Malibu Lagoon State Beach

Malibu Lagoon State Beach is where Malibu Creek meets the Pacific Ocean. To get there, park either at the state lot (corner of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road) for a fee ($12 in 2014), along Pacific Coast Highway or across the street in spots available near Malibu Country Mart and the Malibu Civic Center.

The lagoon is serene, with a sandbar of pelicans enjoying their summer day. This beach extends southeast to Surfrider Beach and the Malibu Pier, which is just a short walk away. While you're there try to check out the Adamson House and Malibu Lagoon Museum.

More information at www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=835. Dogs are not allowed at Malibu Lagoon State Beach and trails.

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Simi Valley Town Center

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The Simi Valley Town Center is a 600,000 sq ft open-air shopping, dining and entertainment center in the heart of Simi Valley, off the 118 freeway between First Street and Erringer Road at 1555 Simi Town Center Way.  This mall opened in fall 2005. 

Eateries at the Town Center include Corner Bakery, California Pizza Kitchen, Souplantation, Larsen's Grill, Red Robin, Exotic Thai, a new (September 2015) Buffalo Wild Wings.  Macy's anchors both ends of the mall, allowing men and women to split up for shopping and meet in the middle.

The 41,211 sq ft Studio Movie Grill opened at the Town Center on October 22, 2015, with nine screens and over 950 seats. It is a beautiful theater offering stadium seating and fixed lounge seats with individual dining tables and service.

This is also a nice mall for the kids, as there is plenty of room to run around and explore in the open air setting.  There is a kids' play area, oak trees, mosaic dragon, outdoor fireplace and gardens to explore.  There are also train rides available for $2 per child at Center Court.

There is usually a koi pond at the mall but as of February 2014 the koi have been temporarily relocated as the mall undergoes redevelopment. The koi will be back I'm told.

Small outdoor kids' play area (geared towards little ones)

Small outdoor kids' play area (geared towards little ones)

The Center is open Mon-Sat from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sun from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.  Visit www.shopsimivalleytowncenter.com for more information.

Comedy & Cocktails at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo

Comedy & Cocktails at Studio Channel Islands, 2222 Ventura Blvd, Camarillo. Tickets $15. Beer and wine are both $5. Features local comedy icon Jason Love and several top notch comedians who will make you laugh your self silly.

Upcoming dates:

Friday, May 27 at 7:30

Friday, June 24 at 7:30

Friday, July 29 at 7:30

Visit studiochannelislands.org for more information.

Dog Parks In and Around Ventura County

Dog Parks In and Around Ventura County

Here's a compilation of parks in and around Ventura County as well as adjacent areas that have off-leash opportunities for your pooches. The days and times indicated below are subject to change; links to the local recreation and park districts have been provided below.

Thousand Oaks:

Conejo Creek Dog Park at 1300 E. Avenida de las Flores is a 3 1/2 acre dog park with separate sections for large and small (30 lbs or less) dogs. Open daily 7 am to 8:30 pm; closed Thursdays 7-9 am and all day the 3rd Thursda

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Oakbrook Vista Trail in Thousand Oaks

The Oakbrook Vista Trail is a relatively easy out and back climb that provides nice panoramic views of the Lang Ranch area of Thousand Oaks. Access to the trail is on the south side of Lang Ranch Parkway, just west of Westlake Boulevard. See access point below.

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The narrow initial trail up Oakbrook Vista

The narrow initial trail up Oakbrook Vista

The first portion is a narrow trail that zig zags its way to a bench, where you can rest and enjoy the views. But I'd estimate this is only 1/4 of a mile, so keep going if you're game!

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After the bench, the trail opens up and continues up and up and up and if you reach the top, roughly a mile or so up the hill, you'll be enjoying 360 degree views towards Boney Mountain on the west, Lang Ranch/Woodridge trails on the north and more.

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For a trail map and additional information, visit the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at www.cosf.org/website/html/oakbrook-vista-trail.html.

Hill Canyon, Hawk Canyon and Western Plateau Trails in Thousand Oaks

In 2012, the Conejo Canyons bridge was constructed in Thousand Oaks, opening up more trails to explore in the Western Plateau area of Thousand Oaks, which ties into Wildwood Park. Check the map at www.cosf.org/website/html/western-plateau-hikes.html for trail maps.

The Hill Canyon bridge that takes you to all the action!

The Hill Canyon bridge that takes you to all the action!

