Lang Ranch/Woodridge Open Space Trails in Thousand Oaks

Looking for some spectacular trail hiking and panaromic views stretching from the Conejo Valley to the Simi Hills? Then take a look at the open space trails in the Lang Ranch/Woodridge system in the northeast portion of Thousand Oaks in the Lang Ranch area (where Avenida de los Arboles meets Westlake Boulevard).

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The 1,025 acre area is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency (COSCA) and connects with another 8,000 acres of open space that is part of the Santa Monica Mountains. There are 10 miles of well-maintained trails that are outstanding for hiking, running and biking. The views are spectacular and you can actually hike from Thousand Oaks to Simi Valley (via Long Canyon Trail) and Agoura Hills (Woodridge to Cheeseboro/Palo Comado).

More information about the various trails in the Lang Ranch/Woodridge Open Space on the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at www.cosf.org/website/html/lang-ranch.html.

The specific trails seen below are highlighted at www.cosf.org/website/html/autumn-ridge-loop.html and www.cosf.org/website/html/autumn-ridge-to-rancho-simi-scenic-loop.html and are accessed at the trailhead at Westlake Boulevard and Autumn Ridge Drive in Thousand Oaks.

Access to this trail is at the corner of Westlake Bd and Autumn Ridge Dr

Access to this trail is at the corner of Westlake Bd and Autumn Ridge Dr

You can get a clear view of Bard Lake (Calleguas Water District Reservoir) back here.

You can get a clear view of Bard Lake (Calleguas Water District Reservoir) back here.

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Views of Simi Valley

Views of Simi Valley

Checking out fossils on display in the open space. Pretty fun to see with the kids.

Checking out fossils on display in the open space. Pretty fun to see with the kids.

This bench is located at the juncture of the Sunrise and Meadow Vista Trails in the Lang Ranch Open Space and Long Canyon Trail, which is accessible via the Wood Ranch section of Simi Valley. Not a bad view, eh?

This bench is located at the juncture of the Sunrise and Meadow Vista Trails in the Lang Ranch Open Space and Long Canyon Trail, which is accessible via the Wood Ranch section of Simi Valley. Not a bad view, eh?

Trailhead at east end of Lang Ranch Parkway, to Albertson Fire Road trail.

Trailhead at east end of Lang Ranch Parkway, to Albertson Fire Road trail.

Channel Islands Maritime Museum

The Channel Islands Maritime Museum (formerly known as Ventura County Maritime Museum) is a cultural and scenic haven in the Channel Islands Harbor complete with world class maritime art, ship models and ocean breezes. It opened in 1991 as an independent, not-for-profit public benefit corporation funded by members, friends, charitable foundations and businesses.

In Summer 2012, the museum moved across the harbor to 3900 Bluefin Circle, Oxnard (off of 3900 Harbor Boulevard).

The museum is open Thursday to Monday from 11 AM to 5 PM except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (62+) and $3 for children ages 6 to 17, as of January 2017. Admission is free the 3rd Thursday of each month.

The Channel Islands Maritime Museum is home to a permanent collection of extensive marine art, featuring works by the Dutch and Flemish painters, 17th century artists Willem van de Velde and Bonaventura Peeters. Noted modern artists in the collection include John Stobart, Montague Dawson, David Thimgan, Roy Cross and Christopher Blossom.

The museum also houses one of the two largest collections of antique Napoleonic prisoner of war sailing ship models in the US. Three thousand years of maritime history are illustrated by historic ship models, including the life's work of renowned builder Edward Marple. Exhibits on whaling, sailors' arts, the history of the Channel Islands Harbor and Port of Hueneme round out the collection.

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In my many visits to the museum, I have been very impressed by how knowledgeable the docents were about the contents of the museum! I learned a lot and was amazed at the collection of nearly 100 intricate ship models on display going back hundreds of years. I was also pleased to see docents take the time to engage my kids in some of the exhibits.

