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Explore Like a Local: Take a Summer Vacation Without Leaving LA or the OC

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This advertising content was produced by Vox Creative without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff or Ballast Point.

In a city that’s home to nearly 4 million people, all of whom seem to clog the freeways like clockwork, a vacation state of mind can be hard to find — but that will change once you know these 10 secret getaways. From a sprawling oceanside resort where you can lounge poolside in a private cabana to a bar that’s got the look and feel of a chic beach house, these are the off-the-beaten-path spots to erase all your weekday worries.

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Saddle Peak Lodge

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If the wood and antlers don’t give it away, Saddle Peak Lodge is no flashy downtown joint. Instead, it’s a rustic, albeit elegant, restaurant in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains where game is on the menu, and, if you’re outside on the patio after dark, the stars twinkle above. The meat-centric menu by chef Adam Horton impresses even true gourmands.

Inn of the Seventh Ray

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This romantic Topanga Canyon getaway checks all the right special occasion boxes. The coveted outdoor patio sits next to a creek, where flowers, greenery, and twinkle lights are all that’s needed for decor. The food is organic, the meat grass-fed, the fish line-caught, and it’s vegetarian friendly (and it’s been this way since the 1970s). It all adds up to an out-of-time experience, whether you’re digging into the linguine and sunflower pesto or the oven-roasted filet mignon.

Venice Whaler Bar & Grill

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The Doors, Beatles, and Beach Boys are just a few of the famous names to come through this low-key, two-story bar right on Venice Beach and the pier. The sunset views are legendary (and often accompanied by a DJ on weekends), but just about any time of day feels like a toe-in-the-sand vacation. Don’t miss the late-night happy hour, daily from 10 p.m. onward, when a burger and fries is just $10.

Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles

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Despite opening in 2014 in the historic United Artists building, the Ace Hotel has already made a serious mark on LA’s downtown scene. There are rooms available, of course, but many come to hang in the hotel’s chic public spaces. Of note is Upstairs, where you might catch a DJ set while nibbling on charcuterie and sipping cocktails near the pool, and LA Chapter, a brasserie off the lobby with a sidewalk patio. Time it right and catch a show in the theater, with everyone from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to Dita Von Teese performing.

Terranea Resort

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Talk about a getaway. The beautiful 102-acre sprawling resort overlooking the ocean bluffs in Rancho Palos Verdes boasts multiple pools, seasonally and regionally minded restaurants, and chic bars. There’s a 50,000-foot indoor-outdoor spa offering treatments with chill names like Ocean Prelude and Tranquility. It’s hard to pick a favorite hangout, but a chair beneath a cabana at Cielo Point, which overlooks a 21-and-up pool is a sweet place to toast with a cold beer.

Boathouse on the Bay

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The sunset view over Alamitos Bay at this Long Beach favorite will transport you far beyond your workday hassles. Whether you’re relaxing on the outdoor patio near the fire pit or inside the restaurant, you’ll have the ocean in the background — and on your plate. Sushi, seafood, and a raw bar keep the aquatic theme going, although there’s also “turf,” everything from a burger to a bone-in rib eye, to go with the “surf.” The Deck is where the party really gets going with live music, plenty of beer choices on tap, a lounge menu, and weekday happy hour deals.

The Bungalow Huntington Beach

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There’s a private-party vibe at this bungalow-styled Huntington Beach hot spot that overlooks the ocean and nods to surfer culture in its tasteful bohemian decor. Weekend nights turn up the heat and the crowds, much like at its sister spot, the Bungalow, in Santa Monica (both are from nightlife impresario Brent Bolthouse). Get there early or plan to wait in line — but don’t worry, it’s open until 2 a.m. every day but Sunday.

Island Hotel Newport Beach

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The Oak Grill, the Aqua Lounge, a spa, a pool — there are plenty of reasons to spend the evening, the night, or the weekend in Newport Beach. Though you can drink and dine indoors, the tree-lined outdoor deck and Fireside Patio captures the ocean breeze, plus there’s live acoustic music Wednesday through Saturday at Fireside. The eclectic New American menu bounces from ceviche to braised short ribs to pineapple upside-down cake.

The Strand House

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Floor to ceiling windows in the upstairs dining room display the surf and sand in all its glory at this Manhattan Beach beauty. Dine on hamachi crudo, a wood-fired pizza, or branzino (at brunch there’s eggs Benedict and a Maine lobster roll), while taking in sweeping Pacific Ocean views. The vista is less impressive from the downstairs bar, but its lively nature more than makes up for it.

Pacific Seas

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Pacific Seas, the near year-old tiki bar to open in the revamped Clifton’s Cafeteria, isn’t just a vacation to a tropical location — it’s a trip back in time. The speakeasy harkens to the era of tiki culture, with a vintage speedboat in the center of the bar (it serves as a DJ booth), art deco maps, and Polynesian kitschy details (some even preserved from the original birthplace of tiki culture, Trader Vic’s). Naturally, a round of classic Tiki cocktails — Daiquiris, Mai Tais, Singapore Slings, or, if you’re daring, a Scorpion Bowl — are in order.

