Skating Plus - Ventura

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Skating Plus is an indoor skating rink that has been around since 1984, offering public roller skating, food, lessons, clinics, birthday parties, etc.  Check their website for discount coupons. To my knowledge, since the Roller Dome in Thousand Oaks closed in October 2010, this has been the only indoor roller skating rink in Ventura County.

Open skate time frames as of April 2016 are weekends and Mon/Wed/Fri nights. Other nights are available for private parties.

Skating Plus is off of the 101 Freeway near Victoria at 1720 Mesa Verde Avenue, Ventura, in close proximity to Golf N' Stuff and Buena Lanes (sits to the left of Buena Lanes).

Visit www.skatingplus.com or call 805.644.5515 for more information.

Young Art Lessons Children's Art Store and Studio at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks

Young Art Lessons, the children's art store and studio, has opened a location at The Oaks Mall, next to Starbucks, offering "drop in" art lessons seven days a week.

Instructors promote each student's individual style and creativity offering techniques in the use of oil pastel, watercolor, acrylic, and colored pencil, while assisting the children to achieve a completed composition to take home at the end of the lesson.

Parents are able to select from a variety of class time lengths ranging from 15 minutes to multiple hours, depending on their shopping, dining or theatre plans at The Oaks. Students may choose from a variety of compositions including animals, still life, landscapes, floral, and cartooning using Young Art's quality products.

Classes start at $12.95 for 15 minutes, $19.95 for 30 minutes, and $29.95 for 1 hour. The studio offers multi class discount passes along with birthday parties. All art materials are provided courtesy of Young Art.

For more information call 805-795-9400 or visit www.youngartusa.co. Hours: Mon. - Sat.10am-9pm, Sunday:11am-7pm

Kids Club at The Lakes at Thousand Oaks

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The Kids Club at The Lakes meets every Wednesday of the month at 11 a.m. during the months of March through October. Geared towards kids 10 and under.

Call 805.497.9861 for more information. Events are outdoors; rain generally cancels events but call first.

Events vary from puppet shows to storytellers to musicians, petting zoos, arts and crafts, etc. for preschoolers and their parents. These are outdoor events and are weather permitting. Contact The Lakes for more information at 805.497.9861 or www.shoplakes.com.

In addition to the kids club, The Lakes has a small playground area that is geared toward the younger kids, an expanse of grass and 2 beautiful lakes, waterfall, fountain, etc. This is a nice park-like setting that makes you forget the fact that you are looking straight out at Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

One more bonus: The Lakes is next door to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, which has an outdoor courtyard with trees and paths that are fun for the kids to explore.

Upcoming events:

April 13 Fine Feathered Friends

Feathery friends pay us a visit. Some of the birds you might see include a macaw or cockatoo, various parrots, doves, chickens, ducks & more. Join us for a unique presentation where you may get to hold and pet some of these beautiful creatures!

April 20 Puppet Mayhem

Colorful puppet characters come to life in a show that’s full of music, stories and a whole lot of laughs. Some classic tales are revisited in a brand new way. Children learn about patience, persistence, self-control and lots more. This is the silliest puppet show you will ever see!

April 27 Music & Games with The Beatbuds

The BeatBuds perform acoustically and play children’s music with a contemporary sound, familiar to adults.  Their catchy tunes, rich in both spirit and message, touch upon a multitude of cultural and societal topics like Gravity, Sam the Garbage Man and When the Rain Falls Down.  Jonathan, the guitarist and Matthew, the drummer, are highly energetic.  The BeatBuds are able to exercise your child’s creative and logical mind as well as provide a fun and engaging musical experience.

The Lakes at Thousand Oaks

The Lakes at Thousand Oaks is a 7 1/2 acre, 50,000 square foot development next to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza where you can relax and enjoy park-like landscaping, two lakes with ducks and koi, fountains, waterfalls and a children's play area, while shopping at high-end stores and grabbing a bite.