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The Museum welcomes about 25,000 visitors annually. The Elementary Education Program, staffed entirely by volunteers, conducts in-house tours for thousands of elementary school students each year. The At Sea Education program supports three day youth sailing expeditions on board working tall ships.

For more information, including current exhibits and upcoming museum events, visit www.channelislandsmaritimemuseum.org or call 805.984.6260.

Mullin Automotive Museum

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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. Models from Bugatti, Delage, Delahaye, Hispano Suiza, Talbot-Lago and Voisin. Peter W. Mullin is the founder/owner of the Museum and the collection.

The Museum is open to the public 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 September 2016, admission is $15 for adults, $12 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 dates (as of 1/12/17) are as follows (you must buy tickets in advance to reserve a spot): Jan 14, 28, Feb 11, Mar 11, 25, Apr 8, 22, May 13, 26 (Fri), Jun 17, 24, Jul 8, 22, Aug 12, 26, Sep 9, 23, Oct 14, 28, Nov 11, 22 (Wed), Dec 2, 16.

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

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Camarillo Grove Park

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Camarillo Grove Park is located at the bottom of the Conejo Grade at 6968 E. Camarillo Springs Road (Camarillo Springs exit). This is kind of an off the beaten path park that has a variety of interesting activities. There is an off-leash dog park where you can bring your pooch. There is a small playground area for the kids. There are several large outdoor covered group picnic areas that are popular for parties.

Additionally, the park has some fun trails for roughly a mile** or so of hiking and exploring. At the back (east) end of the park you'll see the trail sign. the lower loop is fairly short, with some interesting, large rock formations. The upper loop is more significant and steep and provides for some nice views.

** But wait! The Pleasant Valley Rec & Park District has added two miles of new trails with over 20 new interpretive signs located along the trail! There will be a grand opening event on Saturday, January 21, 2017 (if rain, it will move to the 28th).

This park offers multiple options for hiking. The lower loop is an easier gently sloping trail with oak trees, sage, volcanic rock formations, and more.  You can even take dogs off-leash on weekends Saturdays and Sundays before 10 a.m.

The park opens at 7:30 a.m. until dusk. There are parking fees at this particular park to help pay for the upkeep of the park. As of January 2017 these fees are $3 on weekdays, $5 on weekends and $10 for oversized vehicles (RVs, etc.) on weekends. Or buy an annual pass for $55.

Learn more at www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/grove.asp.

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Cheeseboro/Palo Comado Canyons in Agoura Hills

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Cheeseboro and Palo Comado Canyons include 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/placestogo.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. Dogs are allowed but must be on a leash at all times.

MORE ON THE PALO COMADO CANYON TRAIL AT THIS LINK

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Malibu Lagoon Field Trips Hosted by Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society

The Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society (SMBAS) hosts Malibu Lagoon Field Trips the 4th Sunday of every month.

Adult Walk starts at 8:30 a.m. for 2-3 hrs. The group meets at the metal-shaded viewing area next to parking lot. SMBAS makes a special effort to make our monthly Malibu Lagoon walks attractive to first-time and beginner birdwatchers. Brings binoculars and cameras.

Metal shaded viewing area next to parking lot.

Metal shaded viewing area next to parking lot.

Children & Parents Walk starts at 10:00 a.m. for a 1 hr session. Meet at metal-shaded viewing area next to parking lot. SMBAS leaders are experienced with kids so by all means bring them down to the beach to enjoy nature. Binoculars will be provided.

If you have a Scout troop or other group 7 or larger, please call Lu at 310.395.6235 to make sure SMBAS has enough binoculars and docents on hand.

Visit smbasblog.com to learn more.

Directions: Malibu Lagoon is located at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road in Malibu. Bring water and sun protection; look around for people wearing binoculars and hats.

