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Courtesy of Colby Oney

Get Inspired

Best Outdoorsy Weekend Getaways from LA

by Colby Oney
2 months ago

If anything positive came out of Covid, it’s the fact that road trips are back in style. There’s nothing better than hitting the road for a weekend getaway. I have put together a list of my favorite outdoor trips from LA to help inspire your next escape. So, sit back, relax, and start planning your next adventure!

TIP: Be sure to check local travel restrictions prior to hitting the road. 

1. INYO NATIONAL FOREST

Courtesy of Colby Oney

Inyo National Forest covers the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada and boasts some of the most epic scenery in the state. Home to the tallest mountain in the continental United States as well as some of the oldest trees in the world, Inyo has something for everyone. Equally beautiful to the California’s National Parks but with a quarter of the people, you won’t want to miss visiting Inyo.

  • Drive time from LA: Between 3.5 hours and 6.5 hours depending on where you go
  • See this: Mount Whitney, Alabama Hills, Ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest, Mammoth Lakes, Manzanar Concentration Camps, Convict Lake
  • Hike this: Big Pines Lake Trail, Kearsarge Pass, Mosquito Flat Trailhead to Mono Pass & Mount Star, Little Lakes Valley Trailhead to Gem Lakes
  • Bring this: Windbreaker
  • Eat this: Copper Top BBQ & Erick Schat’s Bakery
  • Drink this: Mountain Rambler Brewery

2. SEQUOIA & KINGS CANYON NATIONAL PARKS

Courtesy of Colby Oney

Situated on the lower western side of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks are located adjacent to each other. Sequoia is famed for having the world’s largest trees while Kings Canyon is home to the deepest canyon in the United States.

  • Drive time from LA: Between 3.5 hours and 5 hours depending on where you go
  • See this: General Sherman Tree (World’s Largest Tree), Crystal Cave Guided Tour, Hume Lake
  • Hike this: Moro Rock, Congress Trail, Lakes Trail, Alta Peak, Mist Falls, Paradise Valley Trail, Zumwalt Meadow, Rae Lakes Loop
  • Bring this: Layers
  • Eat this: Lodgepole Deli, Market, and Snack Bar
  • Drink this: Hume Lake Snack Shop (milkshakes)
  • Read this: A Weekend in Sequoia National Park

3. MONTANA DE ORO STATE PARK

This California State Park is located along the Pacific coast of San Luis Obispo County. Named after the golden wildflowers found in the park, Montana de Oro (aka “Mountain of Gold”) features dramatic ocean bluffs, cliffs and coves. Spend your time relaxing on the beach or hiking one of the summit trails.

  • Drive time from LA: 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • See this: Coon Creek Beach & Spooner’s Cove
  • Hike this: Bluff Trail (at sunset), Valencia Peak Trail, Hazard Reef Trail, Bishop Peak Trail
  • Bring this: Beach towel
  • Eat this: Lunch at TASTE (in SLO)
  • Drink this: Happy hour at Luna Red (in SLO)

4. CHANNEL ISLANDS NATIONAL PARK

Courtesy of Colby Oney

Off the coast of Southern California five islands make up Channel Islands National Park, each offering epic ocean views and unique plants and animals. From hiking and sea kayaking to whale watching and scuba diving you’ll enjoy escaping city life and relaxing with nature on the Channel Islands.

  • Drive time from LA: 1 hour and 10 minute drive to Ventura + 1-2 hour ferry ride to the islands
  • See this: Pelican Bay, Painted Cave (one of the deepest sea caves in the world), Inspiration Point, Arch Rock, Cave Kayaking/Snorkeling tour with Channel Islands Adventure Company
  • Hike this: Santa Cruz Island Trek, Del Norte Backcountry Campground to Pelican Bay (and back), Cavern Point Loop
  • Bring this: Water
  • Eat this: BYO snacks
  • Drink this: BYO water
  • Read this: Santa Cruz Prisoner's Harbor to Scorpion Anchorage Trek

5. DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

Known as the hottest, driest and lowest National Park, Death Valley is surprisingly easy to get around. In just a weekend, you can hit all the top attractions in the park. Due to the scorching summer temperatures, the best time to visit is October – April (the offseason in most other National Parks). The diversity in landscapes, rock-formations, and coloring makes Death Valley truly unique.

  • Drive time from LA: 3 hours and 30 minutes
  • See this: Badwater Basin (lowest point in North America), Mesquite Flat Sand Dunes, Artists Drive, Zabriskie Point, Devils Golf Course
  • Hike this: Golden Canyon Trail to Red Cathedral, Natural Bridge Trail, Badwater Basin Salt Flats Trail, Mosaic Canyon Trail
  • Bring this: Extra sunscreen
  • Eat this: Timbisha Taco shop & Hawaiian Shaved Ice
  • Drink this: Margarita at The Oasis at Death Valley
  • Read this: A Weekend in Death Valley National Park

6. JOSHUA TREE NATIONAL PARK

Courtesy of Colby Oney

Named after the funky Joshua trees that fill the park, Joshua Tree National Park lies where two deserts meet — the high Mojave and the low Colorado Desert. Best visited October through March, J Tree is filled with rugged mountains, unique rock formations and a variety of desert flora.

  • Drive time from LA: 2 hours and 10 minutes
  • See this: Cholla Cactus Garden
  • Hike this: Ryan Mountain, Panorama Loop - Black Rock Canyon, Split Rock, Barker Dam, Hidden Valley
  • Bring this: Sunscreen
  • Eat this: Joshua Tree Saloon
  • Drink this: Lots of water
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Cholla Cactus Garden

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Joshua Tree National Park

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Joshua Tree Saloon

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7. BIG SUR

Courtesy of Colby Oney

The infamous Big Sur coastline lives up to the hype. Situated on California’s central coast, the 90-mile scenic drive up Highway 1 showcases unforgettable views. Stop along the way for some hiking, dining and beach time.

  • Drive time from LA: 3 hours and 45 minutes to 5.5 hours depending on where you go
  • See this: Pfeiffer Beach at sunset, McWay Falls, Bixby Creek Bridge
  • Hike this: Soberanes Canyon Trail, Beach, Bluffs, Panorama Ridge & Creamery Meadow Loop, Partington Cove Trail, Limekiln Creek Falls Trail
  • Bring this: Blanket for sunset picnic on beach
  • Eat this: Breakfast at Big Sur Bakery or Café Kevah
  • Drink this: Cocktails at Nepenthe
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Big Sur Bakery

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8. IDYLLWILD

Two-and-a-half hours outside of Los Angeles lies Idyllwild, a small town nestled in the San Jacinto mountains. It’s perfect for escaping the hectic city life for a nice weekend of hiking, relaxing and shopping at locally owned mom-and-pop shops. Skip the tent and rent a cozy cabin for the weekend.

  • Drive time from LA: 2 hours
  • See this: Mayer Max (he’s an adorable Golden Retriever)
  • Hike this: Ernie Maxwell Scenic Trail, Deer Springs to Suicide Rock Trail, Tahquitz Peak via Devils Slide
  • Bring this: Cozy Flannel
  • Eat this: Idyllwild Bake Shop & Brew, Ferro
  • Drink this: Café Aroma (live music)

Originally posted on Colby's blog.

Enjoy!

Colby Oney

I’m a frugal foodie, amateur photographer and avid explorer who loves researching and planning my next big adventure. When I’m not working and saving for my next trip, I’m daydreaming about where I want to travel next. Message me for any Santa Monica, Prague or Patagonia Recs!

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