Access the Conejo Canyons bridge to get to the Hill Canyon Trail, a flat path that after a mile takes you to an intersection where you can go straight ahead to the Hawk Canyon Trail, take a right turn to the Western Plateau Trail or veer left to make your way to the Arroyo Conejo Trail that takes you about 2 1/2 miles to the Rancho Conejo Playfields in Newbury Park.

The Hill Canyon Trail is as flat as they come. I see bikers, hikers and runner back here.

The Hill Canyon Trail is as flat as they come. I see bikers, hikers and runner back here.

This creek parallels the Hill Canyon Trail

This creek parallels the Hill Canyon Trail

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One path I enjoy is the Hill Canyon Trail to the Hawk Canyon Trail, which veers right towards the Western Plateau Trail, which loops back to Hill Canyon Trail.  Do look at a map first as signs are not always at trail junctures (the sign above is clearly an exception!). You can actually take the Hawk Canyon Trail as well as Western Plateau Trail to Newbury Park.

Western Plateau Trail

Western Plateau Trail

When you reach the Western Plateau Trail, if you go just a bit further north/northeast, you'll be rewarded with great views down the Conejo Grade towards Camarillo and the Oxnard Plain.

Views from the Western Plateau Trail on a bit of an overcast June morning

Views from the Western Plateau Trail on a bit of an overcast June morning

Access the Conejo Canyons bridge via Santa Rosa Road. Coming from Thousand Oaks, take Moorpark Road north down the Norwegian Grade, where it intersects with Santa Rosa Road. Continue about 3.7 miles on Santa Rosa Road and make a left on Hill Canyon Road. Drive down Hill Canyon Road and you will see a large, flat dirt parking area on the right, adjacent to Santa Rosa Valley Regional Park.

Rincon Beach Park at the Ventura/Santa Barbara County Line

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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. Take Bates to the ocean and on the right you'll find plenty of free parking and easy beach access, with picnic tables and restrooms.

If you make a left turn off of Bates, there's a separate parking lot for Rincon Point, part of Carpinteria State Beach, one of the most popular surf destinations in the world. There are a couple of restrooms on this side also, albeit not particularly pleasant ones to use.

To learn more about Rincon Beach Park or to reserve the picnic table, visit www.countyofsb.org/parks/parks02.aspx?id=8078 or call 805.568.2465.

Views from the picnic area at Rincon Beach Park

Views from the picnic area at Rincon Beach Park

This sign always makes for great conversation starters at Rincon Beach Park

This sign always makes for great conversation starters at Rincon Beach Park

Rincon Point in Carpinteria

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Rincon Point is home to one of the most popular surfing spots in the world. Accessible near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Downtown Carpinteria. Take the Bates Avenue offramp off the 101 Freeway towards the ocean. On the right is access to the City of Carpinteria's Rincon Beach Park and on the left is access to the Rincon Point parking area. Open 6am to 9pm daily, with a not-particulary-nice porta-john available in the parking area.

There is a trail that takes you to the beach area from the parking lot. The area is also surrounded by beach homes.

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A view toward the north from Rincon Point (in the direction of Rincon Beach Park)

A view toward the north from Rincon Point (in the direction of Rincon Beach Park)

THE BEACH BOYS INCLUDED A REFERENCE TO RINCON IN SURFIN' SAFARI:

At Huntington and Malibu

They're shooting the pier

At Rincon they're walking the nose

We're going on safari to the islands this year

So if you're coming get ready to go

Laugh Out Loud Comedy Night

Join Jason Love as he hosts Laugh Out Loud Comedy Night at locations in Ventura County, bringing top notch comedians out from Hollywood to entertain us surburbanites. Each show features two headliners with national TV credits from The Tonight Show, Comedy Central, America’s Got Talented, etc. Jason Love has performed on HBO and Last Comic Standing.

As of May 2016, there are two monthly shows:

On the first Wednesday of each month, The Westlake Village Twin presents Laugh Out Loud Comedy, a night of live standup comedy by Hollywood’s hottest headliners. Host Jason Love brings his favorite comedians to get you over the midweek hump and give you the best kind of ab workout. Advance purchase recommended, as these shows tend to sell out. Located at 4711 Lakeview Canyon Road, Westlake Village. 818.889.8061 Advance tickets at this link or buy tickets at the door.

