Conejo Valley Botanic Garden - Thousand Oaks


The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is a 33 acre retreat of hiking trails and natural habitat adjacent to Conejo Community Park off of Lynn Road and Gainsborough. 

CVBG now offers plant sales (weather permitting) every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. featuring California native and drought tolerant plants. Reasonable prices! Enter at the Kids' Adventure Garden entrance (400 W. Gainsborough Road).

This is really a special place to bring the kids for low key hike.  There are numerous trails and a short walk/hike to the top of the mountain rewards you with sweeping views of the entire Conejo Valley, from Westlake Village to Thousand Oaks to Newbury Park.


Here is what you'll find at the CVBG:

  • The Nature Trail is 3/4 of a mile long and meanders above the creek through oaks and willows. This is a moderate trail.

  • The Little Loop Trail leads you above the creek, through chaparral and around a meadow.

  • The Native Plant Section and Lower Meadow feature southern and northern California plants.

  • Lillian's Meadow showcases perennials, shrubs and trees that thrive with minimal water.

  • The Salvia Garden delights hummingbirds and butterflies.

  • The Butterfly Garden is a safe haven that provides nectar and food sources for butterflies and caterpillars.

  • The Nursery houses workspace for the plant propagation team and hosts plant sales.

  • The Herb Garden exhibits an extensive and unusual collection of medicinal, kitchen and aromatic herbs.

  • The Bird Habitat has a fresh water source and is planted with native plants that provide year-round food source for birds.

  • The Australian Section features collection of plants from down under.

  • The Desert Garden hilltop landscape features cacti, succulents and desert trees and provides a panoramic view of the Conejo Valley.

  • The Rare Fruit Orchard holds an extensive collection of trees.

  • The Tranquility Garden is planted in the Japanese style featuring California native plants.

  • The Oak Tree Grove has many species of North American and other oak trees.

  • The Trail of Trees exhibits 50 trees with a variety of genera.

If you have small kids, they will love the Kids' Adventure Garden and treehouse, open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  They'll enjoy hiking through the trails and exploring the streams and bridges.

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is located at 400 West Gainsborough Road, Thousand Oaks.  For more information visit

Desert Garden at the top of the hill, featuring cacti, succulents, etc.

Desert Garden at the top of the hill, featuring cacti, succulents, etc.

Japanese style Tranquility Garden featuring native California plants

Japanese style Tranquility Garden featuring native California plants


Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks

The main entrance into the 1,765 acre Wildwood Park is at the corner of Avenida de los Arboles and Big Sky Drive in Thousand Oaks. The Chumash Indians lived in Wildwood Park for nearly 8,000 years, until the early 19th century, when the Spanish colonized California. Eventually the park became owned by the Janss Corporation, which sold it to the Conejo Recreation and Park District in 1967.

Main trailhead accessible from the parking lot at Ave de los Arboles and Big Sky

Main trailhead accessible from the parking lot at Ave de los Arboles and Big Sky

Wildwood Park is an extremely popular hiking and cycling spot and CRPD frequently hosts nature hikes there. The park has 14 trails covering 17 miles, including two year-round waterfalls, Paradise Falls and Little Falls.  Wildwood is known for its spring wildflower displays from January to June.

The park hosted a number of movie/TV productions in the 1930s to the 1960s, including Spartacus, Wuthering Heights, Wagon Train, The Rifleman and Gunsmoke.

Call the CRPD at 805.495.2163 for more information about the park. But for lots of detailed information about Wildwood Park, including trail maps and pictures, visit the Conejo Open Space Foundation website at

As far as facilities in the park, there are drinking fountains at the main parking lot as well as at the Teepee, at Paradise Fall and the two restroom areas in the park. One of the restrooms are located at Meadows Center, a small building located across the bridge that is adjacent to the short trail to the Indian Cave. CRPD often host short hikes from the main parking lot to Meadows Center for fun, games and s'mores.

Bridge over creek that connects Wildwood Canyon Trail to Meadows Center, which has restrooms and drinking fountain.

Bridge over creek that connects Wildwood Canyon Trail to Meadows Center, which has restrooms and drinking fountain.

