Hiking in the North Ranch Open Space in Thousand Oaks

The North Open Space is represented by several massive sections of nearly 2,600 acres located in the east side of Thousand Oaks. There is a section east of Erbes Road to Westlake Boulevard down to Hillcrest Drive on the west side (this area is referred to as the Hillcrest Open Space Preserve) as well as a section further east bounded by Westlake Boulevard on the west, Lindero Canyon Road on the east and Thousand Oaks Boulevard on south.

These hills are beautiful and quite prominent from throughout the Conejo Valley. Hiking, running and cycling these hills can be a challenge as they are quite steep in most sections.

A main trailhead into the North Ranch Open Space is on Bowfield Street, just east of the North Rancho Playfields. The trail is called the Saddle Pass Trail, winding up and down the hills south towards Thousand Oaks Boulevard.

There are various other neighborhood trail entry points throughout the vast area. One of these is located at Canyon Oaks Park, 6200 Hedgewall Drive, Westlake Village. There's a walkway and a small bridge that leads to a quite intense looking path up the hill. And indeed, it is a very steep path. Definitely not for everyone. This is a path into the Bowfield/Saddle Pass Trail, which is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Conservation Agency.

 Small COSCA sign at the bottom of the steep hill from Canyon Oaks Park leading into the North Ranch Open Space.

Small COSCA sign at the bottom of the steep hill from Canyon Oaks Park leading into the North Ranch Open Space.

 A view of Canyon Oaks Park from about a third of the way up the hill.

A view of Canyon Oaks Park from about a third of the way up the hill.

There are roughly 3 or 4 miles of trails up here, mostly the Saddle Pass north/south trail but other connector trails to nearby neighborhoods, such as the townhome complex on Via Colinas above Thousand Oaks Blvd and the new Westlake Village Community Park and YMCA.

These hills get quite dry and hot during the summer months but in the spring green up nicely. You may even get the opportunity to enjoy some wildflowers.

 Orange beauties can often be seen in the March time frame off the Saddle Pass Trail south section.

Orange beauties can often be seen in the March time frame off the Saddle Pass Trail south section.

 Here's another section of trail that connects homes off of Via Colinas into the North Ranch Open Space. Most of these connector trails are quite steep, though generally well maintained!

Here's another section of trail that connects homes off of Via Colinas into the North Ranch Open Space. Most of these connector trails are quite steep, though generally well maintained!

Ventura Beach Bike Path

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

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

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

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

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

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

 The bike path goes under the Ventura Pier.

The bike path goes under the Ventura Pier.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Ventura Harbor Village

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Oaks Mall in Thousand Oaks

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

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

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

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

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

Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls in Malibu

 Trailhead on Winding Way

Trailhead on Winding Way

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

 Dolphins greet you at the entrance to Stearns Wharf.

Dolphins greet you at the entrance to Stearns Wharf.

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Stearns Wharf is located at the juncture of W. Cabrillo Road and State Street in Santa Barbara. Originally constructed in 1872 by lumberman John P. Stearns as the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is now one of the most visible and visited tourist destinations in Santa Barbara. In 1980-81, the City of Santa Barbara restored the wharf, constructed new buildings on it and assumed operation of the facility.

Our family particularly enjoys visiting the Museum of Santa Barbara Sea Center located on the wharf, followed by a stop at the candy store or the ice cream shop. Of course, The Harbor Restaurant and Longboards Grill are crowd favorites. There's also wine tasting, Moby Dick Restaurant, fish and chips, souvenir shops and other places that are fun to stop by.

 View from the end of Stearns Wharf back toward the mainland.

View from the end of Stearns Wharf back toward the mainland.

 View from Stearns Wharf

View from Stearns Wharf

You can get onto the wharf in a number of ways. There is limited parking on the wharf. Cost (as of August 2018) is $2.50/hour, but the first 90 minutes are FREE. Or you can park along Cabrillo Road or in a local beach parking lot and walk onto the wharf. Or do what we enjoy...park at the Santa Barbara Harbor and ride bikes onto the wharf. The wood planks are a bit bumpy but you'll survive!

Learn more about Stearns Wharf at www.stearnswharf.org.

