15 Best Day Trips From Ontario (California)

Some of the most interesting locations in California are close to Ontario. Those living or traveling to Ontario California can choose from multiple 1-day destinations regardless of personal interest.

From shopping destinations to hiking locations, there are a few good options to consider on this list.

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15. Chino Hills State Park

Hiking is one of the free and fun activities that can last a full day even when traveling from Ontario to nearby locations. You don’t have to leave California to find good hiking trails.

Bane Canyon Loop Trail in the Chino Hills State Park is one of the first attractions to consider when it comes to trekking. This short trail is ideal for a few hours spent out in nature, especially for those out with friends.

14. Malibu

Malibu is a place that attracts tourists from the entire state of California. There are multiple activities you can get involved in here. One of the favorites is wine tasting. Malibu Wines is the ideal place to spend a day out with the family due to its Ontario proximity.

The winery is ideal for its idyllic landscape and it even comes with its own designated picnic area. You can bring your own food here but you aren’t allowed to bring alcohol to the picnic areas on the site. But then again, why would you be interested to bring alcohol to a winery?

13. Griffith Observatory

What can be more interesting than seeing the moon and stars up-close? This can be achieved in a 1-day trip from Ontario to Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles. This observatory is known for its unique location which is worth a visit on its own.

But the large Zeiss telescope in the observatory makes it the ideal place to check out various constellations. The best part is that admission is free of charge which means you can travel here with your entire family only worrying about transportation and food costs. A full day of relaxation can be enjoyed here, especially for those interested in nature and astrology.

12. Rancho Palos Verde

Rancho Palos Verde is located South of LA and it can be a top destination for those who like to spend time outdoors. There are a few unique attractions here worth visiting. But since a day has limited hours, there are only two attractions worth your time if you haven’t visited Rancho Palos Verde before.

The Glass Church or the Wayfarers Chapel is the first recommended stop here. This unique church is really made from glass and it represents one of the most attractive options when it comes to unique places of worship or when it simply comes to great photo places.

Point Vicente Lighthouse is the second most important attraction of the area. This historic lighthouse attracts hundreds of tourists each day. Located on a cliff edge, it looks spectacular and it can be the ideal location if you love walks and taking plenty of photos on a sunny day.

11. Mount San Jacinto

Mount San Jacinto is another great destination for those who love the outdoors, specifically hiking. This mountain is a great destination for multiple days of trekking, but you can still cover a lot of ground in a single day.

It is also close to many interesting activities you simply don’t have access to in Ontario. For example, visitors to the mountain can hop on the nearby Palm Springs Aerial Tramway. This is one of the best tramways when it comes to seeing amazing landscapes in California.

If you want a hands-on experience you can also choose from other interesting activities. Among them, the Mountain Pottery Art Gallery can be an interesting stop. Who knew you can hike and admire the art on the same day so far out of LA?

10. Tijuana

You can even go on a day trip to Tijuana in Mexico from California easily. This is the recommended cultural experience and there are plenty of tours going into Tijuana every day. Most of them are departing from San Diego so you’ll have to wake up early in the morning.

Perks of visiting Tijuana include diving into its multiple street markets. Vendors here sell everything from clothes to street food. More complex Mexican food experiences can be had in one of the city’s restaurants. But the best way to explore this border city is simply by walking its busy downtown area and head over to California in the evening.

9. Long Beach

Long Beach offers plenty of interesting activities to choose from every day. It seems that its islands are a great place to spend a day regardless of weather conditions. On a sunny day, visiting Naples in Long Beach is going to offer a true Italian cultural experience right in the heart of California.

This neighborhood is known for its canals that resemble those in Venice. Sure, there aren’t as glamorous, but they can be reached within a couple of hours from Ontario. This is also the place where couples can get on boat rides.

A true gondola experience like the one in Venice can be enjoyed here. If you’re the type of active person who just can’t stay back and relax you might even consider paddleboarding tours in Naples as an ultimate day out on water canals.

8. San Bernardino

San Bernardino can be another excellent choice if you’re planning to spend a day outside without venturing too far from Ontario. There are many attractions recommended here. Among them, the Original Mc Donald’s Restaurant seems to be on top of everybody’s to visit list.

This is the ground of the first restaurant location for the international food chain and it can be an interesting visit if you’re there with children. The place is turned into a museum with all types of brand-inspired memorabilia that kids can love.

