Ventura Pier

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The Ventura Pier was originally constructed in 1872 and is a favorite spot for local fishermen. The Pier is 1,600 feet long and underwent a $2.2 million renovation in 2000 that added an 80 foot octagon shaped extension, benches and more. The Pier can be accessed off of East Harbor Boulevard, close to the Crowne Plaza hotel off of California Street. Beach House Fish restaurant and a MadeWest Brewing Company taproom (2nd floor of Beach House) is located on the pier.

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On the west side of the pier is a playground area with some unique play equipment. My kids always enjoy it here because of the great combination of the beach, pier, playground, quick access to bike rentals and food.

The Ventura Wharf (Pier) was designated City of Ventura Historic Landmark #20 on March 29, 1976.

The former Eric Ericsson's (now Beach House Fish) next to the playground on the pier.

The former Eric Ericsson's (now Beach House Fish) next to the playground on the pier.

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Camarillo Bike Path Next to Calleguas Creek

Looking to take the kids on a nice, flat bike path unimpeded by cars? A great choice is the roughly 2 mile Calleguas Creek bike path from Pleasant Valley Fields at (100 Village at the Park Drive in Camarillo off the Dawson 101 exit) up to the corner of Flynn and Upland Roads in Camarillo.

Look at how nice and flat this bike path adjacent to Calleguas Creek is!

Look at how nice and flat this bike path adjacent to Calleguas Creek is!

This is a nice, smooth and flat bike path that goes under several bridges, including the 101 freeway, so that you don't have to worry about cars! You can park your car at Pleasant Valley Fields and ride up and back down the path. This is a comfortable path to learn on as well as just enjoy.

At the north end of the path, you can detour off the path to Pitts Ranch Park at 1400 Flynn Road, just a short block northwest of the path, and enjoy lunch.

More information about Camarillo bike paths, lanes and routes at www.cityofcamarillo.org/Administrative%20Services/GIS/Bikepath.pdf

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Calleguas Creek

Calleguas Creek

Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is one of the largest performing arts centers between Los Angeles and San Francisco at over 200,000 square feet.

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The City of Thousand Oaks Cultural Affairs Department oversees theatre productions for the Civic Arts Plaza, which encompasses two theatres – the 1,800-seat Fred Kavli Theatre and the 394-seat Janet and Ray Scherr Forum Theatre. The Plaza originally opened in 1994.

The performing arts center combines outstanding arts and entertainment with state-of-the-art technology and acoustics. Over 200,000 patrons and 35,000 children attend more than 350 performances annually. The Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza is funded through a unique public/private partnership between the City of Thousand Oaks and the Alliance for the Arts.

Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza

There is something for everyone at this venue....musicals, cabaret, Broadway musicals, dance, concerts, big bands, the New West Symphony, ballet, plays, well known speakers and events for the kids. In front of the plaza is the Mary and Richard Carpenter plaza park.

Next door to the Plaza is The Lakes of Thousand Oaks, a great place to grab a bite to eat, do some shopping and enjoy the lakes and playground on the property.

Between 1926 and 1968 this location housed the 170 acre Goebel's Lion Farm (later called Jungleland), where many of the famous wild animals in Hollywood pictures lived.  There were elephants, lions, tigers, hippos, you name it.  Leo, the MGM lion, Mr. Ed the Talking Horse, and Getta, Tarzan's chimpanzee all lived there at some point.  Jungleland was a major draw in its day that played a large role in making Thousand Oaks what it is today.

A photo of Jungleland after it closed in 1969 (Image courtesy of Conejo Through the Lens, Thousand Oaks Library)

A photo of Jungleland after it closed in 1969 (Image courtesy of Conejo Through the Lens, Thousand Oaks Library)

The Civic Arts Plaza is located at 2100 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard (take the 101 East, left on Rancho exit, right on T.O. Blvd, and turn right into parking structure at Dallas Drive.  Visit www.civicartsplaza.com for more information or call 805.449.2787.

It takes good luck and timing for a novice photographer like me to capture the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza while driving south on the 101 freeway.

It takes good luck and timing for a novice photographer like me to capture the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza while driving south on the 101 freeway.

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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.

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.

Parking is $8. and 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 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.

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)

Visit the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy site at mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/escondido-canyon-park for more information.

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

Conejo Creek Bike Path in Thousand Oaks

Conejo Creek Bike Path (Courtesy City of Thousand Oaks)

Conejo Creek Bike Path (Courtesy City of Thousand Oaks)

The Conejo Creek Bike Path is a 1.2 mile path in Thousand Oaks that connects Gainsborough Road on the south to Conejo Creek Park South (the playfields), Thousand Oaks Library and Thousand Oaks Teen Center.  This path was opened to the public in Spring 2011 and provides a nice, flat alternative to city streets as it goes under the 23 Freeway.

