Agoura Hills Recreation and Event Center

The Agoura Hills Recreation and Event Center is a 21,000 sq. ft. multi-purpose facility located at 29900 Ladyface Court. It opened its doors in January 2015.

The center includes a rentable 3,500 sq ft event center, kitchen, beautiful patio area with outstanding views and more.

The Center hosts a wide variety of activities throughout the year and can be rented for private functions like weddings and meetings. The facility has dedicated space for senior programs as well as a teen center, "The Garage."

Lastly, there is quite a neat little interpretative play area next to the facility with a Santa Monica Mountains Recreation Area theme, including a Rattlesnake Seating Wall, Mountain Lion Climber, Bobcat Climber and Hawk Track Ride.

Albertson Motorway Fire Road Trail in Thousand Oaks

The Albertson Motorway is a fire road and public trail that is accessible in the Lang Ranch Open Space in Thousand Oaks. The trailhead is at the east end of Lang Ranch Parkway. Street parking is available on Lang Ranch Parkway. This is a residential area, so be mindful of the neighbors.

The Albertson Motorway trailhead at the east end of Lang Ranch Parkway in Thousand Oaks.

The Albertson Motorway trailhead at the east end of Lang Ranch Parkway in Thousand Oaks.

Given this is a fire road, it is mostly wide, flat and hilly, taking you upwards and eastbound towards the Palo Comado/Cheeseboro Canyons, Las Virgenes Canyons and Ahmanson Ranch. The views are outstanding and get better the higher you go up. You'll see Simi Valley, Bard Reservoir, Thousand Oaks and beyond.

As you meander on the trail, stay towards the right to stick with the fire road. In the first mile and half, there will be several opportunities to veer left onto trails that take you up north towards the Autumn Ridge Trail in the Lang Ranch Open Space, which can be done as a loop (more details at www.cosf.org/website/html/autumn-ridge-to-albertson-loop.html). The Albertson fire road is more of an "out and back" trail where you can reach a particular destination, then turn back.

You will go towards a fairly short section of the trail that is not a fire road, but more of a single track area, for perhaps .2 mile. A fun little section for hikers, quite different than the rest of the trail. 

This is the section of Albertson Motorway not accessible to the public.

This is the section of Albertson Motorway not accessible to the public.

You'll eventually pass through a gate and about a mile and a half from there you will reach a point where you can take a right-hand turn (south) towards China Flat and Simi Peak. Along the way, there are two benches for taking in the view towards the Simi Hills.

You will eventually pass through this gate.

You will eventually pass through this gate.

Bench #1 on Albertson Motorway trail.

Bench #1 on Albertson Motorway trail.

Bench #2 on Albertson Motorway trail.

Bench #2 on Albertson Motorway trail.

The turnoff for Palo Comado/China Flat/Simi Peak is about 2 1/2 miles into the hike. There's a trail on the right. Hard to miss., then you'll see this sign.

Transition to Palo Comado Canyon Trail

Transition to Palo Comado Canyon Trail

If you continue past the transition to Palo Comado Canyon Trail, Albertson Fire Road continues on for awhile as you can see in the map below.

Albertson Fire Road Trail from China Flat turnoff area. (Courtesy National Park Service)

View of Bard Reservoir from Albertson Motorway Fire Road.

View of Bard Reservoir from Albertson Motorway Fire Road.

Ventura Botanical Gardens Demonstration Trail

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 beheind Ventura City Hall, located at 501 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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Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail in Point Mugu State Park

The Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail is a 1.3 mile trail connects to the bottom of steep Sycamore Canyon Fire Road on the west to the Danielson Road trail on the east.

Sign at top of Sycamore Canyon Road before the descent into the canyon.

Sign at top of Sycamore Canyon Road before the descent into the canyon.

The trail goes deep into the canyon and can get quite overgrown, especially after solid winter rains. But it is an interesting hike and alternative to other trails that take you to "The Waterfall" in the Boney Mountain Wilderness. Bike and dogs are not allowed on these back country trails. Watch out of course for poison oak and snakes.

The "Narrow Bridge" sign marks the bottom of the steep initial grade down Sycamore Canyon Fire Road. You'll cross the bridge, then see the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail entry to the left.

The "Narrow Bridge" sign marks the bottom of the steep initial grade down Sycamore Canyon Fire Road. You'll cross the bridge, then see the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail entry to the left.

After you enter the west end of the Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail, within about a 1/10th of a mile is the entry point to the Fossil Trail, a very steep trail that leads up to the Old Boney Trail. 

Inside the canyon, looking west, towards the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road.

Inside the canyon, looking west, towards the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road.

After the substantial rains of Winter 2017, a creek has been flowing through this canyon and has caused some obstacles and overgrown sections of the trail. Do wear good hiking shoes.

Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail (Map excerpt courtesy of National Park Service)

Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail (Map excerpt courtesy of National Park Service)

Danielson Road sign you will see at the east end of Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail, Now you can head back up towards Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa to the left or go the The Waterfall and/or Danielson Monument.

Danielson Road sign you will see at the east end of Upper Sycamore Canyon Trail, Now you can head back up towards Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa to the left or go the The Waterfall and/or Danielson Monument.

Ventura River Trail

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The Ventura River Trail is a 6.3 mile asphalt pedestrian and bike path that follows the old Southern Pacific Railroad right-of-way from Main Street in Ventura to Foster Park inland towards Ojai. The path, originally opened in 1999, connects the Ojai Valley Trail to the Omer Rains Trail along the beachfront for 17 miles of great bicycling. The trail is open dawn to dusk.