The other restrooms are at the bottom of Wildwood Canyon. You can get there by taking the Tepee Trail roughly 1/2 mile to the bottom of the canyon, or alternatively from Paradise Falls about 1/4 mile down the Wildwood Canyon Trail. The Arroyo Conejo Creek runs down from Paradise Falls to here and is fun to explore (keeping in mind still that this is partially urban runoff and thus you don't want to play around in it too much).

Additional restrooms at the bottom of Wildwood Canyon.

Additional restrooms at the bottom of Wildwood Canyon.

Sign at Paradise Falls indicating this particular water is partially urban runoff and best not to swim in.

Sign at Paradise Falls indicating this particular water is partially urban runoff and best not to swim in.

Tepee Wildwood.JPG

Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu


Leo Carrillo State Park has 1.5 miles of beach for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing and beachcombing, as well as tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring. Giant sycamores shade the main campgrounds (though the campground was damaged by the Woolsey Fire of November 2018). The park also features back-country hiking.

Among the many great features of Leo Carrillo, the most engaging activity for me and the kids is the tidepools. They are exposed twice daily at low tide and provide hours of engagement with sea stars, anemones, mussels, sea slugs and more among the thousands of rocks on shore.

Nature walks and campfire programs are offered and a small visitor center has interpretive displays. During the summer, children's programs are available.

Trails include Yellow Hill Fire Trail for panoramic views of the beach and the Channel Islands, and the steeper Nicholas Flat Trail, which brings you to a pond.

A view from the Leo Carrillo bluffs as the clouds start rolling in.

A view from the Leo Carrillo bluffs as the clouds start rolling in.

There are 135 family campsites at Leo Carrillo with restrooms and token-operated showers (which accept ONLY one dollar bills...plan ahead). Visit and search for “Leo Carrillo SP” to make reservations.

The park was named after Leo Carrillo (1880-1961), actor, preservationist and conservationist. Leo Carrillo served on the California Beach and Parks commission for 18 years and was instrumental in the state's acquisition of the Hearst property at San Simeon. Leo's greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho, the sidekick to Duncan Renaldo's Cisco Kid, an early 1950's TV series.

Leo Carrillo State Park is located at 35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. The park office phone is 310.457.8143. Visit for more information.

Parking is currently $12 in the parking lot for the day (or $3 per hour)...but free on PCH if you can find a nearby spot. There is plenty of parking spots available in the lot. After you park, you can walk in a tunnel underneath PCH to get to the beach.

The muraled tunnel that takes you underneath PCH to Leo Carrillo Beach.

The muraled tunnel that takes you underneath PCH to Leo Carrillo Beach.

Dogs on a leash are allowed in the Park's day use areas, campground and north beach (north of lifeguard tower 3). Dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails or south beach (south of lifeguard tower 3).


The most direct way of getting to Leo Carrillo from the Conejo Valley is via Westlake Boulevard (CA-23) (aka Decker Canyon) south, which for some is a fun 14 mile drive, but for others, not so much. It is a bit winding, hilly, steep at many junctures. I take this route during daytime hours but coming home I'm not too keen on it. After getting to PCH, turn right and drive 2 1/2 miles to get to Leo Carrillo.

Another more popular, though less direct route is via Kanan Road. Either take Kanan Road straight down to PCH, turn right (west) on PCH about 9 miles to Leo Carrillo, or take Kanan to Encinal Canyon, which is about a 3 mile drive on PCH to Leo Carrillo.

Lastly, if you are in Newbury Park, you can take Potrero Road west to Las Posas down to PCH. In about 11 miles you will reach Leo Carrillo.

101 Escape Rooms in Westlake Village

101 Escape Rooms is located at 31139 Via Colinas #210, Westlake Village, across the street from the Four Seasons Westlake Village. Open 7 days a week. Offering interactive fun trying to escape from a room, using puzzles and clues. Current rooms (as of June 2019) include Starship Libra, Old Sparky and Altamira. Learn more at

Disc Golf in Ventura County


Looking for disc golf options in Ventura County? You’ve come to the right place. These are all available to the public, free of charge.

The newest disc golf option is at Sapwi Trails Community Park in Thousand Oaks. The course has 19 holes. Hole #1 is located off the parking lot on Avenida de los Arboles at Kensington Drive. The park and course opened in March 2019. and is managed by the Conejo Recreation and Park District (CRPD).

Rabbit Flats Disc Golf Course is located on the west end of Thousand Oaks Community Park, 2525 N. Moorpark Road (next to Thousand Oaks High School). This course opened to the public in May 2010. Park managed by CRPD.

