Sycamore Cove Beach in Point Mugu

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Sycamore Cove Beach is located at 9000 Pacific Coast Highway in Point Mugu. The beach is one of the closest and easiest to get to from the Conejo Valley and Camarillo via Las Posas and PCH.

 Sycamore Cove Beach in the background. Sycamore Canyon Campground entrance on left.

Sycamore Cove Beach in the background. Sycamore Canyon Campground entrance on left.

The beach is popular with families looking to barbecue and enjoy quick and easy access to the beach. There are also porta-johns and restrooms available. Very limited parking on PCH (read the signs carefully as you don't want to get ticketed) but plenty of paid parking available (generally $12 to $14 for the day).

 A view of Sycamore Cove Beach from the south.

A view of Sycamore Cove Beach from the south.

On the northwest end of the beach you can walk underneath PCH to the other side of PCH, where Sycamore Canyon Campground is located. From there, you can take Sycamore Canyon up to Newbury Park (about eight miles).

Due north of Sycamore Cove Beach is Thornhill Broome Beach/Campground, which along with Sycamore Cove and Sycamore Canyon is part of Point Mugu State Park. Across from Thornhill Broome is the large sand dune that makes for some fun climbing.

 The humongous sand dune walking distance from Sycamore Cove.

The humongous sand dune walking distance from Sycamore Cove.

Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=630 for more information.

Sycamore to the Sea Hike, Run or Bike From Newbury Park to Sycamore Cove

Did you know that you can walk, hike, run or bike from Newbury Park to the ocean over 8 1/4 miles pretty easily, without dealing with automobiles? Park your car at the Wendy and Potrero trailhead or at the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa parking lot at Point Mugu State Park in Newbury Park and experience it yourself.

 The entry to the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area.

The entry to the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area.

 The   Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center   is a short walk from the parking lot.

The Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center is a short walk from the parking lot.

 From there, take the paved road, called the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, towards the ocean.

From there, take the paved road, called the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, towards the ocean.

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This is a nice, wide paved road with trails along the side much of the way. Generally cool in the early morning year-round as you head towards the ocean, plenty of rest/pit stop areas on the way down and nice and peaceful and beautiful, full of canyons, trees and wildlife (of course, the Springs Fire of 2013 took a major toll on the area, but it has largely grown back as of spring 2018).

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The steepest descent on this course is a roughly 800 foot drop over a 3/4 of a mile into the canyon on the paved road after you see this sign. Coming back up if you do the full round-trip circuit is a bit of a challenge.

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After you drop into the canyon, it is pretty much smooth sailing. The paved road stops right around the Danielson Multi-Use area (see image below for that juncture). After that, follow the wide, dirt fire road towards the beach.

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There are numerous water spigots on the side of the road going down, which comes in quite handy on warmer days. If you use them, just make sure to turn them off.

 About 3/4ths of the way down to the beach, you'll pass one of the most picturesque locations for a porta-john that I've ever seen.

About 3/4ths of the way down to the beach, you'll pass one of the most picturesque locations for a porta-john that I've ever seen.

A few miles after passing the above porta-john, you'll reach the Sycamore Canyon Campground, which has 58 campsites and is across Pacific Coast Highway from the ocean. Cross over PCH (be careful!) or find the underpass that takes you under PCH to the Sycamore Cove Beach area, with picnic tables, bathrooms, etc., and enjoy your day!

 Sycamore Cove Beach in Point Mugu

Sycamore Cove Beach in Point Mugu

From there, you either head back up or call your significant other to pick you up. Or perhaps plan it out in the morning to leave one car at the beach, drive another car back (obviously you can't do this alone), park the 2nd car at Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa, hike/walk/bike down the canyon to retrieve car #1. Or do what I did once, which was drive down to Sycamore Cove via Potrero Road/Las Posas/PCH, park the car, run (or perhaps ride) up to Newbury Park, then ride down with the kids and enjoy the beach. Fun! 

