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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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 www.gofundme.com/chumash-indian-museum-wildfire-fund.

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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.

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

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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 www.chumashmuseum.org or 805.492.8076.

To protect the wildlife, dogs are not allowed here.

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America's Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College

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Don't want to drive 45 minutes to the nearest zoo?  Well then, stop by local Moorpark College to visit the student-run America's Teaching Zoo

This five acre zoo housing nearly 200 exotic animals is part of the college's Exotic Animal Training and Management Program and is open each weekend from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (excluding holidays).  This interesting collection has included all sorts of animals, like alligators, geckos, elephants, emus, tigers, camels, snakes, ocelots and more. Animal show times at 12 pm and 2 pm. Animal demonstrations from 3:30-4 pm.

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Galapagos Tortoise at America's Teaching Zoo

Students in the program are required to work most days and weekends.  For a truly unique wild animal experience, stop by and check it out. Don't expect anything fancy. This is a very low key place, but lots of fun as it is usually not very crowded and you can get really close to the animals. This huge Galapagos Tortoise is Clarence. Learn more about him here.

The zoo is open on weekends with an admission fee of $9 for adults and $7 for kids and seniors (checks and cash only). Under age 2 is free.

Visit zoo.moorparkcollege.edu or call 805.378.1441 for more information.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

Another handsome occupant of the zoo - “Ghost,” the bald eagle.

The Zoo is located at 7075 Campus Road in Moorpark.  Take the 101 North to the 23 North to the 118 East.  Exit Collins and turn left at the stop sign.  Go through 2 stoplights and turn right into the 2nd entrance past the stoplights.  Turn right in the parking lot and continue up the short hill to the right.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

A zoo volunteer feeding the lion.

Santa Barbara Maritime Museum

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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 www.sbmm.org or call 805.962.8404.

Stagecoach Inn Museum - Newbury Park

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The Stagecoach Inn Museum is a replica of a Monterey style inn, the 1876 Grand Union Hotel. The complex also includes a Chumash Indian village, an early California adobe, a pioneer house and a few other buildings. There is a nice park adjoining the property along with nature trails and a stream that make this a nice place to bring the entire family.

Spanish Adobe structure at Stagecoach Inn is a replica of housing that would be seen in the Conejo Valley in the early 1800s.

Spanish Adobe structure at Stagecoach Inn is a replica of housing that would be seen in the Conejo Valley in the early 1800s.

The Stagecoach Inn Museum is State Historical Landmark No. 659.  The original structure was destroyed by fire in April 1970 but has been rebuilt and relocated.  It was originally located at the corner of what is now Ventu Park Road and the Highway 101, where a historical marker has been placed.

The Stagecoach Inn is located at 51 South Ventu Park Road, Newbury Park.  Call 805.498.9441 or visit www.stagecoachinnmuseum.com for more information. As of May 2019, it is open from 1 pm to 4 pm Wednesday to Sunday. Adults $5, 62+ and ages 13-21 $4, kids 5-12 $2.

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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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Rancho Sierra Vista / Satwiwa in Newbury Park

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We are fortunate to have such great trails and views of Boney Peak from in Newbury Park. At Wendy and Potrero is the Western edge of the Santa Monica Mountains where Sycamore Canyon cuts through Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa and Point Mugu State Park.

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Roughly a mile easy hike from Wendy/Potrero gets you to the Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center where you can explore some native Chumash items and educational information and chat with rangers. This is a nice little hike to take the kids on. There are restrooms and water at the center, which is open from 9 to 5 on weekends.

Learn more about hiking in Rancho Sierra Vista/Satwiwa at THIS LINK.

You can get easier access to the center by parking in the adjacent National Park Service parking lot via Lynn Road to the access road at Via Goleta in Newbury Park.

Another mile and a half of hiking gets you to a small waterfall, which is fun to check out with the kids but somewhat more strenuous of a hike. Note that in recent years (2012-2015), the waterfall has barely flowed due to low rainfall.

Here is more information about the Boney Mountain Trail, leading up to Hidden Valley Overlook, the waterfall and Danielson Monument.