Coyote Point Disc Golf Course is an 18 hole course located at Lake Casitas, 11311 Santa Ana Road, Ventura.

Chaparral Park, located at 217 N. Medea Creek Lane in Oak Park, has a newer 10 hole course. Course map at THIS LINK (that link also provides detailed instructions on how to play!). Park is managed by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District (RSRPD).

Also managed by RSRPD is a 12 hole disc Sycamore Park Disc Golf Course at Sycamore Park, 855 N. Planetree Avenue, Simi Valley. Detailed map and instructions at THIS LINK.

There is yet another disc golf course located at Sequoia Park, 2150 Tracy Avenue, Simi Valley. Also managed by RSRPD, this is a 9-hole course. Course map and instructions at THIS LINK.

Finally, there is a 9-hole disc golf course located at Lake Piru Recreation Area, 4780 Piru Canyon Road, Piru.

Boney Mountain Peak Hike From Newbury Park

At an elevation of 2,825 feet, the presence of Boney Peak (also known at Mount Boney), is felt throughout the Conejo Valley and surrounding areas. Want to climb it?


Well you can! It is challenging, but possible. Boney Mountain is located in the Santa Monica Mountains. One way to get to Boney Peak is via the Upper Canyon Trail from the Danielson Monument.

Danielson Monument

Danielson Monument

First off, hike your way up to the Danielson Monument, click this link for details. The monument is next to the remains of a burned down cabin shown below.

There is a trail that veers left next to the chimney. This is where you want to go. You're looking at a challenging 2 mile climb to Boney Peak. Most of the trail is narrow single track. There are some really steep, rocky sections, some with deep crevices, that may freak you out. You may have to duck your head from time to time. The trail is definitely challenging, both going up and coming back down. Definitely not for everyone.

The trail gets tight at times.

The trail gets tight at times.

The trail is not "officially" maintained by the National Park Service and thus there are NO SIGNS that say, hey, go this way to get to Boney Peak.  But I've seen plenty of people make it up there just fine as the path is fairly obvious. Just stay on the main trail.

After twists, turns, rocks, crevices and hills, the trail flattens out a bit near the top.

After twists, turns, rocks, crevices and hills, the trail flattens out a bit near the top.

One thing to note when you think you've reached the top. Look at the picture at the top of this post. To the left of the circled area is a large boulder. This is not the peak. There's a trail to the left behind it that you'll have to go up to get to the actual peak. Again, there are no signs. But you should be able to see the path pretty easily. You will be climbing some sheer rock face to get there. Can be slippery. And standing on the top of Boney can be both exhilarating and scary as hell! So be careful!

The final ascent to the top on sheer rock path.

The final ascent to the top on sheer rock path.

How long does it take to get from the trailhead at Wendy and Potrero and back? I'd allow for 4 to 5 hours if you are hiking. If you are a strong runner you can get up to it in as little as an hour (I'm talking top notch runner) to hour and a half, but you will only be able to "run" about half of the trail above the Danielson Monument. The rest is more of a technical hike in and around the rocks, boulders and crevices.

Here are some views you'll be treated to at the top.


Lake Piru Recreation Area

Lake Piru Recreation Area

The 60 acre Lake Piru Recreation Area is located on the western shore of Lake Piru, an artificial lake in the Los Padres National Forest. Lake Piru offers 238 tree-shaded campsites, coin-operated hot showers and a store. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and grill top.

The dam is owned and operated by the United Water Conservation District of Santa Paula and a third party operates the campsite; visit for more information. Boat rentals and fishing available as well as a newer children's playground area.  Make camping reservations by calling 805.521.1500.

Lake Piru in Summer 2015

The Ultimate Escape Rooms at Ventura Harbor Village

The Ultimate Escape Rooms are a recent addition to Ventura Harbor Village. There are four different themed rooms that a group of up to eight people are have to escape within a 60 minute time frame.

But how? The room is full of puzzles, riddles and props that the group must decipher to come up with the ultimate "code" to escape the room. Using the combined efforts of your group, you must review the clues and solve a series of puzzles to make your way out of there.

