100+ Free, Nearly Free Summer Movies in Ventura County!


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Free Concerts All Summer Along In and Around Ventura County!

Stay Cool in the Pool! Community Pools In/Around Ventura County


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Frozen Yogurt in Ventura County

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Compilation of Public Beaches Spanning From Oxnard to Hueneme to Malibu 

In a separate post, we highlighted beaches ranging from Carpinteria down south to the beaches at the Ventura Harbor. This is the 2nd installment of local area beaches that stretch from McGrath State Beach on down to the beaches gracing Malibu. We hope these compilations prove useful in guiding you to all the oceanfront fun Ventura County and adjacent areas have to offer!

Additionally, here's a compilation of beaches in the Santa Barbara area (excluding Carpinteria).

McGrath State Beach has 2 1/2 miles of beach that is great for walkers, sunbathers and surf fishers. Swimming, surfing, and water sports are discouraged because of rip currents. McGrath also has a campground with 174 sites, restrooms and coin-operated hot showers. Make reservations by calling 800.444.7275. There's also a .2 mile nature trail through jungle-like vegetation along the banks of the Santa Clara River. McGrath is 5 miles south of Ventura off the 101 freeway via Harbor Boulevard. Visit parks.ca.gov/?page_id=607 or call 805.968.1033 for more information. Parking is $10 as of August 2012.

Mandalay Beach Park is 94 acres of undeveloped beachfront land located south of Reliant Energy's Mandalay Generating Station. The natural sand dunes and the wetlands ecosystem are recognized for their important natural value and houses several threatened bird species. This is a passive, natural open space park with no support facilities. The sandy ocean beach and adjacent coastal dunes are available for public day use only. The beach is managed by the County of Ventura on behalf of the California State Parks Department. Located at the corner of Harbor Boulevard and 5th Street in Oxnard. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=609.

Oxnard Beach Park has one of the best kids' play areas around town, restrooms, lots of grass, and easy access to miles and miles of beach. The sand dunes are really large in Oxnard. The park is located at 1601 S. Harbor Boulevard. More info at www.visitoxnard.com.

Hollywood Beach is a great spot for swimming, sunning and viewing the Channel Islands offshore. Free public beach volleyball courts, public restrooms on the north end of beach, on-street parking and lifeguards on duty between Memorial Day and Labor Day. Located right next to Channel Islands Harbor off of Harbor Boulevard.

Silver Strand Beach is a 1 mile long sandy beach about 150 yds in width. It is capped by the north and south jetties, which both have small parking lots, one next to San Nicholas Road, the other next to Sawtelle Avenue. Free parking from sunrise to sunset and limited restroom facilities. The coast is a sandy bottom beach break which can sometimes feature rip tides and an undertow. Lifeguards on duty every day during the summer months. Accessed via S. Victoria Avenue. Visit bit.ly/OyXoQE for more information.

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Scenes From the Butterflies Alive Exhibit at Santa Barbara Natural History Museum

Some of these stars of the show at the Butterflies Alive! exhibit at the Santa Barbara Natural History Museum are drawn to my Conejo Valley Guide cap. Perhaps they are interested in exploring some of the thousands of things to do throughout Ventura County and adjacent areas!

The Museum is open 7 days a week from 10am to 5pm. Admission is $12 for adults, $8 for teens/seniors and $7 for kids ages 2 to 12. This is a can't miss exhibit.


Free Concerts and Live Music All Summer Long Around Ventura County

We have before us another great summer of free (and almost free), live music throughout Ventura County and surrounding areas this summer. This preliminary list is GROWING! Rock, jazz, pops, R&B, reggae, Celtic, classical, 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s, Classic Rock, Latin, Tribute Bands, you name it!!!

Check the Events Calendar for things going on around town as well as the Local Events and Community Messages sections of Conejo Valley Guide.

This list of course is subject to change. Contact event organizers to confirm.

