LAX: Getting out of town


Today’s LAX post will be a bit different, since I’m parked poolside in Palm Springs for my friend Sonja’s bachelorette party. And that’s the thing. Over the last ten years, I’ve often found myself far, far away from my beloved city when Saturday morning comes.

That’s not a bad thing. One of the very best things about living in LA is how easy it is to get the hell out of town.

And not just out of town. Like, into several totally different ecosystems. It’s pretty much like living in the Biosphere. I can’t think of any other major city where you have such unfettered access to such a wide variety of terrain, weather, and outdoor activities so close to home.

For all the grief people like to give LA for being a concrete jungle, Los Angeles is dizzyingly close to nature. Within a two-hour radius, you can scramble through a desert oasis. You can camp on an uninhabited island. You can ski on a 8,000-foot peak… no, you can ski and surf in the same day—something I have yet to do!

It may seem crazy to write a post celebrating LA that’s all about leaving LA. But I think this is what completes the experience of living here. Being able to escape and recharge is important to my city experience. And actually, we really don’t even have to leave. We’ve got the largest municipal park in the country located within our borders. Situated in a verifiable urban mountain range. We can climb a mountain before breakfast.

In honor of our perfectly situated city, here are a few places I’ve found myself on the weekends over the last ten years. All of these places are less than three hours from my house. A few of these places are even within LA County!

Taking shots for our girl band album cover

Joshua Tree, 137 miles.


Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve, 86 miles.


East Fork of the San Gabriel River (part of the Bridge to Nowhere hike), 46 miles


Malibu Creek State Park (during the Bulldog 25K), 36 miles.

Palm walk

The Parker, Palm Springs, 104 miles

Late afternoon sun

El Matador State Beach, 42 miles

Amazing snowcapped peaks

Verdugo Mountain Park, Burbank, 15 miles

Palm oasis in the LA River

Believe it or not, the LA River. 0 miles.

Where’s your favorite LA-adjacent getaway?

I’m celebrating ten years in LA with ten days of LA stories. Go here for more LAX.

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  • Lynn @ The Actor’s Diet

    i’ve always wanted to see the poppies!  i really do love being able to do road trips in los angeles.  when i have more time, i like to go to catalina:

  • Heather Parlato

    i used to pass it up, but i’m getting more & more into ventura. such a quick getaway–even by train with a bike, as is santa barbara! there is always ojai too, one day i’d like to try the bike path they have connecting it to ventura.

    i still have to find out what became of my camp switzer trail after the station fire, but i love to camp overnight at chilao in angeles crest [great place to go see shooting stars when we pass through them]. i still want to ski at mt. waterman just beyond newcombs ranch–they are opening it on weekends only in the last few years, ungroomed, when there’s enough snow. and even in summer you can ride the chair up mt. baldy and enjoy the much lower temps at 8000 ft. for $10 last time i checked.

    joshua tree is a favorite, but don’t sleep on desert hot springs! not the nightlife of palm springs, but a nice quiet place to enjoy a mineral soak with a lovely view of mt. san jacinto [i do my year-end retreat there], or a good place to stop for a swim after camping in joshua tree [dhs hotel has a day rate for swimming in 10 pools in ranging temps].

    something great to do next month is head out to yucaipa [you can stop on the way home from palm springs] and pick apples! there are a few pick-your-own farms where you can pick the freshest apples ever. i want to do more farm picking, i know lancaster has cherries too.

    but really? elysian park is right out my back door. can’t argue with that!

  • inkxel

    I love the bridge to nowhere hike, and its such a different trip depending on when you go.  I last went in early spring.  the water was still extremely cold and the water level was at least a foot and a half deeper than late spring early summer, makes it much more challenging and also more personal as there are less people.  
    Have you ever stopped to talk to the gold panners?  some of them are really great guys and have interesting stories.  My next trip we are going to see how much further past the bridge we can forge especially with the trail washed out.

  • inkxel

    I have done the manker flats loop hike which starts at mankers flats, climbs to the summit of Mt Baldy then takes you back down the devils backbone and winds down along the trail below the lifts (about 12mi hike I believe).  last time we went we got a late start to the day and took the lift back down to beat the dark, most relaxing $10 I ever spent.