Published June 28, 2021
We’re calling it now – summer 2021 is the summer of adventure. The summer of saying ‘yes’ to new experiences. While most of us spent the better part of last year stuck at home, consumed by virtual catch ups and living room workouts, this summer we’re exploring the great outdoors with our friends in tow. To help inspire you to get outside, grab your keys and explore beyond the 101’s traffic-stopped lanes, we’ve rounded up 7 of our favorite day trip locales from the city. And with everything from coastal hikes to water activities, you’re guaranteed a good time.
One of the best adventure companions (second only to your actual companions) we’re highly recommending for your full-day adventure is Sierra Trail Bites. These plant-based bites made with simple ingredients are the perfect portable and craveable snack, so grab your keys, actual companions, and hit the road.
Nestled between seven miles of hidden coves and stunning canyons, Laguna Beach is a small coastal town and household name thanks to a particular ‘00s TV show. Known for its art galleries and expansive beaches, Laguna's short distance from LA makes it a premier destination for a day out in the sun. Some popular stops include Main Beach with its tide pools and boardwalk, Beach Park for surfing and various trails through the coastal canyons in Laguna Coast Wilderness Park.
Activity Highlights: Water Tank Trail: A 3-mile out-and-back train beginning in Irvine Bowl Park. You’ll head straight up past the Water Tank, which we highly recommend stopping at to catch the sunset.
B.F.I. Trail in Crystal Cove State Park: BFI, standing for “Big Fat Incline,” takes you directly up Moro Ridge from the beach. It’s a short 0.5 mile hike with stunning views – yet a strenuous route.
Distance from LA: 1 hour
Oh hi, Ojai! This small city in Ventura County is settled in the Topatopa Mountains. With a village-like city center lined with art galleries and New Age shops, Ojai is high on the list of trendy locales. Downtown Ojai is just a quick saunter over to the city’s scenic urban wineries, where you can select wine flights and explore various tasting rooms.
Activity Highlight: The Los Padres National Forest Hike is a must-stop in Ojai with its expanse of trails. We recommend the Rose Valley Falls hike, leading to a magnificent two-tier 300-foot waterfall located on the west end of the Topatopa Mountains. It’s a slight adventure to reach the impressive upper tier fall but with the hike being a 150 foot elevation gain and 0.8 mile distance round trip, we think you have it in you.
Distance from LA: 1 hour 20 minutes
Another iconic coastal town making the list is Santa Barbara, situated on the central CA coast alongside the dramatic Santa Ynez Mountains. With its Mediterranean-style buildings topped with red-tile roofs, you’ll instantly feel transported to a quaint Spanish town. With plenty of scenic beaches for a casual afternoon, elevate your evening plans by sauntering through the city’s upscale boutiques and restaurants.
Activity Highlight: Head to Butterfly Beach for a laid-back day on the sand. Feeling more active? The beach’s pristine shoreline is ideal for swimming and surfing while it’s unique east-to-west orientation makes for some exceptional sunrises and sunsets.
Distance from LA: 1 hour 50 minutes
For a day on the water, head to this harborside community in Newport Beach. Accessible via bridge, ferry and various public docks, the community is bordered by a boardwalk open only to pedestrian traffic. This man-made treasure hosts some of the chicest coastal shops on Marine Avenue, quaint restaurants serving up local fresh seafood and more.
Activity Highlight: Water sports are the name of the game on Balboa Island, with everything from kayaking and paddle boarding to the extremes of parasailing and more.
Distance from LA: 1 hour
For a day trip off the beaten path, find your way to Oak Glen, nestled in between the San Bernardino Mountains and the Little San Bernardino Mountains, at an elevation of 4,734 feet. While this eastern town can be enjoyed any month of the year, we recommend visiting in the fall to catch apple picking season in its prime.
Activity Highlight: Oak Glen’s five-mile loop of orchards and ranches is the perfect place to spot fall foliage and take part in a classic pastime – apple picking.
Distance from LA: 1 hour 30 minutes
If you’d like to forget that your destination is just a car ride away from LA, head to the Danish Village of Solvang. The architecture is enough to transport you to Denmark (think wooden windmills, rural houses and even a replica of Copenhagen’s Round Tower) – the many wineries and art museums are simply the cherry on top.
Activity Highlight: While not directly in Solvang, Nojoqui Falls Trail is just a short distance away and more than worth it. This 0.8 mile heavily trafficked out-and-back trail is perfect for hiking, features an impressive waterfall and most importantly, allows for furry friends to accompany you.
Distance from LA: 2 hours 30 minutes
CA is no stranger to national parks, with Joshua Tree being a fan-favorite amongst Angelinos. The desert landscape with sky-high rock formations and its namesake tree make Joshua Tree an outdoor playground of sorts year-round. With hiking trails varying in difficulty and accessibility, there’s truly something for every outdoor enthusiast.
Activity Highlights: After your 2.25 hour car ride, get out and stretch your legs along the Indian Cove Nature Trail. While this loop is only 0.6 miles long, you’ll get a look at everything from flora and fauna to the history of the area. Along the trail you’ll find signs expressing the diversity of the desert region.
Distance from LA: 2 hours 15 minutes
Sierra Trail Bites from Sunsweet are the NEW craveable superfood snack that really stacks up. These plant-based bites can be found exclusively at your LA area Costco locations. Made with simple, ingredients, naturally sweetened with fruit and 4g of fiber (per serving), it's time to tell your other snacks to take a hike. Learn more by visiting their website.
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