The paved path on Paige Lane ends at Janss Road across the street from the Library but you can cross at Janss Road at the crosswalk and from there get to a wide, fairly flat horse trail that takes you up to Avenida De Los Flores. I'd love if this path was longer.

The east end of Gainsborough Road has an access point to the Conejo Creek Bike Path

The east end of Gainsborough Road has an access point to the Conejo Creek Bike Path

Nice flat path adjacent to city streets and neighborhoods

Nice flat path adjacent to city streets and neighborhoods

The path takes you under the 23 Freeway

The path takes you under the 23 Freeway

The path ends at Janss Road, across from the Thousand Oaks Library Conejo Creek Park North.

The path ends at Janss Road, across from the Thousand Oaks Library Conejo Creek Park North.

The City of Thousand Oaks maintains approximately 80 miles of bikeways, including about 3 miles of bike paths, roughly 54 miles of bike lanes and another 20 miles or so of bike routes. The City takes bicycling very seriously...the City Council adopted a comprehensive Bicycle Facilities Master Plan in November 2010 to help prioritize future improvement projects around town.

Visit www.toaks.org/government/depts/public_works/streets/bicycle/home.asp for more information about City of Thousand Oaks bike routes, lanes and paths as well as a detailed map.

El Pescador Beach in Malibu

El Pescador Beach ("The Fisherman") has the distinction of being the closest beach in terms of auto mileage from central Thousand Oaks, located at 32900 Pacific Coast Highway, just east of the intersection of Decker Canyon Road and PCH. Along with La Piedra Beach and El Matador Beach, El Pescador is part of the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. 

El Pescador Beach is located about 2 1/2 miles east of Leo Carrillo State Beach and 5 miles west of Zuma Beach. Along with the other two beaches, El Pescador has a parking area (for a fee) and a porta-john. Dogs are not allowed on state beaches. There is also limited parking on PCH available, but be sure to look at the signs to make sure you don't park in a "no parking" zone.

Steep, uneven stairs lead you to the beach. Not particularly stroller friendly as a result, but it's not that far to go. This beach never seems to be crowded, which is a good thing.

You can explore trek over to La Piedra Beach from here, at least when the tide is not too high.

Bottom half of the steps from the parking lot to El Pescador Beach.

Bottom half of the steps from the parking lot to El Pescador Beach.

Sycamore Cove Beach in Point Mugu

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Sycamore Cove Beach is located at 9000 Pacific Coast Highway in Point Mugu. This 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).

Dogs on a leash are allowed in day use areas, campgrounds and beaches within Point Mugu State Park. Dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails or dirt roads.

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).

PCH is above. You can safely get from Sycamore Cove to Sycamore Canyon under this bridge (though at high tide can be a challenge). Beats risking your life crossing PCH!

PCH is above. You can safely get from Sycamore Cove to Sycamore Canyon under this bridge (though at high tide can be a challenge). Beats risking your life crossing PCH!

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.

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!

California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks

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The California Museum of Art Thousand Oaks (CMATO) will provide a world-class cultural experience for visitors and locals alike. Artists, educators, lovers of art, tourists, students and the general public will appreciate the world-class exhibitions of paintings, sculpture, photography, music, drama and dance. CMATO will be located at the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza, west of City Hall and the Performing Arts Center.

Until the new museum is completed, CMATO will operate on the 2nd floor of The Oaks - a Macerich property - in a 5,500 square foot location across from JCPenney. The facility showcases the work of established and emerging contemporary artists. It is also host to artist lectures and educational programs geared towards all ages.

Museum hours are Thu 3-7PM and Fri-Sun 12-7PM, excluding U.S. public holidays. Admission is a suggested donation of $6.

Learn more at cmato.org.

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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).

Arroyo Burro Beach Park in Santa Barbara

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Arroyo Burro Beach is a beach park managed by the County of Santa Barbara. It is also referred to as Hendry's Beach, as the Boathouse at Hendry's Beach is located here at 2981 Cliff Drive. Decent sized parking lot with restaurant serving up moderately priced meals and drinks indoors/outdoors, seven days a week from 7:30am to 9:30pm. Arroyo Burro Beach is a sandy beach, good for surfing, boogie boarding and fishing, with an adjoining park with grassy areas with picnic tables. Restrooms available. From the 101 take Las Positas Road south to Cliff Drive. Turn right and travel 1/2 mile to the park entrance. More information at www.countyofsb.org/parks/day-use/arroyo-burro-beach.sbc.

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Arroyo Burro also has a great doggie park! Dogs are required to be on leash through the parking lot but there's an area where dogs can run around in the ocean. Self service dog wash stations provided by County Park. Details at www.countyofsb.org/parks/dog.sbc.

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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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