Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History


Founded in 1916, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History makes for a great excursion to Santa Barbara with the kids.  There are eight exhibit halls with permanent exhibits featuring birds, mammals, insects, ocean life, a planetarium and more. Many of the exhibits are "hands on" with buttons and interactive features that kids particularly enjoy. There are an additional two halls for changing exhibits.

You and your kids can roam the nature paths and visit the well stocked gift shop, full of educational items. I can vouch for the fascination kids (and adults) have at this Museum. It is a very comfortable museum that in my experience is rarely is crowded. The "Museum Backyard" area and gardens has a picnic area, stream and other enjoyable features. The pond and stream often have tadpoles that captivate the kids.

The museum is open 7 days a week and is closed certain holidays. As of July 2019, admission is $15 for adults, $12 for 65+ seniors and teens (13-17) and $9 for children 2 to 12 years of age. Become a Museum member and you don't have to pay for admission. The Museum also offers birthday parties for members. Tax-deductible family memberships are currently $99/year.

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History is located at 2559 Puesta del Sol Road, Santa Barbara. More information at or 805.682.4711.

Chumash Indian Museum / Oakbrook Regional Park

NOTE: Oakbrook Regional Park sustained fire damage and the replica Chumash village was completely lost in the Woolsey Fire of 2018. However, a majority of the oak trees survived. Trails are now back open to the public. Funds are being raised and volunteers are being sought at


Located in Lang Ranch at the top of Westlake Boulevard near Avenida de los Arboles at 3290 Lang Ranch Parkway, Thousand Oaks, the Chumash Interpretative Center / Chumash Indian Museum contains Chumash artifacts and historical items, nature walks and tours of the beautiful local Oakbrook Regional Park area.  The museum is open Saturdays from 10am to 4pm. Admission price is $5.00 for adults, $3.00 for seniors 65+ and $3.00 for children under 12. There is no charge to walk the trails in the park.


The Chumash Indian Museum is located on a historical Chumash village site and contains a large collection of Chumash artifacts.


Stroll around the 436 acre Oakbrook Regional Park, a Ventura County historical landmark #90 (designated in 1983). 

Contact the Center for more information about these and other events, field trips, weddings and birthday parties at or 805.492.8076.

To protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed here.


Santa Barbara Maritime Museum


The Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is located at the Santa Barbara Waterfront Center and is a beautiful, high tech facility. The mission of the Santa Barbara Maritime Museum is to preserve and celebrate the maritime heritage of the California Coast and present it to the public in an interesting and exciting way.

Exhibits include boat models, surfing artifacts, historic Goleta cannons, interactive environmental displays, rescue and emergency equipment, fishing and diving technology, shipwreck displays, a children's gallery and more. 

My young boys particularly enjoyed 3 things at the museum - the interactive fishing game (combines a video game with an actual fishing pole as you attempt to catch a variety of virtual fish), the kids computer area and the U.S. Navy periscope exhibit. The periscope is interesting for all ages because it is an actual, working example from a submarine that they've set up so that you can check out 360 degree scenes around Santa Barbara.

The museum is bright, packed with numerous items and has a large video viewing room upstairs. Go check it out!

The museum is located at 113 Harbor Way Suite 190, Santa Barbara. Open 10 am to 5 pm daily, except Saturdays (9 am to 3 pm); closed Wednesdays.

Admission (as of May 2019) is $8 for adults (18 to 64), $5 for seniors 65+, kids 6 to 17 and students (with ID). Under age 6 is free of charge. Active military is free. 

More information at or call 805.962.8404.

Adamson House Tour and Malibu Lagoon Museum


The Adamson House at 23200 Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu is a National Historic Site and a registered California landmark. The house and grounds share one of the most beautiful beach locations in Southern California, with a view of the Malibu Lagoon, Malibu Beach and the Malibu Pier. In addition to its world-famous Malibu Tile, the house contains hand-carved teakwood doors, hand-painted murals, molded ceilings, hand-wrought ironwork and lead- framed bottle glass windows.


The Adamson House Tour is a guided tour through the house which contains its original furnishings and is decorated with the renowned Malibu Potteries tile. Trained volunteer docents relate the history of the house, details of its architecture and furnishings, and the history of the family that lived in and created this distinctive home. Admission (as of July 2018) is $7 for ages 17 and up, $2 ages 6 to 16 and under 6 is free. Cash only.