For a map of the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area with a portion of the Big Sycamore Canyon Trail, visit www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/upload/RSV-2-12.pdf (National Park Service pdf brochure).

Santa Barbara Bowl

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The Santa Barbara Bowl, located at 1122 N. Milpas Street, Santa Barbara, was originally built in 1936 and today with its capacity of nearly 4,600 people (4,974 for general admission standing) is the largest outdoor amphitheater in Santa Barbara County.

The Bowl is a beautiful outdoor setting with views of the ocean and the city. 

It offers top notch acts on a year-round basis. Taking a look at the schedule in July 2016, I see Bonnie Raitt, Steve Martin & Martin Short, Journey, Dolly Parton, Jackson Browne, Amy Schumer, Blink 182, The Who (yes, the real band), Ryan Adams, Van Morrison and more. In July 2018, I see the Steve Miller Band and Peter Frampton, Jack White, David Byrne, Jason Mraz, Alanis Morissette, Sting and more.

The parking lot utilized by the Bowl for patrons is located at Santa Barbara High School, less than 200 yards away from the venue. A short climb beside stone masonry walls through a beautiful glen with old oak trees leads to the amphitheater. Due to the historic design of the Santa Barbara Bowl, it is recommended that all patrons arrive early- 90 minutes before scheduled start of concert- to ensure ease and comfort of parking and entry to venue.

For more information and to buy tickets visit www.sbbowl.com or call 805.962.7411.

 Nice views from the Santa Barbara Bowl too!

Nice views from the Santa Barbara Bowl too!

Museum of Ventura County in Downtown Ventura

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The Museum of Ventura County is the most comprehensive resource for local history in the county.  There are exhibitions, galleries, and an extensive research library with over 140,000 books, newspaper clippings, photographs, maps and other historical materials.

The museum is open from 11am to 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday.  General admission (as of August 2018) is $5 for adults $3 for seniors (62+), students (with ID), $1 for children ages 6 to 17. Kids 5 and under are free. Located at 100 E. Main Street, Ventura.

Free admission the 1st Sunday of each month with a kids arts/crafts activity usually from 1-3pm.

For more information, visit www.venturamuseum.org or call 805.653.0323.

LEARN ABOUT THE MUSEUM'S AGRICULTURE MUSEUM IN SANTA PAULA

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The 3,500 sq ft river-rock walled, state-of-the-art Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Event Pavilion is used for lectures, programs and a variety of Museum events. It can seat 200 for dinner, with the option to tent the front plaza for an additional 140 guests. Could be a great wedding reception venue!!

Beaches Spanning From Carpinteria Through Ventura County to Malibu

My kids and I love going to the beach but for many years we seemed to go to the same ones all the time. So I stopped by the Automobile Club and asked them if they had a brochure on all the local area beaches open to the public. They shrugged their shoulders and said no such guidebook existed. They handed me a fold out map, which was of no use to me as I wanted to know exactly how to get to these beaches, if they have restrooms, parking, etc.

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Then I started searching around for information and found bits and pieces in various locations that were marginally useful. So I decided to consolidate this information into one place where I could find out about where to go to the beach around Ventura County on up the coast to Carpinteria and Santa Barbara and down to Malibu. So I hope you find the following links helpful in finding local area beaches in Ventura County and surrounding areas!

Carpinteria to Ventura

Oxnard to Malibu

Santa Barbara Area Beaches

This took a lot of time to compile over 60 local area beach areas, so I truly hope you benefit from these lists! So enjoy and provide feedback if you have comments and/or additional information.

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 At Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu.

At Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu.

 Windsurfers at Surfers' Point in Ventura.

Windsurfers at Surfers' Point in Ventura.

Rincon Beach Park at the Ventura/Santa Barbara County Line

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Rincon Beach Park is near the Ventura/Santa Barbara County line just a few miles east of Carpinteria. Just take the Bates Avenue offramp off the 101 Freeway. Take Bates to the ocean and on the right you'll find plenty of free parking and easy beach access, with picnic tables and restrooms.

