Hello, fellow Escapists. Summer is an exuberant time for many travelers, with long days and hot weather pushing us out of our workplaces and into our cars, bound for Yosemite, Santa Barbara, Big Sur, San Diego, Ojai and more. other bustling vacation spots.
There’s a special joy to summer travel, of course. But the other side of the coin? Expensive gasoline and flight prices and a lot of overcrowding in preferred destinations.
That’s why, in this edition of Escapes, I’m offering quieter alternatives to three crowd-favorite California experiences. I hope these places allow you to relax, contemplate whatever comes to mind and just be for a certain time.
After all, summer always ends up being short. Let’s savor it.
Where are you going this season? I’m curious how you like to get off the beaten path on a trip to California. Email me anytime.
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Instead of visiting the Hollywood Bowl just for performances…
Explore the Hollywood Bowl during the day
Over its 100-year history, the Hollywood Bowl has been the scene of legendary music, theater and dance performances, performed by artists such as Ella Fitzgerald, Jimi Hendrix, John Williams, the famous Mexican Ballet Folklórico and the Beatles.
In 1926, a baby was born under the stage during a show (yes, really). Ringling Bros. Circus Trapeze Artists and Barnum & Bailey flew over the scene in 1958.
These days, you might like the Bowl more for its $1 LA Phil tickets, BYOB-and-wine policy, and rowdy “Sound of Music” parties (complete with collective whistles every time the Baroness appears at the screen).
Besides all the action, the Bowl can be a soothing and meditative place, provided you visit it at the right time.
“It’s also a fantastic public park that you can enjoy during the day,” writes Times contributor James Bartlett. Last week he posted a walking guide to the Jewels of the Bowl. Here are some highlights:
- A set of historic bungalows in Highland Camrose Park once housed film stars and singers. During Bowl season, picnickers can stop here before an event or concert. Out of season, it is open to the public.
- Only one of the Bowl’s original pepper pots exists today. You can smell its fragrance near the doors of the Hollywood Bowl Museum.
- “Walking the 168 steps at the back of the amphitheater is a must,” writes Bartlett. “In 2011, The Times reported that British actor and comedian Eddie Izzard, an avid marathon runner, ran to the top in less than five minutes.”
Instead of competing for a hotel reservation in Ojai…
Cuyama Badlands Cruise
The famed serene Ojai is getting “hippier and more expensive by the day,” my colleague Christopher Reynolds reported last week, as more and more Angelenos make the 80-mile journey north.
“There aren’t enough hotel rooms for people who want to be here,” Emerald Iguana Inn manager Diana Hawk told Reynolds. “Half of Los Angeles is coming here.”
I love a trip to Bart’s Books and other Ojai institutions as much as the next traveler. But if you’re wary of crowds, I suggest driving an hour and 15 minutes further along California State Route 33 in search of plenty of space.
The desert and ranch swaths of the Cuyama Valley have similar magic to Joshua Tree, but with fewer travellers.
Last year, Times contributor Sharon Boorstin included the Cuyama Buckhorn in her roundup of seven Santa Barbara area hotels to visit as California’s tourism industry opened up in the wake of COVID-19 closures.
The hotel’s designers “have added what they call ‘mid-century cowboy’ touches to their 21-room inn,” Boorstin wrote, “including cowhide rugs on the floors in black and white tiles and vintage cowboy hats on the walls”. If you can’t get enough of those classic desert vibes, this is the place.
But if you’re looking for somewhere a bit more rustic and secluded, I suggest book a campsite at Songdog Ranch, just 15 miles away in the nearby town of Maricopa. It offers a variety of primitive campsitesas well as a glamp out tent for those who do not want to give up all their comfort in nature.
Instead of visiting a popular national park…
Take time to reflect at Angel Island State Park
Angel Island is a thought-provoking destination as are many places in nature.
“It’s a lush green spot just off Tiburon in Marin County,” describes Reynolds, who included the 740-acre island on his bucket list. the 101 best experiences in California. Many travelers enjoy hiking and biking around the perimeter of the state park, which offers views of the San Francisco skyline, the Golden Gate Bridge, and Alcatraz.
It’s contemplative in a deeper way too.
From 1910 to 1940, Angel Island was “the American point of entry for about half a million Asian immigrants, including 175,000 from China, who typically spent weeks or months locked up in barracks before being released. allowed in,” Reynolds said.
Today, visitors can reflect on the island’s complicated and troubled history at the Detention Barracks Museum, open Wednesday through Sunday, and the Angel Island Immigration Museum, open on weekends.
If you go there, Reynolds recommends driving to Tiburon and taking the 10-minute ferry to Angel Island from the quaint community’s downtown.
Wander and wonder
I recently came across this question in the Reddit “Ask Los Angeles” community: Are there any clubs or classes that visit places like Sequoia National Park?
The questioner mentioned the Sierra Club, which organizes a variety of rides around California for people of different skill levels.
I also recommend checking out Sequoia Parks Conservancy’s lineup. It currently offers a “Sequoia Sunset Walk”, a “Wonders of the Night Sky” astronomy program, and a longer hiking trip in August, among other events.
Pro tip: Park associations and reserves often offer expert-led activities that allow travelers to gain an even richer perspective on their favorite parks (another example: field courses and lecture series of the Joshua Tree National Park Assn.).
Do you have a travel-related question? Let me know, and I may feature your question in a future issue of Escapes.
🎸 Road Song
“June” by Florence + the Machine. Play it as you drive past Wheeler Springs towards the Cuyama Valley.