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Between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara runs the US 101, alternating between rolling hills and stunning sea views. Family activities abound at a midpoint in Ventura County West, making for an excellent three day vacation close to the heart of Los Angeles. This area includes Camarillo, Oxnard, and Ventura.
Choose day trips between wine tasting, old airplanes, classic cars, or whale watching, just to name a few, as well as the tourist-friendly downtown shops and eateries with craft beers.
Channel Islands National Park is just 11 miles away by boat tour. The sea between the beach and islands often has whales feeding while transiting along the coast. Scores of porpoises will be seen hunting in the area, and it is fun to determine their coordinated strategy - just like human hunters flushing out game by beating the brush.
|Fun beach walks and bike paths are available right from your room at
Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel and Resort. Following a hearty, complimentary breakfast with cook-to-order service, your children have a
multi-section swimming pool to enjoy with playmates.
Ventura County West has a thriving wine industry and in my opinion, Herzog Wine Cellars is a must stop for tasting experiences, along with lunch at the Tierra Sur restaurant. If no time for driving winery touring, at Heritage Square is a tasting room for Rancho Ventavo Cellars that specializes in small lot artisanal wines.
Masterpiece Series Performances in Music
Evenings can include New West Symphony, where pre-concert dining provides special time with music lovers discussing the evening concert. On my visit, a performance of Gustav Holst’s The Planets in the Masterpiece Series included a display of local artists' impressions of the music.
Horsepower and Art Deco
The Mullin Automotive Museum has a display of automobiles in a private collection shared with the public. During my visit, there was a special display of "The Art of Bugatti," so check the calendar for any special events. The museum focus is on cars of the machine age and brass era (1905-1915) up to World War II. The founder especially favors unique French designs, and alongside the cars are displays of art deco collections. These are the cars you read about in great stories and literature, but thanks to this collection it can be fully appreciated. Many of the cars on display are actual race winners with custom engine developments giving the important edge. Visitors can get close up to these vehicles, peering inside at the two-seater racers without seat belts, whose drivers and mechanics wore only eye goggles for protection.
More for Engineering History Buffs
World War II ended 70 years ago, and for the USA the war started with Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighters from Japan attacking the fleet at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. See a real Zero on display at the Commemorative Air Force Museum, along with other period aircraft and artifact displays.
Driving back to Los Angeles and Orange County, I elected to take the Highway 1 route out of Oxnard and transit through Malibu Beach and into the Venice Beach area. Near the airport, I got on the freeway again and avoided the West LA crunch. Having taken in so much on a short trip and not driving six hours there and back means even the travel time can be enjoyable.