Kenny Osehan
The creative force behind some of the state's coolest places to stay shares some Golden State recommendations

People to Know: Kenny Osehan

People to Know: Kenny Osehan
The creative force behind some of the state's coolest places to stay shares some Golden State recommendations

Although she has opened several uber-hip motels and inns throughout California, Kenny Osehan wouldn’t call herself a hotelier, per se. She’s more like a preservationist, rehabbing old properties and giving them a new lease on life. Her first co-venture was The Presidio motel in Santa Barbara; now her Shelter Social Club portfolio includes the Ojai Rancho Inn and Chief’s Peak bar in Ojai, The Alamo Motel in Los Alamos, Hamlet Inn in Solvang, and the Agave Inn and Sama Sama Kitchen in Santa Barbara. Wherever she goes, a wave of creativity follows; that strong sense of community is what keeps Osehan plugging away. She’s also inspired by the state itself: “We are definitely privileged in California, having so many beautiful places at our fingertips.” What follows are some favorite destinations she always keeps top of mind.

Where to Eat

“Los Alamos is a town [in the Central Coast] of about three blocks, but the food is great. I love going to Full of Life Flatbread for dinner. They change their menu weekly, everything is local, and a lot of it is from their own garden. The soup and flatbread pizzas are seasonal. When I go with my boyfriend, we order one of everything.

Bob’s Well Bread Bakery [also in Los Alamos] is great for breakfast. I always get the Egg-in-a-Frame #1: an egg in the middle of a piece of bread with herb-roasted tomatoes and dry-aged goat cheese. I really like it with his delicious gluten-free Centennial bread.

Further down the coast, I’ll stop at SY Kitchen in Santa Ynez for fresh pea salad or a salad made with octopus. And when we want to make our own meals, we go to Cookbook in Echo Park [Los Angeles]. It’s tiny but it’s got all the finest ingredients from California, like Kukuho Rose organic heirloom rice. The texture is fluffy and perfect; it’s the best I’ve ever had.”

Where to Drink

“I often find myself at the cocktail bar attached to the front of Cafe Stella [in Los Angeles]. I like to get the Norteño, a mezcal drink made with lime, jalapeño, cold-pressed cucumber juice, and orgeat. There’s also a cozy wine bar in the back of the restaurant, with an extensive wine list and a good mix of traditional and new producers. For natural wines, you can find a huge list at Botanica in L.A., which serves super-fresh Mediterranean-Israeli cuisine.”

Where to See (and Buy) Art

“I love going to Hauser & Wirth in Los Angeles. It’s a small gallery, but it has a nice outdoor courtyard, restaurant, and bar. I saw a Louise Bourgeois exhibition recently and discovered another inspiring artist named Geta Bratescu. Schindler House is another gallery I saw recently; they were having an exhibition of current L.A. artists, all really lovely. The building itself is an architecturally significant home, built in 1921. The intelligent design blends right in with the landscape.

“Ceramic art and brass sculptures are popular in Los Angeles right now. For brass, I love Alma Allen. He used to make bowls and candle holders, but now he’s doing big sculptures. For ceramics, Rebekah Miles is a dear friend of mine. She grew up in Carpinteria and lives in Ojai and comes from five generations of farmers. She makes bowls and other usable ceramics, sold exclusively at Nicky Kehoe in Los Angeles.”

Where to Unwind

“People go to a lot of yoga retreats in Ojai because there’s not much to do out there other than relax. Arrow Heart is an excellent yoga studio. There’s good biking and hiking trails, too, but nothing too challenging. Our hotel offers complimentary bikes, or you can rent them from The Mob Shop.”

The Perfect Getaway

“I love going north to Big Sur. It feels so lush out there, with such big and dramatic land. All you have to do is breathe the air in the redwoods to feel like everything’s going to be okay. It’s very healing. The Henry Miller Memorial Library is also up there, and sometimes it has live music. It’s so special to see shows under the stars, surrounded by redwood trees. I also like Big Sur Bakery. Get a breakfast pizza or some delicious pastries. It’s so authentic, you can tell someone has put a lot of love into that place.”

In Partnership with Afar.

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Central California

Discover the Central Coast

From the epic grandeur of Big Sur to the Mediterranean-style stretch of Santa Barbara coastline nicknamed “the American Riviera,” this region of picturesque hamlets, jagged sea cliffs, and rolling wine country has long attracted—not surprisingly—writers and artists mesmerized by its dreamlike beauty.

Monterey served as California’s first capital when the state’s first constitution was signed in in the coastal city in 1849.

Take the epic Highway One drive between San Francisco and Los Angeles to discover secret beaches and soaring cliffs along Big Sur, stroll a redwood trail, spy a sea otter at the incomparable Monterey Bay Aquarium, and sip Pinot Noir at sunset in the romantic Santa Ynez Valley.

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Journeys: Central Coast

Buckle in and prepare to be amazed on this 8-day road trip from Santa Barbara to Monterey
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Courtesy of Ventana Big Sur

5 Great Ways to Experience Highway 1

Discover your favorite way to take in this iconic drive through Big Sur and beyond

Now that repairs are complete, you can once again drive the legendarily scenic Highway 1 through Big Sur. With its redwood forests, towering...

