Just under two hours from downtown Los Angeles, first on I-5 and then on CA-14, is Red Rock Canyon State Park, where you can spend a day admiring impressive rock formations, hiking, dining outdoors, and much more.
CA-14 goes right through the middle of the park, so at one point you’ll be able to see gorgeous natural “walls” on both sides of the road. The visitor center, if you’re driving from LA, would be on your left. (The center is closed on some months during winter and summer.) There’s a $6 charge for parking, which, in my humble opinion, pays for itself when you get to use the flushable toilets inside the center. (Pit toilets get stinkyyyy.)
There are no stores or gas stations in the immediate area, so bring along everything that you will need. It is HOT in the summer, so keep that in mind as you prepare.
Movies like The Mummy and Jurassic Park, and TV series like Lost in Space were filmed at this park, just to give you an idea of the unique views it offers.
The park is open sunrise to sunset for day use, and there are 50 campsites (at Ricardo Campground) that are available in a first-come, first-served basis for $25/night. They are “primitive” campsites, meaning they have water, pit toilets, fire rings, and tables, but there are no RV hookups.
If you start early, you could easily combine this trip with a visit to the Antelope Valley Indian Museum State Historic Park and a stop at the Vasquez Rocks Natural Area. And if you’re visiting in the spring, you can also check out the Antelope Valley California Poppy Reserve. Full day? Yes. Doable? I think so.
But, of course, you may want to pitch a tent and make it an overnight adventure. This park offers some of the darkest skies in the vicinity of Los Angeles, so camping will gift you with gorgeous views of the stars.