Train Rides at Griffith Park

Griffith Park & Southern Railroad

The Griffith Park & Southern Railroad has operated almost continuously since 1948.  GP&S Railroad, 4400 Crystal Springs Drive, Los Angeles (near Los Feliz and Riverside) and Travel Town Railroad, 5200 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles, Forest Lawn exit from the 134 Fwy.) are open 364 days a year, closing only on Christmas Day.

If your kids are Thomas the Tank Engine fans, then this is a no-brainer half day excursion.  We visited GP&S over a Memorial Day weekend and the kids could not get enough of the 1 mile mini-train ride, traveling over 2 bridges, a tunnel and a mini-Western town.

Travel Town is a 3/8ths of a mile track that does 2 loops, so you do get 1/4 of a mile more ride for your money on the GP&S track.  Both rides are $2.75 per person as of March 2018 ($2.25 for seniors over age 65). GP&S also has a simulator ride, pony rides and concession stands.  Travel Town also has a railroad equipment history museum as well as dozens of old-time railroad locomotive and cars.

For more information, visit or call 323.664.6903 (GP&S) or 323.662.9678.

Pics and vid from a trip to Travel Town in April 2011.


Olivas Adobe Historical Park - Ventura


The Olivas Adobe Historical Park is operated by the City of Ventura and serviced by the Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreters. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is State Historical Landmark No. 115.

The Adobe represents a superb example of a large home from the Rancho Period prior to California statehood in 1849. The home was started in 1847 and completed in 1849 through the efforts of local Chumash people, and occupied by Don Raymundo, his wife Teodora, and their 21 children until 1899.

Ultimately, the City of Ventura received the adobe and a large land parcel from the Max Fleischman Foundation that included 450 acres that extended from the Olivas Adobe to the ocean, where the Olivas Golf Course, the San Buenaventura Water Reclamation Facility and the Harbor are now located. The Park includes exhibits, extensive gardens, and the restored adobe buildings.

The Olivas Adobe is also available for weddings, receptions, fiestas and special events.

The Park is located at 4200 Olivas Park Drive in Ventura.  Grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends. Free admission. Costumed docent-led tours of the house take place on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (tour tickets are $5 for adults $3 for children under 12 and seniors and free to under 4). For more information, visit or call 805.658.4728.


Triunfo Creek Park in Westlake Village

Owned and maintained by the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, 600-acre Triunfo Creek Park in Westlake Village/Agoura provides deep oak woodland, native grasslands and blankets of wildflowers in the springtime. The main feature of the park, the Pentachaeta Trail, is named after the Pentachaeta lyonii, a federally-listed endangered flower found in the park. The yellow, daisy-like flower is found only in Southern California, and blooms between April and June.


An informational kiosk at the trailhead interprets the Pentachaeta lyonii, as well as other unusual wildflowers found on the site such as the Chocolate Lily, and the White Globe Lily. The site also provides access to hiking trails on the Westlake Vista parcel, also owned and managed by the Conservancy.

 Pentachaeta Trail to the east. Westlake Vista Trail towards the Las Virgenes Reservoir on the west.

Pentachaeta Trail to the east. Westlake Vista Trail towards the Las Virgenes Reservoir on the west.

 Pretty flowers off the Pentachaetta Trail in March 2016.

Pretty flowers off the Pentachaetta Trail in March 2016.

 Views from Westlake Vista Trail towards, well, but of course, Westlake Village

Views from Westlake Vista Trail towards, well, but of course, Westlake Village

 Las Virgenes Reservoir in close proximity to Westlake Vista Trail (but surrounded by a fence, so don't get your hopes up!)

Las Virgenes Reservoir in close proximity to Westlake Vista Trail (but surrounded by a fence, so don't get your hopes up!)

The Westlake Vista Trail takes you to a fence that encloses the Las Virgenes Reservoir, where you may be treated to sounds of birds and other wildlife. Find the trail that parallels the fence up the mountain and you will be treated to gorgeous views of the area down to Westlake Lake and beyond and the Santa Monica Mountains to the south.

 Views towards Westlake Lake from the Westlake Vista Trail.

Views towards Westlake Lake from the Westlake Vista Trail.

Directions: The main trailhead with kiosk is on Triunfo Canyon Road east of the southern terminus of Lindero Canyon Road. There are a small number of off-pavement parking spots there. The other end of the trail is at the west end of Triunfo Canyon Road about 1.5 miles west of Kanan Road.

Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Westlake Village exit Lindero Canyon Road. Take Lindero south to Triunfo Canyon Road. Turn left. The trailhead is located opposite Oak Forest Mobile Home.

