Paramount Ranch Recreation Area in Agoura

NOTE: PARAMOUNT RANCH SUSTAINED DEVASTATING DAMAGE IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE OF NOVEMBER 2018. It was was re-opened to the public on December 3, 2018.

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 Paramount Ranch Western Town Aerial View (Courtesy NPS)

Paramount Ranch Western Town Aerial View (Courtesy NPS)

Paramount Ranch is located in Agoura off of Cornell Road, between Kanan Road and Mulholland.  Click here for a map in a pdf file on the National Park Service website.

Paramount Pictures originally purchased 2,700 acres here for use as a "movie ranch" in 1927 and since then, hundreds of movies and TV shows have been filmed there.  A permanent western town was built there in the early 1950s using old Paramount Pictures props.  You can walk freely around the buildings (but you can't walk inside them).  This is a site to behold for any fans of old movies.

 Before the Woolsey Fire of November 2018.

Before the Woolsey Fire of November 2018.

 The Western Town sign and bridge is still there but most everything surrounding it is burnt after the Woolsey Fire of November 2018.

The Western Town sign and bridge is still there but most everything surrounding it is burnt after the Woolsey Fire of November 2018.

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 Western Town at Paramount Ranch destroyed in the Woolsey Fire.

Western Town at Paramount Ranch destroyed in the Woolsey Fire.

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 A beacon of hope. Two structures were unharmed in the Woolsey Fire - this church building seen in the TV series “Westworld” and the train station.

A beacon of hope. Two structures were unharmed in the Woolsey Fire - this church building seen in the TV series “Westworld” and the train station.

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A list of movies filmed at Paramount Ranch is here.  These include films like The Last Outlaw (Gary Cooper), The Virginian (Gary Cooper), Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn (Jackie Coogan), Million Dollar Legs (W.C. Fields), Adventures of Marco Polo, Remember  the Night (Barbara Stanwyck) and many more.  From 1992 to 1997, the TV show, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (featuring Jane Seymour) was filmed there.

In addition to the western town, there are restrooms, picnic areas and plenty of hiking trails at the park.  Please be very careful around the set as these are one of a kind and very old.  More information at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/paramountranch.htm or call the NPS at 805.370.2301.

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 the west end of the mall (the east end, also previously a Macy’s is vacant as of December 2018). There’s also Jamba Juice, Go Fish Sushi, Starbucks, Sweetie’s Sweet Shop, Chocolate Savvy, Dip It! Chocolates and Simi Valley Home Brew.

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.

Lot of shops geared towards the kids, including Black Belt USA Tak Kwon Do, Gotta Dance, Inspire Dance Studio, As You Wish Pottery Painting Place, Kid Gloves Boxing, Rockin’ Kids Play Center and the new Skateboarding Hall of Fame Museum and Skate U across from the Vans store opening December 15, 2018.

Other shops include the Five Below discount store that opened on October 12, 2018, Marshalls, Tilly’s, Lewis Galleries, Gymboree, Victoria’s Secret, Brighton Collectibles and more.

There’s also the Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia. Quite an impressive array of military posters and artifacts on hand.

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

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

Visit www.shopsimivalleytowncenter.com for more information.

Previously at the Simi Valley Town Center:

A lot of businesses have come and gone from the Simi Valley Town Center in years past. Here are some of them.

Apple Store (9/15/17), Urban Home, Limon Latin Grill, Souplantation (9/25/16), Anthopologie, Brookstone, Chico’s, Coldwater Creek, Eddie Bauer, Forever 21, Gamestop, Haagen-Dazs, Gymboree Play & Music, Hot Dog on a Stick, Hot Topic, J. Stephens, Jos. A Bank, Lane Bryant, Lucky Brand Jeans, Nine West, The Body Shop, Things RememberedUrban Outfitters, White House Black Market, Z Gallerie, Zales and Zumies, among others.

Rocky Oaks Nature Reserve in the Malibu Hills

Rocky Oaks was destroyed by the fast-moving Woolsey Fire of November 2018 and the park will be closed until further notice. Updates will be posted by the NPS at www.nps.gov/samo/index.htm.

 Not a great photo but a view of Rocky Oaks from Kanan Road on 11/25/18. Burnt to a crisp.