Thousand Oaks/Westlake Village/Newbury Park

Agoura/Oak Park/Calabasas/Woodland Hills

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Over 140 Summer Camps and Programs In and Around Ventura County

Looking for a summer camp within range of Ventura County? Here's a list of over 140 summer day camps and residential camps and programs in the area. Actually, there are hundreds and hundreds of individual camps available. We've attempted to categorize the camps into 3 main groups; Traditional/Learning, Sports and Music/Arts, though many camps cover many fun activities all in one.

Know of more? Submit them here!

No doubt there will be some typos/errors on this list, so let us know if you find one.

Sports Camps (Camps primarily sports focused)

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Things to Do Around Ventura County When It's Really, Really Hot Outside

It's sure hot out here! What's there to do around town that will cool me off!?Looking for things to do when its really, really HOT outside!? This list of mostly indoor activities is somewhat random in order so take a close look and you'll find something cool to do in and around Ventura County.

Conejo Valley/Agoura Hills/Oak Park

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Labor Day Weekend Events In Ventura County and Surrounding Areas

Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It is a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.

The first Labor Day holiday was celebrated on Tuesday, September 5, 1882, in New York City, in accordance with the plans of the Central Labor Union. The second Labor Day holiday was on September 5, 1883. In 1884 the first Monday in September was selected as the holiday.

Oregon was the first state to officially enact Labor Day as a holiday by law on February 21, 1887, followed that year by Massachusetts, New Jersey and New York. Since then, all 50 states have made Labor Day a state holiday.


So what's going on in Ventura County over Labor Day Weekend!?  Here goes:

Fri 8/29 to Mon 9/1: 33rd Annual Malibu Kiwanis Chili Cook-Off, Carnival and Fair

Fri 8/29: Free concert at Heritage Square in Oxnard featuring reggae band Dirty Rice

Fri 8/29: Free screening of "The Nut Job" at Pierce Farm Center in Woodland Hills

Sat 8/30: Kids Fun Zone at Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks

Sat 8/30: 5th Annual Santa Barbara Tequila Harvest Festival

Sat/Sun 8/30-31: 12th Annual Ventura Nationals Car Show at VC Fairgrounds

Sat 8/30: Live Birds of Prey Program at Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center in Ojai

Sat 8/30: Music Under the Stars -  "Skinny Little Twits" (classic rock) at Olivas Adobe Ventura

Sat 8/30: Acadiana (Zydeco/Cajun) performs at Peninsula Park at Channel Islands Harbor

Sat 8/30: Free concert featuring Mary White Band (country/rock) at Simi Civic Center Plaza

Sat 8/30: Evening Cultural Program at Satwiwa Native American Indian C

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Thousand Oaks Community Park Has Several Unique Features Worth Exploring

Thousand Oaks Community Park, located at 2525 N. Moorpark Road, just north of Thousand Oaks High School, has something for everyone. This large, park is home to the Thousand Oaks Community Center, a hub for year-round events and activities for all ages. The center has a full-size gym, several fully-enclosed racquetball courts and other great features. More info at www.crpd.org/parkfac/1koaks.

If you have young kids, probably the most popular feature of this park is the playground and adjoining "Ant Hill."The Ant Hill is a unique, small man-made hill covered with artificial grass that is a fun play slide area for the kids. Bring a piece of cardboard and enjoy the ride.

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The Twin Ponds Conservation Area in the Conejo Open Space is Protected Land

The Twin Ponds Conservation Area in the Dos Vientos section of Newbury Park is part of the public open space lands of the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency and is protected by a conservation easement to the California Department of Fish and Game.

The ponds were originally constructed in the 1920s as part of the irrigation system for agricultural and cattle ranching operations at Dos Vientos Ranch. Today they serve as important habitat for Two Striped Garter Snakes and larger animals such as deer, bobcat, coyote and mountain lion that depend on a reliable source of water. Migrating waterfowl are occasionally abundant, especially in winter.

COSCA and Fish & Game ask that we enjoy this scenic area but protect the ponds for the future and ask that we: 1) do not enter the water or allow dogs/horses to enter the water; 2) use the water trough; 3) disturb or remove any animal or plant; and 4) do not put any plants or animals, including fish, into the ponds.

