Los Angeles Side Trips

Visitors to Los Angeles are never at a loss for things to do, but sometimes the hustle and bustle of this busy city can overwhelm the most eager tourists. Luckily, Los Angeles is surrounded by great, lesser known attractions easily within range when visiting the City of Angels. This allows travelers to experience even more of what makes Southern California such a popular destination year-round.

These side-trips are all easily accessible when visiting Los Angeles and provide heaps of family fun. Whether you have a single day or a weekend free before heading home, make the most of your trip with one of these stops.

Historic Schoolhouse in Calico Ghost Town, California

© Samystclair | Dreamstime.com

Calico Ghost Town

This desert attraction offers visitors a first-hand glimpse into California’s history. This well-preserved mining town nestled in the foothills of the Calico Mountains of the Mojave Desert is about three hours outside of Los Angeles. Once a thriving silver mining town, it experienced its heyday 1881–1896 during the California Silver Rush. Open year-round
(with the exception of Christmas Day), Calico is free to visit but individual attractions come with their own charges. Visitors can take a self-guided tour of an actual silver mine, try their hand at gold panning, enjoy an old-fashioned train ride around the area or browse in one of the gift shops.


Just a few hours north of Los Angeles in the Santa Ynez Valley is the Danish village of Solvang. This little town is a great way to enjoy a different side of Southern California. Visitors can explore the traditional Danish style downtown with its unique boutiques filled with Danish handicrafts and delicious sweets, or schedule your trip around one of the many festivals held throughout the year. Kids love visiting Ostrichland USA, a working ostrich farm that offers tours and a chance to feed the resident ostriches and emus.

Catalina Island

Santa Catalina Island is a perfect getaway from Los Angeles whether you want to spend a single day or a few nights. Compared to the fast pace of its big city neighbor, Catalina is quiet and laid-back, yet full of exciting activities for families. The port town of Avalon is filled with fun shops and restaurants, or you can explore the island’s natural habitats. The Catalina Island Company offers visitors the opportunity to zipline, take a jeep tour through the interior to see the island’s herd of wild buffalo or take a glass-bottom boat ride to get an up-close look at the local marine life. It’s easy to get to with boats departing several times throughout the day from the Los Angeles ports of San Pedro or Long Beach on the Catalina Express.

Avalon, Catalina Island

© Louis Henault | Dreamstime.com