Road Trips

The Great American Road Trip Makes a Comeback

The great American road trip is poised to make a comeback not seen since Americans took to the road with the opening of Route 66, the first transcontinental road.

We didn’t need a crystal ball to predict this.  With the long coronavirus quarantine we’re getting tired of looking at the same four walls. We want to get out and see the world again.  The unfortunate part is that even though the COVID-19 virus has proven to be no where near as deadly as was initially predicted (Per the WHO and CDC the actual mortality rate is less than 1%) and restrictions are being relaxed to some extent, the “new normal” isn’t making travel fun.

Predictions for air travel indicate our pre-coronavirus 90 minute ordeal to get onto a plane could turn into four hours.  We will be tested for fevers, our medical histories could be checked and we could be required to show proof of vaccination.  During the long flight we will be required to wear face masks.

This just takes all the fun out of traveling.  I haven’t seen criteria for cruise ships and trains, but I doubt it will be any less unpleasant.

This doesn’t mean we have to give up our travel.  We just have to re-discover the road trip. As of this writing, there could still be some issues with inter-state travel while different states open up at different rates.  Also a lot of hotels and campgrounds are still closed. 

I suspect the campgrounds will be opening up sooner than the hotels overall and if you are concerned about the risk of COVID-19 infection there is no place safer than the great outdoors.  Some campgrounds have already reopened and others will soon  Hotels will be opening unevenly across the United States in the somewhat near future.  When they do, you’ll be able to get some great bargains on hotel rooms! Until then there are a number of awesome day long road trips Angelenos can take to get out into the sunshine, back in touch with nature and have some fun.

This post is the first in our new road trips category and we give you some great places you can go until things open up a bit more.  Bookmark this post and stop back often.  We’ll be adding more detailed posts about each of the travel destinations w’ve mentioned here and will to them from this post. You can visit these spots individually, or take our suggested road trip below.

We will be posting more in our California road trips category as fast as we can and break them down into road trips you can take during COVID-19 and road trips after COVID-19 ease up a bit more.  We think that once you re-discover the road trip it might just remain your favorite method of travel.

Recommended Day Long Road Trips from Los Angeles

1. Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach

Shoreline park is my top pick of any of the day trips I can think of.  You can get there in less than an hour from about anywhere in the Los Angeles area and once there find enough fun things to do to keep busy as long as you want.

There is a mix of about everything from restaurants to the shops at Shoreline Village, boat rentals, the Aquarium of the Pacific, take a harbor cruise go sport fishing, visit the Queen Mary and walk up to the Lions Lighthouse.  Of course with quarantine restrictions just lifting, many of the attractions are closed.

Meanwhile you can stroll the elevated promenade leading to the Long Beach Convention Center an take in the view.  You walk the path around the marina to the lighthouse or grab something from one of the restaurants and eat it on a bench overlooking the bay.

You won’t be disappointed.  There is plenty of parking and after a day of walking and taking in the expansive ocean views you’ll have a whole new outlook on life.

200 Aquarium Way, Long Beach, CA 90802

road trip
View of Shoreline Aquatic Park in Long Beach California

2. Dana Point Arches

Dana Point has one of the most beautiful marina’s in Southern California.  The view of it from the Dana Point Arches high above it is breathtaking.

The arches are what remains from an old hotel that was never completed.  it was going to have an elevator going down to the beach but economic forces prevented it from ever being completed.

Dana Point doesn’t seem to be interested in becoming a major tourist attraction and you won’t find all of the touristy things to do there that you will at some other spots.  Besides the walk along the trail (paved) above the harbor at the arches, you can go down to the harbor and walk around exploring the beautiful marina.

You’ll find restaurants, wharf sport fishing and whale watching.  These are spread out though.  Strands beach is north of there along with some nature centers and trails.  We’ll tell you more about them later in a separate post on Dana Point.

The Dana Point Arches are 70 miles or so from Los Angeles, depending on where you are in the city.  The address is 24606 Santa Clara Ave, Dana Point, CA 92629.  If you are using Google Maps it will tell you you have arrived when you are in the middle of a block in an upscale residential neighborhood.  Park and walk down one of the side streets until you come to the path leading to the arches.

