Even the most devoted Angeleno will tell you that one of the best things about L.A. is getting out of it for a day -- if not a weekend. Lucky for them, many wildly cool places (including otherworldly Antelope Valley, above) exist within easy striking distance.
Two of the most die-hard get-out-of-towners around are Janelle Pietrzak and Robert Dougherty, the founders of creative and textile studio All Roads, who've collaborated with everyone from Ace & Jig to Clare Vivier to Anthropologie. Even after three years in Los Angeles, these native east coasters (partners in both life and work) are still like wide-eyed kids when it comes to exploring their surrounds. And the couple's predilection for wide-open space shows in Pietrzak's gradient-colored weavings and the rustic, patinaed tones of Dougherty's metal and woodwork.
As for what makes a good weekender, "we look for places that have both nature and a small town," says Pietrzak. "It won't make or break the trip, but it's nice to have a good place to eat or a cute coffeeshop when we need to interact with civilization."
Read on for their leaving-Los Angeles picks, meant for locals looking to hit the road as well as visitors to L.A. who just want to see what else is out there.
From the team at Spot, your guide to the best places in the world, all according to the friends & experts you trust.
In One Hour: Antelope Valley
The Whereabouts: "About an hour north, in the high desert close to Lancaster."
The Draw: "Poppies grow all over the valley and only bloom in early spring. You can go to the Parks' website for daily poppy reports. Last year the poppies only lasted about a week -- there was a heat wave and they fried pretty quickly. When you're there, it's hard not to pull over every five seconds to photograph more and more rolling hills and wildflowers. We love the contrasts of the bright orange, sage green, and lavender that seem to go on and on."
The Diversions: "We typically just go see the poppies then head home, but one year we packed a picnic lunch. It was windy, but we found a grove of Joshua trees that shielded us, and it was just lovely."
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In Two Hours: Joshua Tree
The Whereabouts: "It's two hours away, but you might hit traffic leaving L.A., so we don't stop anywhere along the way. We always just want to get there."
The Draw: "We go to Joshua Tree whenever and however we can. The quiet and the vast landscapes calm your eyes and your mind. And we love the community of artist friends we've developed there."
The Lodging: "We book a different Airbnb every time we go. Once we stayed in an Airstream trailer in Morongo Valley that's rented out by Joshua Tree artist Shari Elf, who's the owner of the world-famous crochet museum."
The Diversions: "Hiking, visiting friends, and eating! We visit our friend Kime who has a great vintage shop in Yucca Valley called The End, we eat pizza by the slice at Pie for the People, and we get date shakes at The Natural Sisters Cafe."
In Six Hours: Big Sur
The Whereabouts: "Since it's quite a way up the coast, we'll usually stop at San Luis Obispo for lunch, then in San Simeon to see the elephant seals. We often stop once more at one of the beaches along the way for a fun little walk on the rocky shore."
The Draw: "Breathtaking coastline and beautiful colors! The landscape, the shade of the big trees, the quiet, the refreshing smell of eucalyptus. There's also little to no phone or internet reception, which makes it a good forced break."
The Diversions: "Big Sur Bakery for coffee, cookies, and fresh bread, and delicious grilled cheese sandwiches and pizza! Hike to the Big Sur River Gorge and go swim in the cold mountain water, which is crystal clear and refreshing. On our most recent family trip to Big Sur, we took our camp stove and a pasta dinner and cooked it on Pfeiffer Beach and ate dinner at sunset -- al fresco!"
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In Seven Hours: Arcosanti
The Whereabouts: "It's in the desert of central Arizona, so it's good for a weekend trip. On the way we stop in Flagstaff, which we love! Such a cool little college town."
The Draw: "Arcosanti is a town of modern architecture integrated with almost self-sustaining farming that was an unfinished social experiment and architectural project founded by Paolo Soleri in the 1970s. We're inspired by the mission statement, the dream of a utopian self-sustaining community, and the architecture -- the buildings are made from cast concrete with the circle as a repeated theme...like circle windows and doorways. It's super calm with a very cool creative vibe all around. Interesting people flock there to visit, and there are also full-time residents with families that live there!"
The Lodging: "You can take a tour, or stay there in one of their modest rooms."
The Diversions: "We just relax. The site is in the middle of nowhere, so we hike around the grounds mostly. They also make really beautiful bells as their industry to raise funds for their community. One style is cast in clay and the other is cast from brass in their foundry."