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Casa de Fruta Orchard Resort

Part fruit stand, part theme park, this Central Coast stop is the perfect place to fill your belly

What started as a humble cherry stand in 1908 is now a massive roadside attraction, welcoming more than 3 million visitors each year. Located 40...

Ragged Point

Trip 3-4 days 8 stops

San Luis Obispo to Ragged Point

Venture from San Luis Obispo up Highway 1 to discover pristine coastline, small beach towns, and a fabled landmark
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Courtesy of Alisal Guest Ranch Resort

Santa Maria Barbecue

Head to California’s Central Coast to try this distinctive regional cuisine at its source

The barbecue styles of Kansas City, Memphis, and Texas are well known around the U.S., but California’s Santa Maria Valley claims a...

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Spotlight: Ventura County

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Absorb the relaxed vibe of this classic California destination on the coast

When it comes to places in California that feel like one big outdoor playground, Ventura County, on the south end of the Central Coast, stands out...

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San Luis Obispo’s Bubble Gum Alley is filled with more than 1.7 million pieces of bubble gum.
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Spotlight: Santa Barbara

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Mediterranean style magic and a perfect ocean breeze

Bougainvillea twining across red-tiled rooftops, birdsong mingling with the ocean breeze, islands and whale spouts on the horizon—...

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See a few amazing wonders of the sea first-hand

Each year, about 20,000 gray whales make an epic 6,000-mile/9,656-km journey between Alaska and Mexico—and then back again. These whales travel from feeding grounds in the Bering Sea to mating and...

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Spotlight: Big Sur

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Art and nature merge on this rugged coast, one of California’s most spectacular settings

Welcome to one of the world’s most unforgettable stretches of coastline. This roughly 90-mile-long stretch of redwood- and fog-trimmed waterfront...

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Castroville produces 95 percent of the nation's artichokes. In 1948, Marilyn Monroe was crowned the town's first "Artichoke Queen."
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Follow celebrated routes to iconic vineyards and tucked-away surprises

With more than 4,000 wineries statewide, California lets you sample award-winning wines almost anywhere you go. These classic and up-and-coming wine roads—some too packed with wineries to tackle...

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Kid-friendly fun zones, special kids' menus & amazing wine for the grownups

Sure wine country is romantic, but now it’s a surprisingly great destination for families too, with a growing number of vineyards trading in elegant tasting rooms for kid-friendly fun zones that...

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Farm-fresh produce, culinary adventures

Juicy heirloom tomatoes and just-picked strawberries. Super-sweet peaches shaped like mini UFOs. Artisanal cheeses, emerald-green olive oils, local wildflower honey—California’s farmers’ markets...

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Trip 5-7 days 10 stops

Highway One Classic

Take the trip that captures the heart and soul of the Golden State
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Start in one of California’s sunniest destinations, not just in terms of the weather, but also in attitude. In the heart of the city, shop the many independent boutiques throughout the historic ...

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Discover the awesome sports scene in the Golden State

With nearly twice as many professional teams as any other state, California is big league all the way. But the state’s sports scene goes far beyond football and baseball, with a diverse line-up of...

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Christina Lauren/Flickr
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Beautiful locations, luxurious comforts

Get the starry nights, the campfire stories, the cozy sleeping bag, and all the best parts of camping in some of California’s most beautiful settings—but without the hassle of hauling loads of...

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July

Vampires beware: this is one garlic-infused weekend that creatures of the night may want to miss. Everyone else—go, at least once, to this unforgettably odiferous and one-of-a-kind event. See how...

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Ventura County Wine Trail

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Visit vineyards in coastal hills and communities

Sip your way along the Ventura County Wine Trail, where you’ll find nearly 20 wineries and tasting rooms in settings ranging from urban...

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Oxnard

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Discover California’s “Strawberry Coast”

Oxnard is where strawberries meet the sea. In this city 40 minutes south of Santa Barbara, you’ll find 7 miles/11.3 km of unspoiled beaches, plus...

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Big-city-worthy events liven the sleepy Central Coast

Bookended by the big cities of Los Angeles and San Francisco, the Central Coast may be known for its mellow pace, but the closeness of those major gateways bring big names to relatively small...

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Courtesy of Monterey Jazz Festival
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Check these amazing experiences off your bucket list

Kiss a beluga, see cool movie props, and learn about Walt’s secret hideaway on exclusive and behind-the-scenes tours at California’s theme parks and attractions. Here’s a roundup of worth-the-...

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Old-fashioned fun in the Golden State

Historic oceanfront playgrounds, classic city-park charmers, boisterous adventures—smaller theme parks and attractions offer an array of ways to play.  These smaller parks offer old-...

Safari West
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Solvang

A Danish stronghold makes a charming outpost surrounded by ranchlands and vineyards

Imagine a village where fresh-cut flowers and warm-from-the-oven pastries scent the air. Add gingerbread architecture, twirling windmills,...

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Central Coast Missions

Visit some of California’s most beautiful missions to discover the state’s Spanish roots

Strung like Spanish pearls along an 824-mile trail from San Diego to Sonoma, California’s 21 historic missions offer a wealth of treasures, from...

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Santa Barbara ranks in the nation’s top 20 counties for bicycle commuters, with nearly 5,000 residents commuting to work by bicycle.