6 Day Trips from LA: The Beach Cities

December 4, 2018
December 4, 2018 Hilary

6 Day Trips from LA: The Beach Cities

Manhattan Beach Pier

I LOVE LA, and with so much to see and do its hard to imagine ever needing a break, but thanks to my wanderlusting soul, there are days when “getting out of town” seems like a good idea.

I Love LA Billboard #thrashbird

I Love LA

The good news is you don’t have to go far to satisfy the wanderlust. There are a number of nearby beach cities just waiting to be explored and all, depending on traffic, within a very manageable driving distance.

Santa Barbara

With it’s beautiful coastline, perfect mediterranean climate and gleaming white mission style buildings Santa Barbara is one of the most beautiful coast cities in California. 

University of Santa Barbara

University of Santa Barbara

Only 95 miles from LA, this family friendly destination, is a very doable day trip, but if time is on your side consider staying longer, so you can take advantage of all the city has to offer.

Traveling with teens? Consider a tour of The University of Santa Barbara Campus or a shopping expedition on State Street. Ice cream on the pier, a stroll on the beach, or a trip to the Santa Barbara Mission should appeal to all ages, as will the botanical gardens and even the Zoo, which offers fabulous ocean views.

Dining recommendation: Llama Dog Tap Room is a family friendly brewery restaurant with a nice menu selection and indoor/outdoor seating. Its located in the Funk Zone, one of our favorite neighborhoods.

You might also be interested in: Santa Barbara


Looking for an escape from the hustle and bustle of LA? Look no further than, Malibu, LA’s closest neighbor to the north. Stretching 21 scenic miles along the Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu is the stuff California dreams are made of.

Leo Carrillo Beach Malibu California #daytripsfromla

Leo Carrillo Beach Malibu

Malibu’s Mediterranean climate means warm dry summers and moderate winters.  You’ll find gorgeous beaches, world famous surf spots, hiking and plenty of dining, shopping, and museums to keep you occupied no matter the time of year. What’s not to love?

Dining Recommendation: We love The Malibu Farm Cafe located at the end of the Malibu Fishing Pier. The Swedish Pancakes with seasonal berries is a family favorite, but I’ve never had anything that wasn’t delicious.

You might also be interested in: Things to do in Malibu California

Manhattan Beach

Manhattan Beach, just 30 minutes from LA has superb beaches and a quaint downtown area filled with restaurants and one-of-a-kind shops, making it one of our favorite “getaways”.

Manhattan Beach Pier Manhattan Beach California #manhattanbeachpier

Manhattan Beach Pier

A walk out on the picturesque pier provides an excellent view of both the shoreline and the surfers, and it’s a great place for a family selfie.

Dining recommendation: Little Sister, a Vietnamese restaurant with unique and delicious dishes combining traditional Vietnamese flavors with French, Dutch and British influences. We loved the industrial/chic interior and paintings on the walls.

Long Beach

Long Beach is Southern California’s third largest city, and just 25 miles from LA. We’ve visited The Aquarium of the Pacific a number of times, which is located adjacent to the Shoreline Aquatic Park, where you’ll find a lighthouse, shopping and multiple dining options.

Shoreline Aquatic Park Long Beach

Shoreline Aquatic Park Long Beach

Just across from the Aquatic Park is the Queen Mary a retired British ocean liner, which has been converted into a hotel. Special events take place throughout the year including Halloween and Christmas.

Queen Mary Long Beach California

Queen Mary

Art lovers will love the Pow Wow Long Beach mural festival, which is a week long festival taking place in summer each year. The festival may only last one week, but the murals created are left up all year long. In the past three years they’ve been responsible for murals covering approximately 40 square miles of the city.

Huntington Beach

It’s no wonder that Huntington Beach with it’s almost 10 miles of sandy beaches and excellent year-round surfing is also known as Surf City.

Huntington Beach Pier Huntington Beach California #daytripfromla

Huntington Beach Pier

However, It wasn’t the beach or surfing that brought us there. Rather, it was our desire to try the spaghetti grilled cheese at Burnt Crumbs, which led us to Huntington Beach.