Parking: Self-serve parking machine in lot, $3/hr, $12 day ($11 seniors); credit cards accepted. Annual passes accepted. You may also park (read all signs carefully) on PCH west of Cross Creek Road, on Cross Creek Road, or on Civic Center.Way north (inland) of the shopping center. Lagoon parking in shopping center lots is not permitted.

Museum of Ventura County in Downtown Ventura

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The Museum of Ventura County is the most comprehensive resource for local history in the county.  There are exhibitions, galleries, and an extensive research library with over 140,000 books, newspaper clippings, photographs, maps and other historical materials.

NOTE: The museum will be re-opening on Sunday, January 8 from noon to 5pm after a closure since September 1 to make renovations.

The museum is open from 11am to 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday.  General admission (as of October 2016) is $5 for adults $3 for seniors, students and AAA members (with ID), $1 for children ages 6 to 17. Kids 5 and under are free. Located at 100 E. Main Street, Ventura.

Free admission the 1st Sunday of each month with a kids arts/crafts activity usually from 1-3pm.

For more information, visit www.venturamuseum.org or call 805.653.0323.

LEARN ABOUT THE MUSEUM'S AGRICULTURE MUSEUM IN SANTA PAULA

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The 3,500 sq ft river-rock walled, state-of-the-art Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Event Pavilion is used for lectures, programs and a variety of Museum events. It can seat 200 for dinner, with the option to tent the front plaza for an additional 140 guests. Could be a great wedding reception venue!!

Strathearn Historical Park and Museum in Simi Valley

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Strathearn Historical Park and Museum is located at 137 Strathearn Place, Simi Valley (off of Tierra Rejada Road, just east of Madera). The Park is operated jointly by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District and the Simi Valley Historical Society.

This is a six acre site that houses numerous historical Simi Valley area artifacts and structures. The namesake of the Park is Robert P. and Mary Gray Lamb Strathearn. Originally from Scotland, they purchased 15,000 acres of the old Spanish Rancho and built their Victorian-style farmhouse onto the front of the Simi Adobe.

Stroll through history at the site, which includes the original Saint Rose of Lima Church built in 1902, the Simi Adobe, Strathearn House, Colony House (the first historic building to be relocated to Strathearn Park in 1970), the original Simi Library built in 1930 and used until a new library was built in 1962, two original Wood Ranch barns from the 1940s, the Simi Store gift shop, the Banaga Barbershop and more.

As of January 2017, the park is open 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday and 1-4 pm Saturday/Sunday. Hour and a half long docent-led tours inside of the buildings take place, for a $3 donation, on Sat/Sun from 1-4pm and at 1pm on W/Th/F. The Visitor Center and park grounds are open for self-guided tours.

For more information, visit www.simihistory.com or call 805.526.6543.

The Strathearn House

The Strathearn House

The precursor to Simi Valley Town Center

The precursor to Simi Valley Town Center

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William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art at Cal Lutheran Thousand Oaks

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The William Rolland Gallery of Fine Art at Cal Lutheran is located adjacent to the William Rolland Stadium. It opened in October 2011.

The gallery has featured such exhibits as: Western Salon featuring sculptures and paintings from the Bob Eubanks and William Rolland Collections; Resonating Images I 1900-1950 featuring representational masterpiece paintings, drawings and prints from the first half of the 20th century; and Resonating Images II, exhibiting representational works by modern and contemporary masters including Chuck Close, Fernando Botero, and Picasso. Exhibitions rotate approximately 4-5 times a year.

The Gallery also hosts a parallel educational series of events. The specific events vary by exhibition, but typically include foreign language tours and lectures by professionals in the visual arts. Curator- or docent-led tours are available for free; we request that you make reservations beforehand.

The Gallery is open to the general public Tuesday through Friday, 10 am to 4 pm and Saturday from 11 am to 3 pm. Admission is free. Free parking is available. Location is 160 Overton Court.