If you make a left turn off of Bates, there's a separate parking lot for Rincon Point, part of Carpinteria State Beach, one of the most popular surf destinations in the world. There are a couple of restrooms on this side also, albeit not particularly pleasant ones to use.

Campfires are not allowed on the beach.

To learn more about Rincon Beach Park or to reserve the picnic table, visit www.countyofsb.org/parks/parks02.aspx?id=8078 or call 805.568.2465.

 Views from the picnic area at Rincon Beach Park

Views from the picnic area at Rincon Beach Park

 This sign always makes for great conversation starters at Rincon Beach Park

This sign always makes for great conversation starters at Rincon Beach Park

Point Mugu State Park

Point Mugu State Park is located in the Santa Monica Mountains, stretching from Newbury Park on the north to five miles of ocean shoreline on the south. The park includes 14,000 acres of land with over 70 miles of trails popular with hikers, cyclists and runners.  It is truly an amazing place, with rocky peaks that include the prominent Boney Mountain State Wilderness that looks over the western Conejo Valley.

 The sign in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park indicating you are entering State-managed Point Mugu State Park.

The sign in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa in Newbury Park indicating you are entering State-managed Point Mugu State Park.

You can actually hike, run or bike from Newbury Park, from the Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa area managed by the National Park Service down to the ocean via Sycamore Canyon "Sycamore to the Sea," which is about an 8 mile trip one way. But do be aware - the initial 800 foot drop from Rancho Sierra Vista into the canyon via Big Sycamore Canyon Road is a bit more challenging coming back up.

 The paved hill drops into the canyon via Sycamore Canyon Fire Road.

The paved hill drops into the canyon via Sycamore Canyon Fire Road.

There are four main canyons in Point Mugu State Park. Sycamore Canyon is perhaps the most well known, stretching practically the entire north/south length of the park, where at the bottom of the canyon you'll find the 58 space Sycamore Canyon Campground at 9000 W. Pacific Coast Highway (make reservations at ReserveCalifornia.com).

 The Sycamore Canyon Campground connects to the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, which is your access point to a day of fun and adventure in Point Mugu State Park trails.

The Sycamore Canyon Campground connects to the Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, which is your access point to a day of fun and adventure in Point Mugu State Park trails.

The La Jolla Valley Natural Preserve is on the western side of the park, with a main access point near Thornhill Broome State Beach at the Ray Miller Trailhead to the La Jolla Canyon Trail which connects with the Loop Trail. Another access point to La Jolla Valley is the Chumash Trail trailhead, a rocky, steep trail across from Point Mugu Beach. La Jolla Valley was purchased by the State of California in 1966 and was established as a Natural Preserve in 1972.

Wood Canyon is in the northwest section of the park, where you will find the north/south running Wood Canyon Fire Road, which connects to the Guadalasca Trail, among others.

Serrano Valley is accessible from the south off the Big Sycamore Canyon Fire Road/Trail about a mile north of the beach. A beautiful, serene, area, with a connection to the Old Boney Trail that takes you to the Danielson Monument in the Boney Mountain Wilderness.

The main beach areas in Point Mugu State Park, running southeast to northwest, are Sycamore Cove, Thornhill Broome and Point Mugu. Sycamore Cove is a fun day-use park popular with families for gatherings with BBQ grills and picnic tables. Learn more about beaches in the Malibu area at this link.

 This is the PCH overpass where on low tide you can walk underneath here to get from Sycamore Cove Beach to Sycamore Canyon Campgrounds and hiking in Point Mugu State Park. In higher tides, this area can be dicey, so be careful.

This is the PCH overpass where on low tide you can walk underneath here to get from Sycamore Cove Beach to Sycamore Canyon Campgrounds and hiking in Point Mugu State Park. In higher tides, this area can be dicey, so be careful.