To explore the ponds, take the Vista Del Mar Trail from one of several access points in the Dos Vientos area, including the corner of Via Ricardo and Via Rincon and the corner of Rancho Dos Vientos and Via El Cerro. This is a fun little hike to take the kids on and the ponds less than a mile from each trailhead (the Via Ricardo/Via Rincon trailhead is closer).


Frozen Yogurt, Ice Cream, Gelato and Other Frozen Treats Around Ventura County

Frozen yogurt is everywhere these days, ice cream is as popular as ever and gelato is gaining steam! Here's a handy list of frozen yogurt, ice cream and gelato places in and around Ventura County for your dining pleasure. There are over 80 such establishments in Ventura County and surrounding areas!

(Current as of 7/1/14. Things change...call to confirm....let us know of any changes!)

Conejo Valley (TO/WLV/NP)


Moorpark/Simi Valley

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Free and Nearly Free Movies All Summer Long Around Ventura County 

Stay cool this summer with several hundred FREE and nearly free movies in and around Ventura County and surrounding areas! These movies are at local movie theaters, parks, libraries and other locations!

Agoura: Free Screening of "Love Me Tender" on 7/19

Calabasas: City of Calabasas Free Summer Movies, Friday nights (6/20, 7/18, 8/1)

Camarillo: Free Movies in the Park on Fri Nights at Community Center Park 6/25 to 8/20 (9 movies)

Camarillo: Free Thursday Night Movies at the Camarillo Public Library, June through August

Camarillo: Free Movies in the Park on Wed Nights at Mission Oaks Park and Pitts Ranch Park  7/18, 8/1, 8/8 at Mission Oaks and 7/11, 7/25, 8/15 at Pitts Ranch

Camarillo: Camarillo Arts Council Free Movies at Constitution Park on 6/28 (Mary Poppins) and 8/16 (Despicable Me 2)

Camarillo: $1 Movies at Edwards Camarillo Palace Stadium on Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10AM from 6/17 to 8/13 (18 different screenings over 9 weeks)

Malibu: CineMalibu Saturday Night Movies at Malibu Bluffs Park on 7/26 (Spiderman) and 8/23 (The Adventures of Milo and Otis)

Malibu: Free Summer Movies at Malibu Country Mart on 6/20 (

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Restaurants New and Restaurants Adieu in Ventura County January to Mid-July 2014

New restaurants that have opened or are planning to open in and around the Conejo Valley and Greater Ventura County during the first half of 2014 continues. The Local Buzz section of CVG highlights new eateries along with restaurants that close their doors.

Here's a summary of this activity from January through mid-July 2014.  (Click here for previous 2013 activity.) The list is fairly comprehensive but we know it's not 100% complete, so let us know of any we missed!

Consistent with previous reports, the number of new eateries in the area continues to outnumber closed eateries by a large margin.

Restaurants* That Have Opened Since January 2014

* OK maybe not just restaurants...places that offer up edible items of any type e.g. sweets

Happy hummus and friendly falafel at the newly opened Mama's Hummus in Newbury Park

Restaurants That Announced They Are Opening Soon

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Family Geocaching Fun in Ventura County

Military ammunition box geocache container (photo from Wikipedia)When a couple friends first told me about how fun geocaching was a few years ago, I blew it off, figuring it was yet one more activity that I don't have time for in my busy family life. I wasn't quite sure what geocaching was, but it sounded like a silly game to me.

Boy was I wrong! Geocaching is a lot of fun!

In a nutshell, geocaching is an outdoor activity where you hunt for hidden containers, or "caches," using GPS tracking on your smartphone or a GPS device. Kind of like modern day treasure hunting!

There are over 2 million active geocaches around the world waiting to be found. What is a cache? Generally a waterproof storage container in various sizes that contains a log and perhaps other little treasures waiting to be found.

I use an Android phone and, after registering at Geocaching.com, downloaded a free app called c:geo. I was impressed at how easy this app is to use. Simply press "nearby" to find local caches registered on Geocaching.com and pick one that is nearby and sounds interesting. The app tells you how many meters/km the cache is from your location. Read the cache description, click the little compass that shows you which direction to go and how far away you are from the cache. And, you're off!

