Near Los Angeles

Top 6 destinations you can reach from LA

A massive metropolis, the City of Angels has tons to do even for the most seasoned traveller. But the surrounding area should also be on your list, with something for everyone, from delightful seaside towns to hectic Vegas, and fun theme parks to magnificent national parks. We’ve picked out our top 6 spots for you to explore during your trip to Southern California, all just a short drive or flight away from Los Angeles.

Santa Barbara

If you’re seeking a relaxing escape from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, Santa Barbara is an easy day-trip away. More than simply a quiet seaside resort, this charming town will enchant with its coastal beauty and Spanish influences.

Nicknamed “The American Riviera” thanks to its Mediterranean climate, Santa Barbara has miles of golden sand beaches waiting for you – whether you’re looking to surf the waves, lounge in the sun, play volleyball, or snap some Instagram-worthy sunsets. There’s a number of superb wineries and vineyards you can discover in the area too, and for those with more time on their hands, nearby Montecito, Goleta, and Summerland are also worth a trip.

Las Vegas

Lined with enormous hotel-casinos, Las Vegas’ iconic Strip is enticing with glitzy neon lights and tempting promises of glamour and riches.

But there’s also a choc-a-bloc calendar of fantastic events running throughout the year, from theatre, music and dance, to comedy and magic shows. The city has got adrenalin-seekers covered too with theme parks, zip-lines, rollercoasters, and waterparks – the famous Stratosphere Tower is home to exhilarating rides SkyJump, Big Shot, X Scream, and Insanity.

There’s certainly enough in the Entertainment Capital of the World to fill your hedonistic pursuits for days on end. Just remember… what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas!

Disneyland

In 1955 the very first Disneyland Park opened in Anaheim, California. It’s been expanding ever since, and the Resort now also contains sister-park Disney California Adventure, as well as Downtown Disney (a shopping and entertainment district) and three hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Disney’s Grand Californian Hotel & Spa, and Disney’s Paradise Pier Hotel).

A prime attraction and firm family-favourite for tourists from all over the world, the Resort is a 30-minute drive from Los Angeles in good traffic, and easily accessible by public transport too.

Joshua Tree National Park

Just over a 2-hour drive from LA, this United States National Park is a whopping 800,000 acres, and the meeting point of two very distinct ecosystems – the Mojave and Colorado Deserts. Their different altitudes have given rise to the Park’s unique geological landscape and rock formations. You can find the eponymous Joshua Tree throughout the cooler, higher Mojave Desert – it’s a type of yucca, with clusters of spiky leaves. Visit in spring to catch the beautiful wildflowers and cacti in bloom. You’ll also spot a wide variety of creatures such as rattlesnakes, vultures, roadrunners, coyotes, and maybe even jackrabbits and bobcats.

San Diego

For another big city break, head south to San Diego, not far from the border with Mexico. Balboa Park is the glorious sprawling urban park in the centre of the city, with scenic gardens dotted throughout – the Inez Grant Parker Memorial Rose Garden is a particular highlight, containing more than 130 varieties of rose. It’s easy to keep the kids entertained there with world-class San Diego Zoo, and you’ll be spoilt for choice with the multitude of history, art, and science museums.

San Diego has 17 miles of coastline too, so there are plenty of beaches for relaxation or water-sports, especially around Mission Bay Park, where you’ll also find SeaWorld, another of the city’s prime attractions.

Baja California

Stretching out from southern California, the Mexican Baja peninsula is sandwiched between the Sea of Cortez and the Pacific Ocean, making it a prime location for beach and water-based activities such as kayaking, diving, and fishing. You can find many different species of great whale here too – take a boat trip to check out the annual grey whale migration (from December to April).

An incredible 300 kilometre coastline isn’t all Baja has to offer though. The peninsula is filled with mountains, dormant volcanoes, and deserts – and there’s also the Sierra de San Francisco cave art, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The cities all have their own characters too, from fun-loving Tijuana in the north, to the luxurious beach resorts and golf courses of Los Cabos in the south.