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Beyond Los Angeles: Three Great Southern California Road Trips

Los Angeles is the West Coast’s capital of glam, but if you’re ready to get out of the city for a great California road trip adventure and see beautiful towns and landscapes – rather than beautiful people – then hop into a rental car and hit the road!

Santa Barbara

About 90 miles north of L.A. is beautiful Santa Barbara, where big city life gives way to a stunning seaside town filled with charming shops, delicious restaurants and some of California’s prettiest beaches. Some must-see places include:

  • East/West Gallery. With a focus on contemporary photography, this gallery run by renowned WWII photographer Horace Bristol’s son Henri will open your eyes to the work of beloved masters of the craft – and rising stars.

  • Carr’s Vineyard & Winery. In a 1940s Quonset Hut, the tasting room at this local winery focuses on ultra-premium, limited production wines from Santa Barbara County.

  • Ty Warner Sea Center. Located on Stearns Wharf, this interactive marine education center will give you hands-on experience with local marine life and a look into a world beyond our own.

  • Butterfly Beach. If you’re in town on a Saturday, then grab something delicious from the Downtown Santa Barbara Farmers Market (or just get some delicious takeout during the rest of the week) and enjoy a sunset picnic at this west-facing beach in a gorgeous and exclusive neighborhood.

Death Valley

Approximately 290 miles from Los Angeles, is Death Valley – a place of austere beauty and unmistakable landscapes. A few of the must-see sights in this stunning, lonely place include:

  • Zabriskie Point. The most-photographed place in Death Valley National Park. Featuring an erosional landscape composed of sediments from Furnace Creek Lake, these colorful badlands should not be missed.

  • Artist’s Drive. This nine-mile drive will take you across the green, white, pink and black badlands and reward you with outstanding views of the salt flats.

  • Forty-Niner Café. For a quick, casual meal in the heart of Death Valley, stop at the Forty-Niner Café in the Furnace Creek Oasis area. It’s rancher chic and serves burgers, sandwiches and the like that will fill you up. (Note: The restaurant also serves breakfast).

Laguna Beach

Just 54 miles from Los Angeles is Laguna Beach – an artist’s colony with spectacular galleries, sunny beaches and food that’s as scrumptious as the scenery. Some local hot spots you won’t want to miss include:

  • Laguna Art Museum. With California and international artists represented throughout, it’s an excellent option for those overwhelmed by the galleries peppering Laguna’s main street and downtown area.

  • Victoria Beach. A secluded cove hardly anyone goes to, Victoria Beach is private, romantic and quiet. It’s also a beautiful spot for a picnic and searching for shells.

  • Orange Inn Café. A neighborhood hangout with friendly, personal service, fresh, homemade breakfast and lunch fare and true beach-town appeal.

  • Tutto Amore Gelato. As good as gelato in Italy. Stop by this sleek, modern gelato shop in the heart of downtown and indulge in one of the dozens of flavors made on-site daily.

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