(There are plenty of other geocaching apps for both iPhones and Android phones, many free. Since I've only tried c:geo, I don't claim to be an expert on these apps. So other apps may work better for you.)

The kids and I have a blast with geocaching. We can be anywere...a park, the beach, on the trails...and track down caches nearby. The GPS brings you to within a reasonably precise location, sometimes "dead on" and other times within 5 to 10 meters, but once you get there, you may have to look around in every nook and cranny. It is easy to give up, but it can take a bit of persistence to find the geocache. Some of the geocaches we've uncovered have been a lipstick case hidden under a rock, a plastic screw-top case hidden in a light pole and a small container hidden in a crevice of a fence.

Who hides these caches? All sorts of people hide geocaches, adding to the fun. We were at Point Dume State Beach when I said, hey, let's look for a geocache! Within 15 minutes w

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Life's a Beach! Public Beaches Spanning From Carpinteria to the Ventura Harbor

The beaches of Ventura County have something for everyone, be it the sand (case in point shown above), the ocean breezes, surfing, sandcastles, volleyball, sunning, picnicing or just chilling out to the sound of the waves. Here we have compiled a listing of beaches just north of Ventura County in Carpinteria down the coast to the Ventura Harbor. Separately we highlight beaches stretching further down the coast through Oxnard, Channel Islands Harbor, Point Mugu and Malibu as well as up the coast in and around Santa Barbara.

The Santa Claus Lane Beach Area in Carpinteria is a south facing beach area popular with surfers, boogie boarders and sunbathers. Get there from the 101 by taking the Padaro Lane exit towards Santa Claus Lane, then taking a left on Santa Claus Lane. You can park in a small dirt area (there's room for maybe 10 cars there) on the ocean side or find street parking, which is plentiful. This is not an "official" beach to my knowledge, as in city or county-run. Just a private beach. No restrooms to my knowledge. Oh yes, you'll have to cross the railroad tracks...so be careful! Down the street is Padaro Beach Village, where you can grab a bite to each and do a little shopping.

On a separate note, you may be wondering why it is called Santa Claus Lane. Well the old-timers among you (including me) know that a gigantic roadside Santa used to reside here that now greets us off the 101 freeway in the Nyeland Acres section of Oxnard. Learn more about the history at this link.

Surfers, boogie boarders, body surfers and frolickers at the Santa Claus Lane area beach.

Just down the street is the quaint Padaro Beach Village, where you can grab a coffee, breakfast, lunch, do a little shopping, etc. Very relaxing little area.Carpinteria State Beach is a mile long beach for swimming, surf fishing, tidepool exploring and camping. Dogs are allowed only at picnic area. The park originally opened in February 1932. There are four campground areas with 216 family campsites and seven group campsites available. Seals and sea lions can be seen in the area December through May, as well as an occasional gray whale. Tidepools contain starfish, sea anemones, crabs, snails, octopi and sea urchins. Exit the 101 at Casitas Pass Road, go west to Carpinteria Avenue, make a right at the signal; then turn left on Palm.  The beach is at the end of Palm Avenue near 4th Street. Call 805.968.1033 or visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=599.

Tar Pits Park in Carpinteria provides hiking and biking trails and a few benches, but no other park amenities.  Access to the park is very remote and it is suggested that you enter from the Carpinteria State Beach campgrounds or beach area.  Here you will see tar oozing out of the hills...so watch where you step! The Carpinteria Tar Pits are one of the five natural asphalt lake areas in the world! Visit www.carpinteria.ca.us/parks_rec/park_system.shtml for more information. The Carpinteria Harbor Seal Rookery can be reached by following trails east of the park. MORE ON TAR PITS PARK HERE

Beach view from Tar Pits Park in Carpinteria

Carpinteria Bluffs Nature Preserve is 53 acres of open space situated overlooking the Pacific Ocean is a series of walkways, trails and open space for ocean views, whale watching and fresh air. There are restrooms and I believe parking is free. This is not a beach for hanging out on the sand. Visit www.carpinteria.ca.us/parks_rec/park_system.shtml for more information. Take the 101 Freeway to Ballard Avenue and turn towards the ocean.