Much of the Ventura River Trail parallels Ojai Freeway 33 and as such is also referred to as the Ojai Valley Trail Extension. Here are the various access points from south to north:

OK, so now for some commentary. This is not exactly the most exciting bike path in the world. You are paralleling Highway 33 and are kind of off the beaten path in an industrial area, but it is a peaceful path. Also, there are several stops you need to make as you cross streets, so your kids (and you) do need to be aware of that. You won't find an ocean view on this path.  But...it is never crowded, quite flat and a great way to get out on the bikes away, for the most part, from automobiles.

One of the more interesting, albeit somewhat creepy scenes along the path is this dormant USA Petroleum Refinery that was closed in 1984 after operating less than 10 years.  A bit of an eyesore this 96 acre, barbed wire fence enclosed section on the north end of the trail is. In the past there have been homeless encampments in the vicinity, but I've never seen them.

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What I like to do is park in the free city parking lot near the Omer Rains Trail at the corner of W. Main St and Peking St, then take Main St a block east to N. Olive St, turn left (north) to Rex St. Take a left on Rex to the bike path entrance.

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Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center

The Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center is a fun, engaging, interactive marine education facility located on Stearns Wharf. The Sea Center fulfills the mission of the Museum to inspire a passion for the natural world.

This is a not a huge museum but is worth a stop by with the kids every now and then. There's a shark tank where you can interact with and pet the sharks and other sea life, a 1,500 gallon tidepool tank and various other displays such as an octopus, moray eel, jellyfish, etc. There's also an area of where they dredge up sand and sea life from below and let you sift through it, looking for interesting things under easy to use microscopes.

Make a day of it in Santa Barbara, have lunch, stop by the carousel at Chase Palm Park, ride bikes along the beach, shop and eat on State Street, etc.

The Sea Center is located at 211 Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara and is open daily between 10:00 AM to 5:00 PM and closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve (at Noon), Christmas Day, and New Year's Day. As of April 2017, admission is $8.50 for adults, $7.50 for seniors (65+) and teens (13-17) and $6 for children (2-12). Or purchase a family membership at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History and get in FREE anytime you want to both museums! 

For more info visit www.sbnature.org/seacenter or call 805.962.2526.

Albinger Archaeological Museum in Ventura

The Albinger Archaeological Museum, located at 113 E. Main Street in Ventura, is reopening its doors to the public this summer 2017 from June 17 through September 3, on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission to the museum is free.

Named after Ventura Mayor from 1969 to 1973, Albert R. Albinger, the museum is built on the home site of saloonkeeper and early mayor Angel Escondon and displays artifacts spanning 3,500 years of Ventura history encompassing five different cultures (Chumash, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese and circa 1850 U.S.) from a single archaeological site next to San Buenaventura Mission.

In 1973 the buildings which stood at the museum's location were demolished as part of the Mission Plaza Urban Redevelopment Project. Archaeological testing suggested the existence of rich cultural remains beneath the soil. The Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Buenaventura authorized intensive archaeological investigations and during the summers of 1974 and 1975 archaeological excavations uncovered more than 30,000 artifacts. Each artifact was carefully cleaned, numbered, cataloged and studied. In order to protect and preserve this part of the City’s heritage, the property was withdrawn from the redevelopment project. In 1975 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Ventura Mission Historic District. In January 1980 the City of San Buenaventura opened the Albinger Archaeological Museum. 

Displays of stone bowls, a tomol (plank canoe reproduction), shell beads, arrowheads, bone whistles, crucifixes, bottles, buttons and pottery inside the exhibit building are complemented outside by excavations of the foundations of the lost Mission church, Native American barracks, well and the oldest standing structure in Ventura, the mission water filtration building.

More information at www.cityofventura.net/albinger.

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 January 2016.) Pets are not allowed. Event is held rain or shine! Parking is $5.

Upcoming Dates as of 4/12/17:

  • April 23, 2017
  • June 4, 2017
  • September 24, 2017
  • November 5, 2017

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

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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 Women’s, Macy’s Men’s & Home, JCPenney, The Apple Store, Coach, Banana Republic, 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, Bogart’s at the AMC (formerly Muvico) Theater, Blue Stove at Nordstrom, De-Lite-Ful Lo Carb, Urban Plates, Chipotle and PizzaRev

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 Dine-In Thousand Oaks 14 (formerly Muvico) and adjacent restaurants.

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

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 www.cosf.org/website/html/wildwood.html.

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.

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Chumash Indian Museum / Oakbrook Regional Park

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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 and $3.00 for children under 12. There is no charge to walk the trails in Oakbrook Regional 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.chumashindianmuseum.org or 805.492.8076.

To protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed here.

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Sycamore Canyon Campground in Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park is located at 9000 W. Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, offering a variety of beach, hiking and camping opportunities.

The Sycamore Canyon Campground is north of PCH, offering 58 tent/RV spaces along with drinking water, restrooms, showers and fire rings. There are also 4 tent spaces available for "Hike and Bike" campers. Pets are allowed on leash in the campground. Fees as of April 2017 are $45/night and $10/night for Hike and Bike spots. Visit ReserveAmerica.com at THIS LINK to make reservations.

This campground is across the street from Sycamore Cove Beach, also part of Point Mugu State Park and just around the corner from the Thornhill Broome Campsites on the beach, the giant sand dune across from Thornhill Broome, and Mugu Rock.

Sycamore Canyon has trails galore to explore, going all the way up, eight miles, to Newbury Park, if you so choose. Located just steps from the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road trailhead is the "Scenic Trail," a moderate trail with some steps that gets you to stunning views of everything mentioned above - beaches, Mugu Rock, sand dune, etc.

The Scenic Trail connects with the Overlook Fire Road, which continues on and eventually connects with the top of the Ray Miller Trail, then on towards the La Jolla Valley. It is lush and stunning when green in late winter/early spring. It gets pretty brown and dry up here towards last spring, summer and fall months. But the great views towards the Pacific never change.