Once our mission was complete we spent the rest of the afternoon strolling both on and under the  Huntington Beach Pier and dipping our toes in the water.

Dining recommendation: Burnt Crumbs is located in Pacific City, a trendy shopping center just stops from the sand.

Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach, just one hour or so south of Los Angeles, has gorgeous beaches with warm glittering blue water, fun restaurants with delicious food, and street art, so basically all the makings of a perfect day trip.

Pirates Tower Laguna Beach California

There are many beautiful beaches in Laguna, but Victoria Beach with its Rapunzel like tower is a great place to start. We spent most of an afternoon splashing around in the water, watching the volleyball players and lounging in the sand.

Dining recommendation: We love the Laguna Beach Beer Company located in the Laguna Beach Arts District. Not only is it very family friendly, but the food is a definite step up from the usual brewery fare.

You might also be interested in: Day Trip: Laguna Beach California

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6 Day trips from LA Exploring the Beach Cities #socalbeachcities #daytripsfromLA #familydaytrips #southerncaliforniabeaches



I love to travel & explore the world both near and far! I do my best to make the most out of life each and everyday! I have two boys and they are, at the ages of 13 and 18, world travelers and all around go along guys. There isnt anywhere I cant take them. It is my hope this blog will be a way to share the fun things Ive learned while on our many adventures together!

Comments (22)

  1. Clare Thomson

    I’d visit ALL of these places. So many of them are famous beach spots and I always love reading your foodie recommendations to go with them. I hadn’t realised that these were all cities in their own right. #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      I’ll happily be your guide! There are still so many nearby places I need to explore… I’m going to have to do a part two…

  2. Have been to many of these – in fact my brother-in-law and sister-in-law got married in Long Beach not far from your photos! I’ve never been to Laguna – need to put on my list – love that tower – have never seen before! Lovely lovely options for daytrips in your backyard. Thanks for sharing with #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      Laguna Beach is wonderful! I think you’d love it, but so many places so little

  3. I got excited when you mentioned Laguna Beach. When I was an annoying teen, we’d get this show in Australia called Laguna Beach, and my brother and I would laugh our butts off at it. So much drama. Anyway, I’d love to go there just to check out how the other half live, and also to Santa Barbara one day as well. Although I’m not sure how much chance I have of the latter since my other half keeps telling me how bad the traffic is there. #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      Is there really anywhere that doesn’t have traffic? Really? It’s all in the mindset! It has to be otherwise we’d all miss out on SO much! That’s hysterical
      About the television show! Was it an American show? If so I think I’m old. Yikes!

  4. Living in San Diego, several of these are close enough for a weekend trip. Santa Barbara is where I went to college, so it’s not only lovely but also holds so many fond memories. Your photos are beautiful! You make me want to visit all of these again!

  5. Six great destinations! The Malibu coast looks especially stunning. Spaghetti grilled cheese is definitely worth traveling for, and I love your food recommendations in each spot. My fave might be Long Beach for the wonderful murals. #FarawayFiles

    • Hilary

      Yes! Malibu is gorgeous!! Long Beach does have great art, but it’s actually my least favorite city. 😳

  6. I love the beach communities outside Los Angeles! Must be great to have the chance to get away from the crowds now and again 🙂 #farawayfiles

    • Hilary

      Wonderful little cities! More about a change of scenery than crowds, because they’re crowded too!

  7. You’re so spoilt for nice beaches! I love your shots of the pier at Huntington Beach, it looks so cool. Spaghetti grilled cheese? This sounds like another American cuisine that needs further explanation!

    • Hilary

      We absolutely are spoiled when it comes to beaches though I’m currently walking in the beach on Fort Lauderdale as I write this and it’s not half bad! I wish I could give you more explanation when it comes to spaghetti grilled cheese, but it was new to us as well… a very unusual taste experience.

    • Hilary

      I admit we are quite spoiled here in California with lots of amazing beaches and other beautiful scenery, but it doesn’t stop me from wanting to explore further afield!

    • Hilary

      Wow! That’s so cool! Definitely come to Long Beach, or rather LA and a visit to Long Beach. 😘

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