Shopping and dining options at The Lakes includes California Pizza Kitchen, PF Changs, 9021Pho, Sabor Cocina Mexicana, Lassens Natural Foods, Umami Burger, Sunlife Organics, Kalologie Spa and Tommy Bahama.

There is a kids club that meets every Wednesday morning from March through November. And in mid-November through early January, The Lakes hosts a very popular outdoor ice skating rink. The kids always enjoy it here because there is a lot of room to run around, run across the bridge, around the lake, etc.

the little ones stay occupied at this small play area at the lakes at thousand oaks

the little ones stay occupied at this small play area at the lakes at thousand oaks

The Lakes is located at 2200 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard. Visit www.shoplakes.com or call 805.497.9861 for more information.

Saplings Indoor Playground in Simi Valley

Saplings is a new children’s indoor playground anticipated to open on May 2, 2016 at 1776 Erringer Road, Suite 100, Simi Valley.  (Grand opening celebration on May 7th.) The playground is designed to foster creative, pretend, and imaginative play for children between the ages of newborn to eight. Upon entering Saplings you will discover four main imagination stations, as well as wall-to-wall murals of beautiful trees, blue skies, and friendly woodland animal friends.

  • The Reading Nook – an inviting space filled with plushy kid-sized chairs and couches, moon chairs, a fluffy rug, cuddly stuffed animals, and a large collection of children’s books. In this space children are welcome to find a comfy spot, grab a book, and read under a canopy of branches and leaves.
  • Seedling Meadow – a safe space designated for seedlings (children under the age of 2) to play, crawl, explore, and practice tummy time. Here you will find foam toys, climbers, activity mirrors, and an assortment of sensory toys to engage growing minds and bodies. This meadow is sectioned off from the main floor, which allows young children to play safely.
  • The Art Room – a creative space stocked full of art supplies to inspire young artists. Inside you will find six stand-up easels, paint, brushes, rollers, drying racks, and paper. There are also three large work tables for coloring books, stencil work, and stamping. There is even a large chalk wall for children to draw and write right on the wall.
  • The Main Floor – an indoor playground consisting of “imagination stations”: kid-sized toys that foster pretend and imaginative play. Stations include: a puppet theater, a baby care nursery, a fully stocked grocery store, an ice cream and bakery stand, a kitchen and restaurant, a campground, tool table, train table, transportation mats with vehicles, dress-up closet, a musical band stand to put on concerts, and so much more!

Learn more at www.simivalleysaplings.com or by calling 805.210.5372.

Casitas Water Adventure in Ventura

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Casitas Water Adventure is a water park at the Lake Casitas Recreation Area that is open throughout the summer, generally from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.

There are two distinct areas. For younger children, there is a multi-level jungle gym with waterfalls, bridges and slides in a lagoon with water up to 18" deep.

NOTE: The play structure at the Casitas Water Adventure is currently under repair and may continue into the 2016 summer season.  The Lazy River, Lagoon and Splash Pad will be open as usual. 

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The 1,200 foot long Lazy River offers a cool water ride on inner tubes along a scenic waterway featuring waterfalls, fog filled bridges and jet sprays. The inner tubes are available on a first-come, first-served basis, but usually there are plenty of them on hand.

The 1,200 foot long lazy river at Casitas Water Adventure is my kids' favorite.

The 1,200 foot long lazy river at Casitas Water Adventure is my kids' favorite.

For the very youngest tots, a zero-depth pool sprays water from all angles, providing a safe, fun play area.

Shaded decks, lounge chairs, showers, restrooms and a snack bar are available, but food is not allowed inside the park (though you can bring bottled water). Certified lifeguards are on hand at all times and life jackets are available at no extra charge while supplies last. Locker rentals are available for a nominal fee.

Do take note that they don't heat the water here. It is a bit on the cold side for many, though on hot days this can be a good thing.

Lake Casitas Recreation Area is located at 11311 Santa Ana Road, Ventura. Take Highway 33 from Ventura towards Ojai, make a left turn on Santa Ana Blvd, then a right on Santa Ana Road 3 or 4 miles to the park entrance. Visit www.casitaswater.org/lower.php?url=water-adventure for more information, including operating schedule/hours and prices or call 805.649.2233.

