Watch CBS News

Best Springtime Destinations Near Los Angeles

upper newport 610
(credit: Lee L./yelp)

Seasons seem to blend one into another in balmy Los Angeles, courtesy our temperate climate that continues year 'round with only slight variations in outdoor conditions. However, if you travel just a few hours (or less) outside these confines, you're bound to experience at least a little more diversity as winter moves into the next chapter. Indeed, the spring (vernal) equinox literally springs into action on March 20, an excellent time to take a road trip. With that in mind, following are five places where doing just that will awaken new senses in all who take part.

(credit: Steve S./Yelp)

Anzo-Borrega Desert State Park
200 Palm Canyon Drive
Borrego Springs, CA 92004
(760) 767-5311

If the aim of your trip is to witness vibrant wildflowers go crazy, this is the place to go. Indeed, March is high season for desert blooms rich in color, from flashy purple sand verbena to a rainbow of other options courtesy of such nature bound offerings as dune primroses, indigo bush and desert sunflowers. Stay close to the ground to really get the essence of these brightly covered dunes that take you all the way to the mountains. After all, that's how the lizards of the area view the beauty as do black and orange butterflies who fly on the down low to get a good gander. Great areas in this massive desert oasis in which to gain bragging rights to bonding with desert glory, the flower that explodes each spring in Anzo-Borrega, include Coyote Canyon and Alcoholic Pass.

Upper Newport Bay
(credit: OC Parks)

Upper Newport Bay Nature Preserve
2301 University Drive
Newport Beach, CA 92660
(949) 923-2290

Behold a whopping 1,000 acres of native habitat at the largest natural estuary in Southern California. Cattails, cottonwoods and willows will capture your attention as will the endangered salt marsh bird's beak. Opt for a water view of all this wonder, either by renting a kayak or taking a guided tour on a larger vessel. You'll be glad you did.

newport Landing Whale Watching
(credit: Newport Landing Whale Watching)

La Jolla Village
1162 Prospect St.
La Jolla, CA 92037
(858) 454-5718

If whale watching is on your agenda as a hopeful encounter this spring, check out the waters off the tony town of La Jolla for the possible opportunity, seen either on the rocks on the beach or on an overlook in view of the mesmerizing Pacific, like on the bluff and close to the pier belonging to the Scripps Institution of Oceanography. Meanwhile, the village itself oozes charm and plenty of shopping opportunities in the many boutiques and myriad art galleries that line rarified La Jolla's main thoroughfare.

Related: Best Spring Break Activities For Kids In Los Angeles

public art palm desert
(credit: Palm Desert Visitor Center)

Palm Desert
73-510 Fred Waring Drive
Palm Desert, CA 92260
760) 568-1441

Fans of mind bending, mid-century modern architecture are bound to want to discover Palm Desert and surrounding areas. So do so by walking or by two-wheelers, as this is the best way to get up close and personal with such nifty buildings that are the mainstay of this desert community. So are great shopping and dining opportunities. But perhaps best of all is the chance to wander the Living Desert Zoo and Gardens where all sorts of desert gardens have been recreated for your pleasure, showing off the best of everything in nature, from a host of hummingbirds to an amazing array of cacti to primitive growing things that date back to the Jurassic period.

Mission San Buenaventura
(credit: John L./Yelp)

101 S California St.
Ventura, CA 93001
(805) 648-2075

Roll down the windows as you head up the coast a bit to explore and enjoy Ventura. The whole town comes alive in the spring with shops, the pier and the promenade and the landmark Mission San Buenaventura welcoming even more tourists than in previous months. But perhaps the best place in this coveted seaside community to bring in the season is at the Ventura Botanical Gardens, where picnicking among the blooming plants is a popular pastime. A so-called "urban hike" begs you to explore the flora coming to life in new plantings that are an inspiration in ways too numerous to list.

Related: Best Local Spring Break Getaways Near LA

Freelance travel writer Jane Lasky, contributes to publications such as Travel + Leisure, Vogue and Esquire. Her weekly sojourning column ran in 40 newspapers for 20 years. Jane is anything but an accidental tourist and always travels with her pillow. Check out her articles on


View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.