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Labor Day-trippin’

Head north or south from the SCV for easy one-day vacations

Posted: September 3, 2009 1:34 p.m.
Updated: September 4, 2009 6:00 a.m.

The breathtaking shoreline at La Jolla.

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Most of you desiring to travel over the Labor Day weekend probably made your plans long ago. If not, you'll most likely find hotels, campsites and the like booked solid now.

Maybe you thought you'd spend the weekend at home, with projects, parties or barbecues. But now you wonder whether your local activities will be compromised by brushfire-created smoke.

Well, we make no promises on which way the wind will blow, but you stand a good chance of getting cooler, fresher air near the ocean.

With that in mind, Escape offers you a few suggestions for day trips to the north and south of the SCV. We'll leave out the crowded amusement parks and such (you already know those, anyway) and propose some light and easy action.

Some of these thoughts came from Karen Ilich of the Travel Center of Santa Clarita, The Signal's "Ask the Expert" for travel. She notes that these destinations will also make great overnight stays for future holidays - assuming you get your reservations in.

Oxnard
Less than an hour's drive to the north, Oxnard is a gem that is often overlooked by those seeking a weekend getaway. And yet, there is a wide variety of activities to choose from. Whether its biking, fishing, hiking, sailing, lawn bowling or any other outdoor sport, the season is always right and the activity options are plentiful in Oxnard.

More than seven miles of public beaches and several residential parks provide the perfect environment for picnicking, kite flying, sand sculpting, walking, jogging or volleyball.

Marine Emporium Landing in Channel Islands Harbor is an outdoor Mecca of activities. Take in the beauty of the Channel Islands Harbor by trying out kayaking or electric boats.

Oxnard's premier River Ridge Golf Course offers a challenging experience for both the novice and skilled golfer.

Hikers will enjoy the more than 100 miles of trails in the Oxnard area. Ranging from easy to difficult, the trails include easy strolls to ones that require difficult backcountry skills. Cyclists will also enjoy the areas nearly 35 miles of designated bike paths and lanes.

For more information visit www.visitoxnard.com.

Ventura
Just a little farther up the 101 freeway, Ventura awaits, with abundant arts and cultural activities, outdoor adventures and proximity to the ocean. The Channel Islands National Park lies just off shore as does a National Marine Sanctuary. The Los Padres National Forest is found in Ventura's foothills, while two of California's longest flowing open rivers help to form the city's boundaries.

The oceanfront and beaches are the shining jewels in Ventura's crown. Stretching from Surfer's Point to Ventura Harbor, the area includes surf breaks, a historic pier and promenade, miles of scenic bike paths, and a thriving marina.

Hundreds of artists make their home in Ventura. From painters and sculptors to dancers and musicians, it's hard to go anywhere in town without finding either an artist at work or a display of creative efforts ongoing. Ventura's rich and diverse cultural scene includes a busy arts calendar filled with music, theater, dance, art exhibits, festivals, and crafts shows every month of the year.

After dark, visitors can choose from nightclubs, bookstores and coffee houses with live entertainment, dancing, and much more.
Ventura's heritage is rich and so historic sites are found in all parts of the city including the Olivas and Ortega Adobes and the Mission San Buenaventura. Often you will find performers providing entertainment in one of many historic churches or public buildings.

Ventura Harbor Village is 33 acres of authentic Southern California exactly how you've imagined it. Enjoy waterfront views, stroll The Promenade or enjoy fine or casual dining and distinctive specialty shops and boutiques.

For more information visit www.ventura-usa.com.

Huntington Beach
To the south, Huntington Beach is described as "A place where the quintessential mild and mellow California beach culture that made the state famous still perseveres; where pretentiousness takes a back seat to casual and cool; where the true trendsetters of West Coast fashion, food and lifestyle reside."

Explore the Huntington Beach Pier. Light up a beachside fire ring, build sandcastles or just feel the sand between your toes on the West Coast's longest stretch of clean, uninterrupted beachfront.

Surfing is king at Huntington, and evidence is found through its famous surf events and legendary landmarks such as the Surfing Walk of Fame, Hall of Fame and the International Surf Museum.

Dog Beach, a dog park, dog-friendly hotels and restaurants that feature dog-only menus have led to the area's reputation of being one of America's top spots to bring man's best friend.

Shop until you drop or dine and unwind. Chow down on California beach-style food or wine and dine at upscale eateries. Let loose with downtown nightlife or relax in an abundance of parks and preserves - including the famed Bolsa Chica Wetlands preserve.
This weekend, Huntington Beach is host to both a Civil War reenactment and the last in a series of summer concerts at Central Park.

For more information visit www.surfcityusa.com.

Del Mar/La Jolla
A bit farther down the coast, yet still within easy day trip distance, Del Mar and La Jolla can make an afternoon seem like a week's vacation.

If you remember the line, "where the turf meets the surf," you'll also recognize Del Mar as a haven for horse racing. This is the last weekend for the Del Mar race season and will include a variety of live entertainment to celebrate Labor Day weekend.

Del Mar Plaza offers a sophisticated outdoor center featuring a variety of boutique shops and alfresco patio dining with views overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Del Mar Dog Beach is a popular pet-friendly beach with a nearby park for Labor Day picnics. Check out L'Auberge Del Mar for future stays. Newly renovated, the modern resort comes complete with a new restaurant and spa. For a different kind of fun, why not check out hot air ballooning over the beautiful vistas the area provides.

La Jolla's legendary cove shouldn't be missed. It offers a cliff-side coast walk for romantic strolls, a sheltered cove for swimming and parks for picnics. It is one of the most photographed beaches in the area, due to its extraordinary setting, tucked beneath sandstone cliffs. And the cove is within walking distance of downtown La Jolla.

Grassy Scripps Park is immediately adjacent and an excellent area for picnicking. Water visibility at the Cove can sometimes exceed 30 feet, making it a popular location for scuba divers and snorkelers. Surf chairs are available for the disabled. Kayaking is also popular in the area. La Jolla Cove lies within the San Diego La Jolla Underwater Park Ecological Reserve, which helps to ensure that marine life remains plentiful.

Also in La Jolla you will find the Children's Pool, a popular location to view seals on the beach. You can visit the Birch Aquarium at Scripps, museums, or the Torrey Pines Gliderport - a great spot to have lunch and watch paragliders and hang gliders take off and land on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean.

Visit www.sandiegonorth.com.

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