Arroyo Simi Bike Path in Simi Valley

The Arroyo Simi Bike Path is a two lane bike path in Simi Valley that runs from Madera Road, just south of Easy Street on the west, ending at Cochran Avenue between Fig Street and Ralston Street on the east. Roughly 6 to 7 miles. It is also referred to as the Arroyo Simi Greenway.

The Arroyo Simi is a waterway that begins at Corriganville Park in east Simi Valley and extends west all the way through Simi Valley until into merges into Arroyo Las Posas and Conejo Creek into Calleguas Creek. It is managed by the County of Ventura but the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District has access to the pathway for recreational use.

What a great bike path this is! While it may not be as visually appealing as bike paths along Ventura Beach and such, the Arroyo Simi Bike Path is almost entirely flat and allows passageway along much of Simi Valley from east to west. You can really do a lot of exploration from this artery. We like to park at the East Street entry point and bike to Rancho Simi Community Park (2.2 miles one way), Rancho Santa Susana Park (6 miles one way) and various other areas.

Because this path is so long and flat (and not crowded), it is a nice destination for learning to ride. However, do be aware that there are a number of street crossings where you are asked to walk your bike across. They are protected by lights and signs, however.

Arroyo Simi bike path entry point at Easy Street and Madera

Arroyo Simi bike path entry point at Easy Street and Madera

Arroyo Simi Bike path may not be the most picturesque path but is nicely flat and goes a long way!

Arroyo Simi Bike path may not be the most picturesque path but is nicely flat and goes a long way!

There are numerous entry points to the path, which largely parallels Los Angeles Avenue; this one is just east of Ralston off of Los Angeles Avenue.

There are numerous entry points to the path, which largely parallels Los Angeles Avenue; this one is just east of Ralston off of Los Angeles Avenue.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

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Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is a very low key museum that makes for a great excursion to Santa Barbara with the kids.  There are eight exhibit halls with permanent exhibits featuring birds, mammals, insects, ocean life, a planetarium and more. Many of the exhibits are "hands on" with buttons and interactive features that kids particularly enjoy. There are an additional two halls for changing exhibits.

Some of the thousands of insects on display at the Cartwright Hall of Plants and Insects

Some of the thousands of insects on display at the Cartwright Hall of Plants and Insects

You and your kids can roam the nature paths and visit the well stocked gift shop, full of educational items. I can vouch for the fascination kids (and adults) have at this Museum. It is a very comfortable museum that in my experience is rarely is crowded. The "Museum Backyard" area and gardens has a picnic area, stream, "Dino Dig," and other enjoyable features. The pond and stream often have tadpoles that captivate the kids.

The museum is open 7 days a week and is closed certain holidays. As of September 2017, admission is $12 for adults, $8 for 65+ seniors and teens (13-17) and $7 for children 2 to 12 years of age. Become a Museum member and you don't have to pay for admission. The Museum also offers birthday parties for members. Family memberships are currently $85/year.

Free Family Sundays are on on the third Sunday of January, February, March, April, September, October, November and December. No free days in May, June, July and August.

Also in the "Backyard" area of the Museum, there is a physical structure managed by the Santa Barbara Audubon Aviary that cares for birds of prey that are no longer able to survive in the wild. Often volunteers will bring these birds out for visitors to admire. These birds are beautiful.

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Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara. More information at www.sbnature.org or 805.682.4711.

The "Backyard" area of the Museum makes for a peaceful, rustic wedding/party venue.

The "Backyard" area of the Museum makes for a peaceful, rustic wedding/party venue.

Soter Point at Marina Park in Ventura

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Dedicated in 2011, Soter Point at Marina Park in Ventura consists of a shaded picnic area, benches, attractive landscaping and a 15 foot mermaid statue. Soter Point is the result of a private/public partnership between local Ventura residents and the City of Ventura.

The inscription on a plaque on the Mermaid of Soter Point tells the story:

This stunning landmark overlooking the Ventura Harbor represents a trailblazing cooperative effort to beautify our community through private citizens working with public agencies. Andy Soter developed and landscaped the area in memory of his daughter Andrea, a successful and much admired investment manager. The mermaid sculpture and its foundation were donated by Russian emigrants Alec and Tatyana Benke, as an expression of love for their new country, America. Samuel Povar created the first collaboration of this nature in 2007 as a tribute to his late wife Orianna and worked tirelessly to make this Marina Park project a reality. And, the Ventura City Council and the Coastal Commission gave their enthusiastic blessing. Now Povar, Soter, and Benke, all Ventura residents, hope to inspire others to use private capital along with public cooperation and support…to envision something beautiful and make it happen.

Soter Point is located at the southernmost point of Marina Park, a short walk from the main playground area of the park. With beautiful views looking out toward Ventura Harbor and picnic area cooled by sea breezes, Soter Point does not Disa-Point.

