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Hillcrest Open Space Preserve in Thousand Oaks

The Hillcrest Open Space Preserve is an area bound on the south by Hillcrest Drive, on the east by Westlake Boulevard and on the west by La Granada Drive. I don't know the exact boundary on the north side. Years ago I ran the trails from time to time back there but it had been some time, so I took the kids over to the White Sage Trail trailhead off of Hillcrest Drive, just west of Blue Mesa Street, about a quarter of a mile west of Westlake Boulevard.

There is zippo parking to be found on that stretch of Hillcrest Drive, so unless you live in a nearby neighborhood, you'll have to park on a residential side street to get to that trailhead. We parked on Blue Mesa. Shh, don't tell anyone we jaywalked across Hillcrest...

In any case, this is a fun little excursion, particularly if you enjoy a steep hill to climb and beautiful panoramic views of the area.

The hill looks a bit intimidating but the grade actually, in my humble estimation, ain't that bad.

You can also continue on to the top of the hill and do a loop of roughly 3 miles or so. 

On the way back down, we were treated to some mighty beautiful pre-rain sunset views.

Another access point to the Hillcrest Open Space is the southeast endpoint of La Granada Drive (at Crown View Ct), east of Erbes Road in Thousand Oaks.  This 4 1/2 mile, hilly loop is a great way to view the local scenery, from the Conejo Grade to the Civic Arts Plaza and most everything else. More on the Hillcrest Open Space Loop trail on the COSF website.

Trailhead access point at the end of La Granada Drive


Make Meaning in Thousand Oaks

Make Meaning opened at The Oaks Shopping Mall in February 2013. Located in the outdoor shops area of the mall, upper level, south side, first store outside of the mall, Make Meaning offers seven creative experiences to both kids and adults, including customized soap, candles, paper, ceramics, glass, jewelry and cake decorating. Walk in and start creating something unique. No admission or membership fees. Speciality classes and events are also available.

This is quite a large store, open, light and airy, with an upbeat atmosphere. How do I know? Because we checked it out! My son painted a piggy bank he hand-selected and at the table next to us I admired a pretty neat looking customized candle and cake. Everyone was happy in there!

The staff are called Associate Creativity Enthusiasts (ACE's), there to help you through the process. And that they were. I was able to just walk in and they kind of took over with my son while enjoyed watching him in his creative efforts. And they took care of the prep and the mess.

For more information, visit www.makemeaning.com or call 805.582.1107.

My son's froggy piggy bank masterpiece in it final stages. Make Meaning glazes it and fires it, then you pick it up in 4 days.






Neat selection of supplies to individualize your cake!

Or customize your own soap. Quite a unique concept and very well done.


Los Robles Trail System in Thousand Oaks

The Los Robles Trail winds from Potrero Road, just east of Wendy Drive in Newbury Park, to Foothill Drive near Fairview Road (near Hampshire Road in Westlake Village). A popular access point is at South Moorpark Road and Greenmeadow Avenue in Thousand Oaks.

Along with its many connecting trails (Triunfo Canyon Trail, Rosewood Trail, White Horse Canyon Trail, Los Padres Trail and more), awesome opportunities abound for hikers, bikers and equestrians to enjoy the open space.

If you're looking for an easy, one mile trail hike with the kids, the Oak Creek Canyon Loop is a nice one to do. Or extend the Oak Creek Canyon Loop to an easy 3 mile hike to the Los Robles Nature Walk.

For some of the most spectacular views of the Conejo Valley, try hiking up to Angel Vista Peak in Newbury Park.

A rugged, single track trail popular with mountain bikers and hikers is the Los Robles Trail West that goes up "Space Mountain" in Thousand Oaks. And Los Robles Trail East is another nice hike accessible from several points.

This nearly 2,000 acre ridgeline trail system with its many neighborhood feeder trails is located at the southern portion of the Conejo Open Space. The Los Robles Trail also traverses several open space areas including Los Padres, Los Vientos, Conejo Ridge. Hope Nature Preserve, Old Conejo, Deer Ridge, Rancho Potrero and Ventu Park.

