Golf N' Stuff Ventura

For hours of amusement check out Golf N' Stuff off of Highway 101 in eastern Ventura. Golf N' Stuff features two 18-hole miniature golf courses, Indy style race cars (go-karts), bumper boats, bumper cars, laser tag and a large arcade. You must be 4' 8" tall to drive the go-karts and at least 4' tall to drive the bumper boats and bumper cars.

 The famous Golf N' Stuff Castle seen from Highway 101 in Ventura.

The famous Golf N' Stuff Castle seen from Highway 101 in Ventura.

Wow, talk about a fun venue for a kid's birthday party! Parties include pizza, cake, golf, rides, etc. Lots of things to do for everyone at Golf N' Stuff. The arcade is one of the largest around town.

Golf N' Stuff is open 365 days per year! Yes, it is even open Thanksgiving Day and Christmas Day! There is also a snack bar that serves an assortment of items, like mini pizzas, hot dogs and pretzels. Enough to provide plenty of carbs for your activities.

Sign up for their email club and receive periodic special deals, like 2 for 1 mini golf, etc. A no brainer. There are also printable coupons on the Golf N Stuff site at golfnstuff.com/ventura/coupons.html.

Golf N' Stuff is located at 5555 Walker Street, Ventura. More info at www.golfnstuff.com or call 805.644.7131.

Exit the 101 off Victoria, head North to Moon Drive, which turns into Walker, and turn left. The park is on the right hand side.

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Ventura Beach Bike Path

There's a bike path that takes you the entire length of San Buenaventura State Beach. Officially it is called the Omer Rains Trail, named after California State Senator Omer Rains, who served the Ventura County area from 1974 to 1983.

While I don't have the specific start-end points of the Omer Rains Trail, I do know that it's a lot of fun taking the bikes to Marina Park at the south end of San Buenaventura State Beach and taking the bike lane on Pierpont Blvd about a mile to where the beachfront bike path starts at the corner of Pierpont and San Pedro St.

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Great bike path along the beach in Ventura! Nice and flat with cool ocean breezes, with several restrooms available.

 Speaking of restrooms, I've always been a bit puzzled by these odd shaped ones at San Buenaventura State Beach.

Speaking of restrooms, I've always been a bit puzzled by these odd shaped ones at San Buenaventura State Beach.

From there, the two-lane bike meanders along the beach to the Ventura Pier and up the Ventura Promenade to Surfers' Point. On weekends it can get a little crowded around here with pedestrians, other cyclists and beachgoers, so do be careful.

 The bike path goes under the Ventura Pier.

The bike path goes under the Ventura Pier.

From Surfers' Point, you can continue taking the bike path north/northwest to Emma Wood State Beach, cycling around the Ventura Beach RV Resort, past the City of Ventura's Seaside Wilderness Park, then on up the coast. Or if you want, veer right on Main Street and make your way over to the Ventura River Trail that takes you up to Ojai.

 Northwest portion of Omer Rains Trail (Map courtesy of City of San Buenaventura)

Northwest portion of Omer Rains Trail (Map courtesy of City of San Buenaventura)

Or just turn back and enjoy the views, perhaps stopping and having lunch on a bench overlooking the ocean. Or make your way up to Downtown Ventura and have a bite. 

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 Ventura bike path headed south from Emma Wood State Beach towards Ventura Beach

Ventura bike path headed south from Emma Wood State Beach towards Ventura Beach

Ventura Harbor Village

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Ventura Harbor Village at 1583 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura is home to 33 acres of harborside activities, shopping and restaurants.  The weather is always so cool over there it makes for a nice retreat.

There is a 36 horse carousel and arcade for the kids and plenty of outdoor activities available like kayaking, sailing, pedal boats, sport-fishing and cruises. Ventura Harbor Village hosts events and activities year-round, including music performances, kids' activities, themed events, festivals and more.

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Eateries at Ventura Harbor Village include 805 Bar & Grilled Cheese, Alexander's, Andria's Seafood Restaurant, Surf N' Taco, Boatyard Pub, Brophy Bros. Restaurant and Clam Bar, Coastal Cone (ice cream shop), Coffee Dock & Post, Copa Cubana, Fratellis Pizza & Brew, Harbor Cove Cafe, Le Petit Cafe, Bakery & Restaurant, Margarita Villa Mexican, Rhumb Line, The Greek Mediterranean Steak & Seafood and The Parlor. You won't go hungry here.

The Channel Islands National Park Visitor Center is located adjacent to Ventura Harbor Village. Free admission and an awesome resource for learning more about the Channel Islands and its protected habitat.

Island Packers at the Harbor has numerous boat rides and is the only authorized concessionaire to transport folks to Channel Islands National Park. 

Ventura Boat Rentals rents out electric boats, paddle boats, kayaks, power boats and charters cruises in the Ventura Harbor.  So much fun to be had!

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Across the street from Ventura Harbor Village is beach access at Harbor Cove Beach (a safe beach protected by jetties) and Surfer's Knoll Beach. Local area beaches at THIS LINK.

