A Historic Stay
THE FAIRMON T MIRAMAR has famously been welcoming guests to the coastal city of Santa Monica since 1921.
Situated just above the bluff, with views
of the Pacific, the 302-room compound
is minutes from world-class shopping,
founder John P. Jones, a former U. S. Senator,
who planted a Moreton Bay fig tree that 100
years later still greets guests today. Now 80
feet tall, the tree is the second largest of its
kind in the state and an attraction in its own
right — the management spends $30,000 a
year to maintain it. fairmont.com M. T.
HIGHLIGHTS The central location of this
historically significant oasis is within walking distance of the beach and the retail fun
of Third Street Promenade. Or hop on a
complimentary bike and cruise to Venice
Beach or the famous Santa Monica Pier.
EATS While it’s tempting to dip into the
Los Angeles wheel-and-deal vibe, poolside
or in the Lobby Lounge, you won’t want to
miss the on-site restaurant Fig, which the
Los Angeles Times called “a raging success.”
Here you’ll find a bevy of dishes made with
fresh local and organically grown ingredients, although a quick check on Instagram
suggests the bread balloon — a disk of gluten
glory made in the pizza oven and served
with a variety of dipping sauces — just might
steal the show.
DE TAILS The property consists of The Ocean
Tower, the historic Palisades Building, and 31
luxury poolside and bi-level bungalows, the
only accommodations of this type in Santa
Monica. Each bungalow has a sea blue–gray
slate roof and a private entrance — maybe
why celebrities seeking extra privacy stay
here — as well as t wo luxurious bathrooms
and private lanais with ocean views. Rates for
rooms start at $459, for bungalows $789.
DESTINATION: The Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows, Santa Monica
DISTANCE FROM MARIN: 392 miles south
When I say “island day trip,” you say “Catalina.”
Been there, done that? A slightly longer cruise
lands you on less-trammeled Santa Cruz Island,
where four-pound foxes play peekaboo from the
shadows of Santa Cruz Island manzanita and
other endemic flora. The island’s Scorpion Anchorage is the most popular destination in Channel Islands National Park, but a limited number of
daily ferries keeps crowds down. Since the dock
was damaged in a storm last winter, landing here
involves a (literally) splashy skiff transfer from
the ferry. Once on island (California’s largest),
spend the day hiking or kayaking and exploring history and quirky island nature. Round-trip
passage from Ventura is $59, including park
entrance fee. islandpackers.com CARRIE KIRB Y
Pack a Lunch No food is sold on the islands,
and water is limited. Stash your sustenance in
bear boxes near the pier.
Watch for Wildlife On our 80-minute trip
to the island, the captain rotated the boat for better views of sea lions and dolphins. In summer,
you might spy a blue or humpback whale. On
island, watch for the main attraction: the island
fox, a house-cat-size canid found only here.
Follow the Leader Reserve a kayak tour,
or join a free one-hour volunteer-guided hike.
Our docent showed us the remains of the sheep
ranch whose four-legged inhabitants once
grazed on this island, a Chumash garbage dump
and chalky diatomaceous earth left over from
when shifting plates pushed this island up from
the bottom of the sea. You’ll emerge from the
dusty trail onto cliffs revealing miles of glittering
Pacific Ocean; follow that view down to the pebbly beach to cool your tootsies.