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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