Rincon Beach Park is near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Carpinteria. Just take the Bates Avenue offramp off the 101 Freeway to the ocean and on the right you'll find plenty of free parking and easy beach access, with picnic tables and restrooms. Run by the County of Santa Barbara. No parking fees! Just steps to the south of Rincon Beach Park is Rincon Point, known as one of the best surfing spots in the world. There is separate parking there and restrooms.

Great photo opps here at Rincon Beach Park :)

Mussel Shoals is a small beach community in Ventura with around 50 homes. There are about a dozen public parking spots along Old Pacific Coast Highway, paralleling the 101 near the Cliff House Inn. No restrooms. If you go there, perhaps have lunch at the

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Guide to Finding Family Friendly Bike Paths In and Around Ventura County

As a casual cyclist with young kids I usually steer clear of riding on busy streets, particularly those that don't have any type of bike lane on them. Thankfully there are nearly 80 miles of bikeways in

Thousand Oaks, including 3 miles of bike paths, 20 miles of bike lanes and 54 miles of marked bike routes. In fact, the City of Thousand Oaks made Bicycling Magazine's 2012 Top 50 Bike-Friendly Cities list.

Class I Bike Paths are separate from auto traffic and thus are great for family friendly cycling. Class II Bike Lanes are striped, painted and shared lanes adjacent to automobile Bike Routes are shared with vehicleslanes. Class III Bike Routes are marked by green signs that signify sharing with autos.

We also love taking our bikes to other places in and around Ventura County to enjoy other sights and surroundings. So how about if we highlight Class I Bike Paths throughout Ventura County, stretching from Thousand Oaks to Ventura.

Conejo Valley

The Conejo Creek Bike Path is a 1.2 mile path in the heart of Thousand Oaks that connects Gainsborough Road on the south to Conejo Creek Park and the Thousand Oaks Library. This is a nice, flat path, good for kids.

There is another Thousand Oaks bike path, the .5 mile Greenmeadow Drive connector bike path accessible on the west at Greenmeadow and Yellowstone, on the south side of Los Robles Greens. This is not a particularly interesting path but it does enable cyclists and walkers a path around the golf course to the Los Robles trailhead and Moorpark Road from Newbury Park. A bit hilly, too.

Entrance to Greenmeadow Avenue connector bike path in Thousand Oaks

There is also the .8 mile bike path on the north side of The Oaks mall as well as the .5 mile Read Road Connector path accessible off of Olsen Road just east of th

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Stay Cool in the Pool! Community Swimming Throughout Ventura County

Stay cool this summer and year-round at some of these community swimming pools, water parks and splash pads in Ventura County and surrounding areas. For updates and additions, contact us!

Conejo Valley (Conejo Recreation & Park District)

Community Pool at Cal Lutheran University Samuelson Aquatics Center is a year-round facility, offering recreational and lap swimming 7 days a week. Call 805.241.0894 or visit www.crpd.org. Only $2 ($1 for 62+). Current schedule at www.crpd.org/parkfac/aquatics/hoursnfees.asp. Water is heated to 80 to 84 degrees year round...nice! Closed 7/23-7/27 for Jr Olympic meet.

Newbury Park High School Community Swimming Pool is at 456 Reino Road and offers recreational swimming 6 days/week from 6/14/14 to 8/22/14, Mon-Fri 1-4PM, Sat 12:30PM-3:30PM (6/14 to 8/2 only) and Monday nights 7-9PM. Only $2 ($1 for 62+). Call 805.498.6906 or visit www.crpd.org.

Thousand Oaks High School Community Swimming Pool is at 2323 N. Moorpark Road and offers recreational swimming Mon to Fri from 6/16/14 to 8/22/14, Mon-Fri 1-4PM and Wed 7-9PM. Only $2 ($1 for 62+). Call 805.496.8564 or visit www.crpd.org.

Free open swim at all of the above CRPD pools took place from noon to 4pm on the 4th of the July. Fun!

Conejo Valley/Agoura - Other

Daland Swim School in Thousand Oaks offers group and individual lessons.

Conejo Valley YMCA in Thousand Oaks heated indoor swimmin

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