by Matthew Allard - 46 Reviews - 32 List
Ah, summer--is there a better time to plan a weekend getaway? Granted, we do live in Southern California, home of never-ending sunshine, but somehow the idea of beach blanket bingo and poolside margaritas is a decidedly summer thing. Here are five quickie destinations from Los Angeles to celebrate the season and enjoy it while it lasts!
Updated: June 14, 2010
Crispy crunchy thin crust pizzas, steaks and cocktails served on a lively outdoor patio high above downtown Palm Springs is what you'll get at this fun spot. This is an easy choice because the menu is varied enough to please all palates (who doesn't love pizza?) and the indoor/outdoor seating provides diners with an option of action or intimacy.
Pee Wee Herman made this a popular roadside stop in the '80s, and it still remains the same today. Serving as a low-tech Jurassic Park in the desert, visitors are allowed to climb inside and take photos with "Rex," the looming Tyrannosaurus, and an assortment of other extinct creatures built by Claude Bell.
If you really want to get unplugged, Palm Springs' ultimate rustic retreat is just the ticket. The simple and old-fashioned yet gorgeous Moroccan and Mediterranean style bungalows are scattered across this natural hideaway (as are a pair of pools), helping guests shift into a calm summer state of mind. You won't find TVs or telephones in the rooms, just stone-tiled bathtubs, crisp cotton sheets, and peace and quiet.
Fairways and beauty treatments in an inspired mountain setting. This inland resort is tailored to those that enjoy outdoor activities or simple relaxation. Slough off a long, hot summer at the spa or rejuvenate in the great outdoors with hiking and horseback riding on their 800-acre ranch.
Locals swear by this no-frills burrito stand in Downtown Ojai. Chicken, steak and vegetarian burritos, some named after nearby landmarks, are generous and also get bonus points for being handily affordable. Grab lots of napkins, though. The restaurant doesn't offer much in the seating department--you'll be eating in your car (but weekend getaways are full of adventure, right?).
The largest independently owned outdoor bookstore in the US, this is a must-see Ojai landmark. The "honor system" that allows book lovers to shop even when the store is closed and the open air floor plan, with its sunny nooks for afternoon reading, have made Bart's a unique stop since 1964.
You'll want to make a reservation in advance for this sparkling Italian eatery. Dario Furlati, the restaurant's eponymous owner, hails from L.A. hits like Prego and Ca'Brea, but Ca'Dario is his shining namesake, a wine rack laden beauty serving authentic cuisine.
Possibly the most posh campground on the West Coast, this "resort" offers a selection of luxurious cabins and safari tents, which are built on raised wooden decks and feature queen or two double beds, heaters and electric lights. You can get close to nature on your weekend getaway without exactly roughing it.
Let's go out on a limb and claim that the cupcakes here, named fanciful things like Whipple Scrumptious, are better than those you'd find in any Los Angeles cupcakery. Yes, Sprinkles and Crumbs can eat their over-frosted hearts out. This hot pink cupcake haven in Montecito makes every medium-size creation just right. And their Peanut Butter Yumptious is worth the price of gas alone.
You'll remember this sprawling escape as the choice resort/spa that AIG's corporate staff spent time (and a whole lotta money!) after getting a government bailout. Whether or not you agree with that behavior, there's a reason why this lavish Tuscan-style property was chosen: It's one of the swankiest resorts on the planet.
Catch a breathtaking summer sunset at this elegant seaside restaurant. Their menu consists mainly of steak and seafood served with a side of coastal kitsch. The view of Catalina Island and the ocean, however, comes at no extra charge.
Swimming, surfing and scuba diving have made this crystalline coastal park so famous, but there's still plenty more worth getting out of the car for. Explore the numerous hiking trails and windswept tidepools. There's even horseback riding and terrain for mountain bikers.
This steak and seafood haven decked out with Dolce and Gabbana leopard print chairs and plush decor is on the cusp of restaurant stardom. If you plan to escape to the sleepy coast a weekend getaway, it's a worthy choice for a livelier evening. Mix, mingle and grub on fresh from the sea fare like mussels, calamari and roasted Australian lobster tails.
It's just you, the sea, the sky, two baseball diamonds and a meticulously groomed soccer field at this park located in the Malibu Bluffs. Pack your picnic basket and a blanket and plan to close the summer in SoCal's signature sunshine. And if you'd prefer ultimate privacy, roughly five more miles up the PCH you can trade the grass for Dana Point's sandy secluded beach cove. Either option is prime for an award-winning date.
Perhaps a no-brainer: Toast the coming fall with a glass of wine at the Rosenthal family's beachside estate and vineyard. They have a phenomenal tasting room open to the public. And you thought we were gonna make you drive all the way up to Napa...