I decided to take a trip off the beaten path. At an invitation, I packed my bags and headed off to Oxnard, CA. Oxnard is about an hour away from Los Angeles. It is the largest city in Ventura County. When I arrived at their transit center, which was modern, and really the port to go anywhere in Los Angeles, I was taken aback. Amtrak, Greyhound, City buses, and Taxi’s all in one location, what a concept.
I made my way to my hotel, The GrandStay Residential Hotel (http://www.grandstay.net) . It was like a home away from home. I had a one-bedroom suite, complete with kitchenette.
My check-in was painless. They had a lounge with a fireplace, though I am not sure it is a working one. The kitchen in the lobby had all the teas that I love, and coffee. There was a pool and a Jacuzzi just off the kitchen, which made for a great view.
If you needed to do exercise or laundry; they had those facilities on the premises. Since I was just going to relax, I went in and quickly made my way to the remote, so I could turn on the city channel to hear what is happening in the city. I listened while I checked out my digs for the next couple of days.
The bedroom was standard, but thank God they had an alarm clock. I did not set it correctly for the first two days, but that is what cell phone alarms are for.
The bathroom was a good size. It did not feel you were going to be in the hall or taking a shower on the toilet. All their supplies were by Bath and Body, which was great. They had a cucumber scent that was refreshing.
The kitchen was fully stocked with pots, pans, dishes, and cutlery. All I needed to do was add food, but that is what restaurants are for.
The GrandStay is within reach of a Wal-Mart incase you need to pick up some incidentals. At night, the staff puts out delicious cookies, and in the morning, they serve a continental breakfast. You will not starve at The GrandStay.
The hotel is geared towards business travelers and relocators, but it is also a great money saver for families. With all the amenities, and the sofa bed, it could sleep four easily.
One of the best features was that The GrandStay was on a main road, but it was far enough from the tourist areas that you could just relax. But since, I am not a person who relaxes long, let me tell you what I did.
1. HERZOG WINE CELLARS
3201 Camino Del Sol at Herzog Wine Cellars
“The nation’s largest producer of fine kosher wines, Herzog Wine Cellars offers wine tasting, tours, special events, winemaker’s dinners and Mediterranean – inspired cuisine.”
I went to the Herzog Wine Cellars, where the General Manager gave us a long tour. We then went in for a wine tasting in the middle of their huge gift shop. The shop was fascinating. One of my friends could not resist the soap.
We then went in for a 5 course lunch. Yes, you read that correctly. It was the most fantasic lunch. I tried things that I never thought of before. Ah, adventure.
Herzog Wine Cellars and Tierra Sur are a must on any trip to Oxnard, CA. It is a kosher environment. You can take a self-guided tour, and then have lunch at Tierra Sur. You must try the Lamb, Tomato, and Lettuce sandwich. That is the kosher version of the BLT. It was the hit of the day.
Herzog Wine Cellars does wine-tastings for a reasonable fee and has a great gift shop.
Definitely take your wallet, because it will cost you around $35 for a meal with a drink. Also, the environment is a little dressy. It is not really a jeans sort of place.
2. CHANNEL ISLANDS HARBOR
The Channel Islands Harbor is the gateway to seeing whales, the Channel Island National Park, and going kayaking. You go out to the Islands with Island Packers if you want to go hiking, snorkeling, or kayaking. If you just want to lounge around on the beach, then you can do that as well. The best part about the beach is that it is not crowded. You can still have some peace, especially during the week.
The trips to the island take about 4 to 5 hours with travel. The main Island that they travel to is Anacapa. It is 12 miles from the Channel Islands Harbor. It usually runs around an hour of boat time.
You must make reservations, and be prepared. If there is too much of a swell the boat cannot go out. So if it is raining (rarely), or a high tide, you might have to just soak up the sun on the quiet beach.
3. Progressive Dining At Channel Islands Harbor
Telephone: 805.985.5828 ext. 102
This is a wonderful adventure if you have a palate that likes different things. You start out on a cruise around the Harbor, where you are shown the expansion, building projects, and listened to stories.
It was amazing to learn that some of the homeowners had only spent $60,000 for their homes in the seventies, when there was a strawberry field in their front yard. Those fields have been changed to a harbor, and those homes are now valued at over two million dollars. Talk about a return on your investment.
The dinner takes you to three different restaurants with a ride between each. It is a three course meal dinner, with generally a wine or soft drink included. Reservations are required.
Don’t make the mistake of overeating between each stop.
Oxnard, CA has a lot of offer if you want a relaxing weekend away from the noise. If your goal is to relax with a touch of adventure, then venture out to the Channel Islands for a hike, snorkeling or kayaking. If you want to try different foods, then the Progressive dinner is a must. Regardless, The GrandStay is great at making you feel like you are at home and not a hotel room.
Oxnard’s proximatey to Santa Barbara and Los Angeles makes it a great place to get away from the crowd.
Bring a jacket. Coastal Cities tend to be about 10 degrees colder. At night, on the water, you will feel it.
Bring sunglasses and sunblock. It is very sunny during the day. Do not be fooled by the early morning overcast.
Bring a wetsuit if you are going to do any water activity. The water is between 55 and 65 degrees year round.