LOVELY LOMPOC: Pretty much everyone who has visited the western bit of Santa Barbara County has their favorite thing about Lompoc. Some like to say the name, because it is kind of fun to say any name that ends in "poke," and some love its murals. But just about everyone knows the town for its flower fields, which produce hundreds of different buds annually. It's an industry that has been around the Lompoc Valley for over a century, and today the varieties run the gamut, from zinnias to stock to the famous sweet peas. Fewer flowers are grown than in the past, but the area still holds a leafy crown for its petal-producing prowess. The valley's annual flower festival just wrapped, but here's a way to enjoy the fields for longer: follow the map.
FLOWER MAP: Lompoc has provided a helpful map and guide for visitors who might want to go on their own and find the flowers for themselves. "(L)ate June" is listed as the peak time, but the pdf says that flowers can be seen through August and even into the fall. You might also want to eyeball the kinds of flowers grown in the area before setting out. We'll note that the fields of Lompoc have a different vibe and hue than the famous ranunculus fields of Carlsbad -- which are now closed for the year -- but if flowers and Sunday drives are your thing, make for the 'poc before summer winds down. Oh, and if you do make it to the area? You'll want your mural info, too.