A Few Days In

Three-Day Weekends From Los Angeles

by Berit Baugher
Ojai Ojai Rancho Inn. Photo by Nancy Neil.

Pack your bags and pick-up your favorite road snacks. It's time to start planning your next long weekend.

LOS ANGELES – From the rolling hills of Santa Barbara wine country to the vast desert plains of Palm Springs, the Golden State has many different terrains — all within a three-hour drive from LA. North, south, east, west. Pick a direction and start moving.

Catalina Blue Water Grill

Photo courtesy of Bluewater Grill.


If you're in the mood for a low-key, no frills, beach weekend for the whole family.

Route to take: Head to San Pedro or Long Beach to catch a 1-hour ferry or 15-minute helicopter ride.

Your agenda: For easy access to the water stay at Snug Harbor Inn, a charming six-room inn on top of Leo's Drugstore. Park yourself in a plush lounge chair at Mediterranean-style beach club Descanso Beach Club. Or get out on the water with kayak and SUP rentals. Stop by Bluewater Grill to sample the island's best fish tacos.

Avoid the Sunday blues: Head inland on a guided jeep tour with Catalina Island Conservancy. In addition to amazing views and local history, you'll see the herd of bison that call the island home.

Ojai Rancho Inn

Ojai Rancho Inn. Photo by Nancy Neil.


If you're in the mood for a relaxing girls getaway with cocktails, spa treatments, and indie shopping.

Route to take: Drive north for 90 minutes.

Your agenda: Stay at Ojai Rancho Inn, a renovated roadhouse from the 1950s with a killer cocktail bar. Indulge in a full-body massage with herbal-infused oil at Ojai Valley Inn & Spa or opt for the day pass to access the pool, steam room, and jacuzzi. Spend your hard-earned cash at expertly curated Summer Camp, Modern Folk Living, and Tipple & Ramble.

Avoid the Sunday blues: Fuel up with a breakfast sandwich from Knead Baking Company before touring Rose Story Farm, an old-fashioned rose farm set over fifteen acres.

Read more on Fathom: Escaping to the Natural Beauty of Ojai

Palm Springs Workshop Kitchen + Bar

Whole grain pancakes with blueberry sauce. Photo courtesy of Workshop Kitchen + Bar.


If you're in the mood for offbeat exploring, desert plains, and an old Hollywood vibe.

Route to take: An easy two-hour drive east on Interstate 10.

Your agenda: Book a stay at Mediterranean-style Korakia Pensione and spend the afternoon cruising for midcentury architecture from behind the handlebars of a hotel bike. Stop by Moorten Botanical Garden, a living museum with 3,000 species of desert cacti. For farm-to-table American eats, reserve a table at Workshop Kitchen + Bar, a finalist for the 2015 James Beard Foundation Award.

Avoid the Sunday blues: Stage a photo shoot at Salvation Mountain. The brightly painted religious-themed art installation is 1.5 hours south of Palm Springs. The Instagram cred will more than make up for the extra mileage.

Read more on Fathom: Find Inner Peace in Palm Springs

Santa Barbara Wine Collective

Photo courtesy of Santa Barbara Wine Collective.


If you're in the mood for a SoCal surfing retreat for the whole crew.

Route to take: It's a straight shot north on Highway 101. If you avoid rush hour it shouldn't take more than two hours.

Your agenda: The Goodland hotel is a 10-minute drive from downtown Santa Barbara. What it lacks in proximity, it easily makes up for with a California-cool aesthetic, fun pool scene, and open door pet policy. Strike a pose with in-room yoga mats or ride the perfect wave with lessons from Pike Surf Academy. Head to The Funk Zone for wood-fired pizzas at Lucky Penny, communal tastings at Santa Barbara Wine Collective, and contemporary American cuisine at The Lark.

Avoid the Sunday blues: Cool off with a scoop of peppermint stick from McConnell's Fine Ice Creams and buy a pint for when you get home.

Read more on Fathom: History, Hollywood, Heaven: San Ysidro Ranch

Alamos Motel

Alamos Motel. Photos by Audrey Ma.


If you're in the mood for good food, adult drinks, and laidback fun in Santa Barbara wine country.

Route to take: Head north on America's most iconic highway, Route 101, for two and a half hours.

Your agenda: Book one of the renovated rooms at Alamo Motel for crisp white sheets, cowhide rugs, and an onsite wine tasting room run by Municipal Winemakers. For friendly vibes, locally sourced ingredients, and excellent flatbreads and salads, head to Full of Life Flatbread. Sample varietals from the local vineyards at Bedford Winery and Casa Dumetz.

Avoid the Sunday blues: Feed the birds at OstrichLand USA. It's hard to feel sad when you're staring down the beak of a fascinating (and funny looking) creature.

Read more on Fathom: A Hit-List for Hollywood's Favorite Coastal Town


See photos from these three-day weekends from L.A.

We make every effort to ensure the information in our articles is accurate at the time of publication. But the world moves fast, and even we double-check important details before hitting the road.