Bench faces south toward Ventura Harbor Village

Bench faces south toward Ventura Harbor Village

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Ventura County Fairgrounds Swap Meet and Farmers Market on Wednesdays

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There is a weekly Swap Meet and Farmers Market at Ventura County Fairgrounds, 10 W. Harbor Boulevard, every Wednesday from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free parking. Admission is $1 (as of August 2017). For more information visit www.facebook.com/Ventura-County-Fairgrounds-Swap-Meet-Farmers-Market-279401113415.

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 these 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.

Upcoming dates as of 8/26: 8/27, 9/24

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.

Thousand Oaks Community Gallery

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The Thousand Oaks Community Gallery at 2331-A Borchard Road, Newbury Park opened in February 1991 and was the realization of the combined efforts of the City Of Thousand Oaks, area art organizations and dedicated art patrons. The 3,000 sq ft gallery hosts diversified visual arts exhibitions, workshops, artist presentations and special events, and is enhanced with a multi-purpose area that includes kitchen facilities and is available for group tours and special events. Original art is available for purchase for personal or corporate collections. The gallery showcases outstanding work of acclaimed, professional and emerging artists who present an exceptional array of original imagery, artistic techniques and visual styles.

Gallery operations are under the direction of City staff and a steering committee, consisting of regional visual arts association representatives and dedicated arts leaders. Operating costs are covered by a modest user fee paid by exhibiting artists and an active volunteer corps serve as staff. The gallery is open 11am to 5pm Monday through Saturday.

More information at toartgallery.com or call 805.498.4390.

Camarillo Bike Path Next to Calleguas Creek

Looking to take the kids on a nice, flat bike path unimpeded by cars? A great choice is the roughly 2 mile Calleguas Creek bike path from Pleasant Valley Fields at (100 Village at the Park Drive in Camarillo off the Dawson 101 exit) up to the corner of Flynn and Upland Roads in Camarillo.

Look at how nice and flat this bike path adjacent to Calleguas Creek is!

Look at how nice and flat this bike path adjacent to Calleguas Creek is!

This is a nice, smooth and flat bike path that goes under several bridges, including the 101 freeway, so that you don't have to worry about cars! You can park your car at Pleasant Valley Fields and ride up and back down the path. This is a comfortable path to learn on as well as just enjoy.

At the north end of the path, you can detour off the path to Pitts Ranch Park at 1400 Flynn Road, just a short block northwest of the path, and enjoy lunch.

More information about Camarillo bike paths, lanes and routes at www.cityofcamarillo.org/Administrative%20Services/GIS/Bikepath.pdf

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Calleguas Creek

Calleguas Creek

Comedy & Cocktails at Studio Channel Islands in Camarillo

Comedy & Cocktails at Studio Channel Islands, 2222 Ventura Blvd, Camarillo takes place one Friday night each month. Tickets $15. Beer and wine are both $5. Features local comedy icon Jason Love and several top notch comedians who will make you laugh yourself silly.

Visit studiochannelislands.org/project-attributes/upcoming-event for more information.

Ojai Valley Museum

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Founded in 1966, the Ojai Valley Museum at 130 West Ojai Avenue has an extensive collection of art, Native American baskets, pioneer tools and photographs of early days in Ojai.

The Ojai Valley Museum Research Library houses archives including historical journals that chronicle the events of early to contemporary Ojai Valley activities.

Admission as of August 2017 is $5 for adults, $1 for children 6 to 18 and 5 and under free. Open Tuesday through Sunday with guided tours.

Regular hours are 10am to 4pm Tuesday through Saturday and noon to 4pm on Sunday.

FREE admission the third Friday of each month from 5:30-7:30pm (as of August 2017).

For more information, visit www.ojaivalleymuseum.org or call 805.640.1390.

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Hiking in the North Ranch Open Space in Thousand Oaks

The North Open Space is represented by several massive sections of nearly 2,600 acres located in the east side of Thousand Oaks. There is a section east of Erbes Road to Westlake Boulevard down to Hillcrest Drive on the west side (this area is referred to as the Hillcrest Open Space Preserve) as well as a section further east bounded by Westlake Boulevard on the west, Lindero Canyon Road on the east and Thousand Oaks Boulevard on south.

These hills are beautiful and quite prominent from throughout the Conejo Valley. Hiking, running and cycling these hills can be a challenge as they are quite steep in most sections.

A main trailhead into the North Ranch Open Space is on Bowfield Street, just east of the North Rancho Playfields. The trail is called the Saddle Pass Trail, winding up and down the hills south towards Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

There are various other neighborhood trail entry points throughout the vast area. One of these is located at Canyon Oaks Park, 6200 Hedgewall Drive, Westlake Village. There's a walkway and a small bridge that leads to a quite intense looking path up the hill. And indeed, it is a very steep path. Definitely not for everyone. This is a path into the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency maintained Bowfield/Saddle Pass Trail.

