Beat the Heat: 3 Drives to Cooler Locales

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This year will be remembered for many things, including the Indian Summer that roared. Just when you thought the most recent heatwave would be 2014’s last, another one has already begun. Temperatures will hover near 100˚ in downtown, and even coastal environs will be in the mid-90s. Even if it feels like the Earth is moving closer to the sun (remember that old Twilight Zone episode?) there are escape routes. We have three picks for day trips that will provide a 10 degree temperature difference from L.A.—all these suggestions require freeway travel, so leave early, no later than 9:30 a.m., to escape the crowds.

Port Hueneme, Calif.
6oish miles west from downtown L.A.
Saturday: 90˚
Sunday: 87˚

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Drivers can take PCH to this coastal town outside Oxnard or go through the Valley, which will be scorching and require blasting the A/C. Our suggestion is to leave early and do the former. If you make the trek on Saturday, you can check out the U.S. Navy Seabee Museum (it’s closed on Sundays). “The mission of the museum is to select, collect, preserve, and display historical material relating to the Naval Construction Force, better known as the Seabees, and the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps,” according to the museum’s website. Don’t miss Hueneme Beach Park, a 50-acre collection of walking paths, gazebos, picnic tables, volleyball courts, food stalls, and, of course, sand and surf. There’s also a lighthouse and a memorial sundial commemorating an Alaskan Airlines flight that crashed nearby in 2000. Make a pitstop at Pho Saigon on Ventura Road; this Vietnamese eatery has over 370 reviews on Yelp, and they’re nearly all positive.

Carpinteria, Calif.
85 miles northwest from downtown L.A.
Saturday: 91˚
Sunday: 89˚

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Google maps suggests skipping PCH altogether and just slogging through the 101 to get to this little seaside town. If traveling with children, try Carpinteria State Beach, named “world’s safest beach,” according to TripAdvisor (which doesn’t attribute the claim). If you prefer somewhere air-conditioned, swing by the Carpinteria Valley Museum (open Saturday) where visitors can check out recreations of how Native Americans lived, as well as Spanish settlers and frontier folk. Admission is free, but it’s always nice to donate a few bucks. Carpinteria also hosts the 28th annual Avocado Festival this weekend, with everything from guacamole contests to live music. If you’ve had your fill of guac (is that possible?), try Sly’s on Linden Avenue, not far from the festival. Sly’s steak is often called the best in Carp.

Goleta, Calif.
105 miles northwest from downtown L.A.
Saturday: 89˚
Sunday: 86˚

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If you time it right, you can get to Goleta in about the same time it takes to get from Venice to Highland Park on a Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Goleta, just a bit north of Santa Barbara but without all the crowds, is a butterfly lover’s paradise. Check out the Goleta Butterfly Grove to see beautiful monarchs or the Coronado Butterfly Preserve for a relaxing stroll. When in town, also check out The Center for Urban Agriculture at Fairview Gardens, home of the oldest organic farm in southern California. This oasis is open for guided and self-guided tours. Goleta is also home to the Goleta County Beach and Refugio State Park and Beach, both stunning and relaxing. As far as food goes, fill up at the Cajun Kitchen Cafe, which offers gumbo, jumbalaya, fried okra, and redfish.