Miles from L.A.: ~105
Suggested round-trip time: 2 days min.
A quick and easy trip from L.A., Palm Springs is definitely doable over a weekend. Head east past miles of wind farms, where turbines cast formidable shadows and make an otherwise monotone landscape come alive. Look out for prehistoric creatures on the side of the road; the 50-foot Cabazon Dinosaurs (a Brontosaurus and a T. Rex, to be exact) are a popular roadside attraction. You can check out the gift shop (in the bront’s belly), but to climb to the top of the T. Rex and sit in his mouth (a la Pee-wee during his big adventure), you’ll have to fork over $15 and weave your way through a fascinating, if factually inaccurate dino park. When you arrive in Palm Springs, pick up a map of modernist buildings at the Albert Frey-designed Palm Springs Visitors Center for a self-guided architecture tour of the town.
One of our favorite things about L.A. is that you can leave its urban sprawl at a moment’s notice and suddenly find yourself surrounded by nature just a few miles out of town. Whether you’re interested in a whole weekend getaway (hello, Vegas or Big Sur) or need a nearby day trip to get some fresh air (maybe Joshua Tree?), this list has a destination for every kind of traveler.
We’ve included some suggestions of things to see and do at each locale, but for some of the bigger destinations—like nearby desert and Bay Area cities—we’ve focused more on the journey, with links out to full guides to each spot for once you’ve wrapped up the road part of your trip. So hop in the car, crank up the tunes and take your pick of scenery: Forest, beach, desert and mountain landscapes all make up these gorgeous road trips from L.A. Happy travels!
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