Road tripping through Dana Point? Stretch your legs at this beachy yoga class

Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point with illustration of person in a yoga pose.
Salt Creek Beach in Dana Point.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Good morning, fellow Escapists. Getting started planning your fall travel? There are lots of unique activities available for those looking for greater immersion into California’s wine industry, Gold Rush history and beyond.

In this edition of Escapes, you’ll learn about a hands-on way to participate in Napa’s grape harvest, an art exhibition perfect for road trippers and a park that will let you time travel back to 1850s California.


As always, keep a close eye on COVID-19 recommendations, alerts and guidelines and fire statuses before making any trips around the Golden State. If you have any destination recommendations or travel tips, send me a note.

🍇 Stomp grapes in Napa Valley

It’s harvest season in Napa Valley, and at Conn Creek Winery in Saint Helena, guests are invited to join in on the action.

Just hop inside a wine barrel and start stomping.

That’s right, at Conn Creek’s “Great Grape Stomp” on Oct. 24, visitors can help crush the grapes while enjoying the vineyard’s wine and harvest-inspired food. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and costs $150 to participate.

Interested in picking grapes, blending wine or creating your own label? There are lots of hands-on activities this fall in Napa Valley — here are additional events you can attend on your travels north.

Animation of a grape falling off a cluster and splattering
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

🧘 Yoga with a view

Dana Point is known as a world-class destination for whale-spotting, recently becoming the first Whale Heritage Site in the United States. It’s also home to a plethora of outdoorsy activities — including surf lessons and beachside yoga classes.

Next time you find yourself in the coastal Orange County city, consider booking a yoga class at Lantern Bay Park, where you can enjoy sweeping ocean views as you work on your sun salutations.

Yoga classes are held every day on the South Lawn of Lantern Bay Park at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Special sunset yoga sessions are also held Monday through Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Classes are free for iHeartYoga members and $10 for nonmembers, and advance booking is required.

Two people sit on a bench watching the sunset in Dana Point.
Visitors enjoy low tide and a sunset in Dana Point.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

⏰ Time travel in Northern California

Columbia used to be a thriving Gold Rush town nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Now, it’s a 272-acre state park and on Los Angeles Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds’ list of the “40 best California outdoor experiences.”

When you visit Columbia State Historic Park, prepare for a bit of time travel. The park is home to the state’s largest collection of Gold Rush-era buildings, including saloons, a museum, a gold-panning operation and stagecoach rides. If you see people in period attire strolling Columbia’s streets, don’t worry, they’re not ghosts of gold panners past — just rangers and others who staff the park.

Illustration with two photos of buildings in Columbia State Historic Park
What you’ll find at Columbia State Historic Park.
(Christopher Reynolds / Los Angeles Times)

If you go, Reynolds recommends starting your Gold Country adventure at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, about 80 miles north. From there, make your way down California 49 to Columbia.

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🖼️ The perfect art exhibition for road trippers

Attention road warriors: Passing through Thousand Oaks on your next sojourn up the coast this fall? Plan ahead and make a stop at the California Museum of Art to see an exhibition that pays homage to your relationship with your car.

Jonathan Michael Castillo’s exhibition titled “Car Culture” features candid, intimate photographs of Angelenos and their vehicles. “By highlighting the occupants and interiors of vehicles, I bring normally private moments into the public space,” Castillo explains in his artist statement.

Note that the museum is currently closed and is scheduled to reopen to the public on Sept. 10. After that, visit Friday through Sunday, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.

Hat-tip to Los Angeles Times listings coordinator Matt Cooper, who included “Car Culture” in his list of art exhibitions across Southern California.

A woman wearing sunglasses and holding a cigarette sits at the wheel of a green VW Beetle with a backseat full of balloons.
“Green Volkswagen, East Hollywood, 2010” is among the photographs on display in the 2021 exhibit “Jonathan Michael Castillo: Car Culture” at the California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks.
(Jonathan Michael Castillo)

📰 What I’m reading

  • How did a retro Northern California resort become “one of the most locally coveted vacation destinations of 2021?” Freda Moon explains the Flamingo’s appeal in SFGATE.
  • Finding yourself easily annoyed with fellow travelers and airport staff? Read Ernest White II’s essay, published in Conde Nast Traveler, for a reminder to travel with grace during the pandemic.
  • Rare 90-foot blue whales and humpbacks have been spotted in Monterey Bay, Tom Stienstra reports in the San Francisco Chronicle.
  • Maine’s forests have the power to soothe deep wounds — just ask Abdi Nor Iftin, who immigrated to the U.S. after fleeing Somalia’s civil war. He writes about his experience among Maine’s trees and open spaces in Afar.
  • Tree planting in Canada is grueling, nightmare-inducing work. Winnie Lee spoke with a tree planter about her work replenishing the country’s forests.
Illustration of a Blue whale tail fin
(Stephen Osman / Los Angeles Times; Photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📸 Photo of the week

A closeup of a plant that looks like a pincushion
A Leucospermum, also known as a pincushion plant, at the Taft Gardens & Nature Preserve in Ojai.
(Madeleine Hordinski / Los Angeles Times)

🎸 Road song

Song: “Door” by Caroline Polachek

Favorite lyric: “Took 10 laps ’round the planet to prove what I wasn’t”

Best place to listen: On the 110 driving through downtown L.A. on your way home from a road trip

A view from behind the wheel of a car looking toward a city, with an illustrated polaroid shape around the photo
The view of downtown L.A. from the 110 Freeway between the 10 and the 101.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)