For summer 2016, operating hours are Sunday to Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Friday/Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Pricing is $12 per person (free for under 12 months), $22 for a 2 consecutive day pass and $65 for a full-season pass. They offer "late day" passes for $5 (subject to cancellation) during the last 2 hours of operation each day. Casitas Water Adventure is open generally from late May through Labor Day weekend, so take advantage during the summer months!

2016 Schedule: Opening day is Saturday, May 28th. Final day of the year is September 17th.

Parking inside Lake Casitas is $15 on weekends ($10 on weekdays). There is parking available on Santa Ana Road if you don't mind walking.

My kids particularly enjoy the Lazy River. There are some shady areas but do bring plenty of sunscreen as the sun beats down pretty hard out there. The water playground is definitely geared towards younger kids, with a large assortment of slides, water spouts and fun. My boys seemed to quickly get bored in the water playground around age 7-8, but they continue to enjoy the lagoon, which propels you round and round in a gentle current.

Kids Club at The Commons at Calabasas

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Join us every Tuesday nights at 6pm at The Commons at Calabasas (4799 Commons Way) for a weekly dose of fun, including music, dance, arts, crafts, entertainment and so much more! March through October.

Upcoming Kids Club Events

April 19 Obediah’s Really Big Show

He’s crazy and he’s hilarious. You have to check out the comedy and juggling of this performer whom adults love as much as children. With Obediah, silliness always rules! His show includes juggling, music, a little magic, and a ton of laughs!

April 26 Family Fun Magic & Comedy

This wacky magician has a unique sense of humor and style that has made him a family favorite throughout Northern and Southern California. Come visit us for this exciting and fun family magic show that young and old are sure to enjoy!

For more information, contact The Commons at Calabasas management office at 818-222-3444 or view our full Calendar of Events at www.shopcommons.com.

Platinum Sports Center in Simi Valley

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The 30,000 sq ft Platinum Sports Center facility at 160 W. Cochran Street in Simi Valley is a one stop location with elite level gymnastics equipment, indoor urban freerunning course, trampoline park, sports training and more. The facility also has a state of the art audio/visual system, pro shop, snack bar, viewing areas and free Wi-Fi. There's also Platinum Dance, Platinum Mixed Martial Arts, Platinum Urban and Platinum Fitness classes.

For more information, visit www.platinumsportscenterus.com or call 805.527.6662.

More details:

Open gym is a supervised, non-structured, open play time that includes use of Platinum’s X-Zone (Trampoline Park and Urban Park). Participants also have use of Platinum's multi-dimensional gymnastics training facility, which includes spring floors, tumble tracks, foam pits and more. Participants may choose the gymnastics training facility without use of the X-Zone. Pricing varies. Visit platinumsportscenterus.com/x-zoneopen-gym for details.

Current (April 2016) hours for X-Zone/Open Gym are Fridays 8-10PM (ages 7+) and Saturdays 6-8PM (ages 4-12) and 8-10PM (7+). Trampoline Park open hours are 3:30-7PM Mon-Fri.

The facility also has a rock climbing wall that is available for private events.

Le FUNLAND at The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks

Le FUNLAND is located on level 2 of The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks, next to Macy's Women's store. Le FUNLAND offers indoor play fun for the kids, who must be accompanied by adult. The playground is available to kids 50 inches or less in height. Pricing as of March 2016 is $5 for 30 minutes, $10 for 1 hour and $15 for 2 hours. Visit www.shoptheoaksmall.com/Directory/Details/401843 or call 805.557.1888 for more information.

Southern California Lacrosse Association - Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Newbury Park, Simi Valley, Agoura, Calabasas, Oak Park

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Southern California Lacrosse Association locally includes teams from Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, Newbury Park, Calabasas, Thousand Oaks, Simi Valley and Oak Park for boys and girls in grades 3 through 12. Visit scla-online.clubsetup.com for more information.