Small COSCA sign at the bottom of the steep hill from Canyon Oaks Park leading into the North Ranch Open Space.

Small COSCA sign at the bottom of the steep hill from Canyon Oaks Park leading into the North Ranch Open Space.

A view of Canyon Oaks Park from about a third of the way up the hill.

A view of Canyon Oaks Park from about a third of the way up the hill.

There are roughly 3 or 4 miles of trails up here, mostly the Saddle Pass north/south trail but other connector trails to nearby neighborhoods, such as the townhome complex on Via Colinas above Thousand Oaks Blvd and the new Westlake Village Community Park and YMCA.

These hills get quite dry and hot during the summer months but in the spring green up nicely. You may even get the opportunity to enjoy some wildflowers.

Orange beauties can often be seen in the March time frame off the Saddle Pass trail south section.

Orange beauties can often be seen in the March time frame off the Saddle Pass trail south section.

Here's another section of trail that connects from the homes off of Via Colinas into the North Ranch Open Space. Yes, most of these connector trails are quite steep, though generally well maintained at least!

Here's another section of trail that connects from the homes off of Via Colinas into the North Ranch Open Space. Yes, most of these connector trails are quite steep, though generally well maintained at least!

Enjoy your hiking!

Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Camarillo

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Studio Channel Islands Art Center (SCIART) is a non-profit organization that provides the community with a cultural hub for working artists with over 20 studios, first-class art exhibitions of both local as well as national artists in our convenient gallery, Meet The Artist programs, docent tours and workshops for all ages. All of the above is offered free of charge to students. SCIART offers participants from elementary to high school, from university level to active seniors, creative learning experiences along with the opportunity to build self-esteem and strengthen bonds with the community.

SCIART was created by a visionary group of local artists in Ventura County, concurrent with the development of California State University Channel Islands, in Camarillo.

Art lovers and enthusiasts of all ages are invited to join in educational classes and workshops, and many special events such as tours and openings that are offered throughout the year by local, national and international artists.

The SCIART gallery as well as artists' studios are located at 2222 Ventura Boulevard, Camarillo. Visit www.studiochannelislands.org or call 805.383.1368 for more information and hours of operation.

FREE FIRST SATURDAYS! Spend the first Saturday of the month exploring the studios from 11am to 4pm. Admission and parking are free of charge. As many as 40 of the area's best artists welcome visitors into their studios to watch them create sculptures, paintings and multimedia pieces, up-close and personal. 

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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 1350 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 Thursday of each month. crpd.org/parkfac/dogpark

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A bit brown at the Conejo Creek Dog Park due to the impact of the drought. But there are grassy sections too

A bit brown at the Conejo Creek Dog Park due to the impact of the drought. But there are grassy sections too

Additionally, Conejo Recreation and Park District opened three smaller off-leash area dog parks in 2015 at Estella Park, 300 Erbes Road, Thousand Oaks, Kimber Park, 3295 Bear Creek Road, Newbury Park and Walnut Grove Park, 400 Windtree Avenue, Thousand Oaks. More details at crpd.org/parkfac/dogpark.

Westlake Village

The first dog park in Westlake Village was approved by city council in April 2016 and is slated for construction in 2017 at Oak Crest Drive and Agoura Road.

Camarillo

The Friends of Camarillo Dog Parks is a volunteer organization that looks out for the needs of pooches and their owners in the Camarillo area. Learn more at www.camarillodogparks.com. They work with the Pleasant Valley Recreation and Park District to support dog parks in the city, which include:

Mission Oaks Park at 5501 Mission Oaks Boulevard has a designated off-leash area open the following time frames: Monday - Friday: 4pm-Dusk; Saturday - Sunday: Dawn-Dusk. Learn more at www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/mission_oaks_park.asp.

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Camarillo Grove Park at 6968 E. Camarillo Springs Road has a dedicated dog park that is open daily from 7:30am to dusk. The entire park is also an off leash park Mon-Fri. On Sat/Sun, dogs are allowed off-leash only in the enclosed dog park area and on the trails until 10am. www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/grove.asp

The Springville Dog Park opened in September 2012 at 801 Via Zamora, Camarillo. Open 7 am to dusk daily; closed Fri mornings until 10:00 am for lawn maintenance.  www.pvrpd.org/parks/dog/springville.asp

Simi Valley

The Simi Dog Park at 2151 Lost Canyons Drive is open daily from 7 am to dusk and is closed for maintenance on Thursdays from 7 am to 10 am. There's a separate area for large and small dogs. To get to the dog park, enter through Big Sky Park. www.rsrpd.org/simi_valley/parks/simi_dog_park.php

