The 5 Best Weekend Getaways from LA

Living in Los Angeles means being a mere two-hour drive from the desert, wine country and some of SoCal's most coveted beach towns.

pool and scenery at El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel in santa barbara.
Ready for a weekend outside of LA? We’ve got you covered. El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel

Living in Los Angeles means being a mere two-hour drive from the desert, wine country and some of SoCal’s most coveted beach towns. While the city itself has plenty to offer, being able to escape the hustle and bustle (and traffic) of LA is, on occasion, a must. Thankfully, luxe accommodations, premier restaurants and breathtaking landscapes surround the city in nearly every direction. Simply hop in the car, put on your favorite podcast and get ready to explore the five best places for a weekend getaway from LA.

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sprawling pools and green space.
Montage Laguna Beach.

Laguna Beach 

Enjoy the iconic SoCal experience when you embark on a weekend getaway to Laguna Beach. There’s no sugarcoating it—the beaches in Laguna are far superior to the ones you’ll find in LA. The water is clearer, the sand is cleaner and the shoreline is immaculate. For a luxe boutique hotel to call home for the weekend, Hotel Joaquin is a modern, surf-inspired accommodation that offers ocean views from every window on the property. Those who want to stay directly on the water will love waking up at the oceanfront Surf & Sand Resort. However, when it comes to tried and true luxury, the celeb-adored Montage Laguna Beach is a five-star resort that sits on 30 acres of pristine coastline. After a day of tanning by the pool or catching waves at the beach, grab a table at Nick’s Laguna Beach for a classic steak and wine dinner in the downtown area of this charming beach town. Prefer an ocean view? Head to The Deck at sunset and indulge in an elevated seafood tower and local halibut ceviche. During low tide, find the iconic Pirate Tower at Victoria Beach and take a dip in the man-made pool or make the most of a sunrise beachwalk at Crystal Cove State Park. 

 

pool and scenery at El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel in santa barbara.
El Encanto. El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel

Santa Barbara

Also referred to as the American Riviera, Santa Barbara is a gem that is known for its breathtaking coastline, Spanish-revival architecture and plethora of wine tasting rooms. Those looking to spend their time out and about can book a room at Hotel Californian, a luxury hotel that sits right in the heart of the city’s Funk Zone, which means you’ll be within walking distance to the historic Stearns Wharf, as well as Santa Barbara’s top tasting rooms, tap rooms, cocktail bars and restaurants. Partake in epic ocean activities like kayaking, paddle boarding or sailing during your weekend away, or opt for a self-care jaunt with plenty of spa time, before heading to locally-loved Loquita for tapas and wine. Flor De Maiz is another popular eatery that serves up modern Mexican cuisine and top-notch margaritas right across from the harbor. If you’d prefer a quiet weekend getaway from LA, El Encanto, A Belmond Hotel sits tucked away on a picturesque hill above the city, providing an ample amount of privacy as you enjoy the sweeping Pacific views from the pool. Want to spend some time connecting to nature? Hike to Inspiration Point or book a visit to Lotus Land Botanical Gardens

Inside of a hotel lobby with title decoration.
La Jolla La Valencia.

La Jolla

Just north of San Diego, La Jolla has everything from oceanfront golf courses to some of the best tide pools in Southern California. The pink La Valencia hotel sits right in the heart of La Jolla and is perfect for travelers looking for a more boutique-style experience. Wake up in the morning, take in the views and have breakfast before walking over to La Jolla Cove. In addition to the beautiful scenery, you’ll also see plenty of seals swimming and sunbathing. If you visit during low tide, walk through the tide pools and keep an eye out for small crabs, anemones and sea slugs. When it comes to luxury dining, La Jolla has no shortage of options. The Marine Room places you as close to the ocean as you can get, allowing you to watch the waves roll in as you enjoy fresh seafood and world-class wines. Himitsu is the ultimate spot for fresh nigiri, creative rolls and sake at the intimate, nine-person sushi bar. However, no trip to La Jolla is complete without a nightcap at Raised by Wolves, which is perhaps the most stylish speakeasy in San Diego County. If you’re a fan of golf, The Lodge at Torrey Pines offers a more exclusive and private stay and has one of the most beautiful courses in the state. 

 views of Catalina Island's Avalon harbor
Catalina Island. GC Images

Catalina Island 

A weekend getaway to Catalina Island transports you to the Mediterranean without the airfare. Since Avalon, Catalina’s main town, is only one square mile, you can easily explore this vibrant island on foot. Simply take the ferry out of San Pedro or Long Beach and you’ll arrive in less than an hour. The Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel, which was renovated in 2019, is a popular lodging option, and for a true taste of Catalina Island history, stay at the colorful and cozy Hotel Atwater, which has been a local favorite since 1920. Spend an entire day at Descanso Beach Club, where you can rent a cabana, dance along with the DJ or swim in the crystal-clear bay. Though it might seem daunting, the original Buffalo Milk is an iconic Catalina cocktail that is worth trying at least once. End your day with seafood from local restaurants like The Lobster Trap and Avalon Grille before watching the sunset. Looking to experience the more adventurous side of Catalina? Take a short boat ride over to Two Harbors on the other side of the island for snorkeling, mountain biking and kayaking.

outside pool at hotel in palm springs
Parker Palm Springs. Parker Palm Springs

Palm Springs

Between the stunning San Jacinto mountains to the year-round sunny skies, Palm Springs is the ultimate desert escape. Since it tends to get rather intensely hot during the summer, many prefer to visit during the winter or spring, but hanging poolside with a refreshing cocktail in hand is always an option. If you’re traveling with a larger group or family, book one of the two or four-bedroom suites at the brand-new Drift Hotel, which occupies a prime spot in downtown Palm Springs, making it ideal for walking to nearby bars, boutiques, and coffee shops. The on-site restaurant, Maleza, offers great Baja-inspired cuisine and cocktails; don’t miss out on the Mexican milk punch and Mahi Mahi ceviche. For those seeking a more romantic ambiance, consider the Mediterranean-inspired Korakia Pensione or for another luxe hotel option, the stylish and award-winning Parker Palm Springs. Boozehounds is a retro restaurant that is perfect for a boozy brunch, while Bar Cecil’s signature cocktails make for a dreamy nightcap. Though lounging poolside is certainly the most popular activity in Palm Springs, you can also check out the local art museum, ride the Aerial Tramway or hike the Tahquitz Canyon Trail.

The 5 Best Weekend Getaways from LA