Yes, I have tried it with a group of 11 to 14 year old kids and we had a fun time trying to get out of there. Although we were unable to figure out the final piece to our puzzle, we enjoyed it. And don't worry...if the group needs clues, you can all raise your hands and you will be given a bit of help.

They do not allow you to bring personal belongings like cell phones into the rooms, but lockers are provided. 

The current room themes as of June 2019 are: The Wizard’s Lair, We Are All Mad Here, Mermaid’s Curse and The Attic. Pricing is $39 per person.

We tried "We Are All Mad Here." Quite an interesting assortment of items on display in the room. This was an experience that none of us have ever had and the kids and I worked together to ultimately fail to get out of the room...but succeed in having fun!

Learn more at

Excido Escape Room in Moorpark

Excido Escape Room at 6593 Collins Drive, Ste D 13, Moorpark is a live-action game where a group of up to 6 players are locked into a room and must find clues and solve a series of puzzles to find a way out. But don't worry, if you can't figure it out in 45 minutes, they do let you out of the room.

There are currently (June 2019) two room choices: "The Cabin,” “The Music Studio” and “Dr. Frankenstein’s Laboratory.”

Pricing is $30/person Thursday/Friday and $35/person Saturday/Sunday. Learn more at

Chumash Indian Museum / Oakbrook Regional Park

NOTE: Oakbrook Regional Park sustained fire damage and the replica Chumash village was completely lost in the Woolsey Fire of 2018. However, a majority of the oak trees survived. Trails are now back open to the public. Funds are being raised and volunteers are being sought at


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.


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


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 or 805.492.8076.

To protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed here.


Vista Del Mar Trail in Newbury Park

Trail access off of Via Ricardo in Newbury Park (Dos Vientos section).

Trail access off of Via Ricardo in Newbury Park (Dos Vientos section).

Other end of trailhead off of Via Ricardo.

Other end of trailhead off of Via Ricardo.

The Vista Del Mar Trail is about a mile to mile and a half long trail along the west side of the Dos Vientos residential development in Newbury Park that is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Foundation.

The trail can be accessed near the corner of Via Ricardo and Via Rincon (parking on Via Ricardo). The other end of the trail is near the corner of Rancho Dos Vientos and Via El Cerro (where there is no parking on Rancho Dos Vientos).

"Vista Del Mar" is Spanish for "View of the Sea" and while the overcast early morning photos below do not show it, on a clear day you will indeed be able to see down the Potrero Grade to the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. The Vista Del Mar trail also provides views to Camarillo and the Oxnard Plain.

The trail is nice and wide, good for walkers, runners and cyclists.

The trail is nice and wide, good for walkers, runners and cyclists.

The north section of the trail before intersecting with the Edison Fire Road Trail is where the "Twin Ponds" are. The image below of one of the ponds was taken after the Springs Fire of May 2013 ravaged the area. More on the Twin Ponds Conservation Area at this link.


The Twin Ponds are more easily accessed via the northeast Vista Del Mar trailhead near the corner of Via Ricardo and Via Rincon. About a mile.


About 1/4 mile into the trailhead from Via Ricardo, you'll reach this junction. Veer right to the single track public access trail, as the trail to the left is on private property.

Lone bench on the Vista Del Mol trail that has views to the Channel Islands on a clear day

Lone bench on the Vista Del Mol trail that has views to the Channel Islands on a clear day

The Vista Del Mar trail connects on the southeast to the Sierra Vista Trail, which in turn connects to the Potrero Ridge trail, with an endpoint on Reino Road.

Views from the Vista Del Mar Trail on a clear morning.

Views from the Vista Del Mar Trail on a clear morning.

Map courtesy of the Conejo Open Space Foundation

Map courtesy of the Conejo Open Space Foundation

America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College

Moorpark Teaching Zoo Sign

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 $9 for adults and $7 for kids and seniors (checks and cash only). Under age 2 is free.

Visit 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.

Disneyland Park in Anaheim

Everyone knows about Disneyland Park (originally called just Disneyland) in Anaheim, so here in this post we will summarize some key tidbits about this amusement park.

Disneyland Park and sister theme park Disneyland California Adventure together form Disneyland Resort, along with three hotels (Disneyland Hotel, Disney's Grand Californian Hotel & Spa and Disney's Paradise Pier Hotel) and Downtown Disney, an outdoor shopping and restaurant area connecting the theme parks and hotels.

