Winter Plans?

Just as surely as the sun rises, you can guarantee winter comes knocking each year in late-December. And for some who are fortunate to live year-round in areas that don’t really experience winter, it’s just another date on the calendar. But for others, it’s time to head towards the sunshine. And, even if you are lucky enough to live where the sun always shines warmly, a change of scenery is always good to chase away the winter doldrums. Here are a few ideas for fun in the sun winter escapes.

Arizona: If Sedona is your home base, day trips to the Grand Canyon (about a 2-hour drive north), the Phoenix/Scottsdale area (about a 2-hour drive south) and the Petrified Forest National Park (about a 2-hour drive east) are all possibilities. Of course, the Grand Canyon is the Grand Canyon, but there are other things to do here. There is the 22-mile Desert View scenic drive, wildlife to glimpse, and the Grand Canyon Railway Adventure which is a scenic train ride to the Grand Canyon that originates in Sedona. If you’re a baseball fan, then you’ll be happy come winter when Major League Baseball’s Cactus League begins their games in stadiums in the Phoenix metro area. If you’re not a baseball fan, Scottsdale has plenty of hiking opportunities including Camelback and Pinnacle Peak. Plus, there’s shopping, arts and entertainment, and plenty of good eating to be had here. The Petrified Forest, named for the large amounts of petrified wood found here, is home to the Rainbow Forest Museum and the petroglyphs on Newspaper Rock and may also seem familiar to Clint Eastwood fans as parts of his famous film, “The Outlaw Josey Wales” were shot here. Verde Valley is the place to reserve your winter accommodation where you can choose to day trip or just enjoy the local scene.

California: Rarely, if ever, do California beaches post “Closed for the Season” signs. The ocean water may be colder than most prefer, but the warm California sun is pretty plentiful and of course, anything but mountain snow is rare. Yosemite National Park is less crowded but still just as breathtaking in the winter months, so consider a stay in an ultra-cool yurt at Yosemite Lakes. The Park’s Badger Pass Ski Area offers winter skiing opportunities. Cross off your bucket list item to “stay in a tipi or covered wagon” this winter with reservations for these unique accommodations at Rancho Oso and then explore winter in Santa Barbara. The Santa Barbara Zoo, a mission tour, a visit to the Santa Barbara Botanical Garden, or a tour of the local wineries can all add up to winter fun.

Tropical Palms RV Resort
Tropical Palms RV Resort

Florida: Warm days and cool nights give the Florida-bound winter vacationer the best of both worlds. Days are sunny with temps averaging around 70 degrees while nights are sweater-weather worthy with average lows in the ‘50s. The only shovels required during a Florida getaway are those used to build sandcastles on the fabulous beaches around the state that include Daytona, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, and St. Pete Beach. Consider a trip to the Keys and a stay at the Sunshine Key Tiny House Village or a colorful cottage right on the water at Fiesta Key. On the Atlantic side, visit historic Flagler Beach or enjoy the sights and sounds of Miami. Accommodations at Bulow Village RV Resort and Miami Everglades are great locations for these. Wanna do Disney? Book a stay at Tropical Palms, Lake Magic, or Orlando RV for all things Disney and beyond. Check out petiteretreats.com to find your ideal Florida location.

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Oh, Hello, Ojai!

Los Padres National Forest, Santa Barbara County, CAIf someone was tasked with writing about the Top Ten things to do in Ojai, California, let’s hope they have a diligent (or understanding) editor….because you can’t stop at 10. This beautiful valley city, located about 90 miles north of LA and just 30 miles from Santa Barbara, is a bundle of charm, rolled up in a mix of culture and arts and displayed in a setting so scenic and serene, your Instagram posts will be nonstop!

So, we won’t stop at 10 or 15, but just show you some highlights to send you on your way to discover all there is to see and do in Ojai.

The first thing you will notice is the surrounding countryside. There are citrus groves, vineyards, and the Los Padres National Forest. Filled with wildflowers, wildlife, hiking and biking trails and beaches, Los Padres is a wonderland for wanderers. You can also choose to fish, horseback ride or enjoy a lazy picnic with nature as a side dish!

Enjoy a tour of an olive grove at the Ojai Olive Oil Company (www.ojaioliveoil.com) or sample some of the wines at the various wineries located in and around Ojai (visit www.ojaivisitors.com for a listing of wineries). If your visit to Ojai begins after June 1, definitely stop by Frog Creek Farm (www.frogcreekfarmojai.com) to enjoy the lavender and also mark your calendar for the Ojai Valley Lavender Festival, scheduled for Saturday, June 29, at Libbey Park.

In town, you want to make sure you visit the Ojai Certified Farmers Market for locally grown fresh fruits and vegetables, as well as meats and seafood, honey, jams, soaps, and candles. The Market is open every Sunday, rain or shine, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. For a list of fruits and veggies in season, visit www.ojaicertifiedfarmersmarket.com.

Also, you can’t miss Libbey Park, which is located in the center of the town and contains walking paths, a fountain, a bandstand, Libbey Bowl, a renowned concert venue, and of course tennis courts as it plays host annually to the oldest amateur tennis tournament in the US, “the Ojai,” in late April. The park will also host Art in the Park, an annual event since 1977, allowing local artists the opportunity to showcase and sell their work. This year’s event is scheduled for May 25.  Just one week later on June 1, the park hosts the 2019 Ojai Blues Fest, followed by the Ojai Musical Festival, a four-day event featuring classical music that will run June 6-9.

Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort, Santa Barbara, CA

There are also plenty of dining options from gourmet to farm-to-table and shopping possibilities include clothing boutiques, antiques, jewelry stores, and trinket shops, art galleries and of course Bart’s Books. Bart’s is the largest independently owned and operated indoor/outdoor bookstore in the US. The store’s collection of more than 1 million books overflows to freestanding bookcases outside the store, which are paid for by customers on the honor system! Inside, visitors will also find rare, first editions and specialty art books.

And, when your perfect day, or days, in Ojai are coming to a close, don’t miss the “pink” sunset where, thanks to a combination of the mountains, the valley, the sun’s location, etc., the sky takes on a pink glow at dusk that can only be described as indescribable!

Rancho Oso RV & Camping Resort, Santa Barbara, CA

If you want to make your own To-Do in Ojai list, consider a stay at Rancho Oso, in Santa Barbara and book one our unique Petite Retreats. Check out www.PetiteRetreats.com to see what options are available to make your home base while exploring nearby Ojai.