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Idyllwild
Photograph: Shutterstock

The best secluded getaways from L.A.

Want to avoid other people at all costs? Try these secluded getaways from L.A.

By Sarah Medina
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If your best weeekends don’t involve seeing strangers, then these secluded getaways from L.A. might be just the ticket. Luckily, the city is surrounded by gorgeous national parks, forests and mountains to provide you with tons of natural beauty and a little isolation without skimping on things to do. On this list you’ll find island camping, lakes that make for perfect picnics, secluded beaches and hikes to waterfalls. If you do happen to see someone on the way, make sure to wear a mask and practice social distancing. 

RECOMMENDED: The best road trips from L.A.

Here’s what you need to know about travel and day trip advice right now.

Secluded getaways from L.A.

Two Harbors Catalina Island
Two Harbors Catalina Island
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Two Harbors, Catalina Island

An hour boat ride off the coast (accessible from San Pedro), the outdoorsy town of Two Harbors on Catalina Island boasts summer camp vibes with stunning views (and the chance to see wild bison). Located on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, Two Harbors is much smaller and quieter than its sister town of Avalon with one bar, one restaurant, one general store and lots of open space and water. The Two Harbors Campground offers traditional tent camping and cabins with access to showers, toilets, fresh water, picnic tables, BBQs and fire pits. The general store will even deliver your goods to your campsite.

Channel Islands National Park
Channel Islands National Park
Photograph: Shutterstock

2. Channel Islands

This chain of five islands—Santa Cruz, Anacapa, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara, and San Miguel—is rich with untouched natural beauty. In fact, just getting to Channel Islands National Park is a scenic experience which will take you about one to three hours by boat depending on the island (all trips leaves from Ventura County). Exploring the Islands by kayak is the best way to see their wealth of sea caves and kelp forests up close, but the land also offers stunning hikes and campgrounds and the chance to see 2,000 species of plants and animals (145 of which are unique to the Islands). 

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Idyllwild
Idyllwild
Photograph: Shutterstock

3. Idyllwild

Though the route out of L.A. and into the San Jacinto Mountains doesn’t boast many out-of-the-ordinary stops, once you exit the freeway and wind up into the mountains you’ll be busy taking in sweeping views of the valley below and breathing in the scent of fresh pine and sweet cedar. Lake Fulmor is a great spot for picnics, rainbow-trout fishing and bird-watching (and keep your eyes peeled for colorful butterflies and dragonflies), while Idyllwild Park offers hiking, bouldering and picturesque campgrounds.

Point Mugu
Point Mugu
Photograph: Michael Juliano

4. Point Mugu State Park

Located in the Santa Monica Mountains, Point Mugu State Park offers 14,000 acres of quiet land with five miles of ocean shoreline. With over 70 miles of hiking trails, it’s great for hikers of any experience level and there’s plenty of space to avoid other people. Head here in the spring to catch blooming wildflowers along the Chumash Trail or to see migrating whales passing the beach. If you want to spend the night, there are two camping grounds—Thornhill Broome and Sycamore Canyon.

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Los Padres National Forest
Los Padres National Forest
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Los Padres National Forest

Stretching almost 220 miles from Carmel Valley to the western edge of L.A. County, Los Padres National Forest encompasses nearly two million acres including the scenic backdrop for Big Sur, San Luis Obispo, Santa Barbara and Ojai. Much of the forest is remote and unroaded, with excellent opportunities for primitive backcountry recreation like car camping, backpacking, hiking, biking and fishing. If you’re starting near Ojai, try a nine-mile hike on the Sespe Creek Trail to Willett Hot Springs; continue on for another six miles and you’ll hit Sespe Hot Springs. Feeling tired? There are spots to camp along the way.

Angeles National Forest
Angeles National Forest
Photograph: Shutterstock

6. Angeles National Forest

Some areas may be temporarily closed following the Bobcat Fire, so make sure to check the latest alerts.

Just thirty minutes from Downtown L.A., Angeles National Forest is the closest you’ll get to what SoCal looked like during the John Muir days. Some of the trails can be busy—everyone wants to see the impressive Sturtevant Falls, for example—but there are ways to avoid other people. Follow a section of the 28-mile Gabrielino National Recreation Trail along the sycamore-shaded Arroyo Seco for an easy day hike to Gould Mesa Campground. More experienced hikers can try the 8-mile round-trip hike through shaded forests on the way to the top of 9,399-foot Mount Baden-Powell (located just northwest of the more well-known Mount Baldy). The roughly 2,900-foot climb to the bare summit is worth it for 360-degree panoramas.

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Joshua Tree National Park
Joshua Tree National Park
Photograph: Michael Juliano

7. Joshua Tree

Despite its soaring popularity, there are still plenty of places in Joshua Tree where you can get away from it all. Just head away from the main roads and parking lots and steer clear of popular trails like Hidden Valley and you’re unlikely to see a soul. (We recommend you download a map first.) The exotic desert landscape is populated by thousands of specimens of the famous Joshua tree—along with boulders and rock formations that make the views so iconic. For camping, try your hand at White Tank, a first-come, first-served smaller lot where you might have some luck.

Leg Gregory, San Bernardino National Forest
Leg Gregory, San Bernardino National Forest
Photograph: Shutterstock

8. San Bernardino National Forest

Some areas may be temporarily closed following the El Dorado Fire, so make sure to check the latest alerts.

San Bernardino National Forest is best know for destinations like Big Bear Lake and Lake Arrowhead, but beyond those popular spots you’ll find plenty of more secluded places to hang out. Unlike Lake Arrowhead, you can kayak, canoe, and paddleboard at nearby Lake Gregory and Strawberry Peak, just outside of Twin Peaks, can be reached by car or via a nice hike and offers up some expansive views of the region.

Need more getaway inspiration?

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