Visit for more information.

 Map courtesy of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy at  THIS LINK . (Note that Truinfo is a typo on map; actual spelling is Triunfo.)

Map courtesy of Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy at THIS LINK. (Note that Truinfo is a typo on map; actual spelling is Triunfo.)

 Demolished car sitting near Westlake Vista Trail.

Demolished car sitting near Westlake Vista Trail.

Santa Barbara Museum of Art


The Santa Barbara Museum of Art was established in June 1941 at 1130 State Street, in a building that housed the Santa Barbara Post Office from 1914 to 1932. The Museum has been expanded to 60,000 sq ft over the years, including exhibition galleries, Museum store, cafe, a 154-seat auditorium, a library containing 50,000 books and 55,000 slides, a children’s gallery dedicated to participatory interactive programming and an 11,500 sq ft off-site facility, the Ridley-Tree Education Center at McCormick House.

As one of the leading art museums on the West Coast, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art serves a diverse audience of approximately 150,000 people annually. The Museum offers a wide variety of educational and interpretive programs.

The Museum strengths lie in the following areas: Ancient Art, Asian Art (Chinese, Japanese, Indian and Tibetan), French and English 19th and early 20th Century Art, 19th and early 20th Century American Art, International Modernism, Works on Paper, Photography and Contemporary Art.

The Museum provides 40 art education programs to over 40,000 people annually. These include academic, outreach and after school programs for K-12th grade students, activities and events for families, classes for college students and lifelong learning opportunities for adults and seniors. In addition, the Museum regularly organizes and hosts lectures, symposia, film series and focused gallery tours for the Museum’s major exhibitions.

Hours of operation are Tuesday through Sunday, 11am to 5pm; FREE Thursday evening admission from 5-8PM! Admission (as of March 2018) is $10 for adults and $6 for seniors, students with ID and children under 6. Free to Museum members.


Visit or call 805.963.4364 for more information.

Los Robles Trail West "Space Mountain"

"Space Mountain" is not the "official" name of the Los Robles Trail heading west from the South Moorpark Road and Greenmeadow Avenue in Thousand Oaks trail access point but this mostly single track trail was affectionately named after the Disneyland ride due to its switchbacks and twists and turns to the top, where you will be rewarded with outstanding views of the Conejo Valley and beyond. These trails are particularly popular with mountain bikers who enjoy the rocky, single track trails, as well as hikers and runners.

From the main trailhead, go west just under 1/2 mile and you'll see the fork in the road where you can go east or west. Go west, young man (or woman).


After making your way up the hill to the right, you'll go down a hill to another fork in the road, where you can either veer slightly right to to the Spring Canyon Trail, which takes you about a mile to the Ventu Park area of Newbury Park. Veer to the left to continue on the Los Robles Trail West.


Only 4.7 miles from this juncture is the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa National Park area in Newbury Park. Some challenging miles for sure, but fun!


This section of the Los Robles Trail is mostly single track although some sections you can walk two-wide (though you'd best not do so, as there are many mountain bikes on these trails). Good to be aware of others on the trail.

I've attempted from time to time to count the number of switchbacks on my way up to the top of Space Mountain and back down and come up with something in the neighborhood of 8 to 10 of them. This is not a stroller friendly trail as it is steep, with plenty or rocks jutting out. An easy trail to twist your ankle if you're not careful.

 A photo of a section of the Los Robles Trail West up Space Mountain.

A photo of a section of the Los Robles Trail West up Space Mountain.

It is roughly 3 miles to the top, where you will find one bench directly on the trail, facing a very short path to a viewing area with another bench.

 Bench on the trail at the top of "Space Mountain" on the Los Robles Trail.

Bench on the trail at the top of "Space Mountain" on the Los Robles Trail.

 The viewing bench at the very top of Space Mountain.

The viewing bench at the very top of Space Mountain.

All told, this is roughly about 3.5 miles each way, or 7 miles round trip.

 Los Robles Trail sign at the top of Space Mountain.

Los Robles Trail sign at the top of Space Mountain.

Views from the top of Space Mountain looking west toward the Conejo Grade.

Los Robles Trail sign at the top of Space MountainViews from the top of Space Mountain looking west toward the Conejo GradeAnd as mentioned above, you can continue west on the Los Robles Trail west into Newbury Park. Portions of the trail go through privately owned land, which the owner has generously made available for public trail be sure to treat the trail with respect!


And last but not least, a view of the single track trail heading towards Newbury Park, where you will eventually connect with the Angel Vista Peak trail.

 Single track with awesome, continuous views as you continue west into Newbury Park.

