Wrightwood is only about 80 miles north of Los Angeles, but you’’d never know it from the clear mountain air and shady pine forests. The family will love the Big Pines Zipline, where you strap into a harness and fly along something like a clothesline through the woods. Stop by the Grassy Hollow Visitor’s Center and check out their exhibits or take a hike on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Wrightwood has several eateries including the Grizzly Cafe, the Evergreen Cafe and Raccoon Saloon, and the Blue Ridge Inn. When it comes to Wrightwood vacation rentals you can choose from cabins, cottages or detached studios in the woods that make for cozy spots to return to after a day of activities.

1. Phelan

dried grasses
Source: Flickr / triggins

Phelan lies just north of Wrightwood. In contrast to Wrightwood, this city is in the desert and surrounded by brush. Phelan is famous for its farmers market, which sells the freshest produce from local farmers. A vacation rental in Phelan is the place to go if you love peace and quiet after a day or evening or running around.

2. Hesperia

snow covering the trees
Source: Flickr / Richard

Hesperia is known for its lakes, including the Silverwood Lake State Recreation Area and the Hesperia Lakes. The latter is especially kid-friendly, and they can feed the ducks, swim, and fish for catfish. Picnic at tables are under the great old trees, and there’s even a place to stable your horse if you’ve brought it! Another place to visit is the Cal Earth Homes, which are open to the public on the first Saturday of every month save August. These are tiny, sustainable homes built of adobe, barbed wire and even sandbags.

3. Victorville

rocky mountain
Source: Flickr / Craig Dietrich

Victorville is the home of the Route 66 museum, which tells the history of this iconic highway. When you finish here, go on a horseback riding trek in Mojave Narrows Regional Park. Visit the Scandia Family Fun Center, with its putt-putt golf, bumper cars, and water ride. There are a lot of homely family friendly activities in Hesperia, including a spin or two at the Holiday Skate Center, bowling at Victor Bowl or a game of pool at Gary’s Victor Billiards. For shopping, pop into the Mall of Victory Valley.

4. Apple Valley

dry land
Source: Flickr / Aaron Goodwin

Apple Valley is the home of the Ashwood Golf Course, whose fairways are gentle enough for senior citizens. The town is also the location of the Victor Valley Museum as well as the Apple Valley Legacy Museum, a tiny place filled with the history of the town. For fans, both museums have interesting items relating to Roy Rogers and Dale Evans. A number of Apple Valley’s vacation rentals have hot tubs, so put in your reservation early for one of them.

5. Pomona

racing cars
Source: Flickr / NoIdentity

Pomona is less than an hours drive south of Wrightwood, depending on the route. It is a big city that contains the Frank G. Bonelli Regional Park, a tidy place less than 2000 acres that offer horseback riding, swimming, birding, and hiking. Try your hand at calf-roping, or enjoy the golf course, swimming beach, and bicycle trails. The car enthusiasts in the family will love both the Wally Parks NHRA Motorsports Museum and the action at the Auto Club Raceway. Pomona, not Los Angeles, is the site of the LA County Fair, so bring the kids when the time comes.

6. Pasadena

tiger family
Source: Flickr / Prayitno

This great, famous city is the site of the Tournament of Roses Parade and the Rose Bowl, so try to attend at least once! Other things to explore are Old Pasadena and the beautiful City Hall. Take the young ‘uns to the Kidspace Children’s Museum, which is full of hands-on exhibits, plants, bugs, and cool water features. Space buffs will love the Jet Propulsion Lab, and nature lovers will thrill to Eaton Canyon and the beautiful Wrigley and Arlington Gardens.

7. Acton

tiger lying down on the floor
Source: Flickr / Jim Mullhaupt

This little town is the home of the wildlife preserve established by actress Tippy Hedren. It’s dedicated to big cats, and the residents include lions, tigers, at least one cougar, bobcats, and servals. When you finish, head to Crazy Otto’s or Vincent Hill Station for some American chow. If you’re in the mood for Asian, go to Miso Sushi or Wences Acton Chinese Food.

8. Palmdale

blooming flowers on the mountain
Source: Flickr / Mitch Barrie

There are a couple of byways of note in Palmdale, found 44 miles northeast of Wrightwood. Route 138 will take you and yours through the desert, and some who have experienced it claim it is a bit of a wild ride. The more docile Barrell Springs Trail is a hiking/walking trail that takes you through an equally beautiful country. The Mulligan Family Fun Center has all kinds of games and entertainment for the kids, as does the Rockin’ Jump. Attend a show at the Palmdale Amphitheater, or play a few rounds at the Rancho Vista Golf Club.

9. Lake Los Angeles

signage of a local restaurant
Source: Flickr / Tony Hoffarth

There is no lake in Lake Los Angeles, and how it lost the lake it had is an interesting story. Instead, it has stands of Joshua trees, wildlife refuges, and parks. Lake Los Angeles is regularly used for filming. The filming sites are called Club Ed and the Four Aces Movie Location, and you might arrive in time to see a movie or TV show being made.

10. Adelanto

head of a temple
Source: Flickr / TikTak Images

Found in the Victor Valley section of the Mohave Desert, this city is the home of at least one Buddhist Temple. It’s also the home of Sunset Ride Park, a fairly large place with baseball fields, basketball, tennis, and volleyball courts ad playgrounds. Picnic tables and barbecue grills are available if you want to dine al fresco.