Vox Media has affiliate partnerships. These do not influence editorial content, though Vox Media may earn commissions for products purchased via affiliate links. For more information, see our ethics policy.
LA’s mountains are glorious year-round, but summer, when the basin and valleys sizzle, the crisp and clean high-altitude air is especially appealing. Three dominant mountain ranges—San Gabriel, San Bernardino, and San Jacinto—stretch behind LA, putting a handful of alpine towns within a three-hour drive of Downtown. The ones suited for a weekend getaway are Idyllwild, Big Bear, and Lake Arrowhead.
In these towns, it’s easy to find modern conveniences like grocery stores and Wi-Fi, but those seeking solitude can be easily satisfied too. Despite their proximity to the city, they can feel a world away. It’s not just the starry skies and sugar pines. The laid-back mountain villages maintain their own offbeat charm and identities.
High above Palm Springs, Idyllwild is the farthest from Los Angeles but the least commercial, with art shops and a quaint bakery and chocolatier. Lake Arrowhead is the closest and most populous. Big Bear, a former gold mining boomtown now best known for skiing, has a spa and steak house. All are within a three-hour drive, and vacation rentals are plentiful.
This shingled little dwelling is perfectly simple, ideal for a no-frills getaway for two. It has a knotty pine-lined interior and a petite kitchen. For more space and privacy, it can be rented with the connecting unit downstairs. The top portion rents for $102 nightly.
Equipped for six guests, this popular A-frame (an Instagram favorite that has been featured in Sunset Magazine) was built in the 1960s and is outfitted with two patios, a hot tub, a wood-burning fireplace, and a “fun” spiral staircase. A seasonal stream, likely to be flowing after a rainy winter, runs through the property. The nightly rate is $339.
“A completely unique architectural wonder,” this handsome cabin is perched atop boulders and boasts dazzling nighttime views of city lights. The one-bedroom, one-bathroom minimalist residence features soaring ceilings, a “protruding granite wall,” fireplace, “hand-built lighting,” and hot tub. It rents for $238 per night.
This classic cabin was built in 1922 and has stained glass windows and a native rock fireplace. It shares two acres—populated with “seasonal roses, lilies, sweet peas, [and] wild strawberries” and a “burbling creek”—with a full-time residence and a rentable trailer. The nightly rate is $239.
Furnished with midcentury-modern inspired pieces, this sweet and stylish little A-frame with a vintage oven, knotty pine, and exposed brick gets lots of natural light. On the wood deck, soak in the hot tub and peep a little view of the lake. It rents for $228 per night.
This 1870s cabin retains the look of a vintage homestead, and its owners claim it’s the oldest wooden building in Southern California. Inside, there’s a typewriter, 1930s oven, clawfoot tub, and “a hand-built stone hearth.” It rents for $189 a night.
“This isn’t your Aunt Sally’s stuffy cabin,” reads the listing copy. Agreed. It’s more like your hipster brother Chet-with-a-mustache’s retro-inspired cabin. The two-bedroom home in Big Bear is filled with midcentury modern-inspired furniture and a stone fireplace. Plus, it provides super easy access to a couple of different forest trails. The nightly rate? $200.