Traveler Surf Club Coastal Outpost The 1,200-square-foot space, located steps from Linda Mar, offers members board storage, lockers, showers, and a sauna. There’s also a retail component stocked with apparel and surfboards from California shapers, and rentals and lessons are available even to nonmembers. “We originally imagined this as a place to rinse off, store your board, check your email in the backyard,” says Cox. “But it’s evolved into a real community.”
William Heise County Park, near Julian, CA This dog-friendly camp in the Cuyamaca Mountains offers 103 sites and 14 cute wooden cabins nestled in an oak grove, plusnumerous hiking trails. You and Fido can walk a 2.5-mile loop to Glen’s View, where the vista stretches from the Anza-Borrego Desert to the Pacific Ocean. Afterward, head into Julian for a slice of apple pie.
Moro Campground Unzip the tent for stunning views of the Pacific from a bluff-top site. If you can manage to tear yourself away from the ocean, head inland in the morning for 17 miles of trails through the canyons and gentle rolling hills before cooling off back at the beach. Sites 51–60 are perched above 3.2 miles of pristine sand. From $55; crystalcovestatepark.com
Ryan Campground, Joshua Tree National Park Watch a desert sunset or a dazzling star show from the top of a massive boulder, then crawl into your sleeping bag when the night turns cool. The gargantuan rocks also provide a cozy sense of privacy for most of the 31 sites. During the day, take the strenuous hike to Ryan Mountain’s view-filled summit or visit the ruins of the 1890s Ryan Ranch.
Mesquite Spring Campground, Death Valley National Park For a desert adventure without the crowds, head to Mesquite Spring in Grapevine Canyon. This 30-site camp is ideally situated for visiting the 32,000-square-foot mansion known as Scotty’s Castle, the 600-foot-deep abyss at Ubehebe Crater, and the strange moving rocks at the Racetrack Playa. Distances here are vast and services few, so triple-check your packing list.
Los Angeles County Arboretum & Botanic Garden There are 200 peafowl, all descended from a flock brought here in the 1880s, roaming the grounds, and the peacock proves a perfect symbol for this dazzling showstopper. The Rose Garden, replete with picturesque pergolas and arbors, is planted with heritage varieties and selections from English rose breeder David Austin. Book online for a tour of the 1885 Queen Anne Cottage on Baldwin Lake (Fridays and Saturdays only).
The Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens The West’s extraordinary botanical gardens are more than just pretty flowers. Yes, they are beautiful—with riotous rose gardens, showstopping magnolias, resplendent rhododendrons. They range from deep explorations of desert flora to long looks at tropical luxuriance.
Santa Barbara Botanic Garden Head right to the garden’s signature Western Meadow. Admire the carpet of wildflowers and then lift your eyes to take in the magnificent oaks and the Santa Ynez Mountains beyond. Stroll across Mission Dam, which was built in 1807 and provided water to Mission Santa Barbara for more than 100 years. Don’t miss the Home Demonstration Garden with its wonderful display of drought-resistant plants.
Get Your Picnic Fix Part picnic provisions shop, part wine bar, and oh so charming, Tipple & Ramble is a place where you can shop and sip in style. Stock up on barware, blankets, picnic baskets, retro games, and gourmet snacks and then stay for a cheese, charcuterie, or mezze board paired with a glass of bubbly or rosé on their picture-perfect patio--a lush setting complete with hammocks and a vintage trailer.
Book a Retro Sleep We’re not sure what we love most about The Ojai Rancho Inn, a converted 1950s roadside motel: the rustically chic rooms featuring tie-dye curtains and original artwork; the Insta-worthy pool complete with bocce ball, sauna, and hammocks; or Chief’s Peak(pictured), the hotel bar that serves up soju cocktails, boozy kombucha, and beer.
Roll around Town With its winding roads and miles of bike paths, Ojai is a town built for biking. Not only does The Mob Shop offer a full roster of two-wheelers for rent, from mountain to electric bikes, but also they have some sweet (and steep!) guided tours—including a 10-mile ride down Sulphur Mountain and a 16-mile pedal to the Pacific that includes tacos on the pier.
Sleep in Style The all-Airstream oasis of Caravan Outpost means shacking up in one of their 11 tricked-out trailers, not that you’ll be roughing it. Campers come with kitchenettes, cozy beds topped with colorful Mexican blankets, Juniper Ridge bath amenities, and outlets for charging all your gadgets.
Take in the Iconic “Pink Moment” Ah, the pink moment, that magic and mysterious time when the sun goes down and Ojai’s Topatopa Mountains take on tones of pink, peach, and lavender, bathing the valley in rosy revelry. It’s so serene, and best taken in from Shelf Road Trail, a 3.5-mile out-and-back hike with dramatic valley views.
Carboload Kate Pepper didn’t start out as a baker; the hobby-turned-business was born out of a breakup. Several years later, Kate’s Bread turns out in-demand sourdough loaves, croissants, and scones from a pizza oven in a converted woodshop out of her parents’ house. There’s no storefront yet, but you can get her goods at Farmer and the Cook on Friday or at her house on Sundays. Best to order online ahead—her baked goods go fast.
Rejoice in Bibliophilia Bart’s Books has every book under the sun—literally! A true Ojai institution, what started in 1964 as Richard Bartinsdale’s collection of books along the sidewalk where people could leave payment in cans, has expanded to be the largest independently-owned and -operated outdoor bookstore in the United States—and the honor system still exists for the 50-cent titles out front.