time); Northern California Wine Country (Napa/Sonoma/Yountville/Healdsburg etc.); Tahoe (may be more like an 8 hour drive, but one of my favorite places in all of California); Zion National Park in Utah

If you have been to any of the places above that I haven't visited yet, I'd love to hear about it! I think if I had to pick a few favorite places that maximize experience for the drive time, I would say Ojai, Palm Springs, and Big Sur. But I love them all!

Happy road tripping :)