Wed, June 1 at 7:30 PM: Tom Clark and Andy Hendrickson

On the third Wednesday of each month, Paseo Camarillo Cinemas presents Laugh Out Loud Comedy, a night of live standup comedy by Hollywood’s hottest headliners. Host Jason Love brings his favorite comedians to give you the best kind of ab workout. Advanced purchase recommended, as these shows tend to sell out. Located at 390 N. Lantana Street, Camarillo. 805.383.2267 Advance tickets at this link or buy tickets at the door.

Shows start at 7:30 p.m. and tickets are usually $15.

Wed, May 18: Two top notch comedians on tap.

 

The Shoppes at Westlake Village

The Shoppes at Westlake is a 240,000 sq ft retail shopping center that opened at 30770 Russell Ranch Road, Westlake Village in the summer of 2014. It is anchored by a large Target store on the east side of the center with three dozen other shops and eateries, including a uniquely appointed In-N-Out Burger on west side. This an outdoor center with plenty of parking, outdoor eating spaces and a nice fountain. 

Retail stores include Guitar Center, BCBC Nail Spa, Lighthouse Salon Suites, Tilly's, The Walking Company Rx, Kirk Jewelers and others. There's also a Total Woman Gym & Spa.

Eateries include Jeannine's Gourmet Food Hall, Olio e Limone Ristorante, Olio Pizzeria, Gallery Seafood, Hook Burger, Greens Up, Los Agaves Restaurant, Bowl of Heaven, Tifa Chocolate & Gelato, Which Wich, Figueroa Mountain Brewing Company, Pick Up Stix and Q Sushi.

Learn more at shoppesatwestlakevillage.com.

Rancho Camulos Museum in Fillmore

Rancho Camulos is a National Historic Landmark situated within an 1,800 acre working ranch, a great example of a Spanish-Mexican rancho in its original rural environment.  Rancho Camulos is noted for its literary significance as the setting for Helen Hunt Jackson's novel, Ramona.

Tours detail the lives of the native Tataviam Indians, the del Valle family that established Rancho Camulos in 1853, and the Rubel family, current owners, who purchased the ranch in 1924.  Visitors can see the main adobe, cocina, winery, chapel, schoolhouse and beautiful gardens featuring over 50 varieties of roses and the magnificent black walnut tree, covering 1/2 acre. 

Additional features of the museum are a fish pond (built by the Rubel children as a school project in the 1930s), "Ramona's bedroom" popularized through thousands of postcards and the fountain built in 1853.  Learn about the Ramona connection and view the silent movie Ramona starring Mary Pickford, filmed at Rancho Camulos in 1910.

Tours on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment.  Suggested donation currently $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.  School tours available.  The venue is also available for weddings and events.

Rancho Camulos is located at 5164 E. Telegraph Road, Fillmore, 2 miles east of Piru on Hwy. 126.  Visit www.ranchocamulos.org or call 805.521.1501 for more information.

Santa Barbara Zoo

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The 30 acre Santa Barbara Zoo is a great family outing, with beautiful landscape, low key, clean environment and cool breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

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There are over 500 animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo and my family's favorites include the giraffes and the penguins.  One of the most unique features is feeding the giraffes. For a fee of $6 ($5 if you are a member of the Zoo), you are situated face to face with these friendly Masai giraffes as you give them a snack. Open weekdays from 11:30am to 1:30pm and weekends 11:30am to 2:30pm.

The penguin exhibit is mesmerizing as you are treated to happy go lucky penguins frolicking in the water.

There are plenty of other animals, exhibits and places in the park to just hang out and have a picnic lunch.  And the train ride is always fun.

So drive the 45 miles up the coast, take the kids to the zoo, grab a bite, feel the sand, do some shopping and you've got yourself a nice day out.  Better yet, buy a tax-deductible zoo membership and visit the zoo several times per year with the kids.

Speaking of membership, if you have a membership at the Los Angeles Zoo, your card will get you 50% off admission at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Conversely, a membership at the Santa Barbara Zoo will get you 50% off at the Los Angeles Zoo. Nice!

The Santa Barbara Zoo is located at 500 Niños Drive, Santa Barbara.  For more information, visit www.sbzoo.org or call 805.962.5339 or 805.962.6310.

Open every day 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., except 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.

Ticket Prices (as of December 2014) are Adults 13-64: $17, Children 2-12 $10, Seniors 65+: $123and Children under 2: Free. Parking: $7 (free with SB Zoo Membership)