Fun and convenient one-day trips to explore Southern California

It is a no-brainer that the life of a college student is as busy as it gets, to the extent that we probably start to rethink permitted travel plans. So, I believe the best solution for students who love to venture out while remaining productive is one-day trips to places within driving distance from UCLA (bonus — long drive check). Here are some of my personal recommendations for the most fun and interesting things to do in Southern California to optimize your time.

Catalina Island

A 1-hour ferry ride from Los Angeles to Catalina Island is perfect for people looking for water sports and other related recreational activities. Try adventure and opt for Catalina: ziplining, diving, riding on a jet ski, parasailing, kayaking, paddleboarding and more. If you prefer relaxing, opt for the beaches, the island spa, biking, arts and museums. (I recommend and prefer the former because, come on, you can’t go to Catalina and just lie there.) In short, Catalina has the best of both worlds.

Santa Barbara

10 out of 10 recommend this destination, especially if you are in the mood for a scenic long drive. An approximately 2-hour-long drive from LA, with roads circumscribed by palm trees all around, serene atmosphere and peaceful winds —sounding like your kind of trip? Well, Santa Barbara is the place to visit. There is the Santa Barbara Zoo for animal lovers and the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History for the quiet observers. Santa Barbara’s pier, located on Stearns Wharf, is a must-visit, and definitely be on the lookout for the magnificent sunset across the California coastline during the drive back.

Balboa Island

A personal recommendation. Head south for a 1-to-2-hour drive to Newport Beach for Balboa Island! This beautiful place is a must-visit at least once in everyone’s lives. Rent bikes from any of the local rentals here, ride around and hop on the ferry that takes you to Balboa Village (you can also take your bikes on the ferry). Handy tip — do not forget to carry cash for the ferry. Absolutely no rules, just free yourself; go to any restaurant, store, beach, play games at the Fun Zone arcade or simply laze around on the sun-kissed grass (bonus — watch the sunset at Balboa Pier).

Palm Springs

With an approximately 2-hour drive from campus, Palm Springs is the place to visit if you are in need of some urgent self-care. Known for its various leisurely offers such as hot springs and spas, this is the perfect getaway for all workaholics. San Jacinto Mountain, which sits 10,834 feet above sea level, has an extremely breathtaking view. There you can also find the Tahquitz Canyon, which has a beautiful waterfall. With the magnificent sounds of the gushing waterfall, the Tahquitz Canyon makes for the perfect escape from bustling city life.

San Diego

This is an approximately 2.5-hour drive from campus. Recommended by an extremely excited recent graduate who visited San Diego, this place has the best beaches of all time (I recommend the La Jolla beaches). The drive through the woods is phenomenal and quite an elixir for nature lovers. Anza Borrego, a place close by, is excellent for camping, and if you have just one more day to spare, I suggest camping overnight here. The San Diego Zoo is also worth visiting.

San Bernardino

Approximately a 1.5-hour drive, San Bernandino is a great place to visit if you are in the mood for snow (every Californian ever) and some adventure. It is extremely picturesque, with snow on both sides of the road and designated snow-related recreational activities like skiing, snowboarding, snow tubing and more. Big Bear Mountain is the most popular spot for skiing, and Big Bear Lake is something worth being on the lookout for.

Featured Image via Adobe Stock

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