If you are looking for beachfront camping, try Thornhill Broome Beach, with just over 60 spots available for RVs and tents. No hookups here and only porta-johns available, but can't beat the views! And across the street you can't miss the Giant Sand Dune!

Day use parking at the various sites is available for $12. There is very minimal street parking at Sycamore Cove but plenty of street parking adjacent to Thornhill Broome Beach.

Dogs on a leash are allowed in the Park's day use areas, campgrounds and beaches. Dogs are not allowed on the back country trails or dirt roads.

Keep driving northwest on PCH and you'll past the famous Mugu Rock and see Pt. Mugu Beach, which also has day use parking, with some parking on PCH. Learn more at the California State Parks website at www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=630.

 Mugu Rock up ahead, driving north on PCH from Thornhill Broome.

Mugu Rock up ahead, driving north on PCH from Thornhill Broome.

Lastly, let's cover some of the highest peaks in Point Mugu State Park. The Boney Mountain Wilderness Area, ever so prominent from the Conejo Valley, is located in the Park. But Boney Peak itself, at 2828 feet, is actually in the Circle X Ranch area managed by the National Park Service, along with Sandstone Peak, the highest spot in the Santa Monica Mountains at 3111 feet.

 Boney Mountain range overlooks the western Conejo Valley.

Boney Mountain range overlooks the western Conejo Valley.

Other peaks include Tri Peaks at 3010 feet, Laguna Peak (the peak which has equipment from Naval Base Ventura County below), La Jolla Peak and Mugu Peak

 Map of Point Mugu State Park courtesy of National Park Service.

Map of Point Mugu State Park courtesy of National Park Service.

Grant Park / Serra Cross Park in Ventura

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NOTE: Grant Park was devastated by the Thomas Fire of December 2017 and is closed to the public as a result.

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For some of the most spectacular views of Ventura you can ask for, stop by Grant Park / Serra Cross Park off of Ferro Drive in Ventura. Grant Park is a 107 acre park of mostly open space. Serra Cross Park is located at Grant Park. It is a one acre parcel that contains the wooden cross shown below.

The land and cross were sold to San Buenaventura Heritage, Inc. in 2003 in order to maintain the historic cross, which was placed on this spot in 1941 to replace the previous cross that was erected in 1912.

Visit www.serracrosspark.org to learn more about Serra Cross Park.

Get there via Brakey Road to the left side of Ventura City Hall or Ferro Drive off of Cedar Street. There are no restrooms, playground, drinking fountains, etc. at this park.

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Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

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The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at the Santa Barbara Waterfront Center and is a beautiful, high tech facility. The mission of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is to preserve and celebrate the maritime heritage of the California Coast and present it to the public in an interesting and exciting way.

Exhibits include boat models, surfing artifacts, historic Goleta cannons, interactive environmental displays, rescue and emergency equipment, fishing and diving technology, shipwreck displays, a children's gallery and more. 

My young boys particularly enjoyed 3 things at the museum - the interactive fishing game (combines a video game with an actual fishing pole as you attempt to catch a variety of virtual fish), the kids computer area and the U.S. Navy periscope exhibit. The periscope is interesting for all ages because it is an actual, working example from a submarine that they've set up so that you can check out 360 degree scenes around Santa Barbara.

The museum is bright, packed with numerous items and has a large video viewing room upstairs. Go check it out!

The museum is located at 113 Harbor Way Suite 190, Santa Barbara. Open from 10am to 5pm Thu/Fri/Sat/Mon/Tue and 9am to 3pm Sat (closed Wed). Admission (as of August 2018) is $8 for adults (18 to 64), $5 for seniors 65+, kids 6 to 17 and students (with ID). Under age 6 is free of charge. Active military is free. 

More information at www.sbmm.org or call 805.962.8404.

