Aliza and Alissa of Reservoir know LA. But for their City Guide, we wanted to pose a challenge—where are the best places to go outside of the city? And did they deliver. Read on for the best day trips outside of Los Angeles, handpicked by our guest editors.
About four hours north of LA, after a jaw-droppingly beautiful drive along the winding Pacific Coast Highway, you reach Big Sur, a magical stretch of California’s coast sandwiched by the Santa Lucia Mountains to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. The place to stay is The Post Ranch Inn, which is an unbelievable ranch-style hotel perched on a cliff above the ocean. The views are unrivaled and there’s really nothing better than watching the sunset from your room’s balcony and feeling like you’re floating over the sea. In terms of activities, you can find ample hiking trails, or relax in the famous Esalen hot springs—a cliff-side series of natural baths that we firmly believe to be the best stress relievers around. Pro-tip: You can go after midnight and stargaze…clothing optional.
If you’re looking for a closer getaway, Ojai is only eighty miles outside of LA and is the perfect retreat if you’re looking for some quiet, small-town solitude. Because it’s located in a valley aligned with an east-west mountain range, Ojai is known for its “Pink Moment,” which occurs as the sun is setting, creating a brilliant shade of pink on top of the Topatopa Bluffs. We stay at The Ojai Valley Inn & Spa, which is a beautiful resort that sits on rolling expanses of land with blankets of bougainvillea spilling off the Spanish roofs. The town of Ojai doesn’t allow any chain businesses, so the main streets are dotted with family-run small shops and restaurants. One of our favorites is Bart’s Books, an independently owned and operated outdoor bookstore featuring an outdoor wall of “honor system” books, for sale from thirty-five cents each. Another must-see is Meditation Mount, a public meditation center located on thirty-two acres of land, with various gardens and a spectacular sunset view of the Pink Moment.
Malibu is probably the easiest (and most well-known) getaway from LA: just a quick drive (without traffic) northwest and you’ll land in this famous beach city with some of the world’s best surfing and surf-watching. The number one stop is famously Nobu for some of the tastiest sushi and Japanese dishes, hands down. The restaurant sits on the ocean, and if you’re lucky to snag one of the outdoor tables, you’ll be essentially eating with the waves washing in a few feet from your table. Lychee martinis or bust.
The accommodations in Malibu are somewhat limited, but we rave about Airbnb after we found an old airstream with beach access that we were able to rent for a weekend. Malibu is also home to some really great hiking, and the Jim Morrison Cave hike is an all-time favorite, with the trail ending at a psychedelically painted cave rumored to have been frequented by the man himself.
All hail midcentury modern everything! A trip to Palm Springs feels like a step back in time. Much of the town and homes have remained unchanged since the Fifties, and there are some really great architecture tours (The Modern Tour is one) that will take you through some of the historic homes in the area. The vintage furniture shopping is also top notch, and you can stumble across some really great finds at places like Hedge, JP Denmark, and Spaces. After a long day of shopping it’s nice to check in to The Parker Meridien, which features legendary throwback décor by Jonathan Adler and a fab pool.