Beautiful views of the harbor area as you'll see below from the pier. If you walk onto the wharf, you may encounter some locals that "live off the land" with sand sculptures and other monuments on the sand for your viewing pleasure (and perhaps some spare change). They are part of the carnival atmosphere. And of course on Sundays you'll be treated to the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show that has been running since 1965.

Malibu Lagoon Field Trips Hosted by Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society

The Santa Monica Bay Audubon Society (SMBAS) hosts Malibu Lagoon Field Trips the 4th Sunday of every month.

Adult Walk starts at 8:30 a.m. for 2-3 hrs. The group meets at the metal-shaded viewing area next to parking lot. SMBAS makes a special effort to make these monthly Malibu Lagoon walks attractive to first-time and beginner birdwatchers. Brings binoculars and cameras.

 Metal shaded viewing area next to parking lot.

Metal shaded viewing area next to parking lot.

Children & Parents Walk starts at 10:00 a.m. for a 1 hr session. Meet at metal-shaded viewing area next to parking lot. SMBAS leaders are experienced with kids so by all means bring them down to the beach to enjoy nature. Binoculars will be provided.

Upcoming dates as of 8/16/18: 8/26/18, 9/23/18, 10/28/18, 11/25/18, 12/23/18, 1/27/19, 2/24/19, 3/24/19, 4/28/19, 5/26/19, 6/23/19, 7/28/19, 8/25/19, 9/22/19, 10/27/19, 11/24/19, 12/22/19, 1/26/20.

If you have a Scout troop or other group 7 or larger, please call Lu at 310.395.6235 to make sure SMBAS has enough binoculars and docents on hand.

Visit smbasblog.com to learn more.

Directions: Malibu Lagoon is located at the intersection of Pacific Coast Highway and Cross Creek Road in Malibu. Bring water and sun protection; look around for people wearing binoculars and hats.

Parking: Self-serve parking machine in lot, $3/hr, $12 day ($11 seniors); credit cards accepted. Annual passes accepted. You may also park (read all signs carefully) on PCH west of Cross Creek Road, on Cross Creek Road, or on Civic Center.Way north (inland) of the shopping center. Lagoon parking in shopping center lots is not permitted.

Old Boney Trail Hike in Pt. Mugu State Park

If you're looking for a hike of about 10 miles in the Rancho Sierra Vista/Boney Mountain Wilderness area, consider the Old Boney Trail loop from Newbury Park. You can park either in the National Park Service parking lot or at Wendy Drive where it meets Potrero Road.

You can do the hike clockwise or counter-clockwise since it is a loop course. I prefer clockwise, which starts by trekking through Rancho Sierra Vista to Danielson Road. Details of this path are at THIS LINK. This path gets you to a juncture where you can continue another 3/10ths of a mile to the Danielson Monument (which you definitely should do if you've never been there) or veer a sharp right up the Old Boney Trail.

 Sign at juncture of Danielson Road trail and Old Boney Trail in Pt. Mugu State Park

Sign at juncture of Danielson Road trail and Old Boney Trail in Pt. Mugu State Park

I love the Old Boney Trail. It is narrow and covered with growth on both sides. Kind of like running through a chaparral jungle. This makes the trail mostly shade covered for the first couple miles of this 3.5 mile stretch of trail. You'll be treated to some nice views of Boney Mountain along the way.

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Although the Old Boney Trail does not reach a peak for panoramic views, you'll still find several spots that reward you with views towards the Channel Islands and west Ventura County.

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About a mile or mile and a half into Old Boney Trail from Danielson Road, you'll see a turnoff sign to the right that takes you to the Fossil Trail, a mile or so drop back down to the bottom of Sycamore Canyon. The drop is about 1300 ft to 500 ft with plenty of rocky surfaces, so you'll have some fun going back down this way, for a shorter route. And of course, look closely and you'll be treated to surfaces covered with sea fossil imprints from millions of years ago.

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From the Old Boney Trail/Fossil Trail juncture, you have another 2.1 fun miles to the next juncture at Blue Canyon Trail at the bottom of the canyon. You'll get some more neat views of Boney Mountain during this stretch. At the juncture is the following sign on Blue Canyon Trail.

