Jen has family that lives in Santa Paula, a small city 65 miles northwest of Los Angeles. She’s gotten to know the area quite well over the years so suggested a road trip because of the cities rich Latin history.

Santa Paula is often referred to as “the citrus capital of the world,” but has over the years expanded into numerous crops. Agriculture is a key industry in Ventura County where Santa Paula is located.

The Chumash Indians, the original inhabitants of the area, were displaced by the Spanish and then Mexican ranchos circa 1840 so there’s been a long time presence of people of Latin descent. While the discovery of oil in 1880 increased commercial activity and diversity of the population, the majority of the citizens of the area continues to be Latin.

After a lovely brunch, we explored the historic downtown. The architecture is mixed but predominantly reflects a Spanish heritage. There are numerous murals throughout the city that depict life in the community. Very interesting. There are several shops displaying festive wear, especially Quinceanera dresses. Here I am below channeling my Disney princess.

There’s plenty to do in Santa Paula but interestingly, one of the most popular ways to end the day as a local (which of course we did) is to stop in for a cocktail at the bar at the Santa Paula airport. This an airpot that accommodates small planes and you can in fact go out into the field and take a closer look. It’s a cool spot; perhaps the best known person to keep his plane there was Steve McQueen.

 

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