California Dreaming: Malibu, Ojai, Montecito

11 June 2014

Our direct flight to California took off on Saturday, May 24 at 7:30am EST from Raleigh and landed about five hours later at 9:30am Pacific Time in Los Angeles. Yes, I wore my socks :)


We picked up our checked bag and rental car without incident, and headed to lunch! We were planning to grab something simple at John’s Garden in Malibu, but John (my John) really wanted to have tacos in Southern California, so when we spotted a taco place nearby, we jumped. They were good!

Our initial observations about Malibu: we could not believe the number of Ferraris, Maseratis, and Lambourghinis on the road. Also tons of Teslas. We looked, but didn’t spot any celebrities :) Also, the ladies looked a bit… disheveled, but expensively so. I’m not sure I could master that look.

After lunch we drove a few miles up the coast to our first site to see: Point Dume State Beach! Parking was limited, but we eventually found a spot a ways up the road and walked back through an extravagant neighborhood to get to the beach. There were piles and piles of bourganvillea everywhere!


Once in the park, our short hike up to the top of the bluff yielded impressive views, despite the marine layer that had settled in.



We then climbed down many, many stairs to get to Pirate’s Cove.



The surfers made it feel very California. We were particularly intrigued by the passageways, stairs, elevators, and funicular (!) that lead from the estates up top to the beach below. See it there in the middle?


Alas, with no funicular at our disposal, we hoofed it back up to the top.


It really was great to stretch our legs after the flight, but we had plans to visit Ojai before checking into our accommodations for the night and were running a bit behind schedule. Ojai was about an hour’s drive north and inland from Malibu, and by the time we arrived, it was sunny! We didn’t have enough time to do a full hike, so we drove up to Meditation Mount past gorgeous rows of citrus trees. The views were beautiful, and the weather was just perfect – sunny, warm, and clear.



We would have loved to have had more time to explore downtown Ojai, which is adorable (and a little less hippie than we were expecting), but the only stop we were able to make was at Bart’s Books, an open air bookstore. One upside to California’s extreme lack of rain, I suppose?


If we had had more time, we would have browsed at Summer Camp and stopped into the Ojai Olive Oil Company. Instead, we wound our way west to Montecito.


We were staying in a place we found through airbnb for the night (our first time!), and it was so cute! It was a little studio cottage, on the property of a larger house. It had an outdoor shower and private courtyard, and the host had left us homemade muffins and orange juice!




After cleaning up a bit, we headed to dinner at The Lark in Santa Barbara, just next door to Montecito. We couldn’t have asked for more from our first night – the weather was clear and beautiful, the setting was lively and charming, our food was delicious, and our waitress was delightful.


The Lark has a bit of a Southern flair, and our meal was served one dish after another, family style. We tried deviled eggs with pancetta and jalapeno; crispy brussel sprouts with medjool dates and garum (SO good – we are hoping to recreate these at home!); smoked gouda pimento cheese; a Little Gems wedge salad with blue cheese; and gnocchi with lamb, fava beans, and snap peas.



Our dessert was also amazing – a meringue/custard/lemon tart/fresh fruit concoction. We could NOT recommend The Lark more if you find yourself in Santa Barbara – we both agreed it was one of the best meals of our life!!



We finished the day full and deeply content, strolling along the waterfront in Santa Barbara at dusk. In a happy coincidence, the ocean’s edge just so happens to run parallel to the Four Seasons SB, where Sean and Catherine were married. If you know us, you know that necessitated some Bachelor reminiscing :) We couldn’t have asked for a better way to begin our trip!

Day two: Santa Barbara, Montana de Oro, Cayucos

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June 11, 2014 10:25 am

How sweet was your airbnb cottage?! The Lark looks incredible! What an amazing first day in California – so excited for the upcoming posts!

June 11, 2014 2:22 pm

You’ve got me California dreaming!

And the Bachelor/ette is one of my guilty pleasures – I’m always rooting for true love (Ashlee and JP, swoon!)

June 11, 2014 2:26 pm

Ah, timely post! Gosh I loved reading about this first leg of your trip. Lark does look incredible. I’m loving those vertical gardens on the old windows around the patio. Wow. Is that popcorn you ordered? Cannot wait to try it!

October 16, 2014 10:58 am

Hi Emily,

I’m looking at planning a trip like this for the week after CHristmas. Would you mind sharing where you rented your car? I’ve been looking at a lot of different places and they are quite pricey!

The rest of your posts have been a great inspiration in the planning process.