State Fish Hatchery in Fillmore

Temporary closure: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Fillmore Trout Hatchery temporarily closed in May 2018 as the facility undergoes maintenance and repairs. All of the rainbow trout normally raised at the Fillmore Trout Hatchery were moved to the Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County to accommodate the necessary work. However, the Fillmore Hatchery was still closed when we last checked in May 2019. Call them at 805.524.0962 during normal hours of 7am to 3pm for updates.

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The California Department of Fish and Game maintains a Fish Hatchery in Fillmore, off Highway 126, just east of downtown Fillmore. Watch for the sign - you make a quick right on Fish Hatchery Road, not more than a mile or so from downtown. The hatchery I believe is now called the Fillmore Trout Hatchery.

The hatchery is open 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bring dimes to purchase fish food and learn about fish and their role in California. This is a self-guided tour. More information at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Hatcheries/Fillmore.

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If you have kids and visit Fillmore, put this on your must do list!

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, Baja Bay 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, Water’s Edge Restaurant & Bar, 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).

Channel Islands Sportfishing Center

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Channel Islands Sportfishing Center (aka Cisco's) is located at the Channel Islands Harbor at 4151 S. Victoria Avenue, Oxnard. They have a fleet of 11 boats (as of July 2019) and operate 7 days a week. They have Military Appreciation Day and Kids Ride Free specials, whale watching trips and more! Visit www.channelislandssportfishing.com or call 805.382.1612 to learn more and book your next fishing trip.

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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.

CReATE STUDIO in Westlake Village

CReATE STUDIO at 31840 Village Center Road in Westlake Village is a welcoming, walk-in, help yourself art studio geared toward creative exploration using a varied array of recycled, artistic and crafty materials. All ages can create treasured masterpieces using many interesting and everyday household materials to build, tape, glue, paint and invent! No two creations are alike. Stop in and enjoy the fun! To learn more, visit www.createstudiofun.com or call 818.575.9566

The studio is currently open Wednesday through Friday 11am-6pm and Saturday/Sunday from noon to 4pm.

Fees as of July 2019 are: $10.50 for ages 10 and under, $12.50 for age 11 and up. Studio fee includes up to 2 hours of studio time, including all materials used. Credit cards are accepted.

CReATE offers open studio time, Birthday Party Packages, Monthly Parents Night Out Nights, Machine Sewing Classes, Girls Confidence Classes, Messy Toddler Art Classes and special rates for school groups, scouts and homeschoolers.

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Channel Islands Harbor in Oxnard

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Channel Islands Harbor is located in Oxnard; take the 101 Freeway to Ventura. Exit Victoria Avenue. Turn south onto Victoria Avenue. Continue on Victoria for approximately 5 miles until you reach Channel Islands Harbor.

Channel Islands Harbor offers a variety of activities for the entire family. Throughout the year various events are held including the Celebration of the Whales, visits by Tall Ships, Concerts by the Sea, Fireworks by the Sea on July 4th, the Ventura County Boat Show, Ventura Vintage Rods Harbor Run Classic Car Show, and the annual Parade of Lights.

Harbor restaurants include The Waterside Restaurant and Wine Bar, H.C. Seafood & Co., Fisherman's House, The Lookout Bar & Grill, Moqueca Brazilian Cuisine, Mrs. Olson’s Coffee Hut, Honey Cup Coffee Bar Toppers Pizza Place, The Masala Twist, Ventura BBQ Co. and Sea Fresh Channel Island. You may shop at clothing, gift and accessories stores or cruise the Harbor on the Channel Islands Harbor Water Taxi.

Visitors may rent boats at Hopper Boat Rentals, or Channel Islands Kayak Center, visit the Channel Islands Maritime Museum or just enjoy a beautiful day at one of the local beaches. Weekends offer live musical entertainment. Fresh fruits and vegetables plus arts and crafts may be found at the Harbor's Farmers' Market held at the Marine Emporium Landing from 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m. every Sunday, rain or shine! Or just ride bikes!

For more information, visit www.channelislandsharbor.org or call 805.985.4852.

We stop by the harbor as often as possible for various events and to walk around, as well as to walk a few blocks over to the beach!  Quite a nice opportunity to beat the Conejo Valley heat...and only 15 to 20 minutes away!

Arroyo Simi Bike Path in Simi Valley

The Arroyo Simi Bike Path is a two lane bike path in Simi Valley that runs from Madera Road, just south of Easy Street on the west, ending at Cochran Avenue between Fig Street and Ralston Street on the east. Roughly 6 to 7 miles. It is also referred to as the Arroyo Simi Greenway.

The Arroyo Simi is a waterway that begins at Corriganville Park in east Simi Valley and extends west all the way through Simi Valley until into merges into Arroyo Las Posas and Conejo Creek into Calleguas Creek. It is managed by the County of Ventura but the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District has access to the pathway for recreational use.

While this path is nowhere near as visually appealing as bike paths along Ventura Beach and such, the Arroyo Simi Bike Path is almost entirely flat and allows passageway along much of Simi Valley from east to west. You can really do a lot of exploration from this artery. We like to park at the East Street entry point and bike to Rancho Simi Community Park (2.2 miles one way), Rancho Santa Susana Park (6 miles one way) and various other areas.

Because this path is so long and flat (and not crowded), it is a nice destination for learning to ride. However, do be aware that there are a number of street crossings where you are asked to walk your bike across. They are protected by lights and signs, however.