More information at www.venturaharborvillage.com or call 805.642.8538 (or 877.89.HARBOR).

Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia at the Simi Valley Town Center

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The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10049 and Simi Valley Town Center host an impressive display at the Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia

Hundreds of military posters and historical artifacts are on display that were graciously provided by local veterans and collectors. Artifacts include old weapons, munitions, posters, newspapers, uniforms and much more. Several Vietnam Veterans were on hand, imparting stories and background information to us as we strolled around.

Hours are 11am to 4pm on weekends and noon to 3pm on Wednesdays. There is no admission fee, though donations are encouraged to support local veterans.

More info at www.vfwpost10049.com/museum.html.

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 Military Mule with armament (not live of course lol) on display.

Military Mule with armament (not live of course lol) on display.

The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks

The Oaks in Thousand Oaks is located between the 101 Freeway and Lynn Road at 350 West Hillcrest Avenue, running east to Wilbur Road. Originally constructed in 1978, the 1.3 million square foot shopping mall was renovated in 1993 and again in 2008. In total, there are over 170 stores and services at The Oaks.

Well known brands at The Oaks include Nordstrom, Macy’s, JCPenney, The Apple Store, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn, Williams Sonoma and J.Crew.

Restaurants include The Cheesecake Factory, STACKED Food Well Built, The Lazy Dog Café, Red Robin, Olive Garden, Urban Plates, Chipotle and PizzaRev as well as numerous options in the food court area.

The 2008 remodel brought a multi-level parking structure with over 1,300 parking spaces and digital signs that tell you how many spaces are available. There's a beautiful outdoor shops area on the east side of the mall that leads to AMC Thousand Oaks 14 and adjacent restaurants.

For more information, visit www.shoptheoaksmall.com or call 805.495.2032.

Color Me Mine Thousand Oaks

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Color Me Mine is a ceramic painting studio where you drop by anytime and select from over 400 ceramic pieces to design and paint. . For the price of a studio fee and the item you choose to paint, you can paint all day using 60+ colors and supplies! They glaze and fire your work in a kiln and your work of art will be available in 5 to 7 days.

The Thousand Oaks Color Me Mine location is at the Paseo Market Square in Thousand Oaks at 3707 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard, near Al Mulino Eatalia and The Melting Pot.

More information at thousandoaks.colormemine.com.

Color Me Mine Ceramics Studio in Calabasas

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Are you looking for a creative way to spend quality time with the ones you love? Paint ceramics with your friends and family at Color Me Mine at 23641 Calabasas Road, Calabasas! Pick from hundreds of ceramic pieces for kids, the kitchen, bath, pets and more. Design and paint them any way you like. We have over 70 underglaze colors to choose from. Not an artist? Not to worry! We have talented and friendly staff to help you. We'll fire your one-of-a-kind ceramic masterpiece for you to take home and enjoy.  More information at www.calabasas.colormemine.com or call 818.222.4922.

Color Me Mine Paint Your Own Ceramics Studio in Oxnard

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Are you looking for a creative way to spend quality time with the ones you love? Paint ceramics with your friends and family at Color Me Mine Paint Your Own Ceramics Studio located at The Collection at Riverpark, at 2710 Portico Way, Oxnard!

Color Me Mine is a ceramic painting studio where you drop by anytime and paint a pre-made bisque pieces. For the price of a studio fee and the item you choose to paint, you can paint all day using 60+ colors and supplies! They then glaze and fire your work in a kiln and your work of art will be available in 5 to 7 days.

In addition to a vast array of tableware, painters can select from a variety of vases, frames, jewelry boxes, figurines, and more!

More information at www.oxnard.colormemine.com or call 805.981.8631.

As You Wish Pottery Painting Place in Simi Valley

As You Wish Pottery Painting Place is located at the Simi Valley Town Center. This is a large, nicely appointment ceramics/painting studio where you select a piece of pottery off the shelves, paint it and a few days later pick up your beautiful, glazed work of art!

Great place for birthday parties, team building, family nights, fundraising and more. Visit www.asyouwishpottery.com or call 805.520.9500 for more information. Open seven days a week.

Red Brick Art Gallery and School in Ventura

Red Brick Art is a fine art gallery located at 4601 Telephone Rd #112, Ventura with a strong focus on art classes as well as free events and cultural outreach.

Exhibits change change bi-monthly and feature the work of talented artists who host workshops at the studio. Artists of all mediums are represented including a wide variety of glass art (fused, blown, cracked and mosaic), clay, stone, metal, mixed media, wood, photography and all forms of painting. 

Classes for adults and youth are offered each weekend for beginning and intermediate students. Adult classes include photography, Photoshop, watercolor painting, pastel, acryllic painting and mosaics.

Additionally, painting parties are offered both at the Red Brick Studio (these classes do not include wine) as well as at local tasting rooms "Paint and Sip" events like Four Brix Winery, Sunland Vintage Winery and Aldabella Custom Crush.

