Wildlife spotting off the coast, followed by a stylish mainland hotel stay.

Ventura, on the California coast, is the jumping-off point for exploring one of the newest national parks, the Channel Islands. The park consists of five islands that range from one to nearly 100 square miles. Fewer than 100,000 people visit the islands each year, which means, happily, that you’ll have the area’s abundant wildlife (mostly) to yourself.

Channel Islands Kayak Center

In Ventura, the center leads full-day kayaking tours of the islands, where dolphins and sea caves await. $180 per person; rentals $35–$55 per day

Great Pacific Iron Works

Pick up a warm fleece jacket before you go at Ventura’s Great Pacific Iron Works, a.k.a. the Patagonia mother ship.

Pete's Breakfast House Restaurant

Fuel up the morning of the trip on homemade strawberry jam and pecan-topped waffles.

Capri Hotel

Back on the mainland, treat yourself to a stylish night (and a hot shower) at Ojai’s mid-century-mod Capri Hotel. A recently renovated century-mod motel (with pool), it now has a Rat Pack vibe, with sleek white-on-white rooms.

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