Not a great photo but a view of Rocky Oaks from Kanan Road on 11/25/18. Burnt to a crisp.

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Rocky Oaks is a 250 acre nature reserve that is part of the Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area, located at the 31500 block of Mulholland Highway in Malibu, west of Kanan Road. The entrance is on the north side of Mulholland Highway. The park is managed by the National Park Service.

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Rocky Oaks has various species of oak trees, some centuries old. The Overlook Trail takes you to a peak with gorgeous panoramic views while the Pond Trail (less than a mile round trip) takes you to a seasonal pond area which used to be part of a cattle ranch.

The Rocky Oaks Loop Trail is a 2.2 mile easy trail that is lined with sage. This is one of the more low key, easy to hike areas around town. It can get hot but at only 6 miles from PCH you can also feel some nice ocean breezes in these trails.

Learn more about Rocky Oaks and download a trail map at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/rockyoaks.htm.

 Pond is looking quite nice in late spring of 2017.

Pond is looking quite nice in late spring of 2017.

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America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College

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Don't want to drive 45 minutes to the nearest zoo?  Well then, stop by local Moorpark College to visit the student-run America's Teaching Zoo

This five acre zoo housing nearly 200 exotic animals is part of the college's Exotic Animal Training and Management Program and is open each weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays).  This interesting collection has included all sorts of animals, like alligators, geckos, elephants, emus, tigers, camels, snakes, ocelots and more. Animal show times at 12 pm and 2 pm. Animal demonstrations from 3:30-4 pm.

 Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Students in the program are required to work most days and weekends.  For a truly unique wild animal experience, stop by and check it out. Don't expect anything fancy. This is a very low key place, but lots of fun as it is usually not very crowded and you can get really close to the animals. This huge Galapagos Tortoise is Clarence. Learn more about him here.

The zoo is open on weekends with an admission fee of $8 for adults and $6 for kids and seniors (checks and cash only). Under age 2 is free.

Visit zoo.moorparkcollege.edu or call 805.378.1441 for more information.

 Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

The Zoo is located at 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark.  Take the 101 North to the 23 North to the 118 East.  Exit Collins and turn left at the stop sign.  Go through 2 stoplights and turn right into the 2nd entrance past the stoplights.  Turn right in the parking lot and continue up the short hill to the right.

 A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

Treasured Memories Scrapbook Store in Oak Park

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Treasured Memories Scrapbook Store opened in June 1997 and has grown and evolved with the scrapbook industry to provide customers with the best memory preservation solutions on the market. They offer supplies, classes, parties, events and more.

Located in the Oak Park Shopping Center at 612 Lindero Canyon Road, Oak Park.  Visit www.treasuredmemoriesca.com or call 818.889.6639 for more information.

During normal business hours, Treasured Memories offers complimentary space in their project room. Call the store in advance to ensure space and availability.

Ventura Flea Market - Ventura County Fairgrounds

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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. Children under 12 are admitted free when accompanied by an adult.  (Prices current as of February 2018.) Pets are not allowed. Event is held rain or shine! Parking is $5.

Upcoming Dates as of 11/17/18:

  • November 18, 2018

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

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Peter Strauss Ranch in Agoura Hills

NOTE: PETER STRAUSS RANCH SUSTAINED MAJOR DAMAGE IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE OF NOVEMBER 2018 AND WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. CHECK THEIR WEBSITE FOR UPDATES. WE WILL ALSO STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES.

 Peter Strauss Ranch sign on Kanan Road southbound before Troutdale.

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.

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

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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.

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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.

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

Visit the NPS Peter Strauss Ranch page at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/straussranch.htm.

Charmlee Wilderness Park in Malibu

NOTE: CHARMLEE WILDERNESS PARK SUSTAINED MAJOR DAMAGE IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE OF NOVEMBER 2018 AND WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. CHECK THEIR WEBSITE FOR UPDATES. WE WILL ALSO STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES.

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Charmlee Wilderness Park is a 532 acre park located at 2577 Encinal Canyon Road in Malibu, just 15 miles from the Conejo Valley. It is located within the Santa Monica Mountains. There are over eight miles of hiking trails, a nature center, picnic areas and more. Park hours are 8 a.m. to sunset and the nature center is open on weekends from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. (or dark, whichever comes first). Parking is available for $4.

