Latest Best of LA

Day Trips From LA For Under $100

June 29, 2013 6:00 AM

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2012 Breeders' Cup
(credit: Santa Anita Park)

(credit: Santa Anita Park)

Although Angelenos have a plethora of LA day-trip locations to choose from, when it comes to getting the most bang from your buck, we think you’ll agree that this selection of venues offers grandparents, parents and kids some choice destinations at an affordable price.

(credit: Julian Gothard)

(credit: Julian Gothard)


Descanso Gardens
1418 Descanso Drive
La Cañada Flintridge, CA 91011
(818) 949-4290
www.descansogardens.org

Nestled near the foot of California’s San Gabriel Mountains, Descanso Gardens provides Angelenos with a tranquil escape that’s just 20 minutes from downtown LA. This remarkable botanical gem — which includes fragrant collections of lilacs, camellias, azaleas and roses — offers visitors a selection of hiking and nature trails which wind their way through a series of traditional formal gardens and stands of cherry trees as well as a sprawling forest of Coast live oaks. Those in search of an in-depth history of the gardens should take the narrated tram tour of Descanso (includes a 15-minute stop at Boddy House), while family groups can climb aboard the 1/8th scale “enchanted railroad” for a trip that will put a smile on the face of kids and parents alike.

(credit: Julian Gothard)

(credit: Julian Gothard)


Harbor Breeze Cruises
100 Aquarium Way, Dock #2
Long Beach, CA 90802
(562) 432-4900
www.2seewhales.com

Spend a glorious summer day in company with the crew of the M.V. Christopher in search of fin, blue and gray whales. A fully narrated Harbor Breeze cruise is a marvelous way to introduce kids and adults to the dolphins, sea lions, pelicans and abundant marine life to be found along California’s Golden Coast. If you’re on a limited budget, you can take the 45-minute tour of Rainbow Harbor ($12 adults/$10 seniors/$6 children); but both the two-hour dolphin and sea life cruise along the Palos Verdes Peninsula and the longer blue and humpback whale watching cruises are amazing. Check out the coupons on the Harbor Breeze website for additional discounts.

(credit: Julian Gothard)

(credit: Julian Gothard)


Redondo Beach Seaside Lagoon
200 Portofino Way
Redondo Beach, CA 90277
(310) 318-0681
www.redondo.org

A fixture at King Harbor in Redondo Beach since the ‘50s, the saltwater seaside lagoon remains a popular family-friendly destination at the heart of the Los Angeles South Bay. Water slides, a beach volleyball court, a children’s play area and eats from the express window at Ruby’s ensure that the kids won’t get bored, whilst the gated environment and lifeguards provide a safe and secure waterfront play environment. The pier at King Harbor is just a short stroll away if you fancy a spot of fishing, a sit-down meal or a whale-watching trip courtesy of Redondo Sportfishing.

Related: Must-See Attractions For An LA Staycation

(credit: Julian Gothard)

(credit: Julian Gothard)


Windsports Hang Gliding
Dockweiler State Beach
12501 Vista Del Mar
Los Angeles, CA 90293
(818) 367-2430
www.windsports.com

Add an extra frisson of excitement to a summer beach visit by treating yourself or a loved one to a set of four-foot launched training flights — from the top of a 30-foot sand dune at Dockweiler State Beach — courtesy of Windsports Hang Gliding. Although beginners can’t expect to be soaring above the Pacific Ocean within the space of a couple of hours, by the end of flight training, wannabe pilots should be able to launch, turn and land the hang glider with a reasonable degree of proficiency. Aviators must be 16 or older and weigh between 95 and 235 pounds.

(credit: Julian Gothard)

(credit: Julian Gothard)


Santa Anita Park
285 W. Huntington Drive
Arcadia, CA 91007
(626) 574-7223
www.santaanita.com

The only venue where punters can actually win back the cost of the day trip, the Santa Anita Park racecourse in Arcadia is located just 25 minutes from downtown Los Angeles. A fixture on the U.S. horse-racing circuit for close to eight decades, Santa Anita Park continues to reinvigorate its consumer appeal by offering family fun days, food truck events and free tram tours (8 to 11 a.m. on weekends) to Barn 38, home to the legendary stallion Seabiscuit. If you love horses, are a fan of art deco architecture or simply fancy having a flutter, then Santa Anita Park will provide the perfect day trip destination.

Related: Best Holiday Escapes Near Los Angeles

Julian Gothard is an internationally published freelance writer covering all things Los Angeles. You can check out his popular RVing and travel column at Examiner.com.

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