Single track with awesome, continuous views as you continue west into Newbury Park.

Toastmasters Clubs in Ventura County


Established in 1924, Toastmasters International is a world leader at helping people become more competent and comfortable in front of an audience. The nonprofit has over 332,000 members in 15,400 clubs around the world, offering a proven, fun way to practice and hone communication and leadership skills.

Most meetings are comprised of approximately 20 people who meet weekly for an hour or two. Participants practice and learn skills by filling a meeting role, ranging from giving a prepared speech or an impromptu one to serving as timer, evaluator or grammarian.  There is no instructor; instead, each speech and meeting is critiqued by a member in a positive manner, focusing on what was done right and what could be improved.

There are over 80 local Toastmasters clubs throughout Ventura County. They meet on different days of the week in various locations, in the morning, during the day or at night.

First step is to find a local club.  There is a search function at that allows you to search for a club by zip code, by meeting day and by meeting time. 

Here is just a sampling of some of the 80+ local Toastmasters clubs in Ventura County and adjacent areas:

Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum


A local must-see is the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, located at 40 Presidential Drive, Simi Valley.  With sweeping hilltop views of the surrounding valleys, this 153,000 sq ft museum on 100 acres is incredible and quite interesting for all ages.  A wealth of memorabilia and artifacts from throughout Reagan's life is on display at the museum.


In February 2011, over 26,000 sq ft of new exhibits and dozens of interactive displays spanning Reagan's life were introduced.  There are 24 galleries that pay tribute to our 40th President's life. You can act in a movie with Reagan, deliver his inaugural address with a teleprompter, set the table for a state dinner, learn about his economic policies in interactive games, read his handwritten diary, ride a horse alongside Reagan at Rancho del Cielo, and much more. There is also a full-scale Oval Office replica and a 9 1/2 foot, 6,300 lb section of the Berlin Wall on display.

Volunteer docents are very friendly, helpful and extremely knowledgeable, they are there to help guide you through your visit and answer your questions.

Exhibits include: Intro Theater, Foundations of a Leader, GE Theater, Governor Years, Victory & Inauguration, Assassination Attempt, The Oval Office, First Lady, Berlin Wall, Rebuilding America, Threat Theater, Peace Through Strength, Summits, American Heroes, Ranch & Camp David, Post Presidency, Mourning Ronald Reagan, Legacy Theater, National Treasures Gallery, Mary Jane Wick Gallery (Special Exhibits) and the Air Force One Pavillion (1st Level: Marine One, 2nd Level: History of the Flying White House, Presidential Motorcade, 3rd Level: Flights of Freedom, Air Force One Theater, Board Air Force One). Outside is a decommissioned F-14 Tomcat, a replica of the White House Rose Garden, a piece of the Berlin Wall and President Reagan's Memorial Site.

The Air Force One Pavilion opened in October 2005.  It features the actual Air Force One aircraft used from 1973 to 2001 and you can walk through aircraft when you visit the museum.  There are also motorcade vehicles, helicopter and other items on display. 

In addition to the permanent exhibits discussed above, there are always temporary exhibits on display. Check out the museum's website for details.

Dine at the Reagan Library! Reagan's Country Cafe offers panoramic views and is open to the public from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily, 7 days a week. You can access the cafe without entering the Museum. The Ronald Reagan Pub is located inside the Air Force One Pavilion and offers drinks and prepackaged sandwiches and other items.

The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Parking is free of charge. Admission costs vary based on the special exhibit on hand. Tickets for museum admission during the Genghis Khan exhibit 2/16/18 to 8/19/18 are $25 for ages 18 to 61, $22 ages 62+, $18 ages 11 to 17 and $15 for ages 3 to 10. Children 2 and under are free. Active U.S. Military with ID are also FREE. More information at or by calling 805.577.4000.

Channel Islands Maritime Museum

The Channel Islands Maritime Museum (formerly known as Ventura County Maritime Museum) is a cultural and scenic haven in the Channel Islands Harbor complete with world class maritime art, ship models and ocean breezes. It opened in 1991 as an independent, not-for-profit public benefit corporation funded by members, friends, charitable foundations and businesses.

In Summer 2012, the museum moved across the harbor to 3900 Bluefin Circle, Oxnard (off of 3900 Harbor Boulevard).

The museum is open Thursday to Monday from 10 AM to 4 PM (noon to 4pm on Sunday) except Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day. Admission is $7 for adults, $5 for seniors (62+) and $3 for children ages 6 to 17 (free ages 5 and under) as of February 2018. Admission is free the 3rd Thursday of each month.

