The Promenade at Westlake

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Located at the southeast corner of Westlake Boulevard and Thousand Oaks Boulevard, The Promenade at Westlake is an architecturally appealing outdoor mall that has an assortment of things to do, including two large fountains, a koi pond and the Cinepolis movie theater.

One of two fountains at The Promenade at Westlake.

One of two fountains at The Promenade at Westlake.

Eateries include The Grill on the Alley, Marmalade Cafe, Farfalla Trattoria, Champagne French Bistro, Kreation Organic, Fresh Brothers, Lemonade, Paul Martin's American Grill and Soom Soom Fresh Mediterranean (opened in September 2018) and Shake Shack (opened in October 2018).

Other stores include Cost Plus World Market, See's Candies, Sprinkles Cupcakes and Ice Cream and a variety of clothing and specialty stores, including Restoration Hardware, Brandy Glanville, Intermix, Lululemon Athletica, Sephora, Sharon Segal / Nina Segal the closet, Chico's and more.

Lots of outdoor seating around the fountain area outside of Barnes and Noble.  There is usually live music on Friday/Saturday nights during the summer months.

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The Promenade at Westlake is the sister mall of the similarly appointed The Commons at Calabasas

The Promenade is located at 100 Promenade Way, Westlake Village (southeast corner of Westlake and Thousand Oaks Boulevards).  Visit www.ShopPromenade.com or call 805.497.9861 for more information.

Previously at The Promenade:

Gardens of the World - Thousand Oaks

Gardens of the World at 2001 Thousand Oaks Boulevard is a 4 1/2 acre garden across from the Civic Arts Plaza in Thousand Oaks.  It is free and open to the public Tuesday through Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Gardens of the World is a gift from the Hogan Family Foundation.

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GOTW is a stunning oasis of beauty, smack dab in the middle of Thousand Oaks. There is a large bandstand in the center of the Gardens that is a perfect venue for outdoor music.  And the array of plants, flowers, waterfalls (including a stunning fountain that looks out toward the Civic Arts Plaza) and a serene koi pond next to an authentic Japanese Pagoda.

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There is a Japanese garden, a French garden and waterfall (shown above), a Mission Courtyard, an English perennial and rose garden and an Italian garden.  A beautiful place to visit and relax for a bit, right in the heart of Thousand Oaks.  Also a great place for a picnic lunch, with plenty of tables, benches and grassy areas. More info at www.gardensoftheworld.info or 805.557.1135.

I never promised you a rose garden...but here's a beautiful one to check out!

I never promised you a rose garden...but here's a beautiful one to check out!

Koi pond in the Japanese Garden

Koi pond in the Japanese Garden

Shaded picnic area

Shaded picnic area

Since 2003, Gardens of the World has hosted a great Jazz Series on Sunday afternoons in August in this traditional American Bandstand area.

Since 2003, Gardens of the World has hosted a great Jazz Series on Sunday afternoons in August in this traditional American Bandstand area.

The Lakes at Thousand Oaks

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The Lakes at Thousand Oaks is a 7 1/2 acre, 48,000 square foot development next to the Thousand Oaks Civic Arts Plaza where you can relax and enjoy park-like landscaping, two lakes, fountains, waterfalls and a children's play area, while grabbing a bite and do some shopping. The Lakes opened in 2005.

Restaurants include P.F. Changs, California Pizza Kitchen, Sabor Cocina Mexicana and Umami Burger as well as Sunlife Organics. Rounding out the offerings are a Lassen's Health Foods, Brighton Collectibles, BCBC Nails Spa, Kalologie Skincare and Tommy Bahama.

The Lakes at Thousand Oaks is really a beautiful, peaceful place, daytime and nighttime.

The Lakes at Thousand Oaks is really a beautiful, peaceful place, daytime and nighttime.

There is a kids club that meets every Wednesday morning from Spring through Fall. The Lakes hosts a very popular outdoor ice skating rink.  Younger ones enjoy it here because there is a lot of room to run around, run across the bridge, around the lake, etc.

We like the koi at The Lakes. They're cool to watch. But we don't feed them as cute as they are as they are obviously well fed!

We like the koi at The Lakes. They're cool to watch. But we don't feed them as cute as they are as they are obviously well fed!

The Lakes is located at 2200 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard.  Visit www.shoplakes.com or call 805.497.9861 for more information.

The Lakes Memory Lane: Former tenants at The Lakes include Claim Jumper (closed 2/23/14; now Lassen's), Nate 'n Al Deli (closed 1/4/12 in space now occupied by Umami Burger), Sushi Ko (2005 to August 2009 in Umami Burger space), Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf (closed 7/18/11), Blizz Frozen Yogurt (closed early Spring 2011), Ben & Jerry's and 9021Pho (July 2016).

Santa Barbara Zoo

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The 30 acre Santa Barbara Zoo is a great family outing, with beautiful landscape, low key, clean environment and cool breezes from the nearby Pacific Ocean.

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There are over 500 animals at the Santa Barbara Zoo and my family's favorites include the giraffes and the penguins.  One of the most unique features is feeding the giraffes. For a fee of $8 you are situated face to face with these friendly Masai giraffes as you give them a snack. Open weekdays from 11:30am to 1:30pm and weekends 11:30am to 2:30pm.

The penguin exhibit is mesmerizing as you are treated to happy go lucky penguins frolicking in the water.

There are plenty of other animals, exhibits and places in the park to just hang out and have a picnic lunch.  And the train ride is always fun.

So drive the 45 miles up the coast, take the kids to the zoo, grab a bite, feel the sand, do some shopping and you've got yourself a nice day out.  Better yet, buy a tax-deductible zoo membership and visit the zoo several times per year with the kids.

Speaking of membership, if you have a membership at the Los Angeles Zoo, your card will get you 50% off admission at the Santa Barbara Zoo. Conversely, a membership at the Santa Barbara Zoo will get you 50% off at the Los Angeles Zoo. Nice!

The Santa Barbara Zoo is located at 500 Niños Drive, Santa Barbara.  For more information, visit www.sbzoo.org or call 805.962.5339 or 805.962.6310.

Open every day 10:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m., except 10:00 a.m. - 3:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, and Christmas.

Ticket Prices (as of August 2016) are Adults 13-64: $17, Children 2-12 $10, Seniors 65+: $13 and Children under 2: Free. Parking: $7 (free with SB Zoo Membership)

Koi Pond at Green Thumb Nursery in Ventura

After I posted a video showing the cool koi pond at the Simi Valley Town Center, a Conejo Valley Guide reader reminded me about the koi pond at Green Thumb Nursery, 1899 S. Victoria Avenue, Ventura. Well it is, toward the back on the left side. These happy koi were swimming around and enjoying their summer afternoon.