Individual team websites are as follows:

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Westlake Lacrosse Club www.westlakelaxclub.com

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Newbury Park Prowlers Lacrosse Club www.nplax.com

Agoura Lacrosse www.agouralax.com

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Thousand Oaks Knights Lacrosse www.thousandoakslacrosse.com

Simi Valley Lacrosse  www.simivalleylacrosse.com

Oak Park Eagles Lacross www.hometeamsonline.com/teams/?u=OAKPARKEAGLESLAXYOUTH&s=lacrosse&t=c

Calabasas Lacrosse www.calabasaslax.com

Chase Palm Park and Carousel in Santa Barbara

Chase Palm Park in Santa Barbara is a huge park that sandwiches East Cabrillo Boulevard.  On the ocean side of Cabrillo the park consists of a palm-lined, narrow strip of park adjacent to East Beach with an oceanfront bike path and walkway from Stearns Wharf to East Beach.  This side of the park is host to Sunday/holiday arts and crafts shows.  The 14,600 square foot Skater's Point skate park is also located on this side of the park.

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Call 805.564.5418 for more information or visit www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/parksrec/parks/features/playgrounds/chase.asp.

On the other side of Cabrillo is a huge 10 acre parcel that features fountains, creeks, a lagoon, carousel, snack bar and a shipwreck playground modeled after an ocean schooner from the turn of the century.

The Chase Palm Park antique carousel is a beautiful, elegant throwback to another era. It is one of three machines produced by the Allan Herschell Factory in the 1915-1917 time frame.; this one was built in 1916. The carousel is well maintained, plays fun music and is only $2.50 (as of Fall 2015) for a pretty darn long ride!  

This carousel was listed in the National Register of Historic Places on April 13, 2000 after it went through extensive renovations and moved to this location in June 1999. It is 40 feet in diameter, with a 19 foot wooden pole in its center, supporting 35 jumping, hand-carved wooden horses plus two hand carved art deco style wooden chariots.

This carousel originally operated outdoors on the east coast, where it was used for decades while not going through adequate maintenance. It was purchased in 1970 by Seaport Village in San Diego, where after 10 years in storage it was sold again to its current owners. 

The combination of Shipwreck Playground and the carousel makes this a can't miss Santa Barbara destination for they young set!  Not to mention...the park is walking distance to Stearns Wharf, the beach, bike rentals, State Street, etc.

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Alameda Park in Santa Barbara

Ranking high up on the list of parks with cool play areas around town is Alameda Park, located at the corner of Garden Street and E. Micheltorena Street in Santa Barbara. Alameda Park has an 8,000 sq ft mostly wooden play structure that was built by local residents. This is the most unique play structure of any park I'm aware of in Ventura and Santa Barbara Counties (though the newer play structure at Gates Canyon Park in Calabasas gives it a run for its money).

Your kids will fall in love with the nooks, crannies, steps, bridges and places to hide in this play structure. There are also swings and things to climb on. The park itself is 2 blocks long and one of the oldest parks in Santa Barbara. It is next door to the beautiful Alice Keck Park Memorial Garden. Plenty of grass, spectacular, large shade trees and much more make this a perfect picnic lunch stop when you're in town.

More information at www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/parksrec/parks/features/horticulture/alameda.asp.

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Sky Zone Trampoline Park in Ventura

Sky Zone Trampoline Park opened at 2825 Johnson Drive, Ventura in mid-January 2016. Sky Zone offers wall to wall trampolines with open jump sessions, "SkySlam" court, SkyRobics fitness classes, dodgeball, and more. Learn more at www.skyzone.com/ventura or call 805.804.9555.

Stevenson Riding School in Malibu

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Stevenson Riding School offers instruction in English riding and horsecare and teaches all levels and all ages. Certified to teach by the American Riding Instructor Association and the British Horse Society. Learn at your own pace with a patient, fun instructor. Group or private lessons available.

