It’s nice to escape every once in a while, but the hassle of traveling can sometimes be too much to deal with. Luckily, there are plenty of places close to LA that will transport you into vacation mode. Head out this weekend to one of your perfect weekend getaways within 100 miles!


Distance from LA: 81.1 miles, 1 hour 45 minutes

Located in a gorgeous valley surrounded by mountains, Ojai keeps artists living there well-supplied with inspiration and restaurants well-supplied with fresh ingredients.

2223352925_c435f5b4a7_oChuck Abbe via Flickr

Where to stay: Sit in the lap of luxury at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa. The Capri offers a fun experience with a motel-ish feel (but without the grime).

What to do: Being surrounded by mountains means plenty of hikes. Check out the popular Shelf Road for some great views, or for something a little harder try one of the many trails in the Ventura River Preserve. There are also plenty of vineyards in the area, but no need to drive. Head downtown to a few of the tasting rooms so everyone can enjoy.

Where to eat:

  • Breakfast: Grab a classic American breakfast at Bonnie Lu’s Country Cafe if you’re looking for a full sit-down meal. If you’re wanting to nibble on a pastry while walking through downtown, stop in to Ojai Coffee Roasting Co.
  • Lunch: Marche Gourmet Delicatessen, a European-style deli, has a great selection of fresh-made sandwiches and salads. Don’t forget to check out the daily specials!
  • Dinner: Suzanne’s Cuisine is an all-around favorite, but Osteria Monte Grappa‘s fabulous Italian selection will leave you feeling happily full.
  • Dessert: End your night with a cup of frozen yogurt from Bliss. Can’t have dairy? Don’t worry, they have dairy-free options.

Catalina Island

Distance from LA: 48 miles, 45 minute drive & 1 hour ferry ride

An island getaway, without the passport or long flight. Gorgeous views, plus golf carts.

314165_10151163692879204_502798847_nSanta Catalina Island via Facebook

Where to stay: Definitely stay in Avalon for the most attractions. If you want a historical stay, the former Wrigley family home is now a B&B called Mt. Ada. The Pavilion Hotel, located right on the beach, is a great option for someone looking to lounge.

What to do: Although the island isn’t very big, there is plenty to do. There’s a zip line, the famed gambling-free casino, scuba diving, kayaking, and even camping. Definitely make sure to check out Descanso Beach Club, which has the only seaside restaurant on the island and serves you drinks on the beach. Rent a golf cart to get around, because why not?

Where to eat:

  • Breakfast: Original Jack’s Country Kitchen has Hawaiian French toast that is topped with macadamia nuts and coconut syrup. Need we say more?
  • Lunch: Grab a burger at Luau Larry’s with a Wiki Wacker if you’re feeling festive, or stop by one of the many fry-shacks. For a scenic lunch, head up to Mt. Ada on that golf cart.
  • Dinner: Bluewater Grill is the home of fantastic seafood dishes on the island and fantastic views of Avalon Bay. Craving a margarita? Head to Maggie’s Blue Rose for fantastic Mexican food. They also do a great happy hour, so keep that in mind.
  • Dessert: Craving an ice cream sundae? You will be after you walk by Big Olaf’s of Catalina. Descanso Fresh is also a fantastic ice cream spot, mostly because they serve the Catalina specialty drink, Buffalo Milk, in ice cream form.

Santa Barbara

Distance from LA: 95.1 miles, 1 hour 28 minutes

Relax in the “American Riviera.”

10683206826_3c757364cb_kDamian Gadal via Flickr

Where to stay: Near the Funk Zone, The Wayfarer has giant versions of Jenga and Connect Four. They have either private or dorm-style rooms, so you can stay there no matter your budget. El Encanto is the perfect spot for a luxurious, romantic weekend.

What to do: Go to the beach, duh. But there’s plenty more to explore. Check out the Santa Barbara Mission and the Santa Barbara Museum of Art for some history and culture. Spend a few extra bucks on a drink at one of the high-end bars on State Street. Hop on a catamaran to the Channel Islands to explore some awesome caves from a kayak.

Where to eat:

  • Breakfast: Make your way to Dawn Patrol for all the potato hash you could ever dream of. Wanting something on the healthy side? Grab an acai bowl from Backyard Bowls. If you just wanna grab something quick, try out Bree’osh.
  • Lunch: The Nook has an eclectic menu that will make your stomach very happy.
  • Dinner: Tapas and mojitos reign supreme at Milk & Honey. If you want a patio with a show, Zaytoon has belly dancing on the weekends. If Mexican food is calling to you, Los Agaves has a bunch of different salsas that are fun to add to any dish.
  • Dessert: Lilac Patisserie makes gluten free pastries that magically don’t taste gluten free, so everyone can enjoy. Or grab a scoop at McConnell’s, who have been making small batch ice cream since 1949.


