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.

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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Arroyo Sequit Site - Santa Monica Mountains in Malibu Hills

NOTE: Arroyo Sequit has been closed as a result of the Woolsey Fire in November 2018. Updates at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/conditions.htm.

The National Park Service maintains a relatively small site called Arroyo Sequit in the Santa Monica Mountains, located at 34138 Mulholland Highway in Malibu. It is a bit off the beaten path, about 2 miles west of Decker Road. It is also easy to overlook coming from the east, as there doesn't appear to be a sign (like the sign below if you're coming east on Mulholland from the other direction).

Sign coming eastbound on mulholland; no such sign that I could find coming westbound.

Sign coming eastbound on mulholland; no such sign that I could find coming westbound.

The site features a 1 1/2 mile nature trail with rolling hills, wildflowers and I've been told a stream (though I did not find it in my visit there). 

Quite a small parking area at this remote location.

Quite a small parking area at this remote location.

It is quiet back here, so if you're looking for a peaceful stroll, check it out. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the Arroyo Sequit from the 101 via Westlake Boulevard/Decker Canyon.

CLICK HERE FOR OVER 50 LOCAL HIKES AND TRAILS IN VENTURA COUNTY AND SURROUNDING AREAS

There's an area with several benches that is used for astronomical observations. However, I contacted the college and was told it has been many years since these took place.

Southwest of the Arroyo Sequit you can see some very large satellite dishes. This is the Triunfo Pass Earth Station satellite tracking station owned and operated by AT&T. The three satellites measure 106 feet across and about 11 stories tall, so they are hard to miss!

Triunfo Pass Earth Station nearby

Triunfo Pass Earth Station nearby

Learn more about the Arroyo Sequit, including a site map, on the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/arroyosequit.htm.

Grant Park / Serra Cross Park in Ventura

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For some of the most spectacular views of Ventura you can ask for, stop by Grant Park / Serra Cross Park off of Ferro Drive in Ventura. Grant Park is a 107 acre park of mostly open space. Serra Cross Park is located at Grant Park. It is a one acre parcel that contains the wooden cross shown below.

The land and cross were sold to San Buenaventura Heritage, Inc. in 2003 in order to maintain the historic cross, which was placed on this spot in 1941 to replace the previous cross that was erected in 1912.

Visit www.serracrosspark.org to learn more about Serra Cross Park.

Get there via Brakey Road to the left side of Ventura City Hall or Ferro Drive off of Cedar Street. There are no restrooms, playground, drinking fountains, etc. at this park.

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Vista Del Mar Trail in Newbury Park

Trail access off of Via Ricardo in Newbury Park (Dos Vientos section).

Trail access off of Via Ricardo in Newbury Park (Dos Vientos section).

Other end of trailhead off of Via Ricardo.

Other end of trailhead off of Via Ricardo.

The Vista Del Mar Trail is about a mile to mile and a half long trail along the west side of the Dos Vientos residential development in Newbury Park that is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Foundation.

The trail can be accessed near the corner of Via Ricardo and Via Rincon (parking on Via Ricardo). The other end of the trail is near the corner of Rancho Dos Vientos and Via El Cerro (where there is no parking on Rancho Dos Vientos).

"Vista Del Mar" is Spanish for "View of the Sea" and while the overcast early morning photos below do not show it, on a clear day you will indeed be able to see down the Potrero Grade to the Pacific Ocean and Channel Islands. The Vista Del Mar trail also provides views to Camarillo and the Oxnard Plain.

The trail is nice and wide, good for walkers, runners and cyclists.

The trail is nice and wide, good for walkers, runners and cyclists.

The north section of the trail before intersecting with the Edison Fire Road Trail is where the "Twin Ponds" are. The image below of one of the ponds was taken after the Springs Fire of May 2013 ravaged the area. More on the Twin Ponds Conservation Area at this link.

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The Twin Ponds are more easily accessed via the northeast Vista Del Mar trailhead near the corner of Via Ricardo and Via Rincon. About a mile.

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About 1/4 mile into the trailhead from Via Ricardo, you'll reach this junction. Veer right to the single track public access trail, as the trail to the left is on private property.

Lone bench on the Vista Del Mol trail that has views to the Channel Islands on a clear day

Lone bench on the Vista Del Mol trail that has views to the Channel Islands on a clear day

The Vista Del Mar trail connects on the southeast to the Sierra Vista Trail, which in turn connects to the Potrero Ridge trail, with an endpoint on Reino Road.

Views from the Vista Del Mar Trail on a clear morning.

Views from the Vista Del Mar Trail on a clear morning.

Map courtesy of the Conejo Open Space Foundation

Map courtesy of the Conejo Open Space Foundation

Western Plateau Trail Loop Hike From Newbury Park

If you're looking for a trail a bit off the beaten path, check out the Western Plateau Loop from Conejo Center Drive in Newbury Park.

