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Catalina Island is a perfect day trip destination if you find yourself in need of a break from the congestion of Los Angeles.
To get there, hop on board the Catalina Express for the short trip — the island is only 22 miles off the coast of Los Angeles, and the high-speed boat will have you there in just over an hour. Once you've docked, take some time to explore the quaint city of Avalon. The independent boutiques and shops sell a little bit of everything; on a recent visit, I particularly enjoyed picking up a bag of saltwater taffy from Lloyd's of Avalon and admiring the carefully curated inventory of jewelry and home décor at Two's Company of Avalon. I also recommend taking a behind-the-scenes tour of the Catalina Casino to learn about history of the beautiful Art Deco theatre and ballroom. If you're feeling brave, the Catalina Zip Line Eco Tour is a breathtaking way to spend two hours.
For breakfast or lunch (depending on when you arrive on the island), you simply must make reservations to dine at the Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star Inn on Mount Ada. The charming boutique hotel has a lovely outdoor patio that overlooks Avalon Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Pair it with a bountiful turkey sandwich or a plate of banana pecan French toast, and it's even better.
With all of the things you can do in Los Angeles, how do you ever decide what to do for the day? It’s actually pretty simple to plan. Here is an idea of what you could do for a day trip.
Start the morning off with a light breakfast and a morning hike at Runyon Canyon. The hike will take you about 1.5-2 hours, so make sure you get enough fuel to last you the entire time. After your hike, grab a bite at Aroma Bakery Café on Sunset Blvd. You’ll find a variety of healthy and delicious meals made fresh to order. Once you head back to your hotel/house and freshen up, get ready to go shopping through The Avenues, West Hollywood’s art, fashion and design district (don’t forget to make a pit stop at Urth Caffe for a latte or a mid day treat). Shopping will take a few hours so when you do get back to your hotel room, take some time to rest up for an eventful night ahead.
Situated south of Santa Barbara and north of San Diego and Orange County, Los Angeles is the perfect jumping off point for a number of day trips, from coastal cities to wine country.
Santa Ynez Valley. A quick two-and-a-half hour drive up the coast and inland from Santa Barbara, you'll stumble on Central Coast wine country. Made famous in the 2004 Academy-Award-winning movie Sideways, the valley boasts more than 75 wineries, most of which are family owned. Wineries are speckled throughout the valley, but you'll want to hit the Foxen Canyon Wine Trail, where tasting rooms offer selections of varietals like Pinot Noir, Syrah, Viognier, Cabernet Sauvignon, among others, without requiring reservations. Complement your wine tasting by dining at one of the delicious contemporary restaurants serving wine-country cuisine across the valley in Los Olivos, Buellton and Solvang.
Catalina Island. Just 22 miles off the L.A. coast, accessible by boat or helicopter, the Channel Island is perfect for a day trip of coastal hiking, shopping, kayaking and golf.
Laguna Beach. Just an hour's drive from L.A., this Orange County seaside art town offers numerous fine art galleries, in addition to the Laguna Art museum. You man also choose to spend your day walking along the pristine beaches and dining in one of many delicious restaurants.