I didn't often think of Ventura County as a proto-foodie haven, but that was before I learned about Adolfo Camarillo, an early 20th century visionary, landowner and philanthropist (and the town's namesake). Camarillo introduced new crops to the area, forever altering the local economy.
Now you can find impressive food, beachfront accommodations, a lovely marina and great shopping, all within a 90-minute drive of Los Angeles.
My daughter and I stayed at Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort, an all-suites hotel on a wide, pristine beach in Oxnard. Full made-to-order breakfasts and a daily cocktail reception are included, and the grounds are lovely, with a large pool, fitness center and spa treatment rooms.
We had a dinner at Tierra Sur at Herzog Wine Cellars. It's in an odd location in an Oxnardindustrial park, but the tasting and dining rooms are beautifully appointed, and the service is impeccable. Plus, we ate two of the best steaks we've ever had.
Also on the itinerary: lunch the following day at Rhumb Line Restaurant, a lovely spot with Ventura Harbor views.
For our final breakfast we ordered omelets at Ventura Harbor's Boatyard Cafe.
As for the shopping, check out the Barefoot Boutique and Ventura Swimwear, both at Ventura Harbor Village. While you're there, stop by Channel Islands National Park's Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Centerand watch "A Treasure in the Sea," a free movie narrated by Kevin Costner that explains the history and importance of the Channel Islands.
Miles one way from downtown L.A.
Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel & Resort, www.mandalayembassysuites.com; Tierra Sur at Herzog Wine Cellars, www.tierrasuratherzog.com; Rhumb Line Restaurant, www.rhumb lineventura.com; Ventura Harbor's Boatyard Cafe, www.theboatyardcafe.com; Barefoot Boutique, www.barefootboutiqueusa.com; Ventura Swimwear, www.lat.ms/venturaswimwear; Channel Islands National Park's visitors center, www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm.
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