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Click here for a pdf file describing these and other local trails or go to the National Park Service website at www.nps.gov/samo.  Visit www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/rsvsatwiwa.htm for a map and site information on the National Park Service website.

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Trailhead at the corner of Wendy Drive and Potrero Road in Newbury Park. Park on the dirt on the south side of Potrero or on the street on Wendy.

Malibu Creek State Park

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Malibu Creek State Park is accessible in Calabasas, at 1925 Las Virgenes Road, south of Mulholland. The park contains over 8,000 acres of rugged, beautiful hills, trails and scenery. It stretches from Agoura Hills down to Malibu, down to Malibu Lagoon State Beach, covering much of the 25 mile Malibu Creek that flows from Boney Mountain down to the Lagoon. Malibu Creek is the only stream channel that crosses through the Santa Monica Mountain range.

There are three natural preserves in the park, Liberty Canyon, Udell Gorge and Kaslow, which protect Valley Oaks, rare plants and volcanic formations.

Things to do in Malibu Creek State Park include hiking, running, biking, camping, picnicking, fishing and checking out the wildlife. There are over 35 miles of trails and fire roads throughout the park. A fun added bonus is the old M*A*S*H series set, filmed from 1972 to 1983, that resides there.

Dogs are not allowed in Malibu Creek State Park trails.

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Malibu Creek State Park contains roughly three dozen different trails, many easy, and some...extraordinarily challenging, such as the Bulldog trail, taking you to 2,500 foot peaks with panoramic views out to the ocean and surrounding peaks and valleys.

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Parking for the day at Malibu Creek State Park is currently $12, or $3 per hour. You can also park at the corner of Mulholland and Las Virgenes and make your way into the park via the Grassland Trail.

The campground at Malibu Creek State Park has 62 campsites and 4 RV sites. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=614 for more information. It has been closed since June 2018 as a result of a fatal shooting. It was still closed as of 4/18/19 but the ranger I spoke to was hopeful that officials would re-open it next month.

The old M*A*S*H site is about 2 1/2 miles from the parking area.

The old M*A*S*H site is about 2 1/2 miles from the parking area.

M*A*S*H site with plenty of picnic tables

M*A*S*H site with plenty of picnic tables

The Visitor Center is only a 10 minute walk from the parking lot and is generally open from noon to 4pm on weekends.

The Visitor Center is only a 10 minute walk from the parking lot and is generally open from noon to 4pm on weekends.

There's also an interesting visitor center about 1/2 mile from the main entrance to the park. It is open on Saturday/Sunday from noon to 4pm, subject to availability of docents. Worth a stop as there are some neat things to see in there, including wildlife and rocks/artifacts and other useful information. You can also purchase drinks in there as well as a small assortment of other items.

Hike to the Rock Pool at Malibu Creek State Park!

Century Lake Hike at Malibu Creek State Park

Sapwi Bike Park in Thousand Oaks

Beginners’ pump track at Sapwi Trails Community Park.

Beginners’ pump track at Sapwi Trails Community Park.

The Sapwi Bike Park project is a partnership between the Concerned Off-Road Bicyclists Association (CORBA) and Conejo Recreation and Park District (CRPD). The park is a free, public recreational bicycle skills park facility located in the heart of beautiful Sapwi Trails Community Park in Thousand Oaks.

The park also features several miles of multi-use trails, natural habitat preservation, and other activities such as disc golf, cross-country running, and a non-motorized glider flying area.

The Sapwi Trails Bike Park offers a wide range of trails and features to challenge all ages and skill levels. In addition to a pump track, the park features progressive drop and jump lines – varying in difficulty from beginner to advanced. Outside of the dedicated bike park area, there are several trail side feature areas and a hard-surface beginner level pump track.

This 145 acre Sapwi Trails Community Park is located in the open space between Erbes Road (at Scenicpark Street) on the west and Westlake Boulevard east, with Avenida de los Arboles on the north. There are three parking lots off of Erbes, Arboles and Westlake Boulevard.

