America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College

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Don't want to drive 45 minutes to the nearest zoo?  Well then, stop by local Moorpark College to visit the student-run America's Teaching Zoo

This five acre zoo housing nearly 200 exotic animals is part of the college's Exotic Animal Training and Management Program and is open each weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays).  This interesting collection has included all sorts of animals, like alligators, geckos, monkeys, tigers, camels, snakes, ocelots and more. Animal show times at 12 pm and 2 pm. Animal demonstrations from 3:30-4 pm.

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Students in the program are required to work most days and weekends.  For a truly unique wild animal experience, stop by and check it out. Don't expect anything fancy. This is a very low key place, but lots of fun as it is usually not very crowded and you can get really close to the animals. This huge Galapagos Tortoise is Clarence. Learn more about him here.

Admission (as of July 2019) $9 for adults and $7 for kids and seniors (checks and cash only). Under age 2 is free.

Visit zoo.moorparkcollege.edu or call 805.378.1441 for more information.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

The Zoo is located at 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark.  Take the 101 North to the 23 North to the 118 East.  Exit Collins and turn left at the stop sign.  Go through 2 stoplights and turn right into the 2nd entrance past the stoplights.  Turn right in the parking lot and continue up the short hill to the right.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

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Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History makes for a great excursion to Santa Barbara with the kids.  There are eight exhibit halls with permanent exhibits featuring birds, mammals, insects, ocean life, a planetarium and more. Many of the exhibits are "hands on" with buttons and interactive features that kids particularly enjoy. There are an additional two halls for changing exhibits.

You and your kids can roam the nature paths and visit the well stocked gift shop, full of educational items. I can vouch for the fascination kids (and adults) have at this Museum. It is a very comfortable museum that in my experience is rarely is crowded. The "Museum Backyard" area and gardens has a picnic area, stream and other enjoyable features. The pond and stream often have tadpoles that captivate the kids.

The museum is open 7 days a week and is closed certain holidays. As of July 2019, admission is $15 for adults, $12 for 65+ seniors and teens (13-17) and $9 for children 2 to 12 years of age. Become a Museum member and you don't have to pay for admission. The Museum also offers birthday parties for members. Tax-deductible family memberships are currently $99/year.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara. More information at www.sbnature.org or 805.682.4711.

The Ultimate Escape Rooms at Ventura Harbor Village

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

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

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

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

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

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

Learn more at www.theultimateescaperooms.com.

Excido Escape Room in Moorpark

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

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

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

Chumash Indian Museum / Oakbrook Regional Park

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

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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 65+ and $3.00 for children under 12. There is no charge to walk the trails in the 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.chumashmuseum.org or 805.492.8076.

To protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed here.

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Disneyland Park in Anaheim

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

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

Disneyland Park Sections (or "Lands")

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

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

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

Disneyland Park Attractions by Land

Visit touringplans.com/disneyland-resort/closures for updates on rides that are closed for renovation.

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

  • 14 acre expansion of Disneyland

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

  • Reservations required from May 31 to June 23, 2019

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

New Orleans Square: Haunted Mansion, Pirates of the Caribbean

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

Various Areas: Disneyland Railroad

Character Experiences and Live Entertainment

There are various opportunities to meet Disney characters throughout the park. Visit disneyland.disney.go.com/entertainment/#/character-experiences for details. And for live entertainment opportunities, visit disneyland.disney.go.com/entertainment.

Pricing

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

  • One Day Parking: $25

Learn more at disneyland.disney.go.com.

Rocking K Horse Rentals - Newbury Park

Rocking K Horse Rentals, open 7 days a week, is located at 4790 West Lynn Road in Newbury Park. Horses are available for rent, guided tours, birthday parties, summer camps and more. 

Minimum age requirement is 6. Minimum height requirement is 44 inches tall. Maximum weight is 260 lbs. All children under 16 are required to wear protective headgear. Helmets are provided but you may also bring your own.