Other offerings: Dressage Freestyle Music Composition, Music for Equine Media such as stallion ads, barn websites and horse shows. More information at www.stevensonridingschool.com or call 818.519.3765.

Stevenson Riding School is located at White Cloud Ranch, 400 Kanan Dume Road, Malibu.

Kids Fun Zone and Outdoor Play Area at Janss Marketplace

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The Kids Fun Zone craft events meets the last Saturday of every month from noon to 3 p.m. at Janss Marketplace held near Toys R Us.

Sign up for the free club membership at any upcoming Kids Fun Zone event or at www.janssmarketplace.net/kids-fun-zone to receive information on the monthly events which feature seasonal themed crafts and activities.  Members also receive a birthday gift and special merchant discounts. 

Members receive advance notice of monthly Kids Fun Zone activities, center wide family events, merchant discounts plus celebration of each child’s birthday with a gift from Janss Marketplace. Scooter, the lovable Kids Fun Zone Mascot, will host Kids Fun Zone events on February 27, September 24 and December 31.

Each month’s Kids Fun Zone features a seasonal craft activity. In January, children will get free
supplies to color and decorate a 2016 calendar.

Mark your calendars for upcoming 2016 Kids Club Zone Events: 1/30, 2/27, 3/26, 4/30, 5/28, 6/25, 7/30, 8/27, 9/24, 10/29, 11/26, 12/31

For more information about the Kids Fun Zone and other community activities at Janss Marketplace, call 818.710.6100 or visit www.janssmarketplace.net.

In addition to the monthly Kids Fun Zone, Janss Marketplace has a small outdoor play area geared towards younger kids in front of the Old Navy store as well as an interactive water fountain area that is particularly fun for the kids in the warmer months of the year.

Studio 17 Art Classes in Newbury Park

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Located in Newbury Park, Studio 17 provides art instruction to children and adults with special needs. Local artist Mary Abraham opened the studio and is an educator, artist and parent of a child with autism; she brings a special understanding of how to teach the arts to students with special needs. Classes on Saturdays and Sundays from 1-5pm. For more information, visit studio17atruby.weebly.com or call 805.480.0440.

Brandon's Buddies Free Kids Club in Calabasas

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Brandon's Buddies is a FREE KIDS CLUB that meets every month at Brandon's Village at Gates Canyon Park located at 25801 Thousand Oaks Boulevard, Calabasas. This playground is the first fully-accessible playground in the region. The day may include integrated play, face painting, arts and crafts, entertainment and treats.  Feel free to bring a sack lunch.

All children with and without disabilities and their families who want to spend a great day playing in the sunshine and making friends are invited to participate!

Brandon's Buddies gives children with disabilities the opportunity to play with their typically-able peers, while giving their parents a chance to share experiences and advice with other parents/caregivers.  It gives children without disabilities the chance to get to know their peers and gain greater awareness and compassion.

For more information, visit The K.E.N. Project website at www.kenproject.com or call 818.222.8118.  Or visit the KEN Project calendar at www.kenproject.com/calendarofactivities.html

Note from Conejo Joe: The group meets USUALLY (some exceptions) the first Saturday of each month from 11 am to 1 pm. But make sure to check in advance.  Or just show up.

Upcoming dates (as of 1/10/16):  2/6, 3/5, 4/2, 5/7, 6/4, 7/9, 8/6, 9/10, 10/1, 11/5, 12/3

Gull Wings Children's Museum - Oxnard (Closed)

NEWS: Gull Wings closed its Oxnard location on January 10, 2016 to focus on procuring a new location.

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Gull Wings Children's Museum opened in 1988 and has dozens of fun, interactive, educational exhibits geared towards ages 2 to 12. There is a tidepool, fire engine, emergency room, ambulance, space station, astronaut room, live animals, mineral/fossil room, camp-out area, an actual car, toddler area, western area, recording room, reading room and the list goes on!

Gull Wings was located at 418 W. Fourth Street, Oxnard.  For more information on future plans for the museum and how to help visit www.gullwings.org or call 805.483.3005.