Outside of the expansive metropolis of Los Angeles, there is plenty to see and do in Southern California. From sunny beaches to quaint small towns, the natural beauty and coveted climate make this region a delight to explore. This list of day trips details some of the best options for spending a day experiencing all of what SoCal has to offer.

As lockdowns lift and you're itching to get out and about, take advantage of these nearby local spots. Here's a list of our recommended "Top Five" SoCal day trips to reinvigorate your love of travel, right in your backyard. You'll find suggested highlights as well as recommended local coffee shops, eateries, and more, to make the most of your outing and get you back into the adventuring spirit. 

While the day trips are designed from the closest major city (Los Angeles or San Diego), they can, of course, be taken from other starting points around the area. 

  Trip Style Activity Level Crowd Factor Total Driving Distance
Laguna Beach Beach, Art  Relaxed Dense 100 miles
San Diego Hiking, Beach Moderate Dense 50 miles
Oak Glen Nature & Outdoors Moderate Sparse 160 miles
Ojai Small Towns, Food & Wine Relaxed Sparse 180 miles
Santa Barbara Beach, Small Towns, Food & Wine Relaxed Moderate 265 miles

Day Trip #1: Laguna Beach

With stunning beaches, a thriving art community, and celebrated local wineries, Laguna Beach makes for the perfect full-day getaway. Spend the day exploring one of Orange County's most beautiful beach towns. 

Total driving distance: 100 miles |  Driving time: 2 hours |  Recommended duration: Full day

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Laguna Beach

Day Trip #2: San Diego

Head to the coast and take advantage of San Diego's blue skies and sunshine for a day outside. Explore a seaside state reserve, long stretches of sandy beaches, and picturesque coves.

Total driving distance: 50 miles |  Driving time: 1.5 hours |  Recommended duration: Full day

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Cliffs of Torrey Pines State Reserve

Day Trip #3: Oak Glen

Just an hour and a half inland, experience a day of country living in Oak Glen. The area has a nature preserve to explore, dramatically set against a mountainous backdrop, and is also home to seasonal produce picking. Bring the whole family and spend some time in California's great outdoors. 

Total driving distance: 160 miles |  Driving time: 3 hours |  Recommended duration: Full day

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Apple Orchard in Oak Glen

Day Trip #4: Ojai

Northeast of Los Angeles, you'll find the quaint, laidback town of Ojai. From a main street dotted with mom-and-pop shops to olive oil farms and cozy local wine bars, spend the day recharging away from the city in this charming small town.

Total driving distance: 180 miles |  Driving time: 4 hours |  Recommended duration: Full day

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Ojai's surrounding mountains

Day Trip #5: Santa Barbara: Solvang & Los Olivos

On the way up California's central coast, stop in sunny Santa Barbara and its charming neighboring towns. The scenic views up the CA-101 freeway are well worth the drive. Transport yourself to Europe with a stop in Danish-inspired Solvang before raising a glass in wine country in Los Olivos.

Total driving distance: 265 miles |  Driving time: 5 hours |  Recommended duration: Full day

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Santa Barbara's wine region

More California Trips

Looking for more ways to explore the best of California? Check out some of these top itineraries for ideas: