California, and Southern California in particular is known for its incredible landscapes. Not many places can boast having the ocean, mountains, and desert all within a two hour drive of each other.
Whether you are looking for fun things to do in the SoCal deserts, beaches, or mountains, we at Lyvly have created a rough guide of how to experience the best of all three terrains in one weekend. In fact, if you really enjoy traffic you might be able to fit all of this into one day…
One of the trendiest things to do in LA this weekend is to go see the super bloom. The unusually heavy rainfall we had during winter resulted in SoCal deserts that are filled with color. Scores of photographers, bloggers (like yours truly), and Instagram legends are flocking to the desert to check out the fields and snap a colorful shot. We recommend visiting the Antelope Valley National Poppy Preserve where you’ll find miles and miles of bright orange blooms. The fields are supposed to be the best during mid-morning, which is around 9 or 10 am. At that time there is usually enough sun for all of the poppies to open and you can miss the high heat and winds that arrive late afternoon.
Next, transition to a landscape that looks less like a perfume ad and more like an alien landing zone. Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Parks offers great hiking trails filled with interesting rock formations that stem from years of earthquakes and wind and water erosion. The terrain here is so unique, that it has been used as the backdrop for countless commercials and TV shows including the “Flinstones” movie as well as “Star Trek”. One of our favorite outdoor activities near LA is hiking through these crazy rock formations, exploring the pictographs, morteros, valleys and gorges, and having the occasional “Lion King” moment.
If you prefer a slightly more manicured desert landscape, or are trying to avoid an allergy attack, skip the super bloom and head to Palm Springs instead. Palm Springs offers a wide variety of relaxing outdoor activities that let you take in the terrain while not braving the elements. Enjoy the desert climate while on a serene golf course or lounging poolside to escape the heat. Even better, float above the desert heat and take in the views while sipping champagne in a hot air balloon (#blessed). The Westin Mission Hills is my go to for Palm springs golf and pool time. It has one of the most underrated golf courses in SoCal, several pools and is incredibly family friendly. You’ll find a quick list of other golf courses here.
If you started in Antelope Valley, your closest mountain escape is Mountain high. Tucked into the San Gabriel Mountains, Mountain High offers the full range of snow-related activities including skiing, snowboarding, tubing and sledding. Unfortunately snow season only lasts until the end of March. However, if you want to really feel the California blend of mountain and desert try Mountain High’s Disc Golf. Open year round, the course will take you through the historic Angeles National Forest, and provides views of snow capped mountains to the west and long stretches of desert to the east. Oh, and did we mention that its really fun?
Mt. San Jacinto
If you started your weekend in Palm Springs, get some mountain time via the aerial tramway. Reaching an elevation of 8,516 feet, the rotating tram cars provide picturesque views of the Mt. San Jacinto State Park. There are tons of fun things to do when you reach the top, including the natural history museum, two restaurants and over 50 miles of hiking trails.
There really is nothing better than a Southern California sunset, so end your trip with with an evening at the beach. Head to Malibu and hit up our friend Tony for surfing, stand up paddle boarding, or kite surfing lessons. While all three would be a fun end to your weekend, we especially recommend trying SUP with Tony as he is known for creating state of the art stand up paddle boards and nothing sounds more serene to us than paddling along a SoCal sunset.
Much less famous than Malibu, Palos Verdes is arguably one of the most beautiful pieces of coastline within Los Angeles County. It offers gorgeous cliffs and views, including a great view of Catalina Island on a clear day. For a truly spectacular beach experience, check the tides and head to Abalone Cove. Abalone Cove has the best tide pools in Los Angeles county, teeming with a variety of sea life that are easily accessible during low tide. Tide pooling is a great interactive outdoor activity you can do in LA that really takes advantage of the southern California terrain. So end your weekend by taking a sunset selfie with a starfish. Just try not to make Spongebob too jealous.