Dana Point
The Dana Point Arches, more photos of Dana Point at the bottom of the post

3. Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach is known for its art galleries and those are still closed.  I’m not sure what the status of the beach is right now, but Orange County has been opening up its beaches to varying degrees.

To the north of the main beach there is a path leading up a steep embankment.  Take it.  It will lead you through beautiful gardens with breathtaking views of the ocean.  Laguna is a charming little seaside town and regardless of how much is or isn’t open you’ll enjoy the window shopping.

It’s about 60 miles from downtown Los Angeles

Laguna Beach
View from the path above Laguna Beach. Photo at top of post is also of Laguna Beach

4.  Hermosa Beach

Hermosa Beach is one of the most charming of the beach towns.  While the pier is still closed and many of the businesses are not fully open, there is plenty to do. 

Pier Avenue leading to the pier opens up into a wide courtyard or square as it meets the water.  There are shops, cafes, bars and a lot of fun.  It’s about 30 miles from Los Angeles

Hermosa Beach
Bicycles on the beach near the Hermosa Beach Pier

5. Redondo Beach

Redondo Beach is just down the Pacific Coast Highway from Hermosa Beach.  While the pier at Hermosa Beach lacks any attractions, the one at Redondo Beach is very large and loaded with shops, restaurants, clubs and fishing areas.  As of this writing the pier is still closed but it should be opening soon.

The beach is open so you can get out and stretch your legs and take in the views and fresh ocean air.

Redondo Beach Pier
The large horseshoe shaped pier at Redondo Beach

5. Malaga Cove

Malaga Cove is probably the best undiscovered treasure in Southern California.  It’s off the main tourist paths so you aren’t fighting the kind of crowds that would be present in the more typical tourist attractions like Santa Monica or Venice Beach.

As you arrive in the cove, it’s like entering a different time in a different world.  Much of the architecture is reminiscent of old Europe, blended in with beautiful Spanish architecture.  You’ll discover medieval castles, statues, fountains, tide pools and amazing ocean views.  And FREE parking at the beach.  Yep.  You heard me.  Free beach parking.

See our day trip to Malaga Cove post or watch the video below for a guided tour of things to do in Malaga Cove.

Suggested Day Long SoCal Road Trip Itinerary 

A great road trip could be to start at Hermosa or Redondo Beach.  Then work your way down the Pacific Coast Highway to the other spots we’ve named.  Between Hermosa, Redondo and the Shoreline Aquatic Park, the PCH is inland a bit.  But as you head south from Shoreline Park it begins to hold close to the ocean. 

You’ll have beautiful views of both the ocean and the wetlands as you pass by Seal Beach, Sunset Beach and Bolsa Chica State Beach.  If you have a dog you’ll want to make a stop at the Huntington Dog Beach just before you reach the main Huntington Beach and pier. 

If things have opened up more when you take your trip, it could be worth it to swing out onto the Balboa Peninsula when you get to Newport Beach and stop a while.  Then continue on your way to Laguna Beach and Dana Point.  There are a number of beautiful sandy beaches you’ll pass along the way and feel free to pull off the road wherever you want and check them out!  This isn’t a trip with a firm itinerary.  It’s a day of getting out and exploring all the beautiful things we have in our own back yards.

As travel restrictions begin to relax more and hotels begin to open up more we will tell you about some of the fun road trips that will require overnight stays.  If you are concerned about the coronavirus being present in hotel rooms a trick I have always used might make you feel a bit more at ease.  I pack a small room air purifier and let it run in my room for 30 minutes to an hour while I grab a bite to eat. I use ones that produce ozone.  The ozone kills viruses and freshens the air.  Simply shut the ozone part off about 15 minutes before you enter the room and just let the filter run after that.  I don’t think it’s wise to breathe ozone, but it does an amazing job of freshening up the stale air in a hotel!  If the ozone concerns you, consider one that has a UV light or other means of disinfecting built in.  COVID-19 or not, I consider this a very handy item to have with me when I travel.

More photos after the break…

Dana Point
Beautiful peaceful harbor at Dana Point California, a tropical paradise and vacation destination
Laguna Beach
Lifeguard tower at Laguna Beach California

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