Arroyo Simi bike path entry point at Easy Street and Madera.

Arroyo Simi bike path entry point at Easy Street and Madera.

Arroyo Simi Bike path may not be the most picturesque path but is nicely flat and goes a long way!

Arroyo Simi Bike path may not be the most picturesque path but is nicely flat and goes a long way!

There are numerous entry points to the path, which largely parallels Los Angeles Avenue; this one is just east of Ralston off of Los Angeles Avenue.

There are numerous entry points to the path, which largely parallels Los Angeles Avenue; this one is just east of Ralston off of Los Angeles Avenue.

Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park

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The Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park features a bookstore, a display of marine aquatic life, including a tidepool, and exhibits featuring the unique character of each park island. Visitors also can enjoy the 25-minute park movie, “A Treasure in the Sea,” shown throughout the day in the auditorium.

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The visitor center is located at 1901 Spinnaker Drive in Ventura at the end of Spinnaker Drive, past Ventura Harbor Village and across the street from the kid-friendly Harbor Cove Beach. It is open 8:30 am until 5 pm daily. The visitor center is closed on Thanksgiving and December 25th.

On weekends and holidays at 11 am and 3 pm rangers offer a variety of free public programs about the resources of the park. Learn more on the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/chis/planyourvisit/visitorcenters.htm or call 805.658.5730.

Who is Robert J. Lagomarsino, you ask. He was born in September 1926 in Ventura County. He served in the California Senate from 1961 to 1974 and served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1974 until 1992. He is also a former mayor of Ojai. from 1958 to 1961. As a State Senator, he introduced the first legislation authorizing a public university for Ventura County.

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden - Thousand Oaks

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The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is a 33 acre retreat of hiking trails and natural habitat adjacent to Conejo Community Park off of Lynn Road and Gainsborough. 

CVBG now offers plant sales (weather permitting) every Sunday from 11:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. featuring California native and drought tolerant plants. Reasonable prices! Enter at the Kids' Adventure Garden entrance (400 W. Gainsborough Road).

This is really a special place to bring the kids for low key hike.  There are numerous trails and a short walk/hike to the top of the mountain rewards you with sweeping views of the entire Conejo Valley, from Westlake Village to Thousand Oaks to Newbury Park.

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Here is what you'll find at the CVBG:

  • The Nature Trail is 3/4 of a mile long and meanders above the creek through oaks and willows. This is a moderate trail.

  • The Little Loop Trail leads you above the creek, through chaparral and around a meadow.

  • The Native Plant Section and Lower Meadow feature southern and northern California plants.

  • Lillian's Meadow showcases perennials, shrubs and trees that thrive with minimal water.

  • The Salvia Garden delights hummingbirds and butterflies.

  • The Butterfly Garden is a safe haven that provides nectar and food sources for butterflies and caterpillars.

  • The Nursery houses workspace for the plant propagation team and hosts plant sales.

  • The Herb Garden exhibits an extensive and unusual collection of medicinal, kitchen and aromatic herbs.

  • The Bird Habitat has a fresh water source and is planted with native plants that provide year-round food source for birds.

  • The Australian Section features collection of plants from down under.

  • The Desert Garden hilltop landscape features cacti, succulents and desert trees and provides a panoramic view of the Conejo Valley.

  • The Rare Fruit Orchard holds an extensive collection of trees.

  • The Tranquility Garden is planted in the Japanese style featuring California native plants.

  • The Oak Tree Grove has many species of North American and other oak trees.

  • The Trail of Trees exhibits 50 trees with a variety of genera.

If you have small kids, they will love the Kids' Adventure Garden and treehouse, open on Sundays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  They'll enjoy hiking through the trails and exploring the streams and bridges.

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is located at 400 West Gainsborough Road, Thousand Oaks.  For more information visit www.conejogarden.org.

Desert Garden at the top of the hill, featuring cacti, succulents, etc.

Desert Garden at the top of the hill, featuring cacti, succulents, etc.

Japanese style Tranquility Garden featuring native California plants

Japanese style Tranquility Garden featuring native California plants

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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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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 10 am to 5 pm daily, except Saturdays (9 am to 3 pm); closed Wednesdays.

Admission (as of May 2019) 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.

Stagecoach Inn Museum - Newbury Park

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The Stagecoach Inn Museum is a replica of a Monterey style inn, the 1876 Grand Union Hotel. The complex also includes a Chumash Indian village, an early California adobe, a pioneer house and a few other buildings. There is a nice park adjoining the property along with nature trails and a stream that make this a nice place to bring the entire family.

Spanish Adobe structure at Stagecoach Inn is a replica of housing that would be seen in the Conejo Valley in the early 1800s.

Spanish Adobe structure at Stagecoach Inn is a replica of housing that would be seen in the Conejo Valley in the early 1800s.

The Stagecoach Inn Museum is State Historical Landmark No. 659.  The original structure was destroyed by fire in April 1970 but has been rebuilt and relocated.  It was originally located at the corner of what is now Ventu Park Road and the Highway 101, where a historical marker has been placed.

The Stagecoach Inn is located at 51 South Ventu Park Road, Newbury Park.  Call 805.498.9441 or visit www.stagecoachinnmuseum.com for more information. As of May 2019, it is open from 1 pm to 4 pm Wednesday to Sunday. Adults $5, 62+ and ages 13-21 $4, kids 5-12 $2.

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