Now that it’s summer, people are thinking “Vacation, happy to get away,” but not everyone has the money for a getaway these days. If a trek through Europe or a week in Cabo is out, here are some suggestions for day trips or “daycations,” and stay-in-town excursions (“staycations”) that are light on the budget, yet fun for families, couples, and singles.
The Blue Bus Is Calling Us. Our Santa Monica Big Blue Bus offers monthly excursions all year round, with charters buses taking vacationers to interesting Southern California locales within a single day. On July 25, the Big Blue Bus goes to the Oxnard Salsa Festival, an open-air market in downtown Oxnard with crafts vendors, kids’ activities, and over twenty food vendors. Buses leave from SMC’s main campus, 1900 Pico Boulevard at 9 a.m. and leave Oxnard at 6 p.m. returning by 7:30 p.m. Cost? $35 per person. Check out bigbluebus.com for more excursions.
26 Miles Across the Sea. Catalina Island is a nearby, yet somehow exotic Southern California destination, dear to scuba divers who know the “names” of the local underwater population. There’s also abalone fishing, excursions into the island’s interior to see live buffalo, glass-bottom boat rides, restaurants and music clubs, and a miniature golf course. One can spend days there, but even a day trip can provide diverse entertainment. The boat trip takes about an hour and a half and for Santa Monicans, the best deal is Catalina Ferries, which sends out high-speed boats from Marina Del Rey. The rate for July is $83 for a round trip.
A Fourth of July fireworks cruise on the Marina Flyer costs $35 for adults, $24 for kids. For more information call 310.305.7250 or go to CatalinaFerries.com.
Carousel Waltz. If the string is really out, a “staycation” in the Santa Monica-Venice area can be dreamed up. Here’s a family project: Spend a day at the Santa Monica Pier (santamonicapier.org). Start with the Heal the Bay Aquarium, where the kids can see the octopus that almost got away and learn about marine life. Then enjoy (or if you’re squeamish, just watch) the rides at Pacific Park, an old-fashioned amusement park that costs much less than Disneyland (no cover charge) and still delivers with a solar-powered Ferris Wheel and a small but wild roller coaster. More cautious types can ride on the nearby Carousel. Several restaurants offer eats and if it’s Thursday, you can stay for the Twilight Dance Series.
For a nature trip on a Sunday (if it’s the first Sunday of the month), take a trek through the Ballona Wetlands courtesy of the Ballona Institute (ballonainstitute.org). The guided walking tours begin in Playa Del Rey and last about two hours, as trekkers learn about the birds, animals, and plants of the last open space in Los Angeles. The nature “staycation” can conclude with dinner in a local Venice or Playa Del Rey eatery.
So happy summer-and keep saving-next year, maybe that idyll in Tahiti can happen.