Living in LA can be pretty exhausting. Between the endless traffic on the 405, standing in line at Ralph’s, and spending what seems like days trying to find somewhere to park at The Grove, sometimes you need to just get out of town. From a romantic afternoon spent perusing downtown Santa Ana’s Artist Village to shopping at the Desert Hills Premium Outlets, these day trips from Los Angeles give you plenty of options for adventures that will leave you refreshed and ready to reenter the rat race.
Don’t let the quaint sleepiness of Santa Ana fool you—its downtown, known as Artists Village, is home to a rich and vibrant community of artisans. Galleries, shops, and studios inhabit the area’s gorgeous, Spanish-inspired buildings and coexist alongside quaint cafes. On the first Saturday of every month, more than 40 galleries open their doors (and pour some wine) for Art Walk, an event that features arts, crafts, and live entertainment. Take a slow stroll down the tree-lined streets, purchase the hip wares on offer by local vendors, and hit up a food truck while you’re at it—just try not to get taco fingers all over your new masterpiece!
Can’t get enough art? Who can blame you? Travel south to Riverside and visit Orange County’s best, the Bowers Museum. Its amazing collection of cultural art covers everything from the American West to China to the Pacific Islands, and all points in between. After marveling at Buddhist temple murals and soft watercolor portrayals of California’s good old days, spend a relaxing afternoon at the Mission Inn—a century-old playground of the rich and famous that has entertained a laundry list of presidents, dignitaries, and celebrities (even Albert Einstein has toured its grounds). While the inn is full of old Californian glamour, it also boasts a decidedly modern spa. After a lazy Sunday afternoon spent imbibing at the Champagne brunch and meandering through the inn’s meditative grounds, indulge in the Royal Treatment—a two-hour deep tissue massage—so that you can take the long journey back to LA in a cloud of zen.
Day trips from Los Angeles don’t have to be just fun—they can be games, too. Make like your favorite PGA pro and hit some balls at the TPC Stadium Course located in the resort city of La Quinta. The full experience will put you in the golf cleats of your favorite champion, giving you unfettered access to one of the best courses in America. Get some tips, work on your swing, and drink a few Arnold Palmers in the clubhouse. Your afternoon will improve tenfold—even if your handicap doesn’t.
Got an itch only retail therapy can scratch? Set a course for Cabazon’s Desert Hills Premium Outlets and load up on luxury goods from all the best brands. From J. Crew to Valentino, Desert Hills is the largest collection of premium outlets in California. Shop till you drop—just not literally, since you’re also going to want to check out the World’s Biggest Dinosaurs. Try not to giggle in youthful delight as you climb up the stairs of a brontosaurus’s neck, and make sure to buy a few kitschy postcards to send your friends on the way out. They’re gonna be so jealous.