8 last-minute vacation spots to visit this summer (map, photos)

Courtesy of Joi Maccoby

"Our family at the top of Mt. Hoffman with Half Dome in the background (and below us) Summer of 2008. One of our favorite hikes," says Joi Morris of her time in Yosemite.

Matt Lee/KPCC

Although it's way #outofLA, a visit to Humboldt County's College Cove is worth the cross California road trip, says KPCC intern Matt Lee.

Francisco Gomez

"Me and my KTM dirt bike at Round 1 of the Kenda National Hare and Hound desert racing series. The race was held at Johnson Valley OHV area," says Francisco Gomez.

Hal Summers

"It's wild, seldom visited and extremely peaceful," Hal Summers says of the Santa Rosa Mountains near Palm Springs.

Courtesy of Ken Moreno

"My sister Lori and my friend Gary Hughey, who was a ranger there for three years, on a hill overlooking Bodie. It's 13 miles from town to the 395, and another 7 miles to the nearest town. (Bridgeport.)," says Ken Moreno.

Courtesy of Ellen Kempler

"Ever since my move from Mount Washington 12 years ago, Laguna's been my green and blue oasis," says Ellen Kempler.

Courtesy of Jennifer Thompson

"We go camping up at Carpinteria every chance we get. The campgrounds are right on the beach. Go to sleep with the sounds of the surf for way under $400 per night for a hotel!" says Jennifer Thompson from Fullerton.

Courtesy of Shira Goodman

"It's so peaceful and soothing that we de-stress quickly — our little slice of heaven, and it's only a little over an hour drive from home," says Shira Goodman of Lake Arrowhead.

Courtesy of Toni Devereaux

"Prepare to enjoy a quiet weekend in the mountain air," says Toni Devereaux of Pine Mountain Club. "If you rent a cabin, be sure to bring guest cards provided by the owner if you want to use the golf course, tennis courts, pool or clubhouse facilities."


Sometimes you just need to get away. Whether it be the beach, a strenuous hike or sight-seeing you crave, a weekend escape always makes the work days go by faster. Summer is coming to a close, but that doesn't mean you can't still schedule a last-minute trip. Lucky for us, we're Angelenos. So the beautiful weather is here to stay!

We asked folks to submit their favorite weekend trips here and on social media using the hashtag #outofLA. Below is a list of top spots compiled from your responses and staff picks. Scroll to the bottom for a map with even more ideas — all in California, all a drive-away.

Tweets Map


1. Crystal Cove State Beach, 55 miles from DTLA | MAP

Located near Corona del Mar and Laguna Beach, the Cove offers 3.5 miles of coastline and 2,000 acres of hikable terrain. It's known for its vintage seaside cottages and love affair with Hollywood. Dozens of films like “Treasure Island” (1918), “The Sea Wolf” (1920) and “Beaches” (1988) were filmed there.

What to do: Its historic district encompasses 21 restored vintage cottages — all of which stole the Hollywood spotlight back in the early 1900s. Check those out before heading to one of its many beaches. The state park hosts family-friendly activities on the weekends like hikes and beachside ranger chats. Its offshore waters are designated as an underwater park with excellent conditions for scuba and skin divers. This coded map will show you where to go.

Where to eat and drink: The iconic Beachcomber Cafe offers the ultimate oceanfront view. Choose from Ahi tacos and grilled swordfish; veggie lovers should try the steamed and grilled artichokes. Head over to Ruby's Shake Shack afterwards for sugary treats like the famous “Date Shake.” Want booze? Check out the Bootlegger Bar situated behind the Beachcomber Cafe.

—Monica Luhar

(Photo: Axion23/Flickr Creative Commons)


2. Yosemite National Park, 310 miles from DTLA | MAP

You'll find waterfalls, deep valleys, grand meadows and ancient giant sequoias throughout Yosemite National Park's 1,200 square miles. The vast wilderness is one of the largest and least fragmented habitat blocks in the Sierra Nevada; the park supports a diversity of plants and animals.

What to do: Camping, hiking, horse back riding, fishing, backpacking. See the official website for detailed guides, photos and maps. But: "While Yosemite Valley is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, it is crowded," says Joi Morris from Santa Monica. She suggests Tuolumne Meadows for a hike into the high country for "spectacular views and fewer people." Read this for more on Toulumne.

Where to eat and drink: A picnic is the way to go. The chefs at Erna's Elderberry House are happy to make you one at $42.00 per person — a bit pricey but worth the hassle-free experience. Plus the food is delicious. Orders must be made between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. on the previous day. Here's a map of picnic areas.

(Photo: KPCC's Molly Peterson)


3. San Francisco, 382 miles from DTLA | MAP

If London and Chicago had a baby, it'd be called San Francisco — minus the really crappy weather of course. Known for its narrow streets, Victorian architecture, public transportation and iconic "Full House" house, San Fran is the place to go for great food, boozy nightlife and accessible sight-seeing.

What to do: See the Golden Gate Bridge while hiking at Marin Headlands, photograph sea lions at Pier 39, drive the windiest road ever, shop Haight Ashbury, visit Alcatraz Island and ride a cable car. Those are just a handful of the many things to do in this 49-square-mile city. And if you have time to spare, Sonoma is just one hour away.