Point Dume State Beach

On November 24, 1793, English explorer George Vancouver named the rocky promontory Point Dume after his friend, Father Francisco Dumetz. Point Dume is the western terminus of Santa Monica Bay and was named California Registered Historical Landmark No. 965.

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Point Dume State Beach is a 63 acre promontory that juts out into the Pacific and features headlands, cliffs, rocky coves and vast beach access for swimming, surfing, scuba diving and fishing.

To get to Point Dume State Beach, take Westward Beach Road southeast from PCH near Zuma Beach's south side to the paid parking area, or park on Westward Beach Road, which parallels Westward Beach.

To the southeast of Westward Beach is a small 300 foot or so beachfront area called Pirate's Cove Beach (which due to its seclusion was once used as a nude beach).

Pirate's Cove beach seen from the top of the promontory. You can climb down there and when the tide is moderate to low, walk around to it.

Pirate's Cove beach seen from the top of the promontory. You can climb down there and when the tide is moderate to low, walk around to it.

The 34-acre Point Dume Natural Preserve also begins from the cul-de-sac. A gradual ascending trail leads to an ancient coastal bluff sand dune with spectacular views...we've seen whales, seals and dolphins over here. A stairway from the east side of the bluff-top preserve allows access to a more isolated beach and tidepools (look but don't touch). You'll have fun exploring up here.

This is a snippet of the pilot episode, "The Lady in the Bottle," of I Dream of Jeannie that originally aired September 18, 1965. If you skip to 1:39 in this clip, you will see the prominent rock formations on the east side of the Point Dume promontory. Below is a more recent shot of that area.

This is where Captain Anthony Nelson (Larry Hagman) made a giant S.O.S. in the sand with sticks and other items, including an old bottle that moved itself. He picks it up, dusts it off, and out pops Barbara Eden. Lucky guy!

This is where Captain Anthony Nelson (Larry Hagman) made a giant S.O.S. in the sand with sticks and other items, including an old bottle that moved itself. He picks it up, dusts it off, and out pops Barbara Eden. Lucky guy!

Location/Directions: Take Kanan south to PCH and turn right. Westward Beach Road is over the rise, at the foot of the hill. Park free on WBR or pay a fee at Westward Beach lot. No restrooms at the Preserve but some can be found on WBR. Call 310.457.8143 or visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=623 for more information. Also see beaches.lacounty.gov/point-dume-beach.

Dogs are not allowed on trails in the Point Dume Natural Preserve or on the beach.

Westward Beach

Westward Beach

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 Cafe, California Pizza Kitchen, Coconut Crab, Larsen's Grill, Red Robin and 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, koi pond and gardens to explore.  There are also train rides available for $2 per child at Center Court.

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.

Mission Historical Park and A.C. Postel Garden in Santa Barbara

Directly across the street from the Old Santa Barbara Mission is the 8 acre Mission Historical Park (at the corner of Los Olivos and Laguna Street). The centerpiece of this park is the A.C. Postel Mission Rose Garden which has a stunning All American Rose Garden with over 1,500 rose plants. It is appealing to both your sense of sight and sense of smell. For more information or to reserve the site for a wedding or event, visit www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/parksrec/parks/features/horticulture/acpostel.asp or call 805.564.5418.

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Skatelab Museum and Skate Park - Simi Valley

The world's largest and best skateboard museum resides in Simi Valley at Skatelab.  There are over 5,000 vintage skateboards, scooters and skateboard memorabilia at this 20,000 square foot facility from the 1960s to present day.  The museum is open to the public seven days a week and is free.  You really have to see this in person to get the full effect. This is a downright AMAZING collection! Check www.skatelab.com or call 805.578.0040 for hours.

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Read more about the world's largest skateboard collection on display at www.skateboardman.com

Skatelab has a large indoor skate park that your kids will love.  It is located at 4226 Valley Fair Street, Simi Valley.  Visit www.skatelab.com or call 805.578.0040 for more information. They offer skateboarding classes on Saturdays and Sundays for beginners and novices too!