The Best Road Trip Destinations From L.A.

best road trips from L.A. Los Angeles

(Image credit: Inn at Rancho Santa Fe)

Not to bash my city, but sometimes, the best part of living in L.A. is leaving L.A. Why? Because there are so many amazing destinations just a short car ride away. Los Angeles certainly has a lot of things going for it, but there’s no harm in exploring your surroundings. For instance, if you head 90 miles north, you’ll arrive at what Travel + Leisure calls the best resort in all of California: San Ysidro Ranch. Or you can go 110 miles south and hit up the newly renovated Inn at Rancho Santa Fe, where tennis, golf, and a spa day await. Whichever direction your GPS points you in, you’re bound to stumble upon something amazing—as long as you read my guide, of course.

Below, I rounded up my favorite spots within a six-hour drive from Los Angeles. (If you don’t like long car rides, don’t fret. Most of them are under three hours away.) From a buzzy new Palm Springs hotel to an old-school jewel in La Jolla, these hotels are more than worth the trek through traffic.

Emerald Lake House

jenni kayne lake arrowhead airbnb

(Image credit: Emerald Lake House)

Designed by Jenni Kayne, this is the most stylish Airbnb in Lake Arrowhead. Just look at that view! Even with traffic, you can get to this cute mountain spot in approximately two hours. This impeccable house can accommodate up to eight guests with its four bedrooms and five bathrooms. Prices start at $1000 per night.

Life House, Palm Springs

life house hotel palm springs

(Image credit: Life House Hotels)

I just adore the retro mid-century décor at the new Life House Hotel in Palm Springs. Open since November 2023, the hotel “blends the enigmatic beauty of the Coachella Valley with Old Hollywood glamour,” according to its website. Sounds right up my alley. My favorite part? It’s pet-friendly. Prices start at $159 per night.

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe

The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe remodel

(Image credit: The Inn at Rancho Santa Fe)

This 100-year-old historic hotel just reopened in November 2023 following an extensive renovation. How chic is this décor? It’s located in Rancho Santa Fe, one of San Diego’s poshest areas, a roughly two-hour drive from downtown Los Angeles. As a native San Diegan, I came here for a staycation to celebrate my 30th birthday, and I can’t wait to return to see all the renovated features. Rooms start at $399 per night.

Hotel Joaquin

Hotel Joaquin laguna beach review

(Image credit: Hotel Joaquin)

When I asked our OC-born editor about the most stylish hotel in her area, she responded quickly with Hotel Joaquin. The property is perfectly situated within walking distance of downtown Laguna Beach and Shaws Cove beach. Rooms at this impeccably designed hotel start at $319 per night.

Capri Hotel

Capri Hotel Ojai

(Image credit: Capri Hotel)

Stepping into the Capri Hotel in Ojai is like taking a time machine back to the ’60s. The mid-century model hotel was fully renovated in 2020, so you get the best of both worlds: a historic property with modern touches. Rooms start at $250 per night.

Post Ranch Inn

Post Ranch Inn review

(Image credit: Post Ranch Inn)

If you’re up for a longer road trip and the ultimate luxury stay, you should make a beeline to Post Ranch Inn. It will take you about six hours from downtown Los Angeles, but the journey will be well worth it. The freestanding tree house is my ultimate dream stay, but you can’t go wrong with any of the stunning rooms. The luxury hotel’s rooms start at $1400 per night.

Casa Cody

casa cody palm springs travel guide

Casa Cody has the distinction of being Palm Springs’ oldest still-operating hotel. Founder Harriet Cody turned her home into a charming hotel in the 1920s after traveling by wagon from Hollywood to Palm Springs. Rooms at this pet-friendly spot start at $220 per night.

San Ysidro Ranch

San Ysidro Ranch review

(Image credit: San Ysidro Ranch)

San Ysidro Ranch has a lot of selling points, but one of my favorite fun facts is that the hotel hosted John and Jackie Kennedy during their honeymoon in 1953. Over 70 years later, you can still stay in the 2700-square-foot cottage that the couple stayed in—it’s aptly named the Kennedy cottage. Located in Montecito near Santa Barbara, the 131-year-old resort is spread across 550 acres. Rooms start at $2495 per night.

White Water

White Water hotel review

(Image credit: White Water)

Just under four hours from downtown Los Angeles between Big Sur and Santa Barbara is the cute coastal town of Cambria. With its beautiful views and top-notch décor, White Water is the best spot to stay in the area. Rooms start at $214 per night.

Hotel Marina Riviera

marina riviera big bear

(Image credit: Marina Riviera/Josh Cho)

How lucky is Los Angeles to have skiing located within two hours of the beach? Whether you’re into snow sports or not, Big Bear is a must-visit for anyone living in L.A. I’ve been going to the mountain town since I was a kid, and I’ve always stayed at Hotel Marina Riviera because of the lakeside location that’s also a stone’s throw away from the center of town. The hotel recently reopened following a top-to-bottom renovation. Rooms start at $159 per night.

Pioneertown Motel

Pioneertown Motel review

(Image credit: Pioneertown Motel)

Fancy a desert destination? Look no further than the quaint Pioneertown Motel near Joshua Tree. Be sure to pack your cowboy boots for this Western-themed spot, located right next to the legendary Pappy + Harriet’s restaurant renowned for its live music. (Paul McCartney has been known to stop by for impromptu performances.) Rooms start at $215 per night.

La Valencia

La Valencia La Jolla review

(Image credit: La Valencia)

Call me biased because this is where my grandparents would celebrate their anniversary every year, but La Valencia is a must-see whenever you’re in La Jolla. The ocean-view location and the 102-year history simply can’t be beat. Prices start at $333 per night.

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