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

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


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
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
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

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

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