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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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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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 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 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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Libbey Bowl and Libbey Park in Ojai

Libbey Bowl and Libbey Park are located in the heart of Ojai near the corner of Ojai Avenue and Signal Street. Libbey Bowl was originally built in 1957 and has been used for the annual Ojai Music Festival, Storytelling Festival, Ojai Day event, holiday celebrations and many other community events through the years. Beginning in 2008, the bowl was renovated and in 2011 was reopened with a new look and design. It accommodates 1,300 people. Learn more about Libbey Bowl at www.libbeybowl.org.

One view of Libbey Bowl

One view of Libbey Bowl

Both Libbey Bowl and Libbey Park are named after Ojai's greatest benefactor, Edward Libbey, a glass manufacturer from Toledo, Ohio. Libbey donated the park to the city in 1917. In front of the park is a shaded pergola along the main "arcade" section of Downtown Ojai.

The park contains a community playground that was designed and built with the help of over 500 volunteers in 2015. It contains a beautiful new play structure and other features that leapfrog what used to be a fairly outdated play area to one of the nicest ones in Ventura County. Visit THIS POST for more information.

This is a photo of the OLD play structure that was replaced in October 2015.

This is a photo of the OLD play structure that was replaced in October 2015.

The new playground!

The new playground!

There are also plenty of benches and seating areas, restrooms, shade trees and tennis courts at Libbey Park. Learn more on the City of Ojai website at www.ojairec.com/?page_id=190.

Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens in Santa Barbara

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Located at 1500 Santa Barbara Street, adjacent to Alameda Park, Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens is a beautiful botanic garden with over 75 tree and plant species. There's also a large koi pond with ducks and turtles floating around, picnic area, gazebo and walking paths. 

Formerly at this spot was the El Mirasol Hotel, which was purchased and donated to the city in 1975. An anonymous donor provided the funds to acquire the property, which was later was revealed to be Alice Keck Park (after she passed away), daughter of William Myron Keck, the founder of Superior Oil Company (now part of ExxonMobil).

Visit the City of Santa Barbara website at www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/parksrec/parks/features/horticulture/alicekeck.asp or call 805.564.5418 to make reservations.

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Oakbrook Neighborhood Park in Thousand Oaks

Located at the corner of Erbes Road and Pederson Road in Thousand Oaks, the 14 acre Oakbrook Neighborhood Park was expanded dramatically in 2012. The original park included a play area, sand volleyball court and large grassy area. The expansion includes a decent-sized parking area, small restroom, basketball and netball* courts, a jogging/walking/bike path and a nice horseshoe pit area. Visit the Conejo Recreation and Park District website at www.crpd.org for more information.

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This is the original section of the park; primarily expansive grassy area with play area in background.Paved path area in the expanded section of the park.Something you don't see too often these days...new horseshoe pit area .

Yes, this is a netball court, not to be confused with a basketball court!

Yes, this is a netball court, not to be confused with a basketball court!

To learn more about the game of netball, click this link. This is the first, and, as of May 2013, only netball court in Thousand Oaks. And yes, I was confused when I saw it too.

Strathearn Historical Park and Museum in Simi Valley

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Strathearn Historical Park and Museum is located at 137 Strathearn Place, Simi Valley (off of Tierra Rejada Road, just east of Madera). The Park is operated jointly by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District and the Simi Valley Historical Society.

This is a six acre site that houses numerous historical Simi Valley area artifacts and structures. The namesake of the Park is Robert P. and Mary Gray Lamb Strathearn. Originally from Scotland, they purchased 15,000 acres of the old Spanish Rancho and built their Victorian-style farmhouse onto the front of the Simi Adobe.

Stroll through history at the site, which includes the original Saint Rose of Lima Church built in 1902, the Simi Adobe, Strathearn House, Colony House (the first historic building to be relocated to Strathearn Park in 1970), the original Simi Library built in 1930 and used until a new library was built in 1962, two original Wood Ranch barns from the 1940s, the Simi Store gift shop, the Banaga Barbershop and more.

As of January 2017, the park is open 9 am to 3 pm Monday through Friday and 1-4 pm Saturday/Sunday. Hour and a half long docent-led tours inside of the buildings take place, for a $3 donation, on Sat/Sun from 1-4pm and at 1pm on W/Th/F. The Visitor Center and park grounds are open for self-guided tours.

For more information, visit www.simihistory.com or call 805.526.6543.

The Strathearn House

The Strathearn House

The precursor to Simi Valley Town Center

The precursor to Simi Valley Town Center

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Mission Historical Park and A.C. Postel Garden in Santa Barbara

Directly across the street from the Old Santa Barbara Mission is the 8 acre Mission Historical Park (at the corner of Los Olivos and Laguna Street). The centerpiece of this park is the A.C. Postel Mission Rose Garden which has a stunning All American Rose Garden with over 1,500 rose plants. It is appealing to both your sense of sight and sense of smell. For more information or to reserve the site for a wedding or event, visit www.santabarbaraca.gov/gov/depts/parksrec/parks/features/horticulture/acpostel.asp or call 805.564.5418.

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Alumni Park at Pepperdine University

Situated in front of Pepperdine's Malibu campus at 24255 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu, Alumni Park is a beautiful 30 acre expanse of lawn, rolling hills, ponds and coral trees. The two ponds are actually open reservoirs (about 40,000 square feet each) of reclaimed water, but add beauty and serenity to the park. Intramural games are played in the flat field area, and picnics can be held under the scenic coral trees lining the crest of the park.

You cannot ask for a more serene setting overlooking the Pacific Ocean on a Sunday afternoon...unless of course I'm there with my kids.  This park is not geared towards children in that there is no playground facility, etc.  But...if you're looking for a very inexpensive, yet wonderful, peaceful and romantic date, bring a picnic basket and blanket to this park with your significant other and take in the unbelievable views.

Eagle View Park in Oak Park

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Eagle View Park is located at 1240 Hidden Springs Avenue in Oak Park, near the very top of Lindero Canyon Road. This is a nice little neighborhood park with a basketball court, bike path, recreational trail, picnic tables and play areas. No restroom though! The park is maintained by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District at www.rsrpd.org.

Play area for bigger kids

Play area for bigger kids

Play area for little kids

Play area for little kids

Recreational trail accessible just southeast of the park

Recreational trail accessible just southeast of the park

Las Flores Creek Park in Malibu

Las Flores Creek Park at 3805 Las Flores Canyon Road in Malibu is a neighborhood pocket park with on-site parking, picnic tables, restrooms, a small playground, benches, a pedestrian bridge, and over one-third of a mile of walking trails. The park also has over 45 varieties of native plant species and interpretive signage throughout the park with information about the plants, riparian habitat, the creek stabilization project, and the history of the area. More at www.malibucity.org.

Dozens and Dozens of Kid-Friendly Parks in Ventura County and Surrounding Areas

There's a method to the madness. You'll find some parks listed here in the Do Something section of CVG, but dozens more are profiled in the Kid Fun section. But those parks are also great for non-kids, so click the picture below to see that list. Most of the listings include photos and/or video to help you scope thing out.