The Malibu Lagoon Museum adjoins the Adamson House and contains a collection of artifacts, rare photographs and documents depicting the colorful history of Malibu. The museum tour takes the visitor from the early Chumash Indian era through the Spanish California culture. Here is an excellent opportunity to relive the genteel and romantic ranching days of the famed Rindge and Adamson families. Learn about dramatic episodes in Malibu's rich history: the Malibu Railroad; the 50-room Castle on the Hill; the 17-year legal battle over a Malibu highway; the Malibu movie colony; the Malibu Dam, and much, much more. Admission to the Museum is free.

Adamson House.jpg

The Adamson House Garden Tour is a docent-led walking tour of the landmark gardens, beautifully preserved in their 1930s appearance. It is offered every Friday of the month, 10:00 a.m. The Adamson House Tour admission fee includes a house garden tour; no reservation is required. Reservations are necessary only for groups of 10 or more at 310-456-8432. Group tours are Tuesdays at 10:00 a.m.

More information at or call 310.456.8432.

Olivas Adobe Historical Park - Ventura


The Olivas Adobe Historical Park is operated by the City of Ventura and serviced by the Olivas Adobe Historical Interpreters. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and is State Historical Landmark No. 115.

The Adobe represents a superb example of a large home from the Rancho Period prior to California statehood in 1849. The home was started in 1847 and completed in 1849 through the efforts of local Chumash people, and occupied by Don Raymundo, his wife Teodora, and their 21 children until 1899.

Ultimately, the City of Ventura received the adobe and a large land parcel from the Max Fleischman Foundation that included 450 acres that extended from the Olivas Adobe to the ocean, where the Olivas Golf Course, the San Buenaventura Water Reclamation Facility and the Harbor are now located. The Park includes exhibits, extensive gardens, and the restored adobe buildings.

The Olivas Adobe is also available for weddings, receptions, fiestas and special events.

The Park is located at 4200 Olivas Park Drive in Ventura.  Grounds are open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekdays and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. on weekends. Free admission. Costumed docent-led tours of the house take place on weekends from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (tour tickets are $5 for adults $3 for children under 12 and seniors and free to under 4). For more information, visit or call 805.658.4728.


King Gillette Ranch in Calabasas


The 588-acre King Gillette Ranch (26800 West Mulholland Highway, Calabasas) is situated adjacent to Malibu Creek State Park. This scenic parkland at the lower end of the Las Virgenes Valley is a haven for larger mammals of the Santa Monica Mountains and offers a rare unspoiled view of California’s rich archaeological, cultural, and historic resources, including a Chumash settlement, and nationally significant structures designed for razor magnate King C. Gillette in the 1920’s by Wallace Neff, architect of California’s Golden Age.

View of King Gillette Ranch from Inspiration Point, south of the Gillette Mansion

View of King Gillette Ranch from Inspiration Point, south of the Gillette Mansion

A short, somewhat steep roughly 1 mile hike from the parking area south of the Gillette Mansion leads to a knoll with 360-degree views—including the famous rock formations of Malibu Creek State Park. This is referred to as Inspiration Point. You will love the spectacular views from up there.

View from Inspiration Point west towards Malibu Creek State Park.

View from Inspiration Point west towards Malibu Creek State Park.

Other activities include strolling, bicycling, photography, and picnicking. King Gillette Ranch is owned and managed by the Mountains Recreation and Conservation Authority in cooperation with the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area unit of the National Park Service, the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy, and California State Parks.  More information at or call the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center at 805.370.2301.

Directions from the Conejo Valley: Take Hwy 101 (Ventura Freeway) to the Las Virgenes/Malibu Canyon exit. Head south on Las Virgenes Road and continue to Mulholland Hwy, about two miles. Turn left onto Mulholland Highway and immediately look for the King Gillette Ranch entrance on the right.

Camarillo Ranch House


The Camarillo Ranch House is a 3-story, 14 room, 6,000 square foot Victorian home built by Adolfo Camarillo in 1892.  Adolfo is the son of Juan Camarillo, who purchased the land in 1866.  Adolfo operated the ranch from the time of Juan's death in 1880 until 1948.  Adolfo's name proliferates in Camarillo and the local high school was named after him after he gave 50 acres of land for that use.

