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Guest: Oxnard
Oxnard: LA's Affordable
Beachside Community

Story and photos by Mary McGrath

or many years, Oxnard was one of those requisite pit stops between LA and Santa Barbara. For many years, it wasn't a place I even considered visiting, as my car was naturally headed to Ventura, Santa Barbara or Montecito.

Oxnard is now its own destination. After some prowling, I've discovered that Oxnard has its own story to tell. And, it's growing fast. Although it's still developing compared to more populated tourist destinations, Oxnard's secret is out, and gentrification is quickly claiming another seaside community.

The economy of Oxnard still reflects its agricultural roots, but now you'll see many new housing communities sprouting up, along with a myriad of retail establishments catering to this booming influx of people. Oxnard is happening, and it's happening now.

Compared to many other seaside communities, housing is still relatively affordable, especially considering Oxnard's proximity to the ocean. Drive along "F" and "G" Streets, and you'll see sprawling Craftsman homes that rival those in Pasadena, except for the exorbitant costs. Lawns are expansive, and the lots are deep. Croquet anyone?

Smaller homes and condos freckle the area, all sporting prices that are far more affordable to similar properties in Los Angeles.

Fine dining? Oxnard has several restaurants that rival some of the better places I've enjoyed in Los Angeles. Check out La Dolce Vita, braced in the heart of the historical Heritage Square. This place has a welcoming vibe, succulent food, and colorful history.

Tomato Basil Soup at La Dolce Vita, Oxnard

pumpkin ravioli at La Dolce Vita, Oxnard

Owner/Chef Michelle Kenney hosts cooking classes at La Dolce Vita and her staple of wonderful creations will appeal to the most discerning of diners. We really enjoyed their Tomato Basil Soup, Pumpkin Ravioli and Pork Loin. The architectural wonders of this area are amazing as well. Stroll Heritage Square to experience its rich tapestry of history, reflecting the early roots of Oxnard.

front of Mandalay Beach Resort, Oxnard

If you're looking to stay at a seaside resort, Oxnard fits the bill with their Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach Hotel and Resort. This opulent property has recently been refurbished to provide many upscale amenities that travelers now expect. Book a room facing the undulating Pacific Ocean, and enjoy bike paths and walking trails adjacent to the property.

If you're feeling lazy, simply plop down in your lounge chairs like we did and count the pelicans as they glide through the air like 747s. The resort also features a nightly Manager's Reception and a fully cooked breakfast the following morning.

automotive hood ornament at the Murphy Auto Museum, Oxnard

Even wineries are taking the plunge into Oxnard, with the Herzog Wine Cellars providing a number of kosher wines, and fine dining at their Tierra Sur Restaurant. Wine enthusiasts can also enjoy an engaging tour of the winemaking process. Watch as hundreds of bottles are funneled through the metallic trenches, donning corks and foil before being dressed with labels and packed into their respective cases.

There are a number of museums in Oxnard as well, but since I'm an old car junkie, I particularly enjoyed taking a step back in time at the Murphy Auto Museum, where a plethora of chrome will dazzle the most discriminating of collectors.

Outdoor enthusiasts can explore the Channel Islands, a mere boat ride away with Island Packers. Anacapa Island, the closest of the islands, is only an hour away.

Anacapa Island

On the way over, watch for whales and dolphins as sea lions play tag in the surf. Once you embark upon the island, you are greeted with the cacophony of seagulls announcing your arrival. If it's mating season, watch out! Those seagulls will warn you to stay away. They're fiercely protective of their young.

Naturalists will host you on an easy hike around the island, or if you prefer, you can hike it on your own.

With gas prices gouging everyone these days, many people are opting to travel closer to home. Airports can be a test of patience, and security checks don't often set the tone for a relaxing time away from home.

I like getting in a car and planting my feet in the surf an hour later. Why not give Oxnard a try the next time you're contemplating your next vacation?

