Los Angeles is awesome whichever way you look at it. Despite its reputation of having few attractions for tourists and huge distances to cover to get to any of them, L.A. has plenty to offer with top-notch restaurants, world-class museums, a vibrant nightlife scene and wonderful beaches that attract millions of visitors every year.
But it's good to take a break from all the buzz sometimes and head somewhere new, be it a more relaxed spot for some serious R&R or the perfect stretch of sand for surfing.
So whether you're in town visiting and want to mix it up a bit, or you're a resident and want to get away from it all, start packing and hit the road! We've got the perfect nearby spots that are just a short drive away.
-- Carolina Pirola, Oyster.com
<strong>Total Driving Time:</strong> 1 hour <strong>Distance Covered:</strong> 51 miles <strong>Take This Trip If: </strong>You're ready for some pampering <strong>Top Driving Tip: </strong>The fastest and shortest way to get there is the Santa Ana Freeway, but if you've got some time to spare, Cabrillo Highway (SR 1) is the most scenic. Along the way you'll see gorgeous beaches and rolling hills. Orange County is known for its well-heeled residents and high prices, but if you want to get some serious R&R, it's the place to be. This string of uncrowded beaches is a good pick for families, but the area is popular among couples as well for its bucolic landscape and unparalleled sunsets. The beaches (and the waves) are definitely the main draw. <strong><a href="http://www.oyster.com/orange-county/" target="_hplink">Read more about Orange County</a></strong>
If you're planning a trip with the family, the ultra-luxe <a href="http://www.oyster.com/orange-county/hotels/pelican-hill/" target="_hplink"><strong>Pelican Hill</strong></a> is a wonderful choice. The property boasts two great golf courses, along with a plethora of other amenities, such as two gorgeous pools, a world-class spa, a fitness center and a top-notch kids' club.
If it's just you and your significant other, the <strong><a href="http://www.oyster.com/orange-county/hotels/montage-laguna-beach/" target="_hplink">Montage Laguna Beach</a></strong> is great for spending some quality time together. It offers an excellent spa, impeccable grounds and beautiful rooms with breathtaking views.
<strong>Total Driving Time:</strong> 1 hour, 45 minutes <strong>Distance Covered: </strong>95 miles <strong>Take This Trip If: </strong>You want to shop till you drop (and eat like a king). <strong>Top Driving Tip:</strong> A little over an hour from into your trip, you'll hit Ventura, a town famous for its great surf. It's definitely worth a stop on the way to Santa Barbara. Santa Barbara is just short of two hours from Los Angeles, but feels a world apart -- there's no traffic here, no attitude and no nightclubs open till the break of dawn here. Instead, it has a small-town vibe and Mediterranean-style charm unlike any other town along the coast, with Mission-style buildings, pretty storefronts, art galleries and quaint restaurants along the tree-lined streets. One of the most popular activities is shopping along State Street and at Paseo Nuevo, which boast some of the best stores in the region. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/santa-barbara/" target="_hplink"><strong>Read more about Santa Barbara</strong></a>
Lovely B&Bs abound in Santa Barbara, but the <a href="http://www.oyster.com/santa-barbara/hotels/simpson-house-inn/" target="_hplink"><strong>Simpson House Inn</strong></a> is one of the most beautiful and romantic. The grounds boast flowering hydrangeas and lime trees, and the small garden, with weathered benches and a fountain, adds to the old-world charm.
For those ready for some pampering, the <a href="http://www.oyster.com/santa-barbara/hotels/canary-a-kimpton-hotel/" target="_hplink"><strong>Canary, a Kimpton Hotel</strong></a> has been a notable luxury property in the city for a number of years. It offers a real boutique experience, with free nightly wine hours, an attractive restaurant focusing on local produce, a small rooftop pool attached to a patio with pretty views and beautiful rooms with four-poster beds and bathrooms featuring Spanish tile.
<strong>Total Driving Time:</strong> 1 hour, 54 minutes <strong>Distance Covered:</strong> 107 miles <strong>Take This Trip If:</strong> You need some relaxed fun. <strong>Top Driving Tip:</strong> Riverside, located roughly half-way between L.A. and Palm Springs, is home to the stunning Mission Inn, the largest Mission Revival style building in the U.S. and the perfect place to stop for lunch or even just to grab a few of its famous Casey's Cupcakes. Set in the middle of the California desert, Palm Springs is for those who need to get away from it all. There's no such thing as a vibrant nightlife here (some would even say the restaurants are nothing to rave about either), but that only adds to the appeal if all you need is a little sun, some art galleries and maybe a few quiet rounds of golf. While senior citizens make up most of the city's residents, there is a surprising number of stylish spots, all set against the backdrop of gorgeous mountain and desert landscapes. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/palm-springs/" target="_hplink"><strong>Read more about Palm Springs</strong></a>
The <a href="http://www.oyster.com/palm-springs/hotels/the-parker-palm-springs/" target="_hplink"><strong>Parker Palm Springs</strong></a> is one of Palm Springs' most stylish spots, with eclectic décor, impressive rooms, an 18-hole golf course, a full-service spa, four gorgeous pools and even a helipad.
Modeled after a Mediterranean B&B, adults-only <a href="http://www.oyster.com/palm-springs/hotels/korakia-pensione/" target="_hplink"><strong>Korakia Pensione</strong></a> is equally striking in a more rustic-chic kind of way. It features individually decorated rooms, beautiful outdoor grounds, yoga classes and two charming pools perfect for sunbathing and relaxing.
<strong>Total Driving Time:</strong> 2 hours, 6 minutes <strong>Distance Covered:</strong> 121 miles <strong>Take This Trip If:</strong> You want to surf and party without the L.A. attitude <strong>Top Driving Tip:</strong> If you can't wait to get to San Diego to unpack the surfboard, make a quick pit stop in Encinitas, home to Swami's, a world-renowned surfing spot. World-class shopping in La Jolla, great surf in Del Mar, nightlife in the Gaslamp Quarter, miles and miles of beach everywhere and some of the best Mexican food around: That's San Diego for you. A mini-L.A. with a more laid-back vibe, San Diego offers everything from chic, ultra-modern spots to charming little B&Bs perfect for a romantic getaway. <a href="http://www.oyster.com/san-diego/" target="_hplink"><strong>Read more about San Diego</strong></a>
The <a href="http://www.oyster.com/san-diego/hotels/andaz-san-diego/" target="_hplink"><strong>Andaz San Diego</strong></a>, with its luxurious rooms, a popular nightclub and rooftop bar and an outstanding Japanese restaurant, is a hip, lively choice that's ultra-cool.
The <strong><a href="http://www.oyster.com/san-diego/hotels/britt-scripps-inn/" target="_hplink">Britt Scripps Inn</a></strong> is a charming, Victorian-style inn that looks straight out of a fairytale, with only nine rooms, butler service and free wine and cheese hours every evening.
Follow Oyster on Twitter: www.twitter.com/Oysterhotels