Where to eat and drink: Eat Italian at Flour + Water, Chinese at House of Nanking, pizza at Golden Boy, seafood at Fisherman's Warf or Cuban at Cha Cha Cha. Have a beer at The Saloon, a shot at the Blind Cat, a margarita at Don Pistos or a cocktail at Comstock. Looking for an after-hour spot? The Endup is it.

(Photo: KPCC's Kristen Lepore)


4. Hermit Falls, 25 miles from DTLA | MAP

Located in Angeles National Forest, Hermit Falls made the list because its 2.6-mile hike includes a downstream waterfall with swimming holes for cliff jumpers. It's the perfect escape if you're looking for a day of exercise and excitement.

What to do: Hike, swim, layout, drink beer and make friends. At the end of the woodsy, winding trail, brave folks can cliff-jump from about 50 feet into a pool of water. There's a parking lot but it usually fills, so find a spot somewhere along the road on the drive up. And be sure to purchase an Adventure Pass beforehand. This map shows you how to get there.

Where to eat and drink: Home to the 626 Night Market, Arcadia is well-known for its Asian cuisine. LA Weekly recently named these ten places the best in town. But most would argue that No. 4 — Din Tai Fung — is one of THE premier restaurants in greater L.A.

(Photo: KPCC's Kristen Lepore)


5. Donner Lake, 483 miles from DTLA | MAP

If you love Lake Tahoe, but don't love the crowds, check out this "Jewel of the Sierra." Located in Northern California off interstate 80, Donner Lake is the cozier and homier version of Lake Tahoe. Ghost stories take on a whole new life with this not-so-fun fact: The spot is named after the Donner Party, an unfortunate caravan of California migrants who were trapped in the snowy peeks of Sierra Nevadas and resorted to cannibalism.

What to do: You can hike the wilderness surrounding the lake, jet around on the waters using a boat or jet ski, leisurely kayak or canoe, or brave cold mountain waters and take a swim. If you're looking for shopping, downtown Truckee offers a multitude of wilderness-themed tchotchkes (think carved bears holding toilet paper). Reno is nearby if you're looking for gambling and arcades.

Where to eat and drink: Visit Village Pizzeria for fare in a laid-back setting or head over to Lake Tahoe and dine at Jake's on the Lake, a great seafood restaurant that sits on the shore overlooking the waters.

— Matt Lee

(Photo: RickC/Flickr)


6. Carpinteria, 84 miles from DTLA | MAP

Expect beautiful beaches and breathtaking mountain views in Carpinteria, which is just twelve miles from Santa Barbara. Named after the Chumash tribe, who once fostered a canoe building enterprise there, the city hosts California's annual Avocado Festival — this year slated for October 4 through 6.

What to do: Carpinteria State Beach offers a mile of beach for swimming, surf fishing, tidepool exploring and camping. "We go camping up at Carpinteria every chance we get," says Jennifer Thompson from Fullerton. "From your campsite, you can watch dolphins swim, seals play and the tide reveal starfish and urchins." Seals and sea lions can be seen in the area December through May, as well as an occasional gray whale.

Where to eat and drink: Walk or ride your bike into town for Italian at Giannfanco's Trattoria or family-friendly dining at Padaro Beach Grill. The latter has a sand pit for the kids. Cap off your night with suds from Island Brewing Company, recommends Thompson. Head over to nearby Santa Barbara if you're interested in wine tasting. Here's a list of wineries.

(Photo: Ron Kroetz/Flickr)


7. Carlsbad, 86 miles from DTLA | MAP

Located 35 miles north of downtown San Diego, this seaside resort city is known as "The Village by the Sea." Shop, eat and explore the outdoors for a day of family fun.

What to do: Enjoy a series of small beaches divided by sea walls on the north side of Carlsbad's coast. Plus, there's Batiquitos Lagoon, which is great for hiking and bird watching. La Habra resident Eugene Hung also suggests Legoland (don't miss its Sea Life Aquarium), strawberry picking and The Flower Fields in April. Here's a list of summer deals. Looking to shop? Hit up its outlet stores.

What to eat and drink: Indulge in brunch at Tip Top Meats, lunch (and dessert!) at Prontos' Gourmet Market and dinner at Bistro West.

(Photo: lorenkerns/Flickr)


8. Laguna Beach, 51 miles from DTLA | MAP

Visit Laguna for endless sunshine, various festivals and celebrity-sightings. "It's natural release from L.A. concrete jungles and Orange County suburban sameness," says Ellen Kempler. Known for its artist community, Laguna Beach hosts the Sawdust Art Festival throughout the summer, which draws 200,000 visitors world-wide each year.

What to do: Arrive sometime before 9 a.m. and park in the remote lot off Laguna Canyon Road (133 South), suggests Kempler. Then take a free summer trolley to a local beach, such as Crescent Beach, Shaws Cove or Pearl Beach. On a cool day, take a city bus up to Top of the World for a beautiful view and hike.

Where to eat and drink: Kempler suggests Gina's Pizza or La Sirena Grill for a picnic, Brussels Bistro for beer and Taco Loco for late night food.

For detailed directions and ideas, take a look at Kempler's blog post here.

(Photo: Ross D/Flickr)


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