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California Sycamore Tree - Historic Landmark in Newbury Park

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This extremely large and old California Sycamore tree was designated as a Ventura County Historic Landmark (#44) on May 1st, 1978.  The City of Thousand Oaks historical marker (see picture to the right) says the tree is over 250 years old.  It is believed that the Chumash Indians bent the lower branches to mark the location of groundwater.

This beautiful tree is located in the Stagecoach Inn Museum and complex at 51 South Ventu Park Road.  Park at the Stagecoach Inn parking lot and walk your way down the pathway to visit the tree, an Indian house and other old structures.

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The Woolworth Museum in Downtown Oxnard

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What is believed to be the only Woolworth Museum in the world is located in the Woolworth Building (circa 1950) at 210 West Fourth Street, Oxnard (4th and A Streets). This small, unique museum contains all sorts of nostalgia associated with the F. W. Woolworth Company, one of the original "five and dime" stores. Woolworth closed its stores in 1997.

The Woolworth Building is a 16,800 square foot building completed in 1950 that was completely redeveloped in 2003. It is now occupied by office tenants.

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Many of the old items in the museum exemplify what Woolworths used to sell. Other items relate directly to this building and the people who worked there, including two managers and a woman who worked here on the first day that the store opened in 1950. There are souvenirs from the Woolworth Building in New York, which was the tallest building in the world when completed in 1913.

There is a collection of books related to the Woolworth stores. There are several items from old lunch counters, including dishes and menus, as well as some items that relate directly to the pivotal civil rights sit-in that took place at a Woolworth lunch counter in 1960.

Photos of various Woolworth stores from 1878 through the 1960s are seen throughout the building. There is a working antique dial pay-phone, a take-your-own photo booth from the 1940s and games and vending machines from the 1930s through the 1960s.

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There is a vintage cash register, like those found in most stores in the 60's and 70's, displayed so visitors can push down "No Sale" so that the cash-drawer pops open with the familiar ch-ching, bell ringing and all, and the wooden drawer can be examined and closed.

Also seen is a 1959 Cavalier 96 Coke machine, which dispenses ice cold vintage coke bottles...at a not quite as vintage price of $1.25.

So stop by sometime! Just walk in. No attendants and no entrance fees. The museum is typically open from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 2:30 pm on Saturday.

For more information and pictures, visit www.thewoolworthbuilding.com (not functional as of 8/6/18).

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 Throwback time seen in the men's room

Throwback time seen in the men's room

The Promenade at Westlake

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Located at the southeast corner of Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard, The Promenade at Westlake is an architecturally appealing outdoor mall that has an assortment of things to do, including two large fountains, a koi pond and the Cinepolis movie theater.

 One of two fountains at The Promenade at Westlake.

One of two fountains at The Promenade at Westlake.

Restaurants include The Grill on the Alley, Marmalade Cafe, Farfalla Trattoria, Champagne French Bistro, Kreation Organic, Fresh Brothers, Lemonade and Paul Martin's American Grill. Shake Shack will be opening at the former Public School 805 soon.

Other stores include Cost Plus World Market, See's Candies, Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream and a variety of clothing and specialty stores, including Restoration Hardware, Brandy Glanville, Intermix, Lululemon Athletica, Sephora, Sharon Segal / Nina Segal the closet, Chico's, Vintage Grocers and more.

Lots of outdoor seating around the fountain area outside of Barnes and Noble.  There is usually live music on Friday/Saturday nights during the summer months.

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The Promenade at Westlake is the sister mall of the similarly appointed The Commons at Calabasas

The Promenade is located at 100 Promenade Way, Westlake Village (southeast corner of Westlake and Thousand Oaks Boulevards).  Visit www.ShopPromenade.com or call 805.497.9861 for more information.

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 1.2 acre Westlake Village Dog Park opened to the public on July 21, 2018. The park features small and large dog areas, shade shelter with seating, pet wash stations and more. Located at the southwest corner of West Oak Crest Drive and Agoura Road. On street parking available.

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