Oak Park

The Oak Canyon Dog Park is located towards the top of Oak Canyon Community Park, 5600 Hollytree Drive. Open 7 am to dusk daily; closed 7 am to 10 am Fridays for maintenance. There are areas for large and small dogs. www.rsrpd.org/oak_park/parks/oak_canyon_dog_park.php

A view from above of the nicely appointed Oak Canyon Dog Park in Oak Park

A view from above of the nicely appointed Oak Canyon Dog Park in Oak Park

Ojai

The County of Ventura maintains the Mitchell Edelson Dog Park at Soule Park, 1301 Soule Park Road, Ojai. Open at 7:30 am daily and closes at 5 pm Nov-Feb, 6 pm Mar and Oct, 7:30 pm Apr, May, Sep and 8 pm Jun-Aug. Parking is $2 per vehicle on weekday; $4 on weekends/holidays. There are areas for larger dogs and dogs under 20 lbs. www.ventura.org/gsa/parks/mitchell-edelson-dog-park-at-soule-park

Oxnard

There is a designated dog park at College Park, 3250 South Rose Avenue, Oxnard. It is open 7 am to dusk daily. An additional dog park is at Campus Park at 5th and H Streets. Also open dawn to dusk daily.

Ventura

There is a non-gated off-leash dog park area at Arroyo Verde Park at the corner of Foothill and Day Roads in Ventura. It is available for off-leash use Tuesday through Sunday from 6 am to 9 am. 

There's a fenced in dog park at Camino Real Park at Dean Drive and Varsity Street in Ventura. Open every day from dawn to dusk.

Calabasas

The Calabasas "Bark Park" is located at 4232 Las Virgenes Road. Open 5 am to 9 pm daily. www.cityofcalabasas.com/recreation/barkpark.html

View of the Calabasas Bark Park from the Bark Park Trail

View of the Calabasas Bark Park from the Bark Park Trail

Mugu Peak in Point Mugu State Park

The 1,266 foot elevation Mugu Peak is at the western edge of the Santa Monica Mountains, in Point Mugu State Park. The peak provides views stretching from the Malibu Lagoon/Naval Base Ventura County and Channel Islands on the west, Thornhill Broome Beach on the east, La Jolla Valley on the north and more.

There are multiple ways of getting to the peak. The most direct (and albeit steepest) ascent is via the Chumash Trail, accessible across from the Naval Base shooting range (yes, sometimes you will hear rounds). The Chumash Trail is accessible off of PCH at this link. Look for the left turn into a small dirt parking area that has space for perhaps 15 or so cars.

The 7/10ths of a mile hike up the Chumash Trail is pretty brutal, but I've seen all shapes, sizes and ages making it up at varying paces.

Turn left after reaching the top of the Chumash Trail. Veering left continues the Chumash Trail towards La Jolla Valley. Veer right up the really steep hill for the most direct route to Mugu Peak.

Turn left after reaching the top of the Chumash Trail. Veering left continues the Chumash Trail towards La Jolla Valley. Veer right up the really steep hill for the most direct route to Mugu Peak.

The initial Mugu Peak Trail section is quite steep, then you plateau, then the remainder is more moderate, seen above.

The initial Mugu Peak Trail section is quite steep, then you plateau, then the remainder is more moderate, seen above.

The Mugu Lagoon within Naval Base Ventura County is a colorful sight from throughout the hike and at the top of Mugu Peak.

The Mugu Lagoon within Naval Base Ventura County is a colorful sight from throughout the hike and at the top of Mugu Peak.

Looking northwest from Mugu Peak you will see the the 1,421 foot Laguna Peak, which contains a Naval satellite tracking station.

Looking northwest from Mugu Peak you will see the the 1,421 foot Laguna Peak, which contains a Naval satellite tracking station.

Views southeast with Thornhill Broome Beach in the background.

Views southeast with Thornhill Broome Beach in the background.

So you've reached the top of Mugu Peak, enjoyed the panoramic views, saluted the flag on display, checked out the toolbox under the flag with logbooks and other items, the next choice is, do you go back the way you came or do you take another route? If you head back the direction you came, the title mileage of the hike is about 2 1/2 miles of mostly steep up/downhills.

Well, if you continue in the direction of Thornhill Broome Beach (southeast), you can continue on the Mugu Peak Trail, which is several miles traversing around the southern, then western sections of Mugu Peak. This is my preferred approach as the footing is much easier and your total mileage is roughly 4 miles. Plus, you are treated to additional views that are just beautiful.

Map snippet courtesy of California State Parks.

Map snippet courtesy of California State Parks.

Another view of Thornhill Broome Beach and the large sand dune across PCH from the southeastern edge of the Mugu Peak Trail.

Another view of Thornhill Broome Beach and the large sand dune across PCH from the southeastern edge of the Mugu Peak Trail.

You can also get to Mugu Peak from the La Jolla Canyon Loop Trail.