Need a little fun in the sun? Forget crowded touristy beaches like Venice or Santa Monica and sneak away to a quiet, windswept beach just outside of Lompoc, California.
Nestled along the Central Coast, Lompoc offers a retreat from over-hyped tourist destinations. The city has a lot to offer, and one of the most unique, little-known beaches on the coast sits just 15 miles from Lompoc - Jalama Beach.
Things to see and do
Catch a wave, read a book on the beach, build sand castles on the shore, or enjoy a picnic with some local fare. Jalama Beach is made for those who love a more secluded setting without sacrificing the sights, sounds and scent of the ocean. It's often windy at Jalama - which makes it a great spot for kite surfing and kite flying.
Nature-lovers delight in hiking, photography and bird watching; often combining the latter two as Jalama Beach is home to the likes of the Snowy Plover, Red-winged Blackbird, Sora and Western Gull.
For those looking for something more adventurous, about a mile north of the beach you can sometimes access sea caves during low tide.
Where to eat
When you're ready to fuel up, head to Jalama Beach Grill, home of the famous Jalama Burger. The one-third pound of lean grilled beef comes with your choice of toppings, including the secret sauce that garners rave reviews from burger enthusiasts.
Hours and entrance fees
Entrance to Jalama Beach is very affordable, even for larger families, as the day use caps at $10 per vehicle. You can even bring your pups for additional $3 per dog. Jalama Beach is open from 6 a.m. to sunset. More info
Where to stay
Although the park is open to tent and RV campers with seven cabins available for rent, the local hotels provide modern amenities for those who aren't interested in "roughing it" during their stay.
The 12 motels and hotels in Lompoc range from budget-conscious to full-service, but all provide the perfect base-camp for your adventures to Jalama Beach and the surrounding area. Here are a handful to consider:
Hilton Garden Inn Lompoc: For those looking to enjoy a more luxurious stay with room service and modern amenities, the Hilton Garden Inn Lompoc and its on-site Valle Eatery & Bar with farm-to-table fare can live up to expectations
Embassy Suites by Hilton Lompoc: Families and friends looking for a two-room suite with modern amenities - and an inviting pool with a tropical vibe - will find the perfect fit in the newly remodeled Embassy Suites by Hilton Lompoc
O'Cairns Inn & Suites: A wide array of amenities at reasonable rates await visitors at O'Cairns Inn & Suites. Thousands of complimentary movies to choose from! Delicious continental breakfast, and complimentary drinks during Happy Hour, Mon-Fri. Rooms are roomy, and some even have leather recliners.
A brief history of Jalama Beach
For centuries, part of Jalama Beach County Park was a Chumash Indian settlement called "Halama." But during Spanish rule of the area, villagers were taken to La Purisima Mission, which is now the most completely restored Spanish mission in the state.
Eventually, as more locals took to the beach for leisure, its value as a recreational gem was recognized. The Atlantic Richfield Company made things more official, when it donated 23.5 acres to Santa Barbara County in 1943. To this day, the county runs the Jalama Beach County Park.
Plan your trip
If you're ready to sneak away for a little R&R and don't want all the hoopla and hype of a typical tourist hot spot, book a getaway to Lompoc and plan to spend some time at Jalama Beach as you tour the area. You might also want to see Ocean Beach Park & Estuary, a dynamic spot for bird enthusiasts, about 10 minutes west of Old Town Lompoc, and La Purisima Mission, the most fully restored and furnished of the 21 California mission, open daily for tours and hiking.
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