Distance from LA: 86.8 miles, 1 hour 19 minutes

Much more than just LEGOLAND (but you should still stop by).

A photo posted by melsays (@melsays) on

Where to stay: The Park Hyatt Aviara Resort and Cape Rey Resort and Spa are both fabulous options for a treat yo’ self weekend.

What to do: LEGOLAND! But also… Stop and smell the roses, and orchids, and petunias at the Flower Fields when they’re in bloom. Learn all about diamonds at the Gemological Institute of America. Or if you feel like exercising, head to the lagoon to rent kayaks or go tubing.

Where to eat:

  • Breakfast: Definitely get the famous cinnamon roll at Cafe Topes at some point in your weekend. If you feel like having a fancy breakfast, try out Beach Plum Kitchen, which has items like pork belly hash and lemon ricotta pancakes.
  • Lunch: Get the most authentic Italian food you can find at Bologna Gourmet. If you feel like a good sandwich with a cold beer, Board & Brew has a great patio for you to enjoy your lunch.
  • Dinner: Sip some great wine while dining on quality French cuisine at Paon. If farm to table is you jam, check out Bistro West‘s beautiful menu.
  • Dessert: After a lovely walk on the beach, head over to Gaia Gelato for a fresh-made scoop.

Newport Beach

Distance from LA: 43.6 miles, 43 minutes

Maximum chill will be reached here.

3888564177_1262f32f07_bYoTuT via Flickr
Where to stay: Little Inn by the Bay has complementary bikes, beach umbrellas, and beach toys for guests, making life a little easier. If you want to stay closer to the pier to make trips home from the bar a breeze, check out the Newport Beach Hotel.

What to do: Watch some surfing at The Wedge, head to Balboa Island for some whale watching, or walk along the pier to say hi to some seals.

Where to eat:

  • Breakfast: Watch the boats and paddle boarders go by as you munch on some delicious food at The Dock. If you want a more laid back breakfast, Pandor Artisan Boulangerie & Cafe will wow everyone.
  • Lunch: Enjoy a surfer-inspired experience at The Beach Barrel. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu.
  • Dinner: Make a reservation at Sol Grill for a night of live music, filet mignon meatballs (!), and good drinks.
  • Dessert: Get a pastry from The Dessert Lab, which has so many fabulous items that we can’t just choose one to highlight.


Distance from LA: 84.9 miles, 1 hour 18 minutes

Get your wine tasting on.

5366355422_192445582c_bNikki Gomez via Flickr

Where to stay: Try staying at any of the numerous wineries in the area, like Ponte Vineyard Inn.

What to do: Step back in time and explore Old Town, which feels like stepping onto an old Western film set. Get a birds-eye view of the vineyards on a hot air balloon. And of course, there’s wine galore.

Where to eat:

San Clemente

Distance from LA: 65.3 miles, 59 minutes

“The Spanish Village By The Sea”

A photo posted by John Barrett (@johnbarr00) on


Where to stay: Beachcomber Inn has cute, cozy villas right on the water.

What to do: The Surfing Heritage & Culture Center will keep you well informed on all things surfing. Stroll along the ocean view beach trail to take in all of the beauty the West Coast has to offer. View the beautiful gardens of Casa Romantica while also learning about the culture of the area.

Where to eat:

  • Breakfast: Ellie’s Table will delight anyone, but Cafe Mimosa is fabulous (mostly because of it’s name, but also because the food is good).
  • Lunch: Stop in MRK Public for a short rib sandwich and a beer or The Riders Club Cafe for a great burger.
  • Dinner: For fantastic wines, Vine has your back. They also have menu that will make you drool. For live music with your meal, try The Cellar.
  • Dessert: F & Goode Desserts is, well, effin’ good.

Lake Casitas

Distance from LA: 80.8 miles, 1 hour 20 minutes

Get back to nature with some camping.

14643617326_225ec1b0cf_koliver.dodd via Flickr

Where to stay: There are multiple camp sites that you can reserve online.

What to do: Definitely check out the water park, play some frisbee golf, and enjoy all the activities of the lake.

Where to eat: The fun part about camping is making your own food! There are plenty of picnic areas for you to enjoy your meals.

Millard Campground – Angeles National Forest

Distance from LA: 15.7 miles, 23 minutes

For a quick escape from the city.


Where to stay: Check the Angeles National Forest website for information about staying at Millard Campground.

What to do: Hike to Millard Falls one day, and then check out the Dawn Mike the next (make sure to pack a flashlight).

Where to eat: Picnic it up! Hit the store for some sandwiches before heading out, then throw down a blanket and enjoy from the top of a hike.

[Featured Image: DieselDemon via Flickr]

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