 Sign on Blue Canyon Trail at the Old Boney Trail juncture in Pt. Mugu State Park.

Sign on Blue Canyon Trail at the Old Boney Trail juncture in Pt. Mugu State Park.

You will turn right on Blue Canyon Trail, which will take you to the Danielson Multi-Use area and the paved Sycamore Canyon Fire Road. A left-hand turn will get you lots of fun for another day, onward to Chamberlain Trail that gets you up to some might nice peaks, and Serrano Valley.

 Sign at entrance to Blue Canyon Trail at the Danielson Multi-Use area (you of course will be looking at the back side of this sign if you're coming from the Old Boney Trail).

Sign at entrance to Blue Canyon Trail at the Danielson Multi-Use area (you of course will be looking at the back side of this sign if you're coming from the Old Boney Trail).

 I've never actually seen anyone using the Danielson Multi-Use area but here's the picnic area.

I've never actually seen anyone using the Danielson Multi-Use area but here's the picnic area.

So you run through the Danielson area to the main paved road to the right (turning left of course will take you to PCH in about 4-5 miles). In another 3 miles you'll be back in civilization; these miles include the 800 foot, 3/4 mile ascent into Rancho Sierra Vista, which can be a bit brutal...perhaps my (and maybe your) least favorite section of this course. But once you're up the hill, you're home free! Time for breakfast, lunch, dinner or all of the above!

 Sycamore Canyon Fire Road sign at the top of the hill in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.

Sycamore Canyon Fire Road sign at the top of the hill in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa.

Of course, you can easily reverse this course and make your way DOWN Sycamore Canyon Fire Road, turn left onto Blue Canyon Trail, left on Old Boney Trail for 3.5 miles and then left on Danielson Road, back down into the canyon and up towards Satwiwa.

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).

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.

Getty Center in Brentwood

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Atop a 900 foot hill in the Santa Monica Mountains adjacent to the 405 freeway, Getty Center is a 24 acre complex that is one of the most visited museums in the United States. Getty Center opened in December 1997 and is part of the J. Paul Getty Museum, which has another location called The Getty Villa.

This is one of those "must absolutely see" places for every local resident and visitor to the Los Angeles area. It is a spectacular and pristine, inside and out.

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There are five main pavilions in the complex. The North Pavilion (on the immediate left after you walk through the Entrance Hall) contains pre-1700 art, including paintings on the upper level and sculptures and decorative arts, illuminated manuscripts and changing exhibitions on the main level. Adjacent to the North Pavilion is the East Pavilion, which contains paintings and sculptures and decorative arts from the 1600 to 1800 time frame.

The South Pavilion also contains art from 1600 to 1800. The West Pavilion contains art post-1800 as well as the Center for Photographs. Finally, the Exhibitions Pavilion contains rotating exhibitions.

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Stroll to the terraces on the south side of the complex and you'll be treated to panoramic views stretching to the San Bernadino Mountains, Century City, and the Pacific Ocean. You'll also be treated to a view of the Cactus Garden desert landscape in the South Promontory. The 134,000 sq ft Central Garden, large grassy area and stream leading into a pool with an azalea maze. You've got to see it to appreciate the beauty.

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There are also outdoor sculptures throughout the complex, starting in the area where you wait for the tram that takes you up to the Center, in the Arrival Area in front of the Entrance Hall and in and around the restaurant and garden areas.

The Center displays some of the most recognizable pieces in the world from artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Gaugin, and so many others. The photography display is also outstanding.

 Irises by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh

Irises by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh

There are several restaurants on the complex. I've eaten at the Garden Terrace Cafe located between the Exhibitions Pavilion and the Central Garden and it was good. Packaged, fresh sandwiches, salads, soups and other items are available.

To learn more, visit www.getty.edu/museum. Admission is free. Parking in the seven story underground lot near the bottom of Getty Center Drive is $15 ($10 after 3pm). Hours are 10am to 5:30pm Tuesday through Sunday.

There is a free tram that takes you to the top of the hill, or you can walk up the hill (it actually is not that bad, a 15 to 20 minute walk for most). Located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles.

I could go on and on...if you are not an art fan, don't worry. The views alone are worth the visit. But once you step foot in this amazing place you will be awestruck.

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.