day trips husband and I recently endured a nightmare that began in early December when I was mugged and our car was stolen. Everything wound up being resolved pretty well. Our car was never recovered, so in the end we got a new car out of it. (Please, if you don’t have it already, sign up for comprehensive insurance immediately.) I would have liked to see the little creep put in jail, and there was an entire case of SmartWater in the trunk, but otherwise I can’t complain. The new car? Awesome. And because my husband has a Vespa that he uses for his commute (and pretty much everything else) I got to pick out the car. This means it’s a stick shift, which means I have to teach an old dog new tricks (how he never learned to drive stick is beyond me) if I don’t want to be the only driver indefinitely. This doesn’t worry me. What I am concerned about, though, is where to go for our first out-of-town trip. My husband wants to go to San Francisco for a concert. I am totally OK with this plan in theory, but there are two problems: it could be pricy, and that’s a long trip for my pelvis to endure (I’m pregnant). The seats are super-comfy, but I’d still be sitting for six hours.

Anyway, to get to my (incredibly long-winded) point, I am looking into possible day trips. The goal is to drive a couple hours, see nice scenery, eat, possibly “do” something, and either come home or spend the night in a cheap motel. (Er, but not too cheap…)

I’m looking for ideas.

We have a bunch of guidebooks, but they all seem to be from 1999. Southern California Off The Beaten Path is still fairly relevant, since state parks and the like don’t tend to close down, but Lonely Planet LA and The Underground Guide to Los Angeles are both pretty much obsolete (one lists hours for the Griffith Park Observatory, which has been closed for renevations for approximately three hundred years). We don’t even have a Thomas Guide or street map, since they were both in the stolen car. We have a 2002 Not For Tourists guide, which is still too old but at least the maps are correct.

So I guess the first thing is to buy a new map and/or guidebook. Any suggestions?

Next up is a plan. Whenever we have out-of-town guests or just need to get out of the city, we go to the same place – The Devil’s Punchbowl out in the Angeles National Forest, near Lancaster/Palmdale. It’s gorgeous (I’ll add a photo as soon as I figure out how see photo above). We love it. We need something new.

My preference is for something that does not necessarily involve other people, costs very little if anything, can be done in one day, and is worth reporting back on.

Please. Inundate me with your ideas.

In the meantime, I think it is pretty funny that my husband and I literally cannot drive each other’s vehicles.

7 thoughts on “day trips”

  1. Santa Ynez!
    Yes, yes, it’s the wine country made famous by the movie “Sideways,” but I believe it might fit the bill: Two hour drive, beautiful scenery all the way up the coast, peaks and valleys, easy hikes to be had, great food and a relaxing one-day trip. I’m not a drinker, so even though I accompanied my friends to various vineyards for wine tastings, I enjoyed the scenery just as much. We also went berry picking, but we went in late summer so they’re probably not in season now. I’m not sure what the weather is like this time of year, may be too chilly.

    Also I just got back from a long weekend in Ensenada, Mexico on the Baja Coast. Plenty of amazing food, fish tacos out of this world and the coastal scenery was gorgeous. The drive is 4 hours, but there are towns you can stop in along the way to get out and stretch your muscles (“Lobstertown” – I don’t remember the actual name, it’s rather quaint, albeit touristy). Ensenada was cute, and the weather was a little warmer than it is here. We stayed just North of the town in a little rented cottage on a marina, so we didn’t have to deal with any tourist traps. Might be a bit far for you, though.

  2. P.S. – Both trips were done on a very limited budget. My boyfriend and I limited our spending money to $30 each (meals, tastings, fruit picking, etc) for the Santa Ynez trip, and you can do Mexico for stupidly cheap if you do it right.
    F-you, Rachel Ray and your $40 a day!

  3. A couple of thoughts:

    I went up to Santa Barbara and went whale watching there via Condor Express twice last summer. Very easy to do in one day and you can stop at Super Rica tacos for some excellent and cheap food.

    Of course Los Angeles has some nice whale watching and Catalina can be kind of fun if you’ve never been. I recommend the botanical gardens if you’re into catci.

    Channel Islands daytrips through Island Packers out of Oxnard. Anacapa is pretty cool and not at all far out for a single day affair. Ventura can be fun if you like antiquing and just wandering around little shops and stuff (as can Ojai).

    Closer to home, you could spend a whole day at Pt. Dume/Zuma. A nice picnic lunch from the deli/sandwich counter at Whole Foods and you’re good to go. Malibu Canyon can be pretty cool too, if you’ve never explored the trails.

    If you’re into spa type experiences you can get a daypass to the Montage Resort spa in Laguna Beach which has a pretty awesome view and some secluded coves (especially deserted on weekdays). Once you’re in the spa, you can hang out at the pool all day. It’s a little pricey but way cheaper than booking a room there.

    Hmm, now I wanna go do all those things.

  4. It’s an ET2. So cute! Even if it doesn’t tend to break 35 with both of us on it. (Best way to go out to eat ever, though – no parking woes!)

  5. Try Joshua Tree. It’s utterly beautiful and baffling and there’s nothing like it anywhere else. Then stay in Desert Hot Springs. Have dinner at The Authentic Mexican place, and ask for the waitress who slept with Elvis.

  6. This commen t is a little late to the party but…

    If you like thrift shops and art come up my way to Ventura/Ojai. Exit the 101 at California street in Ventura and go 2 blocks north to Main St. Cool, funky thrift shops and we might be having an art walk the weekend you come up. Then take Hwy 33 to Ojai about another 15 miles north of Ventura. Cool art colony town. It’s off the beaten path and hotels are cheap. I love living up here.

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