Visit the Mountains Recreation & Conservation Authority website at mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/charmlee-wilderness-park for more information, trail maps and more or call 310.457.7247.

To get there from the Conejo Valley, take the 23 (Westlake Boulevard/Decker Canyon Road) toward the ocean and turn left on Lechusa Road. Continue on Encinal Canyon Road and look for the sign on the right.

Photos below courtesy of Suzy Demeter Photography.

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Reagan Ranch at Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park is closed until further notice due to the November 2018 Woolsey Fire. State Parks lost some structures, such as employee residences, the historic Sepulveda Adobe, Red House, White Oak Barn and Reagan Ranch. For the latest information on how the wildfires have impacted state parks, visit www.parks.ca.gov/newsroom

Most folks start their day at Malibu Creek State Park from the main parking lot area off of Las Virgenes Road or perhaps by parking on Mulholland Highway at Las Virgenes and hiking in via the Grassland Trail to Crags Road, the main artery within the park. Another approach into the park is the Reagan Ranch, accessible from a parking area located off of Lake Vista Drive, just south of the juncture of Cornell Road and Mulholland Highway. What's nice about this parking area is that there is no charge for parking.

Ronald Reagan bought this 300+ acre ranch in 1951 and subsequently sold it to 20th Century Fox as a movie ranch in 1966 after he became Governor of California. It was later sold to the State and made part of Malibu Creek State Park.

After parking your car in the lot, walk up the paved road where you will see some older ranch buildings. These are used by California State Parks employees and are not accessible by the general public. But you may feel an aura of Reagan back here.

The "Yearling Trail" leads you towards the heart of Malibu Creek State Park. Less than 2 miles to Century Lake, just over 2 miles to the Visitor Center and 2.7 miles to the M*A*S*H site. Stay on the main trail, which about a mile in starts on an uphill. You'll see a sign that indicates you are on the "Lookout Trail." Continue on this trail and you will soon see why they call it that - look out and you will have great views of the main park and of Century Lake.

There are several other trails you can explore too back here.

Malibu Creek State Park

Malibu Creek State Park is closed until further notice due to the November 2018 Woolsey Fire. State Parks lost some structures, such as employee residences, the historic Sepulveda Adobe, Red House, White Oak Barn and Reagan Ranch. For the latest information on how the wildfires have impacted state parks, visit www.parks.ca.gov/newsroom

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Malibu Creek State Park is accessible in Calabasas, at 1925 Las Virgenes Road, south of Mulholland. The park contains over 8,000 acres of rugged, beautiful hills, trails and scenery. It stretches from Agoura Hills down to Malibu, down to Malibu Lagoon State Beach, covering much of the 25 mile Malibu Creek that flows from Boney Mountain down to the Lagoon. Malibu Creek is the only stream channel that crosses through the Santa Monica Mountain range.

There are three natural preserves in the park, Liberty Canyon, Udell Gorge and Kaslow, which protect Valley Oaks, rare plants and volcanic formations.

Things to do in Malibu Creek State Park include hiking, running, biking, camping, picnicking, fishing and checking out the wildlife. There are over 35 miles of trails and fire roads throughout the park. A fun added bonus is the old M*A*S*H series set, filmed from 1972 to 1983, that resides there.

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Malibu Creek SP contains roughly three dozen different trails, many easy, and some...extraordinarily challenging. such as the Bulldog trail, taking you to 2,500 foot peaks with panoramic views out to the ocean and surrounding peaks and valleys.

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Parking for the day at Malibu Creek State Park is currently $12, or you can park at the corner of Mulholland and Las Virgenes and make your way into the park via the Grassland Trail. The park has 62 campsites and 4 RV sites. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=614 for more information.

 The old M*A*S*H site is about 2 1/2 miles from the parking area.

The old M*A*S*H site is about 2 1/2 miles from the parking area.

 M*A*S*H site with plenty of picnic tables

M*A*S*H site with plenty of picnic tables

 The Visitor Center is only a 10 minute walk from the parking lot and is generally open from noon to 4pm on weekends.

