Fall travel ideas in California: trips to Catalina and Las Vegas

Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas and Nicole Vas

Hello, dear escapees. It’s surprising how much changing modes of transportation can enhance your appreciation of a familiar destination, whether it’s touring Las Vegas by railroad bike rather than a car or exploring the Santa Catalina Island on foot rather than by quad.

In this edition of Escapes, you’ll find these twists and turns on visiting Vegas and Catalina, as well as other ideas for your fall trips. Like always, Beat me with destination recommendations and tips you would like to see shared in Escapes.

🏝️ A 58.5 mile journey through Santa Catalina Island

The Trans-Catalina Trail is a grueling “38.5 mile route with extreme ups and downs” – in other words, it’s not a walk through downtown Avalon.

Times Associate Travel Editor Mary Forgione recently tackled the Avalon Trail on the east side of the island until it ended at Two Harbors and reported on His experience.

“You never walk on level ground,” Tony Budrovich, general manager of the Catalina Island Conservancy, told Forgione. “You go up or down. It is very difficult for a hiker.

But despite the challenges, hikers are rewarded with stunning ocean views, beachside campgrounds, and a deep immersion in nature just an hour’s boat ride from LA.

About 8,000 hikers attempt the Trans-Catalina Trail each year, making it difficult to get permits for campgrounds along the way. Curious about how to hike the trail? Forgione contours his itinerary and other advice in its history.

Two Harbors is the largest campground along the Trans-Catalina Trail.

(Mary Forgione / Los Angeles Times)

🚂 Take a vélorail ride near Las Vegas

The Times reported on impressive bike adventures through the sequoias in Fort Bragg, California, but did you know you can cycle through the desert near Las Vegas?

Railway explorers United States offers a variety of tours, including a nighttime ride on an illuminated rail bike. The 4-mile downhill ride takes riders from the Nevada State Railroad Museum in Boulder City to the Railroad Pass, with a 20-minute break at a picnic area.

Tickets include free entry to the museum, plus a return to the top of the hill on a historic train. Visitors should bring a drink and a snack for the break.

Rail bike for two people starting at $ 85; a Quad Explorer starting at $ 150.

Illustration of a velorail on railroad tracks with Las Vegas in the background.

(Nicole Vas / Los Angeles Times)

?? Fall in love and watch a movie in this retro hotel suite

Drive-in theaters had a major moment during the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

If you’ve rediscovered your love of drive-ins – or if you just want to enjoy all things retro – consider a stay at this sequel from the 50s in Los Alamos, California.

The Central Coast Victorian Mansion Suite features a ‘Cadillac Bed’ parked in front of a giant movie screen with an authentic projector, so guests can enjoy their favorite classics before hitting the hay.

Of course, the nostalgic vibes don’t end there. A neon snack bar sign, old-fashioned mural, and board game table complete the mid-century theme. Also keep an eye out for graffiti in the bathroom.

The suite costs $ 245 per night including breakfast.

Illustration of a vintage car in front of a cinema screen.

(Nicole Vas / Los Angeles Times)

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?? Adventure with your four-legged best friend

Despite the lack of dog-friendly beaches in Los Angeles, Southern California is a treasure trove of things to do with your puppy.

Times contributor Rosemary McClure recently compiled a guide to 22 best things to do with your dog in the region, from the most chic hotels for dogs to unusual training courses.

One of my favorite suggestions on this list? Stand up paddle at Point Loma.

san diego company SUP Puppies will teach you and your dog to love paddling together. Private lessons start at $ 60 an hour.

Is your dog ready to take it to the next level? McClure also included a learning dog surfing class in his roundup.

Dogs playing on the beach.

Rosie’s Dog Beach in Long Beach is the only beach in LA County that allows dogs off leash.

(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

What i read

  • Airline tickets are lower than usual right now – but the prices won’t stay low for long, writes Times business journalist Hugo Martín.
  • “Hawaii is not our playground,” writes Chris Colin in Afar. It reports on the inhabitants who repel against packaging the state as a “picturesque paradise” for tourists.
  • Hostels – strongholds of cheap trip – barely survive the pandemic. Alexandra E. Petri reports on their future in The New York Times.
  • On your next hike, consider trail builders who made this possible, writes Christine Negroni in the Washington Post.
  • The inhabitants of the Italian island of Linosa strive to protect the seabird eggs they once hunted. Guia Baggi describes their Conservation efforts in Atlas Obscura.

Photo of the week

Low water levels in a lake.

Water levels in Shasta Lake are lower as drought conditions persist.

(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)

Song of the road

Song: “Lady by the sea” by Stephen Sanchez

Favorite Lyrics: “Your voice makes flowers bloom on the beach”

Best place to listen: Moonstone Beach, Cambria

Polaroid frame illustrated with a photo of a woman watching a sunset on the beach.  'Lady by the Sea' is written at the bottom of the frame

(James Lee / Unsplash; photo illustration by Jade Cuevas / Los Angeles Times)


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