Six Weekend Breaks for When You Want to Escape LA (and Have Already Done Palm Springs)

Sure, Los Angeles may be a sprawling metropolis made up of microcities, each with their own identity and vibe, but getting stuck on the I-10 as you attempt to trudge from Downtown to Santa Monica to catch the last of the day's surf doesn't get a well-rested weekend off to a great start. Stick two fingers up to traffic jams and tourists taking over your favourite ramen joint. Angelenos, this is your weekend ticket out of the city.

Weekend getaways within easy reach of Los Angeles


California, United States

Creative Angelenos have long been lured by Ojai's infectious energy, and have promptly set up a string of farm-to-table restaurants and carefully curated art boutiques that have transformed this has-been town into a boho enclave brimming with artistic flair. Organic grocery store Farmer and the Cook is the place to pick up picnic supplies - try the pixie, a citrus fruit native to the area that tastes like a tangerine - as well suggestions for your playlist. Shelves stocked with locally grown produce and a café that dishes up homemade Mexican fare are backdropped by live bands that play on a haystack stage. Pick up a bike from The Mob Shop to explore the main drag - Bart's Books is a must - before finishing up at Meditation Mount for s'mores around a firepit. Embodying the hippie hangout feel, Caravan Outpost is a collection of vintage airstreams interspersed with palms and hammocks.

How to get there: Spontaneous weekend jaunts are a breeze given the 90-minute drive time from LA. On clear roads, of course.

Solana Beach

California, United States

With beaches that could double as a backdrop to an album cover of The Beach Boys, Solana is a lo-fi alternative to its flashier neighbours Del Mar and Encinitas. Surfers will already be au fait with the gnarly swell (and fairground-pink sunsets) at Fletcher Cove, but novice borders and bathers will want to head to Tide Beach Park for easier waves and snorkelling in the tide pools instead. Hip homewares stores, brunch spots serving chilli-spiked avocado on toast and family-run vine-covered restaurants with pretty courtyards line the main boulevard - Abbot Kinney residents will feel right at home - while staircases on every corner take you straight from the street to shore. Solana Beach still retains its small-town charm, so accommodation is limited. Eschew chain hotels in favour of an oceanfront condo. Plump for this pad if you're planning on going with friends.

How to get there: Leave everyone else jamming up the 101 on their way to Palm Springs and get the train. It goes straight from Union Station.


California, United States

Falling off the wagon from America's main tourist trails, Temecula's rustic wine country is the ideal (and affordable) wine-soaked weekend for novice noses. It's rustic in the sense that you don't need to know your syrah from your shiraz and Levi's are as smart as dress codes get - after all, you'll probably hitch a ride from vineyard to vineyard on the back of a tractor, accompanied by a resident farm dog. Toss your preconceptions of stuffy sommeliers and sip homegrown vintages at one of 30 (and growing) wineries and sample craft beer brewed in the back of a refurbished Airstream. Maurice Car'rie Winery is worth a stop; the sourdough bread stuffed with brie is almost as good as the bins. Add on a champagne hot-air balloon ride if you fancy (even cynics among us find it romantic - although that could be down to rinsing all the free fizz).

How to get there: The wine valleys are only a 90-minute drive from LA, but make sure to book into the Ponte Vineyard Inn to avoid being designated driver.

Big Bear Lake

California, United States

Sand-averse souls seeking respite from the city's searingly hot summer temperatures should seek refuge in Big Bear Lake's pine-covered mountains. Not just reserved for weekend ski jaunts, the sleepy city is a playground for active travellers. Hike the wildflower-flecked hills to clear the smog from your lungs or kayak across the lake before heading into the Village. A surge in investment in recent years has enabled independent businesses to thrive here. Thanks to a team of expert mixologists, you'll find some of the best martinis this side of WeHo hidden in the Sports Bar at The Bowling Barn and a string of Angeleno-friendly souvenirs (read: sage and crystals) in chic homeware store Earth's Elements. Complete your wholesome weekend with a stay in a birch-clad cabin - Timber Haven Lodge is our pick.

How to get there: The drive into Big Bear Lake is one of the most beautiful in the US. You'll want to tack on an extra 30 minutes' drive time to allow for scenic photo taking as you wind round the Rim of the World highway.

Santa Catalina Island

California, United States

Once owned by chewing-gum mogul Walter Wrigley Jr. who used the island as a training camp for his baseball team, Santa Catalina is a tiny island floating off the California coast with a vibe that's more Mediterranean than Malibu - the sun-drenched microclimate makes even LA's skies look miserable. Skip the tourist traps (read: nondescript 4X4 tours and a try-hard beach club) in favour of the 38-miles of permit-only (don't worry, they're easily granted) hiking trails that snake around the island or a kayak ride in the company of humpback whales if you're visiting in August to October. In a nod to the Spanish feel of the island, first introduced by Wrigley, bed down at Zane Grey Pueblo. This whitewashed hotel with boho interiors wouldn't look out of place in Ibiza Town.

How to get there: Catch a ferry from Long Beach, San Pedro or Dana Point.

Valle De Guadalupe


Ninety minutes' drive below the Mexican border and a four-hour drive from LA along dusty dirt roads and farmland strewn with lunar-esque boulders is a forward-thinking wine region that makes Napa Valley look like a stuffy aunt whose leaves Thanksgiving early. Instead, hip wineries such as Vena Cava are leading the way with a focus on sustainably grown, organic grapes, food trucks and a cellar made from recycled boots. It's not just the grapes that have garnered attention, some of Latin America's rising culinary stars have chosen the ripe farmland as a base on which to build destination restaurants. Embark on a Mexican food pilgrimage hopping from one farm-to-fork restaurant to the next; Corazón de Tierra's tasting menu is grown in the garden and rooted in old-world Mexican techniques, Deckman's en el Mogor favours caught-that-day seafood from Ensenada - a half hour drive away - while Sanvil blends Indian and Mexican techniques to whip up marlin ceviche marinated in cardamon, ginger and coconut milk. Jutting out from the arid landscape, Encuentro Guadalupe's 22 eco lofts are a testament to the area's architectural creativity.

How to get there: Hit the road. It's an easy drive with little traffic, provided that you leave before 2pm on a Friday.