Humor Travel Life
After nearly a decade of living in Los Angeles (though it was broken up by 2 and ½ years in New York and then Michigan), you’d think I've seen enough of California. That’s the thing about the Golden State; there’s so much to explore of this insanely beautiful part of the country.
I knew for my 34th birthday I wanted to travel. However, with the uncertainty of international destinations still prevalent, I’m hanging tight on that dream trip to Spain for now.
My parents were coming out to join me in a road trip up the coast several hours from Los Angeles. Our plan was to see Solvang (a Danish-themed town), Pismo Beach, Mediterranean-inspired Santa Barbara, and Ventura.
After my boyfriend and I hosted my parents for dinner at our apartment, my folks and I left the following morning.
Our first day was spent in Solvang. Aside from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, I really didn’t know much about Danish culture before visiting this place. However, I was surprised to find Solvang decorated in windmills, and the addition of wooden shoes in the gift shops - items typically associated with Dutch culture. My guess is that’s why Solvang is often confused to be a Dutch-themed town rather than Danish. Nevertheless, the architecture definitely had a European aesthetic to it, which was fun to see.
For lunch, we went to Solvang Brewing, an outdoor restaurant that seemed to be the perfect fit. We ordered two appetizers and split them between the three of us. The first was the Sausage Sampler, which came with three different sausages, a soft pretzel, a mix of dipping sauces, and pickles. The second one we ordered was the Soft Pretzels appetizer. Both were really good and it was the perfect amount for a light lunch. Aside from looking at the buildings, eating, drinking, and shopping, there’s not much else to do in Solvang, so you could easily spend a solid half-day here.
After wrapping up our day at Solvang, we went to our lodging for the next two nights: Vandenburg Air Force Base. Eh, excuse me, Space Force Base. It was good we had plenty to do outside of the base since it was essentially a ghost town, except for the abundance of deer, coyotes, and squirrels present.
Day Two was spent at Pismo Beach. Dad and I went for a hike along the Discovery Trail at Pismo Preserve, a beautiful stretch of trails overlooking the ocean. The Discovery Trail was 5.2 miles long and about a 2-hour hike. It was easily one of my favorite hikes I’ve ever done. We saw so many incredible views of the Pacific Ocean throughout the trail. I swear, the water is bluer up there! I’d recommend this hike in a heartbeat. After leaving Pismo Preserve, we met up with mom in Downtown Pismo Beach. It was busy and the wind kept things chilly so we didn’t end up going for a swim in the ocean. Pismo Beach is a typical beach town with plenty of shops and restaurants to check out.
Day Three, it was time to head back south to Santa Barbara, a place I’ve wanted to visit for a while now. Santa Barbara was easily one of the prettiest – and cleanest – cities I’ve ever seen. Nearly every building was built in that classic Spanish-style architecture that’ll make you feel as though Zorro will come swinging in from a balcony or something. Our first stop was the Old Mission, which was originally built in the 18th Century. It costs $15 to get it, and I think it is worth it. There’s plenty of history here, and it’s one of the city’s most famous locations.
We then went the Santa Barbara Courthouse. Now, you may wonder why we would decide to visit a courthouse of all places. Well, this is one of the most stunning buildings, let alone courthouses, you may ever see. After viewing the front of the building, you can wander into the equally exquisite open garden area. I’d imagine this courthouse would give the pain of jury duty a slightly less sting.
We continued to make our way toward the ocean along the city’s most famous street, State Street, which is filled with all kinds of shops and restaurants. Once we made it to the beach, we walked up the pier. There’s not really much going on aside from a few restaurants and shops, but it is cool to look back at the coast from the pier. With a nearby marina, the water is filled with all kinds of sailboats as well.
For a late lunch/early dinner, we hit up Finney’s on State Street for their happy hour. I really enjoyed this place. We ordered the soft pretzels, Baja chicken tacos, and quesadillas and once again split the appetizers among us. Everything was delicious! And a good price!
We ended the day by visiting the Chromatic Gate, a famous rainbow-colored art installation across from the beach. While the artwork was pretty, I was more excited to discover one of the cross streets it's located on is Calle Puerto Vallarta.
Our final day (and my actual birthday) was spent in Ventura, a small and very chilly beach town about an hour north of LA. Seriously, why’s it so cold here!? Dad and I went on a morning hike to Arroyo Verde Park. While it was a shorter hike, plenty of it was uphill and we still got a good workout. Bear in mind there’s zero shade here, so if you head here make sure to bring a hat with you. Mom, Dad, and I then spent a few hours at a beach spot near the harbor. It was a beautiful beach, and while the wind kept things cool, it was still warm enough to wear your swimsuit. That being said, a dip in the ocean would have felt more like a polar bear plunge.
We ended the day with an early dinner at Masa Sushi, making it just in time for their happy hour deal. They even gave me some ice cream as a complimentary birthday dessert.
Not only did I leave feeling grateful to see my folks again, but to also have the opportunity to travel and see more of this beautiful state. But don’t worry, there’s still plenty California adventures to be had. And here’s hoping by 35, Covid will be a distant memory, and I’ll be on a plane to the real Mediterranean.
About the author
Jill Zwarensteyn is a writer and comedian who has been featured on Amazon, truTV, The New York Times, Matador Network, BUST Magazine, Sleep Advisor, Tiplr, ARTRPRNR Magazine, YourTango, Thought Catalog, GoMad Nomad, Mashable, The Daily Mail UK, the Cannes Film Festival, LaughFest, Women's Lifestyle Magazine, and the Funny Women Festival LA. For more info visit: http://www.jillzwarensteyn.weebly.com