If you’re looking to decompress over the holiday season, fancy a romantic getaway, have a hankering for some personal pampering or simply have a craving for a slice of scrumptious apple pie, read on. These are the best holiday escapes in and around Los Angeles, from swanky resorts and tranquil “glamping” retreats to island parks and maritime preserves.
Channel Islands National Park
1901 Spinnaker Drive
Ventura, CA 93001
Price: $56 adults/$39 children ages 3 to 12/$51 seniors/free children 3 and younger
Join fellow adventurers on an Island Packers charter out of Ventura Harbor and take a voyage of discovery to one of California’s best-kept secrets: The Channel Islands National Park. Hike along rugged cliff-top trails, kayak and scuba dive in vast undersea kelp beds and camp beneath the boughs of ancient eucalyptus trees. With a choice of five island destinations — Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, Santa Barbara and San Miguel — visitors can opt for a number of island experiences. If you keep your eyes peeled, you might catch a glimpse of the super-cute island fox, a species so rare it’s found nowhere else on the planet.
El Capitan Canyon Resort
11560 Calle Real
Santa Barbara, CA 93117
Price: from $155
Popularized by the TV reality show “The Real Housewives of Orange County,” El Capitan Canyon is a delightful “glamping” resort about 20 miles to the north of Santa Barbara. Featuring a collection of rustic cedar cabins, safari tents and Yurts located in a hidden valley dotted with oak and sycamore trees, visitors can enjoy a level of pampering designed to suit all tastes. Described as “an antidote to all that is excessive, formal, artificial or contrived,” the resort offers yoga, aromatherapy massages and fireside dinner packages to provide the perfect complement for that romantic getaway.
Related: One-Tank Trip To Santa Barbara
Santa Catalina Island
320 Golden Shore
Long Beach, CA 90802
Price: $72.50 adults/$57 children ages 3 to 12/$66 seniors/$5 children 2 and younger/$7 bikes and surfboards
Hop aboard the Catalina Express, and take a day trip to Avalon on Santa Catalina, the idyllic former island home of chewing gum magnate William Wrigley, Jr. Explore the stunning art deco dance hall known as The Casino, take a tram ride into the interior in search of bison, or simply relax and soak up the rays on the beach and promenade. Enjoy a host of water-related activities from fishing and sailing to kayaking and semi-submersible water tours whilst the more adventurous opt for a two-hour zip line eco-tour. If you pre-register on the Catalina Express website you may even ride to the island for free on your birthday.
Related: A Guide To Catalina Island
Julian Pie Company
2225 Main St.
Julian, CA 92036
Price: Pies from $15.95 (internet orders accepted)
Pie lovers in search of the perfect fruit-filled, pastry-topped dessert should head for the hills in northeastern San Diego County. Here, in the sleepy little town of Julian you’ll find one of the finest purveyors of pies in North America. Baked using a secret Smothers’ family recipe, the Julian Pie Company’s legendary concoctions provide the perfect culinary treat for visitors to this famous former gold-mining town. Located in the heart of the Cuyamaca Mountains, the town’s main street boasts an eclectic collection of restaurants, boutiques and tasting rooms. Enjoy a variety of accommodation to suit all budgets, including the Victorian-era Julian Hotel, a number of quaint B&Bs and a couple of RV camping resorts.
6610 Palos Verdes Drive S
Rancho Palos Verdes, CA 90275
Price: From $255 per night
If you’re looking for a romantic weekend with your partner but don’t fancy a two-hour drive to get out of town, check out the Terranea Resort, a 102-acre luxury oceanfront resort on the Palos Verdes Peninsula that offers a variety of hotel rooms, suites, villas, casitas and bungalows. Splash out on a Spa Club Bungalow and you’ll not only get a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean but you’ll also receive free access to a private spa pool, sauna and steam room along with complimentary all-day dining at The Spa Café. If dinner with a view is a better fit for your budget, take a stroll to Nelson’s, the resort’s bluff-top restaurant, pull up a chair by the fire pit, and watch the sun slowly sink into the ocean.
Julian Gothard is an internationally published freelance writer covering all things Los Angeles. You can check out his popular RVing and travel column at Examiner.com.