Additional Los Robles Trail trailhead points west of the Rosewood Trail trailhead to Angel Vista Peak include Felton Street, east of Lynn Rd in Newbury Park (end of cul de sac) and Potrero Road, about 1/4 mile east of S Wendy Drive in Newbury Park (parking lot available).

One spectacular view of the western Conejo Valley from the Los Robles Trail.

To the west of Los Robles is Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa and Point Mugu State Park which creates a public backcountry of over 27,000 acres of open space that stretches to the Pacific Ocean at Sycamore Cove. This scenic region is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area and provides panoramic views of Hidden Valley, the Conejo Valley and the Channel Islands.

Los Robles Trail trailhead and parking area on Potrero Road in Newbury Park

The Los Robles Trail has historical significance. On February 28, 1776, Juan Bautiste de Anza and his band of 198 settlers came through the Conejo Valley on their way from Mexico to San Francisco. Though the 101 freeway is the actual route, the National Park Service has designated the Los Robles Trail as the official recreational route so that everyone can enjoy the only national historical trail in the state of California.

Approximately 25 miles of trails provide a contiguous route from Westlake Village to Newbury Park with several shorter loops into narrow canyons and up steep ridges. The adjoining open space areas are managed by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA), a joint powers authority created by the City of Thousand Oaks and the Conejo Recreation and Park District in 1977.

Unless you are an ant, this Los Robles Trail map is too small to read...click it for a full-size pdf map!

For more information about the Los Robles Trail, visit the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at www.cosf.org/website/html/los-robles.html.


Angel Vista Peak in Newbury Park

The 1,530 foot Angel Vista in Newbury Park may well have the most spectacular views of the Conejo Valley. The reason I say this is that not only can you see the entire Conejo Valley, stretching from the Conejo Grade to central Thousand Oaks to Agoura Hills, but you can actually see some of Hidden Valley from here!

Angel Vista can be accessed via the Rosewood Trail off of Lynn Road (just west of Regal Oak Ct) or the Los Robles Trail (either the Thousand Oaks side accessible at South Moorpark Road and Greenmeadow Ave or Newbury Park side off of Potrero Road). The Conejo Open Space Foundation provides a useful map at www.cosf.org/website/html/los-robles-angel-vista.html. There's a bench as well as a picnic table up there with wonderful views.

You'll eventually see this sign if you make the trek up the Rosewood Trail.

The bench is in sight! YESSSSS!!! The views up here are stunning. These images don't even capture the reality of it!Fun to see at least a portion of Hidden Valley from up here.


Borchard Park Labyrinth in Newbury Park

Borchard Park Labyrinth & Fitness Equipment Area

The Conejo Recreation & Park District opened the 60 foot diameter Borchard Park Labyrinth and Fitness Equipment Area in September 2010. Borchard Park is located at 190 Reino Road, Newbury Park. The labyrinth, located in the southeast area of the park, is open to all ages and is free. The labyrinth helps strengthen memory and concentration and brings clarity by balancing the right brain/left brain.

There are also 3 pieces of outdoor fitness equipment which include a 2 person pull-down, 4 person waist-twist and 4 person leg press.



Live Comedy In and Around Ventura County

Click the smiley face for a compilation of comedy venues and shows around Ventura County.


Los Padres Trail in Thousand Oaks

The Los Padres Trail is a short, 1 mile, neat little trail accessed on Los Padres Drive, near the corner of Fox Hills Drive in Thousand Oaks. Take Moorpark Road south of the 101 freeway and turn left on Los Padres Drive. The trailhead is clearly marked on the right hand side as the trail is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Foundation.

Surrounded by trees in the first section of the Los Padres Trail.

Short but sweet, the trail is pretty darn cool...enclosed by trees, several bridges, mostly single track and a bit of a climb (750 feet) as you make your way up to the Los Padres Trail junction. That's about a mile, so you can turn around there for a 2 mile round trip hike.

