City Escape: Los Angeles, California Northbound

Text: Alfonse Palaima • Photography: Alfonse Palaima

A great northern escape from Los Angeles is through Ojai and the Los Padres National Forest, which is commonly considered the “better way” of getting to the Pacific Coast Highway from LA (between Cambria and Carmel). Best rides are in the fall when central valley temps drop below 100 degrees.

Length

Approximately 350 miles

Meet-up Spot

The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf in Malibu, 3835 Cross Creek #7, food and good scenery with fuel available nearby.

Scenery

Pine mountain passes to dry lakes, this route is California gold. Scenery is nice; roads are stellar.

Traffic

A California sampler, heavy traffic can be found along the freeways, but every other mile is open.

Difficulty

While the twisty parts are a joyous 4 (occasionally pushing toward 5), the highways are a difficult 2 by volume.

Road Conditions

Farm roads to freeways put this route at a 3. Bumpy where you would expect it but primarily a 4.

Lunch Stop

Santa Maria is known for BBQ and makes for a good early stopping place. Or for a later lunch, try Sides Hardware and Shoes- a Brothers Restaurant, 2375 Alamo Pintado Ave, Los Olivos, CA.

Points of Interest

  1. Pistachio Farm in Ventucopa 
A locally owned organic pistachio farm. Pistachios are packed and shipped daily, always farm fresh. www.santabarbarapistachios.com.
  2. Los Olivos Wine Merchant & Café 
An award winning café and 
wine merchant, made famous 
for their scene in the movie 
Sideways. www.losolivoscafe.com.
  3. Solvang Vintage 
Motorcycle Museum 
View an impressive array of vintage and rare motorcycles, along with European racing bikes. Bikes rotate monthly, so there’s always something new to see. www.motosolvang.com.

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