Spring Break Road Trips from Los Angeles
When thinking of Los Angeles, two hot spots come to mind: the Pacific Ocean and Hollywood, and boy are they crowded! Looking to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city but still experience the city of angels? Don’t let these large crowds overwhelm you, Los Angeles has so much more to offer. Below is a list of our top five, kid-friendly road trip destinations just outside of Los Angeles. All of these locations are within an hour and a half of downtown Los Angeles and can be easily accessed by families within a day to avoid the need for any overnight stays.
SANTA CLARITA VALLEY
Santa Clarita Valley is located in Los Angeles County just 30 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Santa Clarita is known for its warm temperatures, hiking trails, and awesome parks! Santa Clarita has activities that cater to all types of families, from spending the day at Six Flags Magic Mountain or hitting the hiking trails at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area & Nature Center, this valley is family-friendly through and through.
They also have numerous playgrounds and many historical landmarks. If you’re a history buff, check out Placerita Canyon State Park or William S. Hart Park. You’ll find an ample number of restaurants to fuel you on your excursions as well, but we recommend checking out Downtown Newhall for the local eatery hotspots. You might even get to see a train come chugging by the Saugus train station while you’re eating.
Balboa Island, located in Newport Beach is accessible via bridge, ferry, and several docks. The island is just 45 miles south of Los Angeles. This day-trip spot is a very popular beach destination, especially in the early summer but it's worth the stop! We have personally taken the ferry in our car over to the island, but you can park in Newport and enjoy the adorable small boutiques and walk or bike across the bridge as well. Biking is one of the most common ways to experience the island. You can rent bikes in Newport and all over the island.
They also have the Balboa Peninsula Trolley that is free to ride around the island once you have crossed. Once on the island, you can spend the day at the beach or ride the Ferris Wheel and play arcade games at Balboa Fun Zone. You can also enjoy other beachside activities like the nautical-themed playground at Marina Park or even picnicking on their large grass fields. We loved stopping for an ice-cream cone and viewing all the sailboats along the Balboa Pier and Marina at the end of our day!
PALO VERDES PENINSULA
Palos Verdes Peninsula, located in southwestern Los Angeles County. The cities on this peninsula are known for their cliffside ocean views and gorgeous homes. You could spend all day just driving up and down the coastline, but your kids might want to explore a bit more! For that, you can head to Pointe Vicente Interpretive Center to go whale watching, explore the tide pools and hike the bluff side trails at Abalone Cove Shoreline Park, or view gorgeous art at The Palos Verdes Art Center.
This is not your standard beach day just playing in the sand as the cliffs bring a whole new sense of adventure to the beach. There are lots of small eateries closer to the “mainland”, our favorite spot being Salsa Verdes. Nothing like amazing fresh, authentic Mexican food to wrap up an amazing day trip!
Ojai Valley, located in Ventura County, is just 80 miles northwest of Los Angeles. Ojai is a quiet, little town known for boutique hotels, biking trails, hiking, and a very popular farmers’ market of local organized agriculture. The best part is, chain stores are not allowed in the city as they want to promote all of the local, small businesses. This is the perfect spot to get away from the hustle and bustle of city life!
Start your day playing at Libbey Park in downtown Ojai Valley. Enjoy the afternoon walking through the quaint small town where there are many cute spots for lunch within walking distance of the park (Our personal favorite dessert spot – Ojai Bliss & More). You can also visit Bart’s Books, a small, outdoor bookstore, where the inventory is huge and the prices are just right! If you are feeling a big sense of adventure, check out Rose Valley Falls Trail, an easy 1.1 mile out and back trail that features a waterfall! It feels like you’ve stepped into a woodland fantasyland.
Oak Glen, located in San Bernardino County, is just 80 miles east of Los Angeles. The San Bernardino Mountains make you feel like you have completely left California. Even though it is just an hour and a half outside of Los Angeles, this area experiences ALL seasons. The leaves change color for fall, it snows throughout the winter, has gorgeous wildflowers for spring, and the lush green fields with clear mountain skies in the summer are breathtaking.
Visit the row of apple farms like Los Rios Rancho or Riley’s Apple Farm during the fall harvest, go berry picking and grab fresh donuts at Snowline Orchard, or eat yummy fresh-made treats and play fun games at Oak Tree Mountain. They even have a petting zoo! If you aren’t a fan of delicious treats and want to spend the day exploring nature, check out The Wildlands Conservancy - Oak Glen Preserve, where you can take a family hike, participate in a junior ranger program and enjoy all the mountain views!
Do you have any great road trip destinations you love from Los Angeles? Let us know below, or tag us in your photos on Instagram @gethappyly!
Looking for more great SoCal content? Check out Kid-Friendly Santa Monica, Favorite playgrounds in San Diego, or our Dreaming of Travel: Joshua Tree National Park. Or if you are looking for something further out we have that as well! Dreaming of Travel: Saguaro National Park or 18 Places to Visit with Kids in and Around San Francisco might be just the ticket!
And if you want even more family-friendly activities, be sure to download the happyly app and have locally-curated adventures right at your fingertips!