Where the Los Padres Trail meets the Los Robles Trail

Or...you can turn right (west) and head your way up the wide, fire road sized section of the Los Robles Trail. This is a bit of a climb, but pretty moderate and gradual. Crest the hill and you'll see a gate. Before the gate, on the left, is a picnic bench.

The Los Padres Trail is winding, uphill and wide in this section.

After you pass the sign below, there's a picnic bench on the left. You've climbed a couple miles. Time for a break, before heading back down. Or turn left (east) and in 3 miles you're at Triunfo Park in the Los Padres Open Space via the Triunfo Canyon Trail. Or turn right (west) and you're off into the Los Robles Open Space. If you cllimb through the gate straight ahead, you're looking towards Hidden Valley.

Learn more on the COSF website at www.cosf.org/website/html/los-padres-los-robles.html.



Los Robles Trail East in Thousand Oaks

The Los Robles Trail East in Thousand Oaks is accessible from the Los Robles Trail trailhead heading west from the South Moorpark Road and Greenmeadow Avenue in Thousand Oaks.

From the main trailhead, go west just under 1/2 mile and you'll see the fork in the road where you can go east or west. Head south (click here if you prefer going west) where you'll go towards the Los Robles Trail East.

A gradual uphill of about 1/2 mile on a wide fire road trail takes you to a picnic bench and then a more winding, partially shaded, narrower, eastbound section of trail.

Fire road that takes you to picnic benchPicnic bench at juncture of fire road and narrower, steeper Los Robles Trail East

Another .6 mile gets you to a hill where you'll soon be treated to a reward for your hiking effort...a bench with a view of the Conejo Valley.

Los Robles Trail East near hilltop viewpoint with benchAnd the bench at the top. Nice view of the Conejo Valley, eh?And the trail loops around with another bench on the other side of the trail looking south towards Hidden Valley.

The bench facing the southThe trail loops back around towards the main Los Robles Trail, where you can head back west again from where you came from, or head east towards the northern tip of the Los Padres Trail or stretch further east towards the Triunfo Canyon Trail and White Horse Canyon Trail.

Now go on, get out there for a hike!


Camarillo Premium Outlets

Camarillo Premium OutletsThe Camarillo Premium Outlets at 740 East Ventura Boulevard offers 160 outlet stores, including over 80 fashion/clothing, over 35 footware, 9 kid-related, 7 leather/luggage, 18 accessory/jewelry, 4 housewares/home furnishing, 12 gift/speciality and  14 eateries.

Open 10am-9pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-8pm on Sunday.  More information at www.premiumoutlets.com/outlets/outlet.asp?id=20 or call 805.445.8520.

On Tuesdays, show your photo ID if you are 50 or older for 50 Plus Shopper Perks...an additional 10% off your purchases at participating stores.

In n Out BurgerGet there by taking the 101 to either Carmen (make a left over the freeway and then right on Ventura Blvd.) or Los Posas (left over the freeway and then left on Ventura Blvd.).  If you're on a diet, you might take Los Posas as the Carmen route takes you past a large, alluring In-N-Out Burger.

As you can see on the map below, there are three main sections. The original outlets are on the left side, including the Main Court and across Camarillo Center Drive is the Fashion Court. In 2009 the outlets expanded to the west between the Edwards Movie Theater and Las Posas Road to include The Promenade section.

The Main Court contains suites 100-744, Fashion Court suites 800-1118 and The Promenade suites 1200-1514. The CP Outlets website has a listing by store type as well as a map, but if you're looking for what stores are in each of these large sections of the Outlets, here you go (updated as of March 2014 and of course subject to change):

Main Court (In counter-clockwise order starting with Coach):

