September is upon us, which means time is running out for any last-minute summer getaways to escape the L.A. commotion.
Explore a pair of LGBT-friendly destinations within a three-hour drive of Los Angeles offering a swath of nature, culture and nightlife worth getting on the freeway for. As a bonus, these budget-friendly spots might just be cheaper than staying in town.
San Luis Obispo
The Scissor Sisters recently paid musical homage to this seaside city nestled at the halfway point between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The college town, affectionately dubbed SLO, offers a young, liberal vibe combined with ample vineyards and wineries to explore.
For breakfast or lunch, check out Big Sky for its extensive menu of organic and seasonal comfort food. For dinner, Novo serves Asian and American fare on a charming patio perched above the San Luis Obispo Creek.
Spend the night at the Granada Hotel & Bistro, which recently received a multimillion-dollar renovation while keeping the building’s 1920s vintage feel.
For a gaudy good time, book a stay at the Madonna Inn where each of the 110 rooms is themed, from the very pink Madonna suite to the Caveman room that comes fully encased in faux rock.
Those who’d rather sleep among the stars can camp out at Morro Bay State Park, which features 2,700-acres of redwoods and wildlife, as well as an 18-hole public golf course with sweeping views of the bay.
Once you arrive in Ojai, located 90 minutes north of Los Angeles, you won’t need a car. This quaint, foot-friendly city is lined with locally owned restaurants, art galleries, hiking trails, tasting rooms and spas.
Start your morning with eggs, cakes and organic coffee at Knead, an artisan family bakery that sources local ingredients. Ease into the afternoon at Ojai Beverage Company, where patrons can sample a menu of organic wines and microbrews.
For dinner, Suzanne’s serves up sophisticated Mediterranean-inspired meals with ingredients from local farmers markets. Be sure to request a table on the outdoor patio among its lush greenery.
Book a stay at longtime local favorite the Lavender Inn, a chic B&B and spa converted from a historic 1874 schoolhouse.
The new Ojai Rancho Inn has been renovated to high hipster standards while keeping its 1950s retro vibe. The 18-room inn, adorned with midcentury furniture and work by L.A. artists, boasts a pool, a sauna and bikes for rent, as well as communal fire pits and barbecue grills.
—By Jamie Van Bergen, Brand Publishing Writer