During the height of this pandemic, Matt and I got out of Los Angeles (safely) every Saturday for a little day trip. The state and country may be opening up again, but I’m still not comfortable getting on a plane. So, for a while, the car will have to do. If you’re in the same boat as me with no plane travel for a bit, then consider these five easy Los Angeles day trips.
How Our Los Angeles Day Trips Began
Probably like a lot people, I started out “okay” when it came to COVID-19. In the beginning of all of this, the country, businesses, and individuals all thought it would be a couple of weeks and then we’d be fine. Obviously, you know how this story ends.
As the weeks went on, days began to blur together. I found myself trying to figure out a way to differentiate the weekend days from the weekdays. One Saturday, I felt so antsy and suggested to Matt that we take a drive up the coast and head north about 1.5 hours to Santa Barbara.
We really didn’t have any plans, we just figured we would take a drive, put the windows down, and enjoy the change of scenery from the road. The initial idea of our little isolation road trip wasn’t just for content. In fact, I was so over sharing at-home content that I didn’t plan to bring my camera until after I got ready. I finally felt a little bit of excitement putting on real clothes and knowing we were going somewhere, even if the plan was to stay in the car.
By the time we got up there, I felt so refreshed. It was exactly what my brain didn’t know it really needed. I felt so much better. There are a lot of different quotes out there about how generally by changing your perspective can change things, etc. But in this instance perspective literally was everything. We were doing the same things in Santa Barbara (driving and ordering takeout) that we were doing in LA. The only difference is I wasn’t in LA.
As mentioned above, this was the trip that started it all. Pick up a cinnamon roll at Scarlett Begonia, take a drive along the coast, then stop by The Funk Zone for some takeaway wine. (When we went, Pali Wine was offering wine to go). On the way back to LA, stop in Montecito and admire all of the cute homes.
I love Palm Springs; it’s about two hours from Los Angeles and a retro dream. You can basically pull off into any street and find an oasis of mid-century modern homes with colorful doors. My personal pick, and Instagram-favorite is the house at 1100 E Sierra Way, aka #thatpinkdoor. Be respectful and read signs; this is someone’s actual house, after all! This street is lined with a bunch of cute homes, so snap a pic of those pink doors and keep driving!
Palm Springs is also home to Instagram famous hotels: The Parker, Ace Hotel (it’s not much from the outside but desert chic inside); The Saguaro, Les Cactus, and The Sands.
Solvang, the Danish Capital of America, is a quaint little spot north of Santa Barbara. Obviously there lots of European charm, but Solvang architecture is basically Storybook land at Disneyland. We went peak COVID-19 when pretty much everything was closed, but they have local shopping, a Danish bakery, and wine tasting rooms. It’s a nice stop if you want to venture a little further than Santa Barbara from LA, but don’t want to drive too far.
Underwood Family Farms
I wrote an entirely separate post for this, because Underwood Family Farms was my favorite of our Los Angeles day trips. You can see the full post here, but here’s the long story short:
- Seasonal produce picking at your fingertips, just an hour outside of LA (AKA come back multiple times a year)
- By default, you’re out in the open and can find space away from others
- It’s only an hour outside of Los Angeles
- It’s a great road trip where there’s an actual activity to do vs. just walking around or eating
Many of you may not know this, but I’m actually from San Diego and my parents still live there. We hadn’t seen my parents since January, so once we all felt comfortable, Matt and I drove down to see them. San Diego itself is pretty big, but here are a few things to do while you’re there for the day:
- Drive over the famous Coronado bridge, then around Hotel Del Coronado
- Depending on when you go, you can catch the farmer’s market in Little Italy
- Drive up and down the coast of San Diego to see the pretty cliffs of La Jolla and Del Mar
- Enjoy some time at the beach, which is probably less crowded than LA beaches