Visit www.rockingkhorserentals.com or call 805.499.9512 for more information.

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Leo's Arcade & Games in Fillmore

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Leo’s Arcade & Games is located at 359 Central Street in Fillmore. Leo’s has an assortment of vintage arcade and pinball games, PS4, Xbox and a variety of vintage gaming consoles such as Nintendo, Super Nintendo Game Cube and Sega, air hockey, foosball, billiards table and more.

Who’s Leo? Leo, who has a passion for retro gaming, moved to Fillmore with his military family of five in June 2018. Leo decided to share his passion with the community by opening this 2,500 square foot arcade in old town Fillmore, just a short walk from Fillmore & Western Railway, on December 29, 2018.

To my knowledge, Leo’s Arcade is one-of-a-kind in Ventura County.

Check out their Facebook page at www.facebook.com/FillmoreArcade.

Some (just a sampling) of their games on hand include:

  • Pinball: Lethal Weapon 3, Star Trek, Road Kings, Bally Club Chicago

  • Arcade Games: Alien, The Simpsons, Nascar Racing, Super Mario, Joust, Ms. Pac-Man, Tetris, Star Wars Trilogy, Invasion and many more.

  • Other Games: Two billiards tables, air hockey, two foosball tables

Pricing (as of March 2019): $12 per hour, $17 for two hours and $25 for the entire DAY! Open Mon-Thurs 2:30-8:30PM, Fri 2:30PM-Midnight, Sat Noon-Midnight and Sun Noon-8PM.

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Color Me Mine Paint Your Own Ceramics Studio in Oxnard

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Are you looking for a creative way to spend quality time with the ones you love? Paint ceramics with your friends and family at Color Me Mine Paint Your Own Ceramics Studio located at The Collection at Riverpark, at 2710 Portico Way, Oxnard!

Color Me Mine is a ceramic painting studio where you drop by anytime and paint a pre-made bisque pieces. For the price of a studio fee and the item you choose to paint, you can paint all day using 60+ colors and supplies! They then glaze and fire your work in a kiln and your work of art will be available in 5 to 7 days.

In addition to a vast array of tableware, painters can select from a variety of vases, frames, jewelry boxes, figurines, and more!

More information at www.oxnard.colormemine.com or call 805.981.8631.

Color Me Mine Thousand Oaks

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Color Me Mine is a ceramic painting studio where you drop by anytime and select from over 400 ceramic pieces to design and paint. . For the price of a studio fee and the item you choose to paint, you can paint all day using 60+ colors and supplies! They glaze and fire your work in a kiln and your work of art will be available in 5 to 7 days.

The Thousand Oaks Color Me Mine location is at the Paseo Market Square in Thousand Oaks at 3707 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard, near Al Mulino Eatalia and The Melting Pot.

More information at thousandoaks.colormemine.com.

Color Me Mine Ceramics Studio in Calabasas

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Are you looking for a creative way to spend quality time with the ones you love? Paint ceramics with your friends and family at Color Me Mine at 23641 Calabasas Road, Calabasas! Pick from hundreds of ceramic pieces for kids, the kitchen, bath, pets and more. Design and paint them any way you like. We have over 70 underglaze colors to choose from. Not an artist? Not to worry! We have talented and friendly staff to help you. We'll fire your one-of-a-kind ceramic masterpiece for you to take home and enjoy.  More information at www.calabasas.colormemine.com or call 818.222.4922.

As You Wish Pottery Painting Place in Simi Valley

As You Wish Pottery Painting Place is located at the Simi Valley Town Center. This is a large, nicely appointment ceramics/painting studio where you select a piece of pottery off the shelves, paint it and a few days later pick up your beautiful, glazed work of art!

Great place for birthday parties, team building, family nights, fundraising and more. Visit www.asyouwishpottery.com or call 805.520.9500 for more information. Open seven days a week.