  • Coach (First store on the right as yu drive into main Outlet entrance on Ventura Blvd)
  • Puma
  • Levi's Outlet Store
  • Kay Jewelers Outlet
  • Bose
  • American Eagle Outfitters
  • Designer Fragrances
  • Asics
  • Famous Footwear Outlet
  • Bebe Outlet
  • Nine West Outlet
  • Wetzel's Pretzels
  • PacSun
  • Timberland
  • Sperry Top-Sider
  • Saucony
  • Reebok
  • Hush Puppies Merrell Sebago
  • Ugg Australia
  • Corningware Corelle & More
  • Kitson
  • Ecko Unltd
  • $5 Sports
  • Sideline Sports
  • Fossil
  • Calvin Klein
  • Ecco
  • G.H. Bass & Co.
  • Van Heusen
  • Splendid | Ella Moss
  • OshKosh B'gosh
  • Aeropostale
  • Tommy Hilfiger
  • Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
  • Sunglass Hut
  • Skechers
  • Coach Men's
  • Motherhood Maternity
  • Gymboree Outlet
  • AG Adriano Goldschmied
  • Faconnable
  • Diesel
  • The Luggage Factory
  • Zales Outlet
  • Nautica
  • Banana Republic Factory Store
  • Talbots
  • Cotton On
  • BCBG Max Azria
  • Barneys New York Outlet
  • Tumi
  • Attitudes
  • True Religion Brand Jeans
  • American Apparel
  • Perry Ellis
  • Oakley Vault
  • Joe's Jeans
  • Guess Factory Accessories
  • Theory
  • Maidenform
  • Elie Tahari
  • Steve Madden
  • Ann Taylor Factory Store
  • The Cosmetics Company Store
  • J.Crew (First store on the left as you drive into the Outlets from Ventura Blvd)

Food Court area of Main Court:

  • Villa Pizza
  • Charleys Philly Steaks
  • Subway
  • Japan Cafe
  • Bananas
  • Green Leaf's
  • China Max


Fashion Court (Counter-clockwise order starting with the Sony outlet):

  • Sony
  • Sunglass Hut
  • Juicy Couture
  • Easy Spirit
  • St. John Outlet
  • Michael Kors
  • Tory Burch
  • Cole Haan
  • Watch Station International
  • Guess Factory Store
  • Calvin Klein Accessories
  • Kipling
  • Lacoste
  • MaxStudio.com
  • Naturalizer
  • Restoration Hardware
  • Polo Ralph Lauren Factory Store
  • Armani Outlet
  • Clarks Bostonian
  • Claire's
  • Stride Rite Keds Sperry
  • Dairy Queen Grill and Chill
  • Izod
  • DKNY
  • Eddie Bauer Outlet
  • Hugo Boss Factory Store
  • The North Face
  • 7 For All Mankind
  • Adidas
  • Calvin Klein
  • Vitamin World
  • Wetzel's Pretzels
  • Samsonite
  • High Sierra
  • Dressbarn
  • Kate Spade New York
  • Lucky Brand
  • Movado Company Store
  • Lancome-Designer Fragrances & Cosmetic Co.
  • Carter's
  • Jockey
  • Rockport
  • Kenneth Cole
  • Johnston & Murphy
  • Chico's
  • Perfumania
  • Jones New York
  • Nike Factory Store
  • HanesBrands
  • Toys"R"Us Outlet
  • Brooks Brothers Factory Store

The Promenade (From south (near movie theater to north):

  • Panera Bread
  • Johnny Rockets
  • Forever 21
  • Vans
  • Columbia Sportswear
  • Wilsons Leather
  • Affliction
  • Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant
  • Solstice Sunglass Outlet
  • Wetzel's Pretzels
  • Lids
  • Skagen
  • Janie and Jack
  • Crocs
  • Converse
  • Hurley
  • Journeys
  • Skechers
  • Zumiez
  • Spyder
  • DC Shoes
  • Robert Wayne Footwear
  • Paolo Giardini
  • White House Black Market
  • Papaya
  • Aldo
  • Under Armour
  • Tommy Bahama
  • Neiman Marcus Last Call
  • Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton
  • Perfumania
  • Le Creuset
  • Merrell
  • Karen Kane
  • Gap Factory Store
  • Saks Fifth Avenue Off 5th
  • New Balance Factory Store
  • Disney Store Outlet
  • Rack Room Shoes
  • Loft Outlet
  • Sprockets
  • Charlotte Russe




There are some nice restaurants that I particularly enjoy at The Promenade section of the outlets, including Panera Bread, Johnny Rockets and Los Arroyos Mexican.