Disneyland Park Sections (or "Lands")

Disneyland is divided into the following "lands," or themed sections: Main Street, U.S.A., Adventureland, New Orleans Square, Frontierland, Critter Country, Fantasyland, Mickey's Toontown and Tomorrowland.  Ground breaking for a new section, "Star Wars Land," began in April 2016. Star Wars Land will encompass 14 acres when completed at a future date.

The eight existing lands occupy 85 acres. The original lands when Disneyland opened on July 17, 1955 were Main Street U.S.A, Adventureland, Frontierland, Fantasyland and Tomorrowland. Later on came New Orleans Square (1966), Bear Country (later changed to Critter Country) in 1972 and Mickey's Toontown in 1993.

The "lost" land is Holidayland, which opened in 1957, a 9 acre area with a circus and baseball diamond, that closed in 1961. (Good to know this, trivia buffs!)

Disneyland Park Attractions by Land

Visit for updates on rides that are closed for renovation.

Opening May 31, 2019: Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: Millennium Falcon: Smugglers Run

  • 14 acre expansion of Disneyland

  • Opening later this year: Star Wars: Rise of the Resistance

  • Reservations required from May 31 to June 23, 2019

Main Street U.S.A: The Disney Gallery, Disney’s "Aladdin” Sneak Peak, Main Street Cinema and Main Street Vehicles (turn of the 20th century vehicles)

Adventureland: Enchanted Tiki Room, Indiana Jones Adventure, Jungle Cruise, Tarzan's Treehouse

Critter Country: Davy Crockett's Explorer Canoes, The Many Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Splash Mountain

Frontierland: Big Thunder Mountain Railroad, Frontierland Shootin' Expedition, Mark Twain Riverboat, Pirate's Lair on Tom Sawyer Island, Sailing Ship Columbia

  • Frontierland, representing the “Frontiers of America,” opened as on of five original lands on July 17, 1955.

  • Big Thunder Trail is a walkway between Frontierland and Fantasyland and also serves as one of the entrances to Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge.

  • Big Thunder Mountain Railroad’s 40th anniversary is September 2, 2019

  • Eateries in Frontierland include The Golden Horseshoe and Stage Door Cafe for quick service options and Rancho del Zocalo Restaurant (Mexican food) and River Belle Terrace (comfort food) for sit down and dine options.

Fantasyland: Alice in Wonderland, Casey Jr. Circus Train, Dumbo the Flying Elephant, King Arthur Carrousel (yes, this 1955 original ride is spelled with two r's), Mad Tea Party, Matterhorn Bobsleds, Mr. Toad's Wild Ride, Peter Pan's Flight, Pinocchio's Daring Journey, Sleeping Beauty Castle Walkthrough, Snow White's Scary Adventures, Storybook Land Canal Boats, “it's a small world”

Mickey's Toontown: Chip 'n Dale Treehouse, Donald's Boat, Gadget's Go Coaster, Goofy's Playhouse, Mickey's House and Meet Mickey, Minnie's House, Roger Rabbit's Car Toon Spin

New Orleans Square: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean

Tomorrowland: Astro Orbitor, Autopia, Buzz Lightyear Astro Blasters, Disneyland Monorail, Finding Nemo Submarine Voyage, Space Mountain Ghost Galaxy, Star Tours - The Adventures Continue, Star Wars Launch Bay, Star Wars: Path of the Jedi

Various Areas: Disneyland Railroad

Character Experiences and Live Entertainment

There are various opportunities to meet Disney characters throughout the park. Visit for details. And for live entertainment opportunities, visit


Retail pricing is as follows as of May 2019 and of course is subject to change:

  • 1-Day, 1 Park: Varies from $104 (Value) to $129 (Regular) to $149 (Peak) (For Ages 10+; Ages 3 to 9 are about $6 less per ticket)

  • 2-Day, 1 Park Per Day: $225 or Park Hopper $280

  • 3-Day, 1 Park Per day: $300 or Park Hopper $355

  • 4-Day, 1 Park Per Day: $325 or Park Hopper $380

  • 5-Day, 1 Park Per Day: $340 or Park Hopper $395

  • Annual Passports: There are 5 to choose from and they vary from $399 to $1,399 per year. The $1,399 Disney Signature Plus Passport gets you in to both park every day of the year.

  • One Day Parking: $25

Learn more at