Fast forward to summer with these beachy adventures

A hiker stands overlooking the beach at Point Dume.
Hikers can savor commanding views of sea, sky and sand at Point Dume.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Good morning! With highs in the 80s this week, it feels as if summer has come early to Southern California.

To celebrate the warm weather, in this edition of Escapes you’ll find hikes along the Pacific and a low-effort beach camping experience — all within 120 miles of Los Angeles.


You’ll also find a reader recommendation as well as a must-have tool for planning your road trip. Safe and happy travels this weekend, wherever your adventures take you.

🌊 Soak in ocean views on these five hikes

Have you heard of the California Coastal Trail? If not, it’s probably because the ambitious project, a network of paths lining the state’s coastline, is only about 60% complete.

You can get a taste of the experience by hiking and walking these five Southern California trails, described by Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds.

If you’re keen on staying within L.A. County, the Point Dume Cove Trail in Malibu offers sweeping ocean views ideal for whale-spotting from February through April. You may want to visit during off-hours, as the pathways can be crowded at sunset.

Farther south, Reynolds offers tips for traversing trails at San Onofre State Beach, Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve in La Jolla and more.

Looking down on Torrey Pines State Beach as the sun sets.
Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve overlooks Torrey Pines State Beach.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

🏕️ Looking for an easy camping trip?

There’s nothing like that feeling of accomplishment that comes with camping in an off-the-beaten-path stretch of forest or a remote part of the desert.

But sometimes, it feels good to take it easy. And by far the easiest place I’ve camped is Carpinteria State Beach. A few years ago, I spent my birthday weekend at the campground, just over a hill of sand from the roaring Pacific.


My friends and I enjoyed the usual beach camping activities: taking long walks along the empty coast, making a campfire and sleeping under the stars. But we could also drive to Albertsons, five minutes away, when we ran out of marshmallows.

If a low-lift beach getaway sounds just your speed, book a campsite at Carpinteria State Beach on ReserveCalifornia.

Where are your favorite “easy” camping spots in the West? Let me know, and I’ll feature them in an edition of Escapes.

A campfire in the woods along a beach
If you’re looking for an easy adventure, skip the hotel and try camping along the beach.
(Justin W / Unsplash; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

🏠 Immerse yourself in one of L.A.’s architectural gems

Last week, I asked readers to send me their favorite architectural destinations in the West — you’ll see some of the responses I received in the coming months. This week, I’m spotlighting the Gamble House in Pasadena, recommended by Stephen Tetzlaff.

Tours of the interior of the famed Arts and Crafts-style home have not resumed, but visitors can purchase tickets for a one-hour tour of the home’s exterior and gardens, as well as a 90-minute tour of the neighborhood, a National Register Historic District.

For those who can’t visit in person, the Gamble House’s website offers virtual docent-led tours of the home and an immersive click-through experience.

The northwest exterior of the Gamble House.
The northwest exterior of the Gamble House in Pasadena.
(Alexander Vertikoff / Vertikoff Archive; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

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🛣️ Planning a road trip? Check out this tool

If you’re planning a road trip this summer, take Within Hours for a spin. The simple website allows you to plug in a destination and learn about nearby attractions.

This tool is particularly useful for travelers adhering to California’s advisory to stay within 120 miles of home. On its list of destinations 120 miles from Los Angeles are Joshua Tree National Park, Refugio State Beach and many more.

A cellphone on a car dashboard
Feeling impulsive? You can hit the road with confidence using Within Hours.
(Roland Denes / Unsplash; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📰 What I’m reading

    • Is someone behaving badly on your tour? Times contributor and former travel editor Catharine Hamm explains what you should — and shouldn’t — do.
    • Two Thai artifacts in a San Francisco museum were stolen, Times data journalist Jennifer Lu reports. Now, they’re on their way home.
    • Alaska’s tourism businesses see reasons for hope in 2021 — even without the cruise ships. Alex DeMarban of the Anchorage Daily News breaks down why Alaska may be even more appealing for domestic travelers this summer.
    • Love stargazing? Don’t miss Leslie Pariseau’s account of her road trip across the Southwest in search of dark and clear skies.
    • Hearst Castle and a stretch of Highway 1 are closed, but people are still traveling to San Luis Obispo County’s North Coast. The San Luis Obispo Tribune’s Kathe Tanner spoke to visitors to find out why.
    • This on-the-road love story by Esther Liner in SFGATE felt like a balm when I read it earlier this week. I hope you enjoy it too.
    Illustration of travelers wearing masks, one of them without a mask.
    (Ross May / Los Angeles Times; Getty Images)

    💻 Can’t adventure IRL? Here’s one way to expand your horizons

    Take a plunge into Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with this immersive virtual experience created by David Attenborough.

    I was surprised to learn that the reef is a destination for more than divers and tourists — many marine animals also make lengthy journeys to its waters. For example, dwarf minke whales travel thousands of miles north from the sub-Antarctic during the winter season.

    Virtual travelers learn about the threats facing the Great Barrier Reef, including ocean acidification and sea temperature rise, which causes coral bleaching, and invasions of crown-of-thorns starfish.

    A fish swims near bleached coral in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
    (Tane Sinclair-Taylor; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

    📸 Photo of the week

    A paddle boarder moves across the ocean water at La Jolla Shores.
    A paddle boarder moves across the ocean at La Jolla Shores in this 2019 photograph.
    (K.C. Alfred / The San Diego Union-Tribune)

    🎸 Road song

    Hitting the pavement this weekend? “Drive and Disconnect” by NAO is a sure-fire way to get amped on the way to your next adventure.

    Van driving through Arches National Park
    “Drive and Disconnect” by NAO will get you in the mood to embrace the road.
    (Dino Reichmuth / Unsplash; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)