Jesús Bañuelos
This advertising content was produced by Vox Creative without involvement from Vox Media editorial staff or Ballast Point.

Saddle Peak Lodge

If the wood and antlers don’t give it away, Saddle Peak Lodge is no flashy downtown joint. Instead, it’s a rustic, albeit elegant, restaurant in the foothills of the Santa Monica Mountains where game is on the menu, and, if you’re outside on the patio after dark, the stars twinkle above. The meat-centric menu by chef Adam Horton impresses even true gourmands.

Inn of the Seventh Ray

This romantic Topanga Canyon getaway checks all the right special occasion boxes. The coveted outdoor patio sits next to a creek, where flowers, greenery, and twinkle lights are all that’s needed for decor. The food is organic, the meat grass-fed, the fish line-caught, and it’s vegetarian friendly (and it’s been this way since the 1970s). It all adds up to an out-of-time experience, whether you’re digging into the linguine and sunflower pesto or the oven-roasted filet mignon.

Venice Whaler Bar & Grill

The Doors, Beatles, and Beach Boys are just a few of the famous names to come through this low-key, two-story bar right on Venice Beach and the pier. The sunset views are legendary (and often accompanied by a DJ on weekends), but just about any time of day feels like a toe-in-the-sand vacation. Don’t miss the late-night happy hour, daily from 10 p.m. onward, when a burger and fries is just $10.

Ace Hotel Downtown Los Angeles

Despite opening in 2014 in the historic United Artists building, the Ace Hotel has already made a serious mark on LA’s downtown scene. There are rooms available, of course, but many come to hang in the hotel’s chic public spaces. Of note is Upstairs, where you might catch a DJ set while nibbling on charcuterie and sipping cocktails near the pool, and LA Chapter, a brasserie off the lobby with a sidewalk patio. Time it right and catch a show in the theater, with everyone from Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds to Dita Von Teese performing.

Terranea Resort

Talk about a getaway. The beautiful 102-acre sprawling resort overlooking the ocean bluffs in Rancho Palos Verdes boasts multiple pools, seasonally and regionally minded restaurants, and chic bars. There’s a 50,000-foot indoor-outdoor spa offering treatments with chill names like Ocean Prelude and Tranquility. It’s hard to pick a favorite hangout, but a chair beneath a cabana at Cielo Point, which overlooks a 21-and-up pool is a sweet place to toast with a cold beer.

Boathouse on the Bay

The sunset view over Alamitos Bay at this Long Beach favorite will transport you far beyond your workday hassles. Whether you’re relaxing on the outdoor patio near the fire pit or inside the restaurant, you’ll have the ocean in the background — and on your plate. Sushi, seafood, and a raw bar keep the aquatic theme going, although there’s also “turf,” everything from a burger to a bone-in rib eye, to go with the “surf.” The Deck is where the party really gets going with live music, plenty of beer choices on tap, a lounge menu, and weekday happy hour deals.

The Bungalow Huntington Beach

There’s a private-party vibe at this bungalow-styled Huntington Beach hot spot that overlooks the ocean and nods to surfer culture in its tasteful bohemian decor. Weekend nights turn up the heat and the crowds, much like at its sister spot, the Bungalow, in Santa Monica (both are from nightlife impresario Brent Bolthouse). Get there early or plan to wait in line — but don’t worry, it’s open until 2 a.m. every day but Sunday.

Island Hotel Newport Beach

The Oak Grill, the Aqua Lounge, a spa, a pool — there are plenty of reasons to spend the evening, the night, or the weekend in Newport Beach. Though you can drink and dine indoors, the tree-lined outdoor deck and Fireside Patio captures the ocean breeze, plus there’s live acoustic music Wednesday through Saturday at Fireside. The eclectic New American menu bounces from ceviche to braised short ribs to pineapple upside-down cake.

The Strand House

Floor to ceiling windows in the upstairs dining room display the surf and sand in all its glory at this Manhattan Beach beauty. Dine on hamachi crudo, a wood-fired pizza, or branzino (at brunch there’s eggs Benedict and a Maine lobster roll), while taking in sweeping Pacific Ocean views. The vista is less impressive from the downstairs bar, but its lively nature more than makes up for it.

Pacific Seas

Jesús Bañuelos

Pacific Seas, the near year-old tiki bar to open in the revamped Clifton’s Cafeteria, isn’t just a vacation to a tropical location — it’s a trip back in time. The speakeasy harkens to the era of tiki culture, with a vintage speedboat in the center of the bar (it serves as a DJ booth), art deco maps, and Polynesian kitschy details (some even preserved from the original birthplace of tiki culture, Trader Vic’s). Naturally, a round of classic Tiki cocktails — Daiquiris, Mai Tais, Singapore Slings, or, if you’re daring, a Scorpion Bowl — are in order.

Jesús Bañuelos

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