May 26, 2013 |
Wild and lonely, on the Central Coast about 45 minutes southwest of Lompoc, Jalama Beach County Park is one of those places that puts the golden in the Golden State. Getting here over mounded hills and through moss-bearded oak thickets is glorious enough, and then you see the beach stretching for miles from Point Arguello to Point Conception. The 23.5-acre park, donated to Santa Barbara County in 1943 by the Atlantic Richfield Co., has a small restaurant and store, a handful of cabins and camping sites, but nothing more to break the spell of clashing coast and ocean.
May 19, 2013 |
They say something in our salty blood draws us to the sea. As such, Ventura will always be one of our easiest, breeziest, saltiest options. You know you've left L.A. proper when the boot shops start popping up along the 101. You know you've arrived in Ventura when the wind begins to whip and the gulls begin to circle. The tab: $289 for two nights right on the beach, $120 for meals and $98 for three tickets to the whale-watching experience of a lifetime. The bed We set up at the Inn on the Beach (1175 S. Seaward Ave.; 
May 5, 2013 |
Fifty miles north of San Francisco, straddling U.S. Highway 101, sits Santa Rosa, former home of Charles M. Schulz and the gang from "Peanuts. " From the highway, as you boom past at 70 mph, Santa Rosa appears to be just another somewhere on the way to somewhere else. But a short detour east into downtown or west into the wine country quickly proves otherwise. The tab: We spent $163 for a night at the Hotel La Rose, dinner for two at Willi's Wine Bar was $84, including wine, and a lavish picnic from Whole Foods Market came to $43. Gas and incidentals added $100 to the tab. Wine at Bella and Iron Horse vineyards, of course, was extra.
April 28, 2013 |
One look at omnipresent Camelback Mountain and you might think the northeast Phoenix neighborhood known as Arcadia is on the outskirts of town where tumbleweeds blow effortlessly. But you'd be wrong - very, very wrong. Arcadia is where you'll find twentysomethings hanging out at recently opened gastropubs, young families walking to nearby parks, mini-malls with pizzerias and dive bars featuring Skee ball and foosball. This might sound like Los Angeles, but one glimpse of a helmet-less biker cruising down Campbell Avenue and you'll know you aren't in California.
April 21, 2013 |
The gilt-trimmed high-rises of Waikiki offer a seductive escape from L.A. But those who rent a car - a convertible, please - - can find a simpler side of Oahu on the North Shore, an hour or so away, where locals and tourists carry surfboards instead of Louis Vuitton purses (real or fake) and debates about where to eat focus on which food trucks serve the best garlic shrimp. Residents call it "the country," and they want to keep it that way. Haleiwa is the only real town on the North Shore, and it's mainly a line of one-story beach shops, cafes, bars and shave-ice outlets along the highway.
April 14, 2013 |
Pleasanton, Calif., is - no surprise here - a pleasant small city east of San Francisco Bay that was off the beaten track for much of the 20th century and avoided the redevelopment that destroyed the cores of many older cities. Its downtown - filled with tree-lined streets, vintage architecture, restaurants and boutiques - evokes a small town in New England. My good friend Laura, who used to live there, was my guide on our trip. The tab: We spent about $450, including $220 for two nights at the Sheraton and $230 for food and drinks.