Join the VIP Club to receive special discount offers and coupons at www.premiumoutlets.com/vip/

The two videos below provide a quick drive-through around the Main/Fashion Courts and the newer The Promenade.

Suite Store
100 Coach
101 Puma
102 Levi's Outlet Store
105 Kay Jewelers Outlet
107 Bose
112 American Eagle Outfitters
126 Designer Fragrances
130 Asics
134 Famous Footwear Outlet
142 Bebe Outlet
146 Nine West Outlet
148 Wetzel's Pretzels
152 PacSun
154 Timberland
202 Sperry Top-Sider
204 Saucony
210 Reebok
216 Hush Puppies Merrell Sebago
218 Ugg Australia
222 Corningware Corelle & More
226 Kitson
232 Ecko Unltd
400 $5 Sports
402 Sideline Sports
404 Fossil
410 Calvin Klein
416 Ecco
424 G.H. Bass & Co.
430 Van Heusen
434 Splendid | Ella Moss
436 OshKosh B'gosh
500 Aeropostale
502 Tommy Hilfiger
506 Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory
508 Sunglass Hut
512 Skechers
518 Coach Men's
520 Motherhood Maternity
524 Gymboree Outlet
526 AG Adriano Goldschmied
530 Faconnable
532 Diesel
534 The Luggage Factory
536 Zales Outlet
538 Nautica
600 Banana Republic Factory Store
620 Talbots
700 Cotton On
704 BCBG Max Azria
710 Barneys New York Outlet
712 Tumi
714 Attitudes
716 True Religion Brand Jeans
718 American Apparel
720 Perry Ellis
722 Oakley Vault
724 Joe's Jeans
726 Guess Factory Accessories
728 Theory
730 Maidenform
732 Elie Tahari
734 Steve Madden
738 Ann Taylor Factory Store
740 The Cosmetics Company Store
744 J.Crew

Mullin Automotive Museum

Opened in Spring 2010 and located at 1421 Emerson Avenue in Oxnard, the Mullin Automotive Museum is a 47,000 square foot facility with a collection of over 50 French Art Deco cars from the 1930s and 1940s, including Bugattis, Delages, Delahayes, Hispano Suizas, Talbot-Lagos and Voisins. Peter W. Mullin is the founder/owner of the Museum and the collection.

The Museum is open to the public generally only 1-2 days per month. Click here for more RSVP information. Visit www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com or call 805.385.5400 to learn more and to purchase tickets. As of July 2014, admission is $15 for adults, $10 for 65+, $8 for ages 3 through 11 and free for 2 and under. Active Military FREE with ID. Private visits also available for $40 per person.

Upcoming 2014 dates (as of 10/10/14) are as follow (you must buy tickets in advance to reserve a spot):

Saturday, October 11, 2014
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Saturday, November 8, 2014
Saturday, November 22, 2014
Saturday, December 13, 2014

This museum and its contents are STUNNING to say the least!! More photos at THIS LINK.



Ventura Flea Market - Ventura County Fairgrounds

The Ventura Flea Market is held near the ocean in Ventura and is a great place to shop. The event features antiques, used and new merchandise sold by over 500 vendors, more than 5,000 buyers visit the Market each time it is held.  The Ventura Flea Market is held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Ventura County Fairgrounds. A special Early Bird admission is available from 6am to 9am at $10.00 per person. Regular admission starts at 9 a.m. at $5.00 per person, all children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.  (Prices current as of April 2014) No pets are allowed.

Upcoming Dates as of 10/7/14

  • November 23, 2014
  • January 25, 2015
  • March 29, 2015
  • May 31, 2015
  • September 27, 2015
  • November 22, 2015

Visit www.rgcshows.com/Ventura.aspx or call 323.560.SHOW (7469) for more information.


Star City Comics & Games in Newbury Park

Star City Comics & Games opened its doors on September 23, 2014 at 2405-A Michael Drive, Newbury Park. The store serves Ventura County with comics, tabletop games, magic tournaments, Pokemon, video games and more.

