Summer Travel in California: Best Ice Cream, Hiking, and Pools

Good morning fellow escapist. Some weekend trips go off without a hitch. Others require turning lemons—car troubles, crowds, intense heat—into lemonade.

And if soaring temperatures this summer are your lemon, you’ll find some sweet, lemonade-like solutions in this hot-weather version of Escapes.

Loved to hear about your summer travels so far. Last week, reader Bob Brown came up with his plans for August. “God willing, I will be riding my sound bike from Thousand Oaks over the Santa Monica Mountains and along the Pacific Coast Highway to San Diego. He then emailed Amtrak home.

Where are you heading this summer? Have you discovered any sites you would like to share with your fellow readers? Email me with your recommendations at any time!

Orange Works Café, in Strathmore, California, is known locally for its orchard-to-scoop orange ice cream (and other flavors using local fruit).

(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

Ice cream stops—or stops for soda, water ice, or any other kind of cold, non-dairy dessert—are an essential part of any summer road trip (honestly, I still dream of the light serving rejuvenating the spirit I got from Frosty Chalet in Lone Pine on my way home from Mammoth Lakes last summer).

Instead of stopping at a place or two ice cream spots on your next summer trip, why not kick things up a bit and try a DIY dessert tour?

Take a look at your itinerary and budget for some time to stop at three ice cream parlors in three different places over the course of your travels. Grab a pen and notebook, or use your Notes app, and have everyone in the car rate each ice cream they try on a scale from 1 to 10. Pay close attention to creamy texture, flavor, presentation, and other factors—and when you’re done, share your results with your car buddies.

Need some inspiration from ice cream? Here are some of the places I like to stop on a Highway 1 trip.

  • I made a beeline for McConnell The first time I visited Santa Barbara. It turned out to be a classic for good reason. You can find their pints across Southern California but you may also stop at a State Street location while you’re in town.
  • Doc Bornstein Ice Cream Lab It has multiple locations in Arroyo Grande, San Luis Obispo, and beyond. Order the motor oil, made with dark chocolate and Kahlua ice cream, with fudge swirls, if you want to bow to the road trip vibe.
  • Harmony Valley Creamery It is a mainstay in pint-sized Harmony, California. My favorite order is Shoreline Swirl, the salted caramel ice cream.
The pool can be seen from inside a cabana with a low table and champagne chilled in a bucket.

W hollywood hotel pool.

(W Hollywood)

“Los Angeles is filled with great hotel pools, and you don’t have to spend $500 a night to go swimming.”

These wise words come from Rosemary McClure and Jessica Binda, contributors to The Times, who recently compiled a list of 10 modern hotel pools with one day admissionIdeal for locals who want to unwind without booking a room at the highest rate.

The same advice applies when you’re on the road – you don’t need to flaunt an expensive hotel room for a relaxing afternoon in a cabana.

sites like ResortPass, mentioned by McClure and Benda, are good places to find day passes for hotel pools. Simply plug in where you’re traveling – Santa Barbara, for example – and you’ll find a few refreshing options at hotels like Waterman and Rosewood Miramar Beach.

If you prefer Airbnb and Vrbo rentals over traditional hotels, you might also consider trying Swimply, an online marketplace where you can book private pools by the hour. Heading east to the desert this summer? I’ve found at least two dozen listed swimming pools in the Coachella Valley – salt water oasis In Cathedral City it particularly caught my eye.

People rest and swim in a pool of water surrounded by rocks and evergreen trees.

Visitors swim in a spot near the Wawona Swinging Bridge in Yosemite Valley.

(Christopher Reynolds/Los Angeles Times)

Looking for more adventure than the hotel pool offers?

Then I suggest you throw on some sneakers or hiking shoes and hit the road for some Best swimming holes in California.

“California’s coast and beaches usually get all the attention, but consider having an old swimming hole to cool off on hot days,” wrote Times contributor Mike Morris, in his report on the swimming holes.

Located just outside Yosemite National Park, Rainbow Pool is a picnic spot operated by Stanislaus National Forest. The swimming hole along the south fork of the Tuolumne River includes a waterfall.

Santa Paula Punch Bowls is a little closer to home – a convenient stop on a visit to Ojai. The eight-mile round-trip walk to their swimming holes and natural waterslide begins near Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula.

Morris warns that “if you go, be aware of fast-moving water, check current park conditions and restrictions, and make sure you pack all your trash.”

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Two people and a low fence are shaded in the glow of city lights scattered in the background.

Night view of Los Angeles and Griffith Park from Mount Hollywood.

(Photo by Marie Forgione, illustration for the Los Angeles Times)

Staying in Los Angeles this weekend? Skip hiking in the sweltering midday and opt for a night hike instead.

This spring, Times contributor Matt Pawlik – who is currently writing wild Newsletter – rounded up his favorites list Los Angeles Night Hiking Trails. This list includes classic sites, such as Griffith Park, as well as some lesser-known excursions.

Pawlik’s description of a short beach trail at Leo Carrillo State Park intrigued me: “Get an outstanding shot of Malibu’s night coast via the star-studded 2.25-mile hike through Leo Carrillo State Park, which features canyon climbs, Pacific panorama, beautiful beach and great campground,” he writes. .

Don’t miss him Step by step instructions To address this rise, in addition to his other recommendations.

Night walks can be found in plenty of places outside of Los Angeles, too. On your next visit to a national park, I’d recommend checking to see if you can sign up for an expert-led night cruise—like the Yosemite Conservancy’s Night Star Trek.

A few more words of warning before you go: As Pawlik recommends, bring a flashlight or headlight, choose a familiar path and don’t stray, bring in extra layers, and go with a group. And try to start your golden hour walk – that way, you’ll have a little extra light to help you acclimate while enjoying the sunset.

🎸 road song

“Home by Now” by MUNA. Turn it on when you get stuck in traffic on your way back to Los Angeles

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