2020 has been a rough year for adventurers, let me tell you! Between the quarantine, travel bans, and inability to even leave our homes, how can a regular traveler adjust? I had a couple of months where I told myself that it would quickly pass and everything would be fine. Then, I realized that wasn’t the case. Who knows when we will realistically be able to hop over to another country again. There are even certain US states that are hard for anyone to get into.
So, instead of whining about the vacations we can’t go on, why not try and have a getaway near your own hometown? The great thing about the US is that every state has several beautiful small towns hidden away, just waiting to be discovered. And I’m here to tell you about three great spots near Los Angeles that are perfect for a weekend getaway. All three locations are very different, so find out which one suites your needs more and go on an epic vacation near your own home. (Who knew you didn’t have to fly hundreds of miles away to have a good time!?)
Julian- The Western Getaway
The first spot I want to bring up is my personal favorite. Julian is a quaint little mining town located roughly 2-3 hours from Los Angeles and an hour from San Diego. Julian is the place to go if you love apple pies! Because the area near Julian is bountiful with apples, you can find dozens of small apple pie stores and diners. You can also find a lot of hard cider. The main city of Julian is all centered off of one street that consists of the city hall, an old mining museum, a cluster of adorable mom and pop stores, and some of the greatest eating establishments you can find. There’s a little Italian place called Romano’s Restaurant that is to die for! The adorable family-style nature of the restaurant is just charming. And there’s a cute toy store off the main road that sells the best old-fashioned toys. If you’re looking to reminisce on your childhood and all the wonders that came with it, this is the place to be. And, of course, you can’t forget to stop in Julian Pie Company for the best home-made apple pie.
After your trip to the small town, be sure to stop into Julian Hard Cider. The outside of this establishment looks like a garage, but I assure you it’s my favorite place there. You can taste wines with paired chocolates, ales, and hard ciders. The cider tasting is my favorite, and since it’s what Julian is known for, you should definitely check it out if that’s your thing. All in all, if you’re looking for a trip to the country with amazing pies, food, cider, and a hint of the Old West, Julian is for you!
Pine Mountain Club- The Mountain Getaway
If you’re less of an old-west, homestyle type of person and more of a mountaineer, then Pine Mountain Club is for you! Pine Mountain Club takes glamping to the next level. Located just an hour and a half north of Los Angeles, Pine Mountain Club is a great place to visit if you’re in LA. There are many, many cabins you can rent up that way, and they are secluded up where you can get fresh air and peace of mind. There is much, much less to do (as far as places to eat and shop) in PMC, but there is a small grocery store and a couple of really tasty places to eat. A nearby golf course has a nice restaurant for breakfast, and the small shopping center on the main road has a pizza place, a Mexican place, and a few other hidden gems. But if you’re going to Pine Mountain Club, I’d go for the getaway and not the food and shopping. There are amazing hiking trails nearby that fill with snow during the winter months. So, if you’re looking for the classic cabin seclusion vacation, this is for you.
I also recommend you take heed in the winter. It can get icy, so put chains on your tires if you don’t have 4-wheel drive in the colder months. You will most likely see snow!
Ojai- The Desert Getaway
Ojai is the place to go if you’re looking for a cute, small-town feel in the Desert. Located just an hour north of Los Angeles, if offers a Santa-Barbara type feel in a dusty, rustic terrain. If you’re looking to getaway, I recommend “Glamping” at Caravan Outpost. You can rent a caravan in a cute caravan park that comes equipped with a kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. And there’s a fire-pit outside creating an ideal getaway. This is definitely a hipster place to visit. But what touched me about Ojai is the sense of community. It’s filled with local farmers who grow crops and trade them for services. It takes things back to the basics, yet you still have your Starbucks and shopping nearby. Definitely visit the Ojai Olive Oil Company and taste the delicious herb-infused olive oils and balsamic vinegar while you’re there. You may get lucky enough to pick Tony the groundskeeper’s brains on all things olive.
Between these three, you have the trifecta of Los Angeles getaways: desert, mountain, and western. If you’re looking for small-town, visit Julian! If you’re looking for hipster, visit Ojai! And if you’re looking for seclusion, try Pine Mountain Club. Be sure to check out all three locations if you are able. Since 2020 has not been anyone’s year, it is safe to say we all need a break. Take a nice secluded vacation today in any of these three gorgeous towns. You’ll be glad you did.