For more information:

Visit Oxnard
La Dolce Vita Ristorante & Lounge
Embassy Suites Mandalay Beach - Hotel & Resort

Related Articles:
Los Angeles: Eating Off the Beaten Track; Pismo Beach; Santa Monica; Sammy's Woodfired Pizza & Grill, LA; Feasting on Bugs and Grubs

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FEEDBACK FOR PATTI

I enjoy your newsletters -and particularly Patti Nickell's article about the 'Pudding Club' in the Cotswold's. An old friend of mine is taking a holiday there this year and plans to try their Jam Roly Poly and Spotted Dick - amongst many!

--- John & Maggie - UK

FEEDBACK FOR JULIO

The way I read this article, you stayed at the "Breeze and Waves". Do you have any pictures of the cottages, and would you recommend to some first time visitors to Caramoan?

--- Richard Simons, Stockton, CA

Hi Richard,

Breeze and Waves was still under construction when I stayed there in Feb. 2010. It should be finished by now. You can see pictures of the resort on this page. We got to stay in one of the small cottages in the picture. I'll recommend it to budget travelers but you might want to look at other options. We chose it because of its location right by the beach. You can try other resorts in the Caramoan town proper (you have to get a ride to get to the beach and the jump-off point to go island-hopping but it's a relatively short distance). There are also two higher end resorts located on a cove and very near the islands: Gota Village Resort (unfortunately there is something wrong with their website right now) and its twin resort Hunongan Cove. Caramoan is a relatively new tourism development so resorts are just now being built.

You can go to this site for a good list of choices for accommodations in Caramoan.

I should add that it might be good to go to Caramoan (and almost anywhere in the Philippines) during the dry season from December to May. June to November are the typhoon months and sometimes typhoons will still come during early December.

Julio

* * * * *

Hi, I'm planning to go to Caramoan this coming May. Would you know the number of Breeze and Waves Cottages? Thanks!

--- Ann, Manila, Philippines

Hi Ann,

Breeze and Waves' phone number is 0908-2911072. Look for Freddie. Hope you have a grand time at Caramoan!

Julio

FEEDBACK FOR WENDY

For Nature's Playground: The South Island of New Zealand

Hi Wendy,

In winter, Heritage Heights Apts. now offers free shuttle service to and from Queenstown 24/7 to guests without cars. We own a 7-passenger 4-wd Toyota Highlander used specifically to taxi guests up and down the hill during winter months. We also run advance purchase winter promotions which include a 4-wd rental.

If any of your readers head over this direction, I will enjoy extending Heritage Heights hospitality!!

Cheers

--- Ailey, Owner, Queenstown, NZ

* * * * *

New Zealand text and pix top drawer! Almost as good as making the trip. ( but one still wants to. . . ) Full of useful detail. Only trouble with the website: It's tough figuring out which feedback goes with which article, and the more there are, the tougher it gets!

--- Ken W., Camarillo CA

Thanks Ken..."álmost" is right, you really have to experience the South Island firsthand. Granted this piece is long, but still all I can think about is how much I left out! I agree abut the relevancy factor re the feedback--it can be confusing...sometimes I have a "Wait a minute...what?" moment myself.

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

* * * * *

Okay Wendy, from now on whenever you book your travel, please reserve space for me. I will carry your luggage, bring you cold drinks, massage your shoulders, and change the film in your camera (oops, I guess you don't have to do that anymore). Wonderful ideas and recommendations. Can you get to New Zealand from Boston in less than a week?

--- Carl A., South Easton, MA

Ha ha ha Carl, you're quite the comedian! But you'd be surprised how short that flight feels. I suspect Qantas isn't the only airline who's figured out that 3 movies, 2 full meals, lots of snacks and a complimentary travel pack (eye mask, warm socks and neck pillow) equals a quiet, well-behaved cabin. It really isn't bad. Just fly direct--pick the shortest flight w/ no lengthy layovers and you'll be fine. Re: signing on as my Super Sherpa...why not? I think you know I seldom travel in anything less than Party mode. There's just that pesky background check...

