The California Bucket List: Your daily guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State

California Bucket List

Here’s your daily travel guide to the best adventures and experiences in the Golden State. Each of these essential California adventures has been tried and tested by a Travel section staffer or contributor.

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Central Coast

Savor the scent of all things lavender in Los Olivos, about 6,000 miles closer than Provence

 (Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)
(Catharine Hamm / Los Angeles Times)

Why: Watching a field of lavender waving in a summer breeze is hypnotic, second only to smelling lavender. You need not go to France to experience this; it’s as close as Clairmont Farms in Los Olivos, a pretty 30-mile drive from Santa Barbara.

What: Besides the olfactory aesthetic, the grounds of the nine-or-so-acre farm, seven in lavender, are peaceful, surrounded  by towering oaks and framed by the Santa Ynez Mountains. You can bring a picnic lunch and dine at the painted-purple tables and browse the gift shop for its made-here lavender products. Note that if you’re allergic to bees, this may be a no-fly zone for you.

Clairmont grows two types of lavender: Grosso, which goes into all of the farm's products (including many soaps and bath items); and Provence, which goes into culinary products such as pepper, salt, honey and tea. A little lavender tea, owner Meryl Tanz said, can enhance the flavor of beer, wine, martinis or margaritas.

There isn’t a bad time to visit the farm, but the bloom (usually in mid June) is a fragrance feast. The harvest this year is early—right now, in fact—because of the heat. Even post-harvest, Clairmont is the respite you need when the world is too much with you.

Where: 2480 Roblar Ave., Los Olivos, about 130 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. Open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Tuesdays.

How much: Browsing the farm is free. Spending in the gift shop is up to you.

Info:  Clairmont Lavender Farms

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