I love this store because it provides such a unique array of vintage and new comics that are so fun to look at and, for many collect. I've met co-owner Tim and he's a really good guy that knows his stuff. We stopped by asking for a Wonder Woman comic book and he nailed down several great options.

Visit starcitycomicshop.com or call 805.499.6197 for more info. Open daily 11am to 8pm.

Gaming tables on hand at Star City


City of Agoura Hills Community Programs and Activities

The City of Agoura Hills Community Services Department includes both parks maintenance and recreational classes and events. Toddlers to teens, adults and seniors all enjoy high quality recreation activities.  There are hundreds of programs, classes and events available in the quarterly catalog at ci.agoura-hills.ca.us. For more info call 818.597.7361.


Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons in Agoura Hills

Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons are 4,000 acres in the northernmost section of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, in the Simi Hills. Stroll to Sulphur Springs or hike to the top of Simi Peak for panoramic views of Oak Park, Agoura Hills and Simi Valley. The Chumash lived in these canyons for thousands of years. Many trails within the canyons may have originated with the Chumash and then were expanded by the ranchers who followed.

Cheeseboro Canyon has some of the best cycling and running trails in the area. The lower trailhead is accessed from Cheseboro Road and there is plenty of parking. (On a side note, no one has been able to explain to me why Cheseboro Road is spelled differently than Cheeseboro Canyon.)

Cheeseboro Canyon Trail (CCT) is a 4.6 mile, fairly easygoing main artery into the park, whereas the 4.4 mile Palo Comado Canyon Trail, which largely parallels the CCT, is much more challenging. The Cheeseboro Ridge Trail also parallels the CCT and seems to be favored by cyclists with its long, rolling hills, though distance runners also will enjoy this trail.  Take CCT up through Sulphur Springs and you'll be running through a small (usually) stream bed and a brief rotten egg smell. Then soon the trail becomes more desert-like as you make your way up to the Sheep Corral Trail and the Shepherds' Flat area. It is really beautiful up there though it can get pretty hot, so carry some water!

While there are plenty of steep hills in this area, this is also a great place for strollers, as many of the trails are quite wide and flat.

The only bathroom that I'm aware of in these trails is at the Cheseboro Road trailhead and is not particularly pleasurable to use...just a heads up.

Visit www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/cheeseboropalocomado.htm to learn more and to access a nice pdf trail map. The trailhead is located at 5792 Cheseboro Road. Contact the visitor center at 805.370.2301.


Peter Strauss Ranch in Agoura Hills

Peter Strauss Ranch sign on Kanan Road southbound before Troutdale

The 64 acre Peter Strauss Ranch is located at the juncture of Troutdale Drive and Mulholland Highway in Agoura Hills. The property is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It features a ranch house, .6 mile hiking trail, restrooms, and an amphitheater area. There is also usually a free summer concert series at Peter Strauss Ranch.

Parking lot access off of Mulholland Highway on northeast side of ranch

The Ranch has quite a history. According to the NPS, auto manufacturer Harry Miller bought the ranch at the turn of the 20th century as his weekend retreat. He built many of the structures on the site in the 1920s, including the stone ranch house, lookout tower and aviary.  He lost the ranch in the Depression.

Warren Shobert and Arthur Edeson purchased the ranch in the 1930s and created “Shoson”—a fairyland of charm and a paradise for children and adults. Later, a dam was constructed on Triunfo Creek, creating a small lake. The resort was renamed “Lake Enchanto.” Competition from other, larger amusement parks and resorts led to the decline of “Lake Enchanto.” It fell into disrepair and closed around 1960.

Actor Peter Strauss purchased the property in 1976, restored the site, lived there until 1983, and later sold it to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.  The NPS purchased the ranch in 1987 and the site will be preserved as part of our local natural and cultural history.


Here is the ruins of the 640,000 gallon Lake Enchanto pool on the Peter Strauss Ranch site. The pool is said to be the largest of its kind west of the Rockies.

More on the history of the Peter Strauss Ranch at peterstrauss.net/storyofranch.html.