By Rachel Schnalzer
Design and illustrations by Jade Cuevas
Good morning, fellow Escapists. Getting started planning your fall travel? There are lots of unique activities available for those looking for greater immersion into California’s wine industry, Gold Rush history and beyond.
In this edition of Escapes, you’ll learn about a hands-on way to participate in Napa’s grape harvest, an art exhibition perfect for road trippers and a park that will let you time travel back to 1850s California.
As always, keep a close eye on COVID-19 recommendations, alerts and guidelines and fire statuses before making any trips around the Golden State. If you have any destination recommendations or travel tips, send me a note.
It’s harvest season in Napa Valley, and at Conn Creek Winery in Saint Helena, guests are invited to join in on the action.
Just hop inside a wine barrel and start stomping.
That’s right, at Conn Creek’s “Great Grape Stomp” on Oct. 24, visitors can help crush the grapes while enjoying the vineyard’s wine and harvest-inspired food. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and costs $150 to participate.
Interested in picking grapes, blending wine or creating your own label? There are lots of hands-on activities this fall in Napa Valley — here are additional events you can attend on your travels north.
Dana Point is known as a world-class destination for whale-spotting, recently becoming the first Whale Heritage Site in the United States. It’s also home to a plethora of outdoorsy activities — including surf lessons and beachside yoga classes.
Next time you find yourself in the coastal Orange County city, consider booking a yoga class at Lantern Bay Park, where you can enjoy sweeping ocean views as you work on your sun salutations.
Yoga classes are held every day on the South Lawn of Lantern Bay Park at 8:30 a.m. and 10 a.m. Special sunset yoga sessions are also held Monday through Thursday at 5:30 p.m. Classes are free for iHeartYoga members and $10 for nonmembers, and advance booking is required.
Columbia used to be a thriving Gold Rush town nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills. Now, it’s a 272-acre state park and on Los Angeles Times travel writer Christopher Reynolds’ list of the “40 best California outdoor experiences.”
When you visit Columbia State Historic Park, prepare for a bit of time travel. The park is home to the state’s largest collection of Gold Rush-era buildings, including saloons, a museum, a gold-panning operation and stagecoach rides. If you see people in period attire strolling Columbia’s streets, don’t worry, they’re not ghosts of gold panners past — just rangers and others who staff the park.
If you go, Reynolds recommends starting your Gold Country adventure at Sutter’s Mill in Coloma, about 80 miles north. From there, make your way down California 49 to Columbia.
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Attention road warriors: Passing through Thousand Oaks on your next sojourn up the coast this fall? Plan ahead and make a stop at the California Museum of Art to see an exhibition that pays homage to your relationship with your car.
Jonathan Michael Castillo’s exhibition titled “Car Culture” features candid, intimate photographs of Angelenos and their vehicles. “By highlighting the occupants and interiors of vehicles, I bring normally private moments into the public space,” Castillo explains in his artist statement.
Note that the museum is currently closed and is scheduled to reopen to the public on Sept. 10. After that, visit Friday through Sunday, from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. Admission is free.
Hat-tip to Los Angeles Times listings coordinator Matt Cooper, who included “Car Culture” in his list of art exhibitions across Southern California.
Song: “Door” by Caroline Polachek
Favorite lyric: “Took 10 laps ’round the planet to prove what I wasn’t”
Best place to listen: On the 110 driving through downtown L.A. on your way home from a road trip
Rachel Schnalzer is an audience engagement editor for the Los Angeles Times. She writes The Times’ business newsletter and travel newsletter. Schnalzer graduated from Johns Hopkins University and worked at BuzzFeed and Snap before joining The Times in 2019.
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