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ImmotionVR at The Oaks Shopping Mall in Thousand Oaks

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We were just passing through The Oaks mall recently when we looked up and saw ImmotionVR on the first floor near Aveda. ImmotionVR offers up virtual reality experiences for $8 per ride (5-8 minutes), $25 for 30 minutes and $40 for 60 minutes.

VR experiences offered include Delta Zero, Jinx Thriller, Legend of Lusca Adventure and more.

Hours are 10am to 9pm Mon to Sat and 11am to 7pm Sun. immotionvr.com

Commemorative Air Force Aviation Museum at Camarillo Airport

Located at the Camarillo Airport at 455 Aviation Drive, the Southern California Wing of the Commemorative Air Force has hangars devoted to preserving, maintaining, displaying, and flying World War II aircraft.

The Commemorative Air Force Southern California Wing Aviation Museum is open Tuesdays through Saturdays from 10 am to 4 pm and Sundays noon to 4pm. Closed Mondays, New Year's, Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Donations of $10 for adults, $5 for ages 10 to 18, $3 for ages 6 to 10 are requested. Kids under 6 and active military are free. Visit www.cafsocal.com or call 805.482.0064 for more information.

You can rent out the hangar for events! Visit hangarevents.com for more information.

Also, take a vintage WWII airplane rides on the Marine Mitchell B-25 (BPJ), P-51 Mustang, BT-19, SNJ and Aircoupe. Details at www.cafsocal.com/warbird-ride-program.

Docents are enjoyable to speak with as they have a lot of history to share at this museum. Two 15,000 sq ft hangars and a newer (2016) 32,800 sq. ft. hangar complex serve as a Museum Hangar and a Maintenance and Restoration Hangar.

The Museum Hangar contains some of the many artifacts that are currently on display as well as a gift shop. It also houses any of the aircraft that are not away on a mission or undergoing maintenance.  For safety reasons the maintenance hangar is not available for a walk-through, however visitors can observe any work in progress from behind a safety perimeter.

There are a number of aircraft on display, including several you can physically inspect, which is always fun to do with the kids. There are some interesting WWII exhibits on hand too. 

The only authentic Marine BPJ-1J variant of the famed Mitchell B-25 Bomber. It flew into Camarillo from Midland, TX in 1993 for a 20 year restoration project. It is now flight-ready!

The only authentic Marine BPJ-1J variant of the famed Mitchell B-25 Bomber. It flew into Camarillo from Midland, TX in 1993 for a 20 year restoration project. It is now flight-ready!

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The Kakovlev Yak-3 is widely considered the lightest fighter aircraft between 1939 and 1945.

The Kakovlev Yak-3 is widely considered the lightest fighter aircraft between 1939 and 1945.

Rocking K Horse Rentals - Newbury Park

Rocking K Horse Rentals, open 7 days a week, is located at 4790 West Lynn Road in Newbury Park. Horses are available for rent, guided tours, birthday parties, summer camps and more. 

Minimum age requirement is 6. Minimum height requirement is 44 inches tall. Maximum weight is 260 lbs. All children under 16 are required to wear protective headgear. Helmets are provided but you may also bring your own.

Visit www.rockingkhorserentals.com or call 805.499.9512 for more information.

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Color Me Mine Paint Your Own Ceramics Studio in Oxnard

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Are you looking for a creative way to spend quality time with the ones you love? Paint ceramics with your friends and family at Color Me Mine Paint Your Own Ceramics Studio located at The Collection at Riverpark, at 2710 Portico Way, Oxnard!

Color Me Mine is a ceramic painting studio where you drop by anytime and paint a pre-made bisque pieces. For the price of a studio fee and the item you choose to paint, you can paint all day using 60+ colors and supplies! They then glaze and fire your work in a kiln and your work of art will be available in 5 to 7 days.

In addition to a vast array of tableware, painters can select from a variety of vases, frames, jewelry boxes, figurines, and more!

More information at www.oxnard.colormemine.com or call 805.981.8631.