The trailhead for this hike is adjacent to the City of Thousand Oaks Household Hazardous Waste Facility at 2010 Conejo Center Drive, Newbury Park. You can park in the dirt lot next to the trailhead and head on your way.

The trailhead on Conejo Center Drive.

The trailhead on Conejo Center Drive.

It is mostly downhill over the first half mile or so of this 5 mile round-trip hike until you get to the Hawk Canyon Trail turnoff.

It is mostly downhill over the first half mile or so of this 5 mile round-trip hike until you get to the Hawk Canyon Trail turnoff.

You can either go straight from here and do a clockwise loop via the Western Plateau Trail or you can turn right on Hawk Canyon, which is a direct route to the Conejo Canyons Bridge.

Hawk Canyon Trail is a fairly narrow, mostly single-track trail.

Hawk Canyon Trail is a fairly narrow, mostly single-track trail.

The Hawk Canyon Trail is a fun, narrow trail surrounding by trees and other vegetation, like you're in the middle of nowhere. There's an old car in a crevice as you approach the Conejo Canyons towards Santa Rosa Valley.

Odd to see this old car out in the middle of nowhere. steep embankment makes it somewhat challenging reaching it.

Odd to see this old car out in the middle of nowhere. steep embankment makes it somewhat challenging reaching it.

Bring a snack and sit at a picnic table in the middle of what feels to be nowhere. Then either head back the way you came or find your way to the Western Plateau Trail and loop back counter-clockwise back towards where you parked.

See the Conejo Open Space Foundation's map of this trail at www.cosf.org/website/html/western-plateau-hikes.html.

It can get a bit overgrown in the spring as seen here on the Hawk Canyon Trail but quite beautiful nonetheless!

It can get a bit overgrown in the spring as seen here on the Hawk Canyon Trail but quite beautiful nonetheless!

Ventura Botanical Gardens Demonstration Trail

NOTE: The entire 109 acres were burned in the Thomas Fire of December 2017 and the trail was closed as a result. It has since re-opened as volunteers work to rebuild the garden.

There is now an admission price of $7 per person Wed through Sun. Kids are free. Tuesdays are also free. Annual memberships are also available, which allow for unlimited free admission; $45 per person, $75 for families.

Additionally, dogs are allowed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays only and must be on leash.

Trails are intact but the plants were devastated by the Thomas Fire. Replanting and re-growth is in process.

Trails are intact but the plants were devastated by the Thomas Fire. Replanting and re-growth is in process.

The Ventura Botanical Gardens Demonstration Trail is a nearly 1 mile trail between Ventura City Hall and Grant Park. It opened in October 2012. The trail zig zags and meanders its way up to Grant Park, offering awesome views of downtown Ventura and the coastline. The trail is accessible behind Ventura City Hall, located at 567 South Poli Street. Take the driveway on the right side of City Hall (facing the building) and drive up to the parking area.

Access to the trail is on the right (east) side of Ventura City Hall.

Access to the trail is on the right (east) side of Ventura City Hall.

There's a parking area at the bottom of the trail behind Ventura City Hall

There's a parking area at the bottom of the trail behind Ventura City Hall

Funds continue to be raised to enhance the Demonstration Trail, provide for trail maintenance and augment it with a new trail and ultimately build a visitor center. Learn more at www.venturabotanicalgardens.com.

The trail is decorated with pretty wildflowers and other California native plants

The trail is decorated with pretty wildflowers and other California native plants

There are some neat rock walls on sections of the trail

There are some neat rock walls on sections of the trail

A short walk will get you some pretty views!

A short walk will get you some pretty views!

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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 Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar

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The Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar houses a spectacular collection of over 120 antique, vintage, black iron and classic automobiles. This is a place that a surprisingly few number people know about but is a MUST SEE (another "hidden gem," like The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard). It is a truly gorgeous collection of cars, including numerous winners of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and other famed auto shows.

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Particularly eye opening to an auto novice like me is the sheer number of different car manufacturers on display that I'd never heard of, like Tucker, Simplex, Cord, REO, Maybah, Ruxton, Westinghouse, Pierce-Arrow, Moon etc as well as autos made by Daimler, Rolls Royce, Cadillac, Packard, Lincoln, Ford, Duesenberg, Oldsmobile, Bugatti and others. There is also huge number of hood ornaments, headlamps and other vintage paraphernalia on display.

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Admission to The Nethercutt Museum is FREE of charge and hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday, Monday and all major holidays.  Visit www.nethercuttcollection.org for more information. Open to all ages.

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Located at 15151 Bledsoe Steet, Sylmar. When I went I took the 101 east to the 405 south towards Santa Clarita, which becomes the 5 freeway. Get off at Roxford exit east (exit 159A; don't get confused and take the NEXT Roxford exit). Turn right on Roxford, right on San Fernando Road and left on Bledsoe. Museum is a few blocks up on the left hand side. Turn left on Bradley (at Bledsoe) and an immediate left into the parking lot.

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Outside the Museum you can walk through a 1912 Pullman Rail Car and a 1937 Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson Locomotive. Open twice a day (weather permitting) at 12:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. for 15 minutes.

