What to do on a one week roadtrip south of Los Angeles?
September 26, 2007 8:22 AM   Subscribe

What to do on a one week roadtrip south of Los Angeles?

I'm heading to LA for a cousin's wedding, and would like to turn the following week into a great vacation. The plan is to leave the city right after the event, and since I have already traveled quite a bit north of LA, I'd like to head south.

What would you do with a week of free time there? Likes include hiking, exploring walkable towns, art, architecture, independent coffeeshops, and seeing beautiful nature. Unique places to stay or see would be great, as well as any obvious "can't miss" things. I am completely unfamiliar with the area. We probably won't have camping gear. Timeframe is the first week of November. Any and all recommendations would be much appreciated. Thanks!
posted by eileen to Travel & Transportation around Los Angeles, LA (14 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
How far south are you looking to go? Because I am not sure if you mean southern LA, San Diego, or cross the border. Anyway, one of my favorite hikes in the LA area is the bridge to nowhere. It's one of the few natural areas still in existense in greater los angeles. You hike a few miles through a quick stream that is still being mined for gold by prospectors. At the midpoint, you arrive at a bridge built in the 1930s with no road on either side. The road was completely washed away in flood, but the bridge remains. If you are adventerious, a company runs multiple bunji jumps here daily. Its a good way to spend the day, and short enough to where you wouldn't need camping gear. (although if you had some, you could conitnue upstream and spend the night in seclusion). More info and directions here
posted by ShootTheMoon at 8:31 AM on September 26, 2007

Hit post to quick. I meant to add that that hike was in east LA, not south. A really fun trip you could also look into is a ferry ride and day out on Catalina island. It's about a 1 hour boat ride to get to the island. Once you arrive, you have the option to head out into the wilderness to hike, explore the small historical town (on bike is fun) or play around the beaches. It won't be summer anymore, but tourists are in the water year round in california :) You would defininantly spend a whole day doing this, and overnight is possible if you wanted to stay in one of the hotels.
posted by ShootTheMoon at 8:36 AM on September 26, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for the suggestions so far :) To answer your question as far as distance goes, I'm definitely open to San Diego or crossing the border. It would be cool to have a few different stops, so I'm completely open to suggestion at this point.
posted by eileen at 8:50 AM on September 26, 2007

Joshua Tree. Imperial Sand dunes. If you've got a week, head out to Organ Pipe Cactus NM in Arizona.
posted by notsnot at 8:53 AM on September 26, 2007

Ooop, didn't see the "no camping gear" bit (and it wouldn't matter to me, since I car camp a lot). Joshua tree has lots of inns around. Imperial Sand Dunes has got just about nothing.
posted by notsnot at 8:57 AM on September 26, 2007

posted by notyou at 9:18 AM on September 26, 2007

If you're interested in wine tasting at all, the Temecula Valley Wine Country is a hidden gem about 45 minutes N of San Diego county. My favorite, both for having decent wine as well as its unique atmosphere (it's set up like an old ranch, complete with horses, sheep, etc.) is Longshadow Ranch. There is a company called Grapeline that for a reasonable price will shuttle you around to a number of the local wineries (this comes in a really handy after your 20th tasting) and provides lunch as well as your tasting tickets to the wineries you'll be visiting.

While you're in the area you can also check out Old Town Temecula which is a fun walk with some interesting shops and good places to eat (my personal recommendation for some amazong BBQ is Sweet Lumpy's.

/Doing my part to boost the local economy
posted by The Gooch at 9:22 AM on September 26, 2007

Have you searched on metafilter for san diego activities?

Just some suggestions, nothing too obscure:
San Jacinto peak
Palm Springs
Disneyland (hee haw)
San Juan Capistrano
San Diego Wild Animal Park
Anza Borrego Desert State Park
Salton Sea
Hillcrest and North Park
Old Town San Diego
Balboa Park
Hotel Del Coronado
Border Field State Park
Tecate, Mexico
Ensenada, Mexico
La Bufadora
posted by billtron at 9:45 AM on September 26, 2007

Palm Springs, and from there spend one day in Joshua Tree and one day driving around the Salton Sea, maybe checking out Slab City.
posted by Nelson at 10:08 AM on September 26, 2007

If you like art and small towns, take at least an afternoon to explore Laguna Beach. That will be about half way between LA and San Diego. I haven't hiked around there, but there are a lot of hills there, so I expect you may be able to find some trails. There is certainly art to be found there. It's a bit more ritzy than funky, but it's a nice place to spend an afternoon.

I use a site called Local Hikes to find hiking trails. Again, I haven't tried any of their Orange County or places south trails, but I suspect there are some there.
posted by willnot at 10:42 AM on September 26, 2007

You could visit the Louis Kahn designed Salk Institute.
posted by forallmankind at 11:57 AM on September 26, 2007

If you make it out to Joshua Tree, make sure to check out the Integratron.
posted by indigo4963 at 12:25 PM on September 26, 2007

Anza Borrego, Julian, Borrego Springs, Salton Sea, and if time, head up the east side of the sea (Bombay Beach) to Joshua Tree.

See here and here for photos, places to stay, and other ideas.
posted by salvia at 12:29 PM on September 26, 2007

There's a lovely place called Julian which is up in the mountains of Southern CA. They are famous for growing apples and just being kind of rural and quaint. The weather is cooler there too...
posted by workinggringa at 1:14 PM on September 26, 2007

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