The Channel Islands Maritime Museum is home to a permanent collection of extensive marine art, featuring works by the Dutch and Flemish painters, 17th century artists Willem van de Velde and Bonaventura Peeters. Noted modern artists in the collection include John Stobart, Montague Dawson, David Thimgan, Roy Cross and Christopher Blossom.

The museum also houses one of the two largest collections of antique Napoleonic prisoner of war sailing ship models in the US. Three thousand years of maritime history are illustrated by historic ship models, including the life's work of renowned builder Edward Marple. Exhibits on whaling, sailors' arts, the history of the Channel Islands Harbor and Port of Hueneme round out the collection.


In my many visits to the museum, I have been very impressed by how knowledgeable the docents were about the contents of the museum! I learned a lot and was amazed at the collection of nearly 100 intricate ship models on display going back hundreds of years. I was also pleased to see docents take the time to engage my kids in some of the exhibits.


The Museum welcomes about 25,000 visitors annually. The Elementary Education Program, staffed entirely by volunteers, conducts in-house tours for thousands of elementary school students each year. The At Sea Education program supports three day youth sailing expeditions on board working tall ships.

For more information, including current exhibits and upcoming museum events, visit or call 805.984.6260.

Ventura Flea Market - Ventura County Fairgrounds


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 2/14/18:

  • February 25, 2018
  • April 15, 2018
  • June 3, 2018
  • September 30, 2018
  • November 18, 2018

Visit or call 323.560.SHOW (7469) for more information.


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 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.

Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum and Botanical Garden in Camarillo

The Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum and Botanical Garden at 720 Las Posas Road in Camarillo is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Pleasant Valley, the Oxnard Plain and adjacent areas where many of Camarillo’s pioneers settled before there was a City of Camarillo. Admission is free. Donations are accepted. The Museum and Garden are open from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, except holidays.


The museum is located in a small building on the property which contains a variety of antiques and items of local historical interest. Resident docents are genuinely interested in sharing stories about local history in the facility. I can almost guarantee you will learn something new every time you visit!

 Old items and newspaper clippings from years past on display.

Old items and newspaper clippings from years past on display.

The Charles L. Honn Botanical Garden, associated with the Historical Museum and located behind it, is a beautiful park-like area that features plants and trees indigenous to the Pleasant Valley and the surrounding region. The garden includes a large gazebo that is available as a breathtaking setting for weddings, anniversaries and similar functions. Kitchen facilities are available. Donations are accepted for use of the garden/gazebo.


Call 805.482.3660 or visit for more information.

 The Charles L. Honn Botanic Garden starts to brighten up after the winter rains.

The Charles L. Honn Botanic Garden starts to brighten up after the winter rains.

The Young Artists Ensemble - Thousand Oaks


Since 1981, talented kids between the ages of 10 to 19 have performed with The Young Artists Ensemble in Thousand Oaks.  Over 6,000 people attend YAE events each year and shows are all family friendly. YAE presents six or seven productions each year.

Performances take place at the Hillcrest Center for the Arts, 403 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks.  Phone is 805.381.2747.

For tickets, contact the box office at 805.381.1246 or visit

White Horse Canyon Trail in Westlake Village

The White Horse Canyon Trail trailhead is located off of Potrero Road, just east of the little bridge next to Vista Oaks Way. From Thousand Oaks/101 take Westlake Boulevard to Potrero Road, turn right, and the bridge is less than half a mile away. Park either in allowed spots on the opposite side of Potrero Road or in an adjacent neighborhood.

You walk into this gulley to get to the nondescript trailhead. In fact, I don't see signage that actually says White Horse Canyon Trail. But there is the following entry point that does make it clear:


The trail is really more like a fire road, wide, somewhat rocky, but not particularly difficult. The climb gets you up to some peaks that provide views of all the surrounding areas.

 Wide trail. Be aware that private residences are adjacent to the first portion of the trail.

Wide trail. Be aware that private residences are adjacent to the first portion of the trail.

Wide trail. Be aware that private residences are adjacent to the first portion of the trail.You can take the White Horse Canyon Trail to the Los Robles Trail and do a 6 mile loop back the start, or you can reach the first peak at about 1,300 ft, take in the views, and turn back, for about a 2 mile hike.


There's a nice little map showing a counter-clockwise loop from White Horse to Los Robles going east, looping back to White Horse. Visit

Folks often ask me if trails are stroller friendly or not. This one in my estimation is not particularly stroller friendly because the surface is often uneven, with many loose rocks and soft dirt at times. It is do-able but not one of the better trails for that my opinion.