In addition to the main Museum, next door at 15200 Bledsoe is The Nethercutt Collection, which has over 50 automobiles along with what they call the world's finest assemblage of mechanical musical instruments. Admission here is also free but you must make reservations for the 2 hour docent-led tour, kids must be 12 and older, and no video recording or flash photography is allowed. Tours are currently offered at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

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Albinger Archaeological Museum in Ventura

The Albinger Archaeological Museum, located at 113 E. Main Street in Ventura, is open to the public this summer 2018 from June 16 through September 2, on Saturdays and Sundays from 11 am to 4 pm. Admission to the museum is free.

Named after Ventura Mayor from 1969 to 1973, Albert R. Albinger, the museum is built on the home site of saloonkeeper and early mayor Angel Escondon and displays artifacts spanning 3,500 years of Ventura history encompassing five different cultures (Chumash, Spanish, Mexican, Chinese and circa 1850 U.S.) from a single archaeological site next to the San Buenaventura Mission.

In 1973 the buildings which stood at the museum's location were demolished as part of the Mission Plaza Urban Redevelopment Project. Archaeological testing suggested the existence of rich cultural remains beneath the soil. The Redevelopment Agency of the City of San Buenaventura authorized intensive archaeological investigations and during the summers of 1974 and 1975 archaeological excavations uncovered more than 30,000 artifacts. Each artifact was carefully cleaned, numbered, cataloged and studied. In order to protect and preserve this part of the City’s heritage, the property was withdrawn from the redevelopment project. In 1975 it was placed on the National Register of Historic Places as the Ventura Mission Historic District. In January 1980 the City of San Buenaventura opened the Albinger Archaeological Museum. 

Displays of stone bowls, a tomol (plank canoe reproduction), shell beads, arrowheads, bone whistles, crucifixes, bottles, buttons and pottery inside the exhibit building are complemented outside by excavations of the foundations of the lost Mission church, Native American barracks, well and the oldest standing structure in Ventura, the mission water filtration building.

More information at www.cityofventura.net/albinger.

Marvin Braude Coastal Bike Path - Pacific Palisades to Torrance

We love driving down to Will Rogers State Beach from time to time, bring the bikes and enjoy the Marvin Braude Coastal Bicycle Path along the Pacific Ocean. 

This fun 22 mile path takes you from Pacific Palisades as far as Torrance.  Depending on how far you want to go and if you have kids with you, there are so many spots to stop along the way. 

To get to Will Rogers State Beach from the Conejo Valley, take the 101 to Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon Road south to PCH, then about 9 miles down PCH to Will Rogers (17000 PCH), just east of Gladstones and Sunset Boulevard. Parking at Will Rogers varies based on when you go; I last recall paying $10.

The path doesn't actually start at Will Rogers Beach as it is a walking path only at this point. Ride the bike through the parking lot to the start of the bike path at Temescal Canyon Road. And, you're off!

From the start of the path, here are some approximate distances to destinations:

  • Santa Monica Pier - 3.2 miles
  • Venice Pier - 5.8 miles
  • Marina del Rey - 8.7 miles
  • Playa del Rey - 9.9 miles
  • Dockweiler Beach - 12.5 miles
  • Manhattan Beach Pier - 16.5 miles
  • Hermosa Beach Pier - 18.2 miles
  • Redondo Beach Pier - 20.4 miles
  • Torrance Beach - 22.3 miles (endpoint)

With younger kids, the Santa Monica Pier makes a perfect 6 1/2 mile round trip destination as you can stop, eat lunch and have some fun at Pacific Park, then ride back. Or kick it a few notches and ride to/through Venice Beach for all the action. 

Pacific Park up ahead

Pacific Park up ahead

There are plenty of restrooms water stops and of course non-stop BEACH to enjoy here, making this one of my favorite destination for bicycling with the family. And of course, you don't have to park at Will Rogers...you can park anywhere on PCH in and around the bike path to enjoy it.

Of course you do have to be careful of sand on the path, pedestrians/beach goers crossing and walking on the path, other cyclists, runners, roller bladers and crowds.  

Detailed map at file.lacounty.gov/SDSInter/dbh/docs/189949_2013-BIKEMAP85x11Web-Ready(highres).pdf

CLICK HERE FOR DOZENS OF FAMILY-FRIENDLY BIKE PATHS BACK UP IN THE VENTURA COUNTY AREA!

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.

Sierra Vista Trail in Newbury Park

The Sierra Vista Trail in the Dos Vientos section of Newbury Park is a roughly one mile long trail that connects the Vista Del Mar Trail on the west to the Potrero Ridge Trail on the east. The entry point on the west side is off of Rancho Dos Vientos just south of Via El Cerro and on the east side is on Via Las Brisas near Paseo Santa Rosa. As with most trails in this area, you will be treated with some great views of the surrounding mountains and neighborhoods. This trail is maintained by the Conejo Open Space Foundation.

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