Thanks for writing,

Wendy

For Excellence Riviera Cancun:

Wendy, I truly enjoyed your info especially since we leave in a week to celebrate my 50th Birthday. Was it necessary to make reservations at the restaurants? Was there a dress code for the restaurants? What would you recommend not missing while there? Was the spa experience worth it? Did you travel away from the resort while there? Thanks,

--- Kim P. Fuquay, Varina, NC

Hi Kim.

Sorry for the delay in responding...you had heavy competition with the holidays. Reservations at Excellence restaurants are not necessary and you will not find a wait. The dress code is basically no bathing suits and flip-flops...with a decided a mix of atmospheres. Mostly the open-air beachside spots are super casual, the rest slightly more formal. Truly, as long as you are clothed, I don't think you'd be turned away anywhere, though most people seemed to enjoy dressing up at night...I suspect more for their own pleasure than any sense of decorum.

The spa experience was worth it, though my favorite part wasn't the actual massage. The precursor was a 45 min. or so rotation from sauna to a series of (kind of wild) water jets which was very different and very cool, not just for women. In its' entirety, and with the serenity of the beach/champagne/strawberries, it was memorable.

We did not travel away from the hotel this trip, but the hotel is very helpful in arranging day excursions to fit your desires and you do not have to book these until you arrive.

Have a great time!

--- Wendy

FEEDBACK FOR NINO

I enjoyed Nino's contribution, since we all read about the frightening terrorist attack. Having travelled somewhat through India years ago, I am continually impressed with this country and the gentle spiritual aspects of this nation. Some day I look forward to going back. Nino has encouraged me. Thank you!

--- Yoka Y., Westlake Village, CA

FEEDBACK FOR RUSH & CHUCK

Dear Mr.s/counselors Brown and Koro,

Thank you for a very informed and succinct article on motorcycle accidents and the law. It inspired me to think about getting a motorcycle, but not have an accident. But, if I do I am now well informed with the basics of what to do providing I do not perish in the accident. Any tips about that too?

--- Unnamed

Dear Rush and Chuck,

I wish I had read your article before our camping trip the Friday prior to President's Day.

My wife and I were in a car accident on our way to a camp ground. We were "rear-ended" and the impact caused our car to crash into the car in front of us. The contents of the truck that we were riding scattered onto several lanes. It's a miracle our two dogs decided to stay inside the car. My wife and I were shaken up badly but despite the mess, I was still able to walk out of the car. I got the license plate of the driver in front of me but, to my surprise, after reviewing the little damage on his car, he then sped off. I didn't know you could do that! The driver who hit me from behind gave me his information and then he too left the scene without saying good 'bye. When the police arrived all I had to go by was the little information I had jotted down which I hope was truthful. What if it was bogus? What if I had written the plate number incorrectly? How would that affect my insurance? What if we were unconscious, who would have written down all that information?

I do have one suggestion if you are injured in an accident. The police asked if my wife wanted an ambulance to bring her to the hospital but we declined the offer. I remembered when I rode an ambulance years ago that it was not a comfortable ride. I was strapped to the stretcher and there were all sorts of medical equipment dangling noisily above me. As long as you are able, it is a more relaxful ride inside a car. Besides, isn't there a fee for ambulance service?

--- Dave S. of Pasadena, CA


Ed Boitano's travel blog/review
Journey to the Bottom of the Globe: Exploring the White Continent of Antarctica

nguins on  shore as writer's cruise ship passes by, Antarctica
As a travel journalist I am constantly asked what are some of my favorite travel experiences. The list is endless. But there is one destination that seems to raise the most eyebrows. That destination is a cruise to Antarctica. Sadly, that cruise line I was on is no more, but today there is a plethora of cruise lines that offer similar packages. Here's a look back at my Antarctica cruise.

Go There

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Treasures of Ireland: The Quiet Man (Dispatch #17)

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The Palladian Traveler follows in the footsteps of some Hollywood icons as he goes "on location" in Cong to pay his respects to his all-time fave movie.

Go There


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