The Visitor Center is only a 10 minute walk from the parking lot and is generally open from noon to 4pm on weekends.

There's also an interesting visitor center about 1/2 mile from the main entrance to the park. It is open on Saturday/Sunday from noon to 4pm, subject to availability of docents. Worth a stop as there are some neat things to see in there, including wildlife and rocks/artifacts and other useful information. You can also purchase drinks in there as well as a small assortment of other items.

Hike to the Rock Pool at Malibu Creek State Park!

Century Lake Hike at Malibu Creek State Park

Chumash Indian Museum / Oakbrook Regional Park

NOTE: MUSEUM AND PARK TEMPORARILY CLOSED AS A RESULT OF DAMAGE SUSTAINED FROM THE WOOLSEY FIRE IN NOVEMBER 2018. CHECK THE WEBSITE AND FACEBOOK PAGE FOR UPDATES.

Reported 11/11/18: Oakbrook Park sustained fire damage and the replica Chumash village was completely lost. However, a majority of the oak trees survived.

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Located in Lang Ranch at the top of Westlake Boulevard near Avenida de los Arboles at 3290 Lang Ranch Parkway, Thousand Oaks, the Chumash Interpretative Center / Chumash Indian Museum contains Chumash artifacts and historical items, nature walks and tours of the beautiful local Oakbrook Regional Park area.  The museum is open Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Admission price is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors 65+ and $3.00 for children under 12. There is no charge to walk the trails in the park.

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The Chumash Indian Museum is located on a historical Chumash village site and contains a large collection of Chumash artifacts.

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Stroll around the 436 acre Oakbrook Regional Park, a Ventura County historical landmark #90 (designated in 1983). 

Contact the Center for more information about these and other events, field trips, weddings and birthday parties at www.chumashmuseum.org or 805.492.8076.

To protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed here.

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Ventura Botanical Gardens Demonstration Trail

NOTE: The entire 109 acres were burned in the Thomas Fire of December 2017 and the trail was closed as a result. It has since re-opened as volunteers work to rebuild the garden.

There is now an admission price of $7 per person Wed through Sun. Kids are free. Tuesdays are also free. Annual memberships are also available, which allow for unlimited free admission; $45 per person, $75 for families.

Additionally, dogs are allowed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only and must be on leash.

 Trails are intact but the plants were devastated by the Thomas Fire. Replanting and re-growth is in process.

Trails are intact but the plants were devastated by the Thomas Fire. Replanting and re-growth is in process.

The Ventura Botanical Gardens Demonstration Trail is a nearly 1 mile trail between Ventura City Hall and Grant Park. It opened in October 2012. The trail zig zags and meanders its way up to Grant Park, offering awesome views of downtown Ventura and the coastline. The trail is accessible behind Ventura City Hall, located at 567 South Poli Street. Take the driveway on the right side of City Hall (facing the building) and drive up to the parking area.

 Access to the trail is on the right (east) side of Ventura City Hall.

Access to the trail is on the right (east) side of Ventura City Hall.

 There's a parking area at the bottom of the trail behind Ventura City Hall

There's a parking area at the bottom of the trail behind Ventura City Hall

Funds continue to be raised to enhance the Demonstration Trail, provide for trail maintenance and augment it with a new trail and ultimately build a visitor center. Learn more at www.venturabotanicalgardens.com.

 The trail is decorated with pretty wildflowers and other California native plants

The trail is decorated with pretty wildflowers and other California native plants

 There are some neat rock walls on sections of the trail

There are some neat rock walls on sections of the trail

 A short walk will get you some pretty views!

A short walk will get you some pretty views!

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Whizin Market Square in Agoura Hills

Located at 28914 Roadside Drive in Agoura Hills, Whizin Market Square is an eclectic mix of shops, eateries, services and entertainment. As of January 2015, restaurants and entertainment at the Square include The Canyon Club, Wood Ranch BBQ, Tifa Chocolate, Plata Taqueria, Carrara Pastrie, Numero Uno and Blue Table. You will find a variety of very unique, non-franchise type stores in here, including antiques, The Flying Owl Paper Boutique, beauty stores and more. Visit the Whizins Facebook page at www.facebook.com/WhizinMarketSquare and website at www.whizinmarketsquare.com for more information.