San Bernardino isn’t only known for the first McDonald’s. This place is also known for its wide variety of citruses that grow in California. You can see all types of orange and lemon trees around the area. If you want the full citrus trees experience, feel free to head over to The Ark of Citrus.

This is a location run by the University of California and it can be an ideal place to see orange trees and orange in nature, not just in supermarkets.

7. Santa Monica

Santa Monica is an international tourist destination. It’s no wonder so many Ontario residents prefer to visit it as often as possible. From pubs to beaches, there are plenty of things to do and visit in Santa Monica.

The Santa Monica State Beach is one of the largest in the state and it provides an ideal location to spend a full day out sunbathing. This beach has been featured in many movies and TV shows and it’s usually packed. But you can find your own corner on the beach if you arrive here in the morning.

The nearby Santa Monica Pier is another must-visit destination in the area. It’s one of the most photographed locations in the area. It also features a large Ferris wheel which you can hop on if you’re generally adventurous. The boardwalk here is also ideal if you simply want to sit back and relax for a couple of hours.

6. San Bernardino National Forest

San Bernardino National Forest area is recommended as a day trip as well. They could easily entertain a group for a whole day. One of the most important attractions here is the San Bernardino History & Railroad Museum.

This museum is a must-see for kids who love trains in general and old trains in particular. It represents one of the most important railroad museums in the state and it features some of the oldest locomotives which can be used as educational tools. Kids can learn about the first days of railroad transportation here and enjoy a cup of tea on the tour.

5. Joshua Tree National Park

If you don’t feel like walking, the Joshua Tree National Park is among the most interesting attractions to consider. Bicycles and even cars are allowed in the park. With its rugged terrain, it can be an ideal drive during a hot summer’s day.

One of its most popular vehicle routes is the Berdoo Canyon Road. This is the most important route for all of those who have a high clearance vehicle as it takes you to some of the most remote areas of the park. This road is only 11 miles long so taking a frequent break for snacks and pictures is highly advisable.

4. San Clemente

San Clemente is often seen as the perfect escape city in Orange County. It’s best to choose a weekday for the visit if you don’t like large crowds. Ideally, you will be here for the shopping scene which tends to have everything San Diego and Los Angeles don’t have, which is walkability.

San Clemente’s Del Mar Street is the only place you need to consider for shopping. It features a few good restaurants for the moment you want to take a shopping break. But this street is also known for its excellent choice of designer shops.

3. Angeles National Forest

The Angeles National Forest can be seen as a perfect natural habitat for nature experiences. Most people come here to hike or camp for a few days. But a 1-day escape can also be all that’s needed when it comes to seeing some of the most majestic animals the US has to offer.

One of the rare animals that are nested here is the famous bald eagle. It shouldn’t take more than a few hours to catch a glimpse of the majestic bird here.

2. San Diego

San Diego is one of the most popular cities and destinations in the US. This metropolitan area is known for some of the best food, a vivid arts scene, tech giants, and even as a surfer’s paradise.

For a 1-day trip, driving the famous San Diego 59 Mile Scenic Drive is a top way to spend your free time away from Ontario. The drive starts in downtown San Diego and it takes you along Point Loma, Ocean Beach, and even next to the renowned San Diego University Campus.

Another popular 1-day destination in the city is the famous San Diego Zoo. This is one of the largest zoos in the world and the top attractions for families with children. Almost 4.000 animals are found here and they are all kept in world-class conditions which means they are happy to see visitors.

1. Los Angeles

Los Angeles is one of the most cosmopolitan places in the US. It represents one of the most interesting cities for walking, shopping, and endless entertainment options. The city is close to Ontario and those who own a car will have no trouble making their way around.

Venice Beach is one of its most popular areas. While it isn’t as popular as it used to be due to gentrification, it still attracts those who visit LA the most.

Seen as the entertainment capital of the world, LA is also one of the most interesting places for movie set tours. There are a few of them around the city. Warner Bros Studios and Universal Studios are perfect tours for those only visiting LA for 1 day. You can even see the set of the Big Bang Theory here.

A more vivid experience can be had at the Disneyland Resort. This theme park is actually comprised of 2 theme parks that are linked which means you can spend a full day here without even visiting all of its attractions. A designated shopping area is what connects the 2 theme parks which are also a perfect spot to head over to buy delicious ice cream and snacks for kids.

The newest attraction to the resort is the Star Wars Galaxy Edge. This area of the resort is only a couple of years old and it’s expected to be the busiest on almost any day of the week.