27 Ways to Spend a Day Touring the Southland


Bev Gillett and Laurey Venn’s new book comes with a caveat: “Warning: Reading this book will make you want to get up and go!!!”

The book, “One Day Self-Guided Tours of Southern California,” is heavy on exclamation points. But that’s because Gillett, who wrote it, says she speaks that way.

“That’s the one criticism I’ve had--'What’s with all the exclamation points?’ ” Gillett concedes. But, as she sees the destinations mentioned in the book, “everything’s great! They all deserve an exclamation point.”

The self-published trade paperback ($9.95) spans an area from Baja’s Rosarito Beach to Santa Barbara, and from Santa Catalina Island to Big Bear, Lake Arrowhead and Idyllwild.


In addition to 27 one-day tours--maps and information on what to see and what to avoid are included--the book mentions nearly 350 other Southern California destinations.

“One Day Self-Guided Tours of Southern California” was published in November. According to Gillett, two 2,000-copy printings sold out, and they have gone into a third printing.

“Hotel concierges discovered the book for us and just went mad about it,” Gillett says. “They really found it extremely helpful, and they also helped persuade their hotel gift stores to stock them. Realtors are also using it as a gift for new homeowners. There’s nothing like this out there.”

The book is being sold in Nature Company stores, Sherman Gardens in Corona del Mar, the Super Crown in Irvine, Barnes & Noble at the Irvine Spectrum and at other shops and pharmacies throughout Southern California; it is also available from the authors by calling (714) 651 9822.


A 15-year resident of Orange County, the South African-born Gillett moved to Irvine from Orange in 1995. In Irvine, she joined the Newcomers Club and started leading one-day “gad-about” tours for new residents “because nobody knew how to get around.”

“The one thing I’ve found is that the newcomers were so intimidated by the traffic and freeways. They’d say, ‘I’d like to go into L.A., but it’s too far and I don’t know the freeways.’ And once there, they didn’t know what to do.”

Gillett decided to publish the book after discovering that people were clipping out the tour information she wrote for the Newcomers Club newsletter. Venn, an Irvine “newcomer” from St. Louis who accompanied Gillett on many of the tours, drew the maps for the book.

Gillett’s favorite one-day self-guided tour destinations are Santa Barbara, Laguna Beach and La Jolla, she says. The book includes places the uninitiated visitor wouldn’t find, she adds. Such as:

An area of La Jolla, near the Children’s Pool, where “the seals come up onto the sand and you can get close to them.”

Or “the Alley” in downtown Los Angeles, a several-square-block area that sells inexpensive clothing, jewelry and leather goods.

Or the Park Bench, a restaurant near the Huntington Beach Central Library that includes canine water dishes for dog walkers. As Gillett notes in her book:

“On special occasions, such as a doggie birthday, they offer Poochie Parties complete with appetizer, beverage, entree and dessert for a cost of $3.95 per dog!”


This Week

* Earlene Fowler, author of “Goose in the Pond,” will speak and sign at 1 p.m. today at Coffee, Tea & Mystery, 13232 Springdale St., Westminster.

* June Foray, who supplied the voice for Rocky J. Squirrel and Natasha Fatale in “Rocky & Bullwinkle” and Nell Fenwick in “Dudley Do-Right,” will perform stories from “Tall and Small Tales,” her new audio book for children 3 to 8, at 11:30 a.m. today at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Poets Jerry Fairchild and Boomer Maverick will read at 8 p.m. Tuesday at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Edward Keonjian, author of “Survived to Tell,” will discuss his story of life in pre-World War II Russia at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Borders Books and Music, 25222 El Paseo, Mission Viejo.

* Poets Lee Mallory and Catherine Spear will present a poetry performance, “Partners: Lives & Love,” at 8 p.m. Tuesday at the Gypsy Den Cafe and Reading Room in the Lab mall, 2930 Bristol St., Costa Mesa.

* Aimee Liu, author of “Cloud Mountain,” will sign at noon Thursday at the UC Irvine Bookstore in the Student Center on campus.

* Poet Barry Spacks, a professor of English at UC Santa Barbara and the author of five books of poetry, will read at 7:30 p.m. Thursday at the Crown Valley Library, 30341 Crown Valley Parkway, Laguna Niguel.


* Stephen Burgard, author of “Hallowed Ground: Rediscovering Our Spiritual Roots,” will sign at 7 p.m. Friday at Borders Books and Music, Center, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Jesse Davis, author of “A Catholic Mother Looks at the Gay Child,” will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Friday at Borders Books and Music, 25222 El Paseo, Mission Viejo.

* Elisa Kleven, author of “Puddle Pail,” will sign at 4 p.m. Friday at Whale of a Tail Children’s Bookshoppe, 4187 Campus Drive, Irvine.

* Philip Reed, author of “Bird Dog,” will sign at 1 p.m. Saturday at Book Carnival, 348 S. Tustin Ave., Orange.

* Cartoonist Kevin Fagan will sign copies of his new collection, “Son of Drabble,” at 2 p.m. Saturday at Brentano’s in South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa.

* Dale Furutani, author of “Death in Little Tokyo,” will read and sign at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Mystery Ink in Upchurch-Brown Bookstore, 384 Forest Ave., Laguna Beach.

* Vernanne Bryan, author “Laura Keene: A British Actress on the American Stage 1826-1873,” will speak and sign at 7 p.m. Saturday at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

* Poet Su Falcon will conduct a free poetry-writing seminar 9 a.m.-noon Saturday at Borders Books and Music, 429 S. Associated Road, Brea.

Send information about book-related events at least 10 days before event to: Dennis McLellan, O.C. Books & Authors, Life & Style, The Times, 1375 Sunflower Ave., Costa Mesa, CA 92626.