Road trips from Southern California: Central California
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( Gary Kazanjian / For The Times )
Harris Ranch, Coalinga, Calif.
Distance: 201 miles one-way
About 100 miles north of the Grapevine, near the turnoff for Coalinga, straw-colored hills bubble up and Harris Ranch appears, an oasis at Exit 334, where the sprinklers always seem to be turned on, watering neatly trimmed lime trees and beds of flowers. Often, a man selling bonsai plants out of his truck is stationed across from the entrance.
Like most exits on Interstate 5, 334 has a handful of the kind of chain restaurants and motels that always remind me of a road trip I once took with a friend. When we stopped at a Denny's, she called the restaurant the symbol of everything wrong with America. I like their tuna melts but must admit I know what she means, which is partly why I love the independently owned Harris Ranch Inn & Restaurant. To me it's the symbol of what's right with America.
-- Susan Spano
Read more: Eat well, sleep deeply off I-5, at Harris Ranch
Pictured: Harris Ranch restaurant