One of the delights of Southern California driving is the variety in motoring landscape, and this Ventura County drive offers a great selection of coastal and canyon roads.
We started in Oxnard, at the Mullin Automotive Museum. This prime automotive destination features one of the world’s finest collections of French Art Deco automobiles and artwork, in a building that once housed the car and motorcycle collection of former Los Angeles Times Publisher Otis Chandler.
The current exhibit, “Citroen: The Man, The Marque, The Mystique,” is said to be the largest U.S. collection of the unique French cars. It runs through next spring.
After ogling the autos, we fired up the Lamborghini Huracan sports car that we’d selected for this drive.
First we headed for Ventura, and then we turned into the hills, taking Highway 33 up from the coast. This scenic canyon road passes through the tiny communities of Casitas Springs and Oak View before entering the artsy town of Ojai. Here, along the main drag's charming Spanish arcades, are good shopping, dining and coffee options.
But today was about driving. The Huracan was aching for some open road. We got that by returning to Highway 33 and following it north through Meiners Oaks and into a narrowing canyon. Here the twisty road climbed and climbed through switchbacks and twisties, giving the lithe Italian sports car the chance to really unwind.
We could have spent a full day listening to the marvelous V-10 engine roar and sampling the Huracan’s handling by staying on the 33 all the way north toward Santa Maria.
But after we’d stopped at an overlook to enjoy the view, we realized it was lunch time. So we decided to retrace our drive and challenge the same twists and turns heading back downhill, toward Ojai.
The Deer Lodge is a popular weekend destination for drivers and bikers who stop for the vintage-looking roadhouse’s soups, salads, steaks and, on the weekend, generous barbecue menu.
The Deer Lodge is open for lunch Monday to Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., and on Saturday and Sunday from 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. Dinner is served 4 to 9 p.m. every day but Saturday, when service goes to 10 p.m. The barbecue menu is Saturday and Sunday only, from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Well-fed and back on the road, we had two options. We could go the fast way back, down the 33 to Ventura and Oxnard. Or we could go the fun way back. In honor of the Huracan, we chose that way.
Highway 150 leaves the 33 heading west, just down the hill from Ojai. Sinuous and sweeping, it coils around the north side of Lake Casitas and heads into Casitas Pass. The driving is fantastic, and the views are even better — backward toward the lake at the beginning of the drive, and forward toward the Pacific Ocean at the end.
We stopped where the road crosses Highway 101, just south of the seaside town of Carpinteria, which like Ojai offers ample choices for food and beverage.
By then the afternoon sun had burned off the last of the morning’s coastal fog, and was shining on the highway as we rolled south, past the surf spot known as Rincon and the hamlets of La Conchita and Mussel Shoals.
Soon we were passing through Ventura, and then we were back in Oxnard at the Mullin, deeply impressed by the Huracan and happy to have carved out another fine L.A. Drive.
Where we went: Oxnard to Ojai to Carpinteria and back
What we drove: 2016 Lamborghini Huracan
What to see: Mullin Automotive Museum, scenic towns of Ojai and Carpinteria, Rincon surf spot
Where to eat: The Deer Lodge, 2261 Maricopa Hwy., Ojai, (805) 646-4256
Total drive distance: 102 miles
Total driving and dining time: 3 to 3.5 hours