Learn more at redbrickart.com.

Clay Studio + Gallery in Thousand Oaks

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Clay Studio + Gallery in Thousand Oaks is an art gallery and studio. The gallery sells artwork created by owners Esther Granata Alinejad and Mohammad R. Alinejad. The studio offers ceramics classes in wheel throwing and hand building for all levels. The studio also offers classes for adults and children, specialized workshops, camps, parties, teambuilding sessions and more.

Visit www.claystudioandgallery.com for more information.

Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls in Malibu

 Trailhead on Winding Way

Trailhead on Winding Way

The Edward Albert Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls is located off of Winding Way in Malibu.  It also also referred to as Escondido Falls.

The most unique aspect to Escondido Falls is that it is home to the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains at over 150 feet, making it a wonderful place to visit. 

That said, in drought years, there is often no sign of waterfall, other than a sparse trickle into Escondido Canyon Creek. But even when that is the case, this is a wonderful, moderate hike, good for all ages. 

To get to Escondido Falls from the Conejo Valley/101, take Kanan south to PCH and turn left. You'll be driving just under 2 miles, past Paradise Cove, to the small parking lot on Winding Way and PCH. Turn left onto Winding Way and an immediate left into the parking lot. There's a sign; you can't miss it. The lot has spaces for only around 16 vehicles; it is full, you'll have to find a spot on PCH and make you way from there...but be careful and watch for the plentiful "no parking" signs on PCH.

(NOTE: Recently - summer 2018 time frame - an $8 per car parking fee was initiated at this parking lot. It takes both cash and credit cards. Parking fees contribute to the ongoing maintenance of the trails, including porta potty cleanings, graffiti and trash removal and partial staffing.)

 The parking area is on Winding Way and PCH. The initial section of the hike is along Winding Way is called the Winding Way Trail.

The parking area is on Winding Way and PCH. The initial section of the hike is along Winding Way is called the Winding Way Trail.

The hike is about 4 miles round trip and can be done in as fast as an hour (if you speed walk and don't hang out) or for most, a couple hours.

The first 8/10ths of a mile is along Winding Way to the trailhead. It has a moderate hill but is not that bad. Near the peak of the initial hill, you will need to cross from the left side of the street to the right side as you make your way up. There are signs that ask that you walk on the dirt trail rather than on the street, so try to abide by that. You will be treated to views of beautiful homes and ocean views along this portion of your trek.

After a short final downhill section, you'll reach the trailhead. After an initial left turn that takes you briefly west, most of the rest of the trail to Escondido Falls is a northeast to northerly direction. You'll be treated to lush oak woodlands and greenery year-round.  

 Much of the trail looks like this; canopied by oaks and shrub.

Much of the trail looks like this; canopied by oaks and shrub.

Hikers, equestrians and bikers are all welcome on the trail. Dogs too, on leash of course. I have not seen bikers on this trail, however. There are no restrooms, other than a porta-john at the parking lot. No drinking fountains, so bring water. There are trash cans at the trailhead. 

The waterfall is a treat to see but the rest of the hike is quite nice too, largely shaded and not too hilly or technical. There is a net elevation gain from 150' at the trailhead to 325' at the Falls over about a mile, which is not bad.

After the rainy season, you may have to cross the creek a few times as it criss-crosses the trail. There are a couple forks in the road where you may wonder which way to go. Generally speaking, turn left on your way to the falls and that will get you there.

 Believe it or not, this is the end of the trail, where the waterfall flows after the rainy season. In late August pictured here, there is a dribble of water flowing into the creek.

Believe it or not, this is the end of the trail, where the waterfall flows after the rainy season. In late August pictured here, there is a dribble of water flowing into the creek.

The parkland ends at the multi-tiered waterfall area and the trail basically ends. Except, there are paths that can get you to the upper falls. Technically you are not supposed to do this because you are no longer on public land, not to mention you are literally rock climbing your way up there and it can be dangerous. But (shame on me) yes, we did check it out and wow is it neat to see, even when there is zero water flow.

This is a fun, family-friendly hike that is worth a try. Quite popular, one could argue, too popular, on weekends.

 There's one side trail to the east that will give you views of the waterfall when it is flowing. The white-ish area in the upper right hand of this photo is where the waterfall resides.

There's one side trail to the east that will give you views of the waterfall when it is flowing. The white-ish area in the upper right hand of this photo is where the waterfall resides.

Why is it named after Edward Albert? Well, Edward Albert is the only son of actor Eddie Albert, well known for his role on TV sitcom "Green Acres." Edward died at age 55 in 2006. Prior to his death, he was a tireless advocate for preserving Escondido Canyon. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy named the area in honor of him several months prior to his death. (1)

Escondido Canyon Park map at THIS LINK. Visit the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy site at www.lamountains.com/parks.asp?parkid=12.

(1) Los Angeles Times obituary dated 9/27/06 at this link.