The city of Los Angeles is tucked away in a large coastal area in Southern California. It’s surrounded by picturesque mountains, verdant forests, pristine beaches, and lush desert oases. Most Los Angeles vacation rentals are situated in proximity to exciting cities offering numerous activities such as sightseeing, wine tasting, outdoor recreation, and fine dining. Here are the most scenic weekend getaway spots from Los Angeles.

1. Catalina Island

catalina island ca boats

Lovely Catalina Island is about an hour by boat southeast of Los Angeles in the sapphire-blue waters of the Pacific Ocean. Innumerable activities await you after the leisurely romantic boat passage. Rent a bicycle or a golf cart from Island Rentals in Avalon to explore the island together. Get a trekking map from Catalina Island Conservancy, and hike the trails. Learn some fascinating local history at the Catalina Island Museum, and contemplate the works of local artists at the Catalina Art Gallery. Peruse the eclectic shops in downtown Avalon. When you need to relax after your exciting activities, head for the Catalina Sea Spa to experience a soothing couple’s massage. For some elegant fine dining, treat yourselves to a seafood meal at Seaport Bistro. Alternatively, sample a range of cuisines with a Taste of Catalina Food Tour.

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2. Idyllwild

idyllwild pine cove ca
Source: Flickr/congvo

Idyllwild is a beautiful small resort town set in a high forested valley in the San Jacinto Mountains about two hours from Los Angeles. Enjoy a walk hand-in-hand through the pine-scented air along one of the numerous hiking trails. Browse for gifts at the fine local shops such as the Idyllwild Candle Factory, the Lady of the Lake Soap Shop, and the Florist in the Forest. Idyllwild is among the California vacation destinations renowned for excellent art galleries, jewelry stores, and antique shops. Check out the works of local artists at the Earth ‘N Fire Gallery, Everitt’s Minerals and Gallery, Two Babes in the Woods Fine Arts and Antiques, and numerous other establishments. Head for the Lumber Mill Bar and Grill for superlative burgers and live entertainment.

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3. Santa Barbara

santa barbara ca

The city of Santa Barbara, known as the American Riviera, lies about one and a half hours from Los Angeles on a breathtakingly beautiful section of the Pacific Ocean coastline. Rent a bicycle from Wheel Fun Rentals, and enjoy a relaxing ride along the coast. Take a romantic horseback ride at sunset on the beach with Santa Barbara Beach Horseback Rides. The courts and terraces of Paseo Nuevo Shops and Restaurants provide more than 50 eclectic shops that you can wander through at your leisure. Climb aboard a deluxe shuttle coach for a luxurious wine tasting experience with Grapeline Wine Tours. Santa Barbara offers ideal sightseeing experiences for couples at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History, Mission Santa Barbara, and the Santa Barbara Zoo. Enjoy a delicious steak or some succulent seafood along with a great view of the marina at Chuck’s Waterfront Grill.

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4. Palm Springs

indian canyons golf resort palm springs ca

Iconic Palm Springs is a lovely desert resort city in the midst of the Coachella Valley less than two hours from Los Angeles. Popular activities for couples include swimming, sunbathing, tennis, and golfing. Many celebrities have chosen Palm Springs as an ideal spot for romantic weekend getaways. For a unique experience, join Celebrity Tours to view the homes of famous people such as Frank Sinatra, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis Presley, and many others. Stroll downtown Palm Springs while you sample the best of the local cuisine with Desert Tasty Tours. Don’t miss a visit to Desert Hot Springs on the north side of town to relax in natural hot mineral pools. Another romantic excursion is the beautiful Palm Springs Aerial Tramway ride from the floor of the Coachella Valley to San Jacinto Peak. When you get to the top, take a walk along the scenic trails, and dine with a breathtaking view at Peaks Restaurant.

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5. La Jolla

la jolla cove san diego ca
Source: Flickr/Ed Suominen

La Jolla is a beautiful beachside neighborhood in northern San Diego about two hours south of Los Angeles. From La Jolla vacation rentals, you can choose from among several lovely beaches to visit. Nearby Torrey Pines State Reserve provides seaside trails for romantic walks, and Torrey Pines Golf Course is world famous. A hand-in-hand visit to the Birch Aquarium at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography offers a fascinating look at marine wildlife and ecosystems. Other amazing sightseeing spots include the Museum of Contemporary Art and the Map and Atlas Museum. Enjoy a romantic ocean excursion with Pacific Sunset Cruises out of Mission Bay, just south of La Jolla. Take in a show at La Jolla’s famous Comedy Store. When you’re hungry, try some cuisine from south of the border at Un Mundo Mexican Grill.

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6. Ojai

ojai ca vineyards

Ojai is a lovely pastoral town in a valley surrounded by hills about an hour and a half northwest of Los Angeles. Rent a bike from Bicycles of Ojai, and enjoy a relaxing tour through the tree-lined town streets. Alternatively, follow the bank of the Ventura River and the Ojai Valley Trail on horseback with the Ojai Valley Trail Riding Company. Downtown Ojai offers numerous opportunities for sampling the area wines at venues such as the Casa Barranca Winery Tasting Room, the Majestic Oak Vineyard Tasting Room, and the Ojai Vineyard Tasting Room. Head for Deer Lodge, the town’s oldest restaurant, for cocktails, craft beers, live entertainment, and fine dining.

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7. Big Bear Lake

big bear lake california
Source: Flickr/James Tapparo II

The town of Big Bear Lake lies on the southern shore of its namesake body of water in the San Bernardino Mountains about two hours east of Los Angeles. For a unique romantic excursion, take the Snow Summit Sky Chair for a panoramic view of the breathtakingly beautiful surrounding landscape. Rent a pontoon boat at Big Bear Marina to enjoy exploring the pristine lake. Shop for the ideal gift for your partner at Gems of the West. For craft beers and seasonal food, try Big Bear Lake Brewing Company.

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