Camarillo Ranch Hosue

The 4.5 acre ranch was given to the City of Camarillo by the Centex Company in 1997.  Today the property includes the house, a historic red barn and a stable.  In 2001, the City of Camarillo completed a $1.5 million restoration of the beautiful home to exhibit what it looked like during the 1914 to 1930 time frame. The Camarillo Ranch was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2003.

The Camarillo Ranch is open to the public 7 days a week, 9am-5pm, unless there is holiday or special event. There is no charge to visit the property and walk the grounds during normal hours. The gardens have interpretive signs and there are also picnic benches available for use at lunchtime.

Docent-led tours of the house are currently (as of June 2017) offered on Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. (last tour starts at 2 p.m.) but effective 7/1/17 will noon to 3 p.m. Donation of $5 per visitor is requested.

The property is used for many special events and can be reserved for private events like weddings and receptions.

The Camarillo Ranch House is located at 201 Camarillo Ranch Road.  Visit or call 805.389.8182 for more information.

Morton Bay Fig Tree

Morton Bay Fig Tree

Alice Keck Park Memorial Gardens in Santa Barbara


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 or call 805.564.5418 to make reservations.


Scarlett Belle Riverboat Cruises


The Scarlett Belle is a modern riverboat located in the scenic Channel Islands Harbor. The boat can accomodate from 40 to 150 passengers and is a fun, luxurious venue for weddings, parties, corporate events, anniversaries and nights, graduation parties, public holiday cruises, etc.

For more information, visit or call 805.204.0977.

Located at A&M Boat Charters & Cruises at the Marine Emporium Landing at Channel Islands Harbor, 3600 S. Harbor Blvd., #219, Oxnard.

Exit the 101 freeway at Victoria, proceed south on Victoria, at West Channel Islands Blvd, turn right. Go to the second stop light and turn left onto Harbor/ W. Channel Islands Blvd. Go to Cabezone Circle make a left. Into the Marine Emporium. Walk to the back of the three buildings facing the street to the dock where you will see the Scarlett Belle and Sunfish. Free parking.

Heritage Square Oxnard - Historic Tours


Visit Heritage Square in Oxnard for an information-filled tour of the historic structures of Heritage Square and learn more about Oxnard. Docent led tours are $5, $10 for a family of four. Every Saturday 10AM - 4PM and every Sunday 1PM - 4PM, weather permitting. School and group tours available by appointment. The tours are approximately 45 minutes long and include 3 interiors and 8 exteriors of the 15 structures on this block. Tours start at the Heritage Square Visitor Center at 715 South A Street, next to the water tower.

More information at or call 805.483.7960.

Strathearn Historical Park and Museum in Simi Valley


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 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


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 or call 805.564.5418.


Rancho Camulos Museum in Fillmore

Rancho Camulos is a National Historic Landmark situated within an 1,800 acre working ranch, a great example of a Spanish-Mexican rancho in its original rural environment.  Rancho Camulos is noted for its literary significance as the setting for Helen Hunt Jackson's novel, Ramona.

Tours detail the lives of the native Tataviam Indians, the del Valle family that established Rancho Camulos in 1853, and the Rubel family, current owners, who purchased the ranch in 1924.  Visitors can see the main adobe, cocina, winery, chapel, schoolhouse and beautiful gardens featuring over 50 varieties of roses and the magnificent black walnut tree, covering 1/2 acre. 

Additional features of the museum are a fish pond (built by the Rubel children as a school project in the 1930s), "Ramona's bedroom" popularized through thousands of postcards and the fountain built in 1853.  Learn about the Ramona connection and view the silent movie Ramona starring Mary Pickford, filmed at Rancho Camulos in 1910.

Tours on Sunday from 1 to 4 p.m. and by appointment.  Suggested donation currently $5 for adults and $3 for children 12 and under.  School tours available.  The venue is also available for weddings and events.

Rancho Camulos is located at 5164 E. Telegraph Road, Fillmore, 2 miles east of Piru on Hwy. 126.  Visit or call 805.521.1501 for more information.