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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Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum and Botanical Garden in Camarillo

The Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum and Botanical Garden at 720 Las Posas Road in Camarillo is dedicated to the preservation of the history of Pleasant Valley, the Oxnard Plain and adjacent areas where many of Camarillo’s pioneers settled before there was a City of Camarillo. Admission is free. Donations are accepted. The Museum and Garden are open from noon to 4:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, except holidays. More information at www.pvhsonline.org.

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The museum is located in a small building on the property which contains a variety of antiques and items of local historical interest. Resident docents are genuinely interested in sharing stories about local history in the facility. I can almost guarantee you will learn something new every time you visit!

Old items and newspaper clippings from years past on display.

Old items and newspaper clippings from years past on display.

The Charles L. Honn Botanical Garden, associated with the Historical Museum and located behind it, is a beautiful park-like area that features plants and trees indigenous to the Pleasant Valley and the surrounding region. The garden includes a large gazebo that is available as a breathtaking setting for weddings, anniversaries and similar functions. Kitchen facilities are available. Donations are accepted for use of the garden/gazebo.

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Call 805.482.3660 or visit www.pvhsonline.org for more information.

The Charles L. Honn Botanic Garden starts to brighten up after the winter rains.

The Charles L. Honn Botanic Garden starts to brighten up after the winter rains.

Santa Barbara Botanic Garden

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Founded in 1926, the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden is the oldest botanic garden in California dedicated to the study, conservation and display of native flora.  The Garden is a place of beauty and serenity, of education, research and conservation, of history and stewardship.

The Garden's living collections, including more than 1,000 types of plants, are featured throughout 78 acres accessible by over 5.5 miles of public trails; many trails are accessible by stroller or wheelchair. Accredited by the American Association of Museums as a living museum, the collections are devoted to illustrating the remarkable diversity of California's native flora. Arranged in stunning displays and interpreted through signage and docent-led tours, the living collections capture California's natural beauty and provide endless opportunities for learning, appreciation, and enjoyment.

Garden sections and displays include the Arroyo Section, Campbell Trail, Canyon Section, Desert Section, Home Demonstration Section, Manzanita Section, Meadow Section, Porter Trail, Redwood Section, Tea House Garden and Woodland Trail.

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The Garden's library includes over 15,000 books and journals, representing an important resource for education and research. Special collections include rare books, photos, manuscripts, and horticultural catalogs. The strength of the collection lies in its diversity, representing important botanical and horticultural works on California flora, Mediterranean floras of the world, landscape history, and the disciplines of botany and horticulture.

Composed of over 140,000 specimens of plants, the herbarium represents the region's largest scientific collection of preserved central coast plants. Collectively, the specimens document the ecology and geography of the region's plant diversity.

Open 7 days a week, the Garden is closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, New Years Day and during some special events. Current admission costs as of April 2018 are $12 for adults, $10 for 60+ seniors, $8 for ages 13-17, college students and active military, and $6 for ages 2 to 12. Current garden hours are 9 am to 6 pm March through October and 9 am to 5 pm November through February.

The Garden Shop has an extensive selection of crafts, nature-related books and gifts for all ages and is open daily. There's also a Garden Growers Nursery open year-round.

Located at 1212 Mission Canyon Road, Santa Barbara. Visit www.sbbg.org or call 805.682.4726 for more information.

Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens

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The 133 acre Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens first opened in 1966. The Zoo is home to more than 1,100 mammals, birds, amphibians and reptiles representing more than 250 different species of which 29 are endangered. In addition, the Zoo’s botanical collection comprises several planted gardens and over 800 different plant species with over 7,400 individual plants. The Zoo receives over 1.5 million visitors per year and is owned and operated by the City of Los Angeles.

There's a children's zoo area with a petting zoo and fun exhibits. There's also a play area for kids that is quite popular.

Some advice! The line to get into the park can get pretty long on weekends. My advice is to buy an L.A. Zoo Membership! There is a $134 one-year family membership (as of June 2016) that gives you FREE admission for 2 adults and all of your kids, plus 2 one-time guest passes.  If you have a family of 4 and visit the park twice a year, this membership SAVES YOU MONEY as the regular entry cost is $20 for adults and $15 for ages 2 to 17. Ages 62+ is $17. (Pricing as of June 2016.) Plus, there was NO LINE to get in with your membership card! That alone gave us an extra 30 minutes in the park today.  Lastly, the card gives you 10% off your meals and gift shop purchases.  Seems like a no brainer!

Zoo membership also gives you free or discounted admission to zoos and aquariums across the country.

The Living Amphibians, Invertebrates, Reptiles (LAIR) exhibit opened in March 2012. There is a damp forest section that has Fiji Island banded iguanas, poison dart frogs, Guatemalan palm vipers and Fly River turtles, an area where you can watch staff taking care of the animals, tortoises, lizards, crocodile swamp, desert reptiles and much more. We also learned that Mexico has more reptile species than any other country on earth.

The L.A. Zoo is located at 5333 Zoo Drive, Los Angeles. Visit www.lazoo.org or call 323.644.4200 for more information.

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Hippo relaxing at the Los Angeles Zoo

Hippo relaxing at the Los Angeles Zoo

Nicely appointed kids' play area at Los Angeles Zoo

Nicely appointed kids' play area at Los Angeles Zoo

Rhino at Los Angeles Zoo is just kickin' it

Rhino at Los Angeles Zoo is just kickin' it

Zebra at Los Angeles Zoo is having a snack

Zebra at Los Angeles Zoo is having a snack

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