There’s a wonderland of books and plants just 20 minutes from DTLA

Lost Books in Montrose is filled with plants and books.
Lost Books in Montrose is a “miniature, magical literary jungle.”
(Lisa Boone / Los Angeles Times )

By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas

Good morning, fellow Escapists. As I write this newsletter edition, the Caldor fire is continuing to wreak havoc in the Lake Tahoe area, prompting evacuations and threatening tens of thousands of structures.

The fight against the Caldor fire is personal for many fire crew members, Times journalists report. Dave Lauchner, battalion chief with the Sacramento Fire Department, told my colleagues his parents’ cabin was at risk of burning in the unpredictable blaze.


“This fire does stuff I’ve never seen before,” he said.

Our coverage of the Caldor fire underscores the impact of wildfires on travel and recreation in California. If you’re heading out of town Labor Day weekend, take a careful look at current restrictions and guidelines. On Monday, the U.S. Forest Service announced that almost all national forests in California are closed through Sept. 17.

With all of this in mind, let me know if you have a destination recommendation or travel tip you’d like to share. My inbox is always open to readers.

📚 A wonderland of books and plants, 20 minutes from DTLA

If you enjoy filling your home with books and houseplants, make a beeline this weekend to Lost Books in Montrose.

With new and used books sold alongside fiddle-leaf figs and calathea, Lost Books earned its place on Times features writer Lisa Boone’s list of 35 coolest plant shops you can find only in L.A.

Boone writes that the charming book and plant purveyor “has the feel of a miniature, magical literary jungle,” and it’s easy to see why. Guests enter through an “amazingly verdant and jam-packed plant tunnel” before entering a world filled with custom bookshelves and plants galore, plus a ceiling of dried reindeer moss.

That’s not all; according to the shop’s Instagram page, it soon will sell vinyl records. Lost Books is open 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

A plant wall looms over bookshelves at Lost Books in Montrose.
Lost Books in Montrose is filled with custom bookshelves and plants galore.
(Lisa Boone / Los Angeles Times )

🦋 Visit the colorful Zoro Garden in Balboa Park

Balboa Park in San Diego is home to nearly 20 gardens, but “the Zoro Garden wins top prize for having the most colorful history,” writes UC master gardener Helen Purcell Montag in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

These days, the Zoro Garden is a haven for butterflies at every stage of their life cycle, with plenty of milkweed plants, lantanas, passion vines and California lilacs to go around. “You may find a hanging chrysalis, caterpillars on leaves or monarch butterflies fluttering about,” Purcell Montag reports.

Fun fact: Before the butterflies came to roost, the Zoro Garden Nudist Colony was part of the 1935 California-Pacific Exposition, where visitors paid an entrance fee to visit the popular yet controversial destination.


If you’d like to visit, the Zoro Garden is between the Fleet Science Center and the San Diego History Center in Balboa Park.

Animated illustration of two rainbow butterflies
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

🌳 Stay in a vineyard treehouse

Spending the night in a treehouse is pretty cool. Sleeping in a treehouse in a vineyard is even cooler. Add a view of Monterey Bay, and you’re in for a memorable travel experience.

This treehouse Airbnb at Lago Lomita Vineyards in Los Gatos, Calif., promises all that and more, including electricity and Wi-Fi, as well as a full bath available for use in the main house below. The 40-foot treehouse is built in towering Douglas fir trees, which guests climb using a ladder.

The Airbnb accommodates two guests for $260 per night. Fancy a swim after staring at the sweeping bay views? You’re only 15 miles from Capitola Beach.

illustration of a treehouse.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

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🐚 Tour Southern California’s only oyster farm

Love seafood? Care about where it comes from? If you answered “yes” to either of these questions, book a one-hour tour of the Carlsbad Aquafarm, the only oyster farm in Southern California.

Guests will learn how the farm grows and harvests oysters, with an emphasis on techniques used to protect the area’s ecosystem and surrounding wildlife habitats.

Tours conclude with an oyster-shucking class and an oyster tasting. The tasting includes a minimum of eight oysters per person; if you like what you taste, oysters are available to purchase by the dozen.

Tours are given four times daily by reservation only. Tickets cost $30 per person; children younger than 12 are free but must have a reservation.

Hand holding up an oyster.
(Mariah Tauger / Los Angeles Times; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)

📰 What I’m reading

A lake in Lassen Volcanic National Park
The Dixie fire has burned nearly half of Lassen Volcanic National Park.
(Prisma by Dukas / Universal Images Group via Getty)

📸 Photo of the week

 Bicyclists ride on a steep trail on a hillside.
Bicyclists head down the trail from the Goldenberg Overlook at Harmon Canyon Preserve in Ventura.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

🎸 Road song

Song: “Secrets From a Girl (Who’s Seen It All)” by Lorde

Favorite lyric: “Your emotional baggage can be picked up at carousel number two. Please be careful so it doesn’t fall onto someone you love.”

Best place to listen: Baggage claim at LAX’s Tom Bradley International Terminal, of course.

illustration of Polaroid photo of a plane taking off from LAX.
(Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)