San Buenaventura State Beach in Ventura

San Buenaventura State Beach is a two-mile stretch of beach from the Ventura Pier on the north down south past the homes of the Ventura Keys to just north of Marina Park on the south.

This beach features swimming, surfing and picnicking. There are two miles of sandy beach, sand dunes, picnic sites, a parking lot, restrooms and the Jolly Oyster. San Buenaventura features the largest day-use picnic area at a state beach in Southern California.

Looking to ride a bike but didn’t bring one? Rent one near the pier at Wheel Fun Rentals.

There’s a nice mile-long hike and bike trail along the beach stretching from the park entrance at San Pedro Street and Pierpoint Blvd to the Ventura Pier. This trail continues northward up the boardwalk past Surfers’ Point and beyond. CLICK HERE for more details on the Omer Rains Trail.

The 1,700-foot pier has a snack bar, Beach House Fish restaurant and bait shop. Wheel Fun Rentals is right near the pier if you need a bike. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=600 or call 805.585.1850. Campfires not allowed at this beach.

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 Ventura Wharf (Pier) was designated City of Ventura Historic Landmark #20 on March 29, 1976.

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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Leo Carrillo State Park in Malibu

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Leo Carrillo State Park has 1.5 miles of beach for swimming, surfing, windsurfing, surf fishing and beachcombing, as well as tide pools, coastal caves and reefs for exploring. Giant sycamores shade the main campgrounds (though the campground was damaged by the Woolsey Fire of November 2018). The park also features back-country hiking.

Among the many great features of Leo Carrillo, the most engaging activity for me and the kids is the tidepools. They are exposed twice daily at low tide and provide hours of engagement with sea stars, sea anemones, mussels, sea slugs and more.

Nature walks and campfire programs are offered and a small visitor center has interpretive displays.

Trails include Yellow Hill Fire Trail for panoramic views of the beach and the Channel Islands, and the steeper Nicholas Flat Trail, which brings you to a pond.

A view from the Leo Carrillo bluffs as the clouds start rolling in.

A view from the Leo Carrillo bluffs as the clouds start rolling in.

There are 135 family campsites at Leo Carrillo with restrooms and token-operated showers. Visit ReserveCalifornia.com and search for “Leo Carrillo SP” to make reservations.

The park was named after Leo Carrillo (1880-1961), actor, preservationist and conservationist. Leo Carrillo served on the California Beach and Parks commission for 18 years and was instrumental in the state's acquisition of the Hearst property at San Simeon. Leo's greatest fame came from his portrayal of Pancho, the sidekick to Duncan Renaldo's Cisco Kid, an early 1950's TV series.

Leo Carrillo State Park is located at 35000 W. Pacific Coast Highway in Malibu. The park office phone is 310.457.8143. Visit www.parks.ca.gov/?page_id=616 for more information.

Parking is currently $12 in the parking lot for the day (or $3 per hour)...but free on PCH if you can find a spot. There are plenty of parking spots available in the lot. After you park, you can walk in a tunnel underneath PCH to get to the beach.

The muraled tunnel that takes you underneath PCH to Leo Carrillo Beach.

The muraled tunnel that takes you underneath PCH to Leo Carrillo Beach.

Dogs on a leash are allowed in the Park's day use areas, campground and north beach (north of lifeguard tower 3). Dogs are not allowed on backcountry trails or south beach (south of lifeguard tower 3).

DIRECTIONS

The most direct way of getting to Leo Carrillo from the Conejo Valley is via Westlake Boulevard (CA-23) (aka Decker Canyon) south, which for some is a fun 14 mile drive, but for others, not so much. It is a bit winding, hilly, steep at many junctures. I take this route during daytime hours but coming home I'm not too keen on it. After getting to PCH, turn right and drive 2 1/2 miles to get to Leo Carrillo.

Another more popular, though less direct route is via Kanan Road. Either take Kanan Road straight down to PCH, turn right (west) on PCH about 9 miles to Leo Carrillo, or take Kanan to Encinal Canyon, which is about a 3 mile drive on PCH to Leo Carrillo.

Lastly, if you are in Newbury Park, you can take Potrero Road west to Las Posas down to PCH. In about 11 miles you will reach Leo Carrillo.

Beaches Spanning From Carpinteria Through Ventura County to Malibu

My kids and I love going to the beach but for many years we seemed to go to the same ones all the time. So I stopped by the Automobile Club and asked them if they had a brochure on all the local area beaches open to the public. They shrugged their shoulders and said no such guidebook existed. They handed me a fold out map, which was of no use to me as I wanted to know exactly how to get to these beaches, if they have restrooms, parking, etc.

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Then I started searching around for information and found bits and pieces in various locations that were marginally useful. So I decided to consolidate this information into one place where I could find out about where to go to the beach around Ventura County on up the coast to Carpinteria and Santa Barbara and down to Malibu. So I hope you find the following links helpful in finding local area beaches in Ventura County and surrounding areas!

Carpinteria to Ventura

Oxnard to Malibu

Santa Barbara Area Beaches

This took a lot of time to compile over 60 local area beach areas, so I truly hope you benefit from these lists! So enjoy and provide feedback if you have comments and/or additional information.

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At Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu.

At Leo Carrillo State Beach in Malibu.

Windsurfers at Surfers' Point in Ventura.

Windsurfers at Surfers' Point in Ventura.

Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls in Malibu

Trailhead on Winding Way

Trailhead on Winding Way

The Edward Albert Escondido Canyon Trail and Waterfalls is located off of Winding Way in Malibu.  It also also referred to as Escondido Falls.

The most unique aspect to Escondido Falls is that it is home to the tallest waterfall in the Santa Monica Mountains at over 150 feet, making it a wonderful place to visit. 

That said, in drought years, there is often no sign of waterfall, other than a sparse trickle into Escondido Canyon Creek. But even when that is the case, this is a wonderful, moderate hike, good for all ages. 

To get to Escondido Falls from the Conejo Valley/101, take Kanan south to PCH and turn left. You'll be driving just under 2 miles, past Paradise Cove, to the small parking lot on Winding Way and PCH. Turn left onto Winding Way and an immediate left into the parking lot. There's a sign; you can't miss it. The lot has spaces for only around 16 vehicles; it is full, you'll have to find a spot on PCH and make you way from there...but be careful and watch for the plentiful "no parking" signs on PCH.

Parking is $8. and takes both cash and credit cards. Parking fees contribute to the ongoing maintenance of the trails, including porta potty cleanings, graffiti and trash removal and partial staffing.)

The parking area is on Winding Way and PCH. The initial section of the hike is along Winding Way is called the Winding Way Trail.

The parking area is on Winding Way and PCH. The initial section of the hike is along Winding Way is called the Winding Way Trail.

The hike is about 4 miles round trip and can be done in as fast as an hour (if you speed walk and don't hang out) or for most, a couple hours.

The first 8/10ths of a mile is along Winding Way to the trailhead. It has a moderate hill but is not that bad. Near the peak of the initial hill, you will need to cross from the left side of the street to the right side as you make your way up. There are signs that ask that you walk on the dirt trail rather than on the street, so try to abide by that. You will be treated to views of beautiful homes and ocean views along this portion of your trek.

After a short final downhill section, you'll reach the trailhead. After an initial left turn that takes you briefly west, most of the rest of the trail to Escondido Falls is a northeast to northerly direction. You'll be treated to lush oak woodlands and greenery year-round.  

Much of the trail looks like this; canopied by oaks and shrub.

Much of the trail looks like this; canopied by oaks and shrub.

Hikers, equestrians and bikers are all welcome on the trail. Dogs too, on leash of course. I have not seen bikers on this trail, however. There are no restrooms, other than a porta-john at the parking lot. No drinking fountains, so bring water. There are trash cans at the trailhead. 

The waterfall is a treat to see but the rest of the hike is quite nice too, largely shaded and not too hilly or technical. There is a net elevation gain from 150' at the trailhead to 325' at the Falls over about a mile, which is not bad.

After the rainy season, you may have to cross the creek a few times as it criss-crosses the trail. There are a couple forks in the road where you may wonder which way to go. Generally speaking, turn left on your way to the falls and that will get you there.

Believe it or not, this is the end of the trail, where the waterfall flows after the rainy season. In late August pictured here, there is a dribble of water flowing into the creek.

Believe it or not, this is the end of the trail, where the waterfall flows after the rainy season. In late August pictured here, there is a dribble of water flowing into the creek.

The parkland ends at the multi-tiered waterfall area and the trail ends. Except, there are paths that can get you to the upper falls. Technically you are not supposed to do this because you are no longer on public land, not to mention you are literally rock climbing your way up there and it can be dangerous.

This is a fun, family-friendly hike that is worth a try. Quite popular, one could argue, too popular, on weekends.

There's one side trail to the east that will give you views of the waterfall when it is flowing. The white-ish area in the upper right hand of this photo is where the waterfall resides.

There's one side trail to the east that will give you views of the waterfall when it is flowing. The white-ish area in the upper right hand of this photo is where the waterfall resides.

Why is it named after Edward Albert? Well, Edward Albert is the only son of actor Eddie Albert, well known for his role on TV sitcom "Green Acres." Edward died at age 55 in 2006. Prior to his death, he was a tireless advocate for preserving Escondido Canyon. The Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy named the area in honor of him several months prior to his death. (1)

Visit the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy site at mrca.ca.gov/parks/park-listing/escondido-canyon-park for more information.

(1) Los Angeles Times obituary dated 9/27/06 at this link.

Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks

Janss Marketplace in Thousand Oaks

Janss Marketplace at 275 North Moorpark Road in Thousand Oaks (corner of Moorpark Road and Hillcrest) is an open air mall that has a large outdoor eating area, interactive water fountain, monthly Kids Fun Zone and outdoor kids play area.

Retailers and other businesses at Janss Marketplace include Gold's Gym, Ulta Beauty, Old Navy, Burlington Coat Factory, Nordstrom Rack and others.

Eateries include Buca di Beppo, Panera Bread, Karma Indian Cuisine, Crazy King Kong Sushi, Lucky's Dog House, Sunset Terrace Restaurant, Greco's New York Pizzeria, Cold Stone Creamery, Sharky's, The Dudes' Brewing Company, Matcha Tea and Boba and Janchi Korean BBQ.

And for entertainment, there’s Regal Cinemas, Dojoboom Extreme Sports, Dave & Buster’s and the Conejo Valley Art Museum.

COMING SOON! Aldi and California Fish Grill.

Visit www.janssmarketplace.net/coupons for special offers/coupons at Janss merchants.

For more information visit www.janssmarketplace.net or call 805.495.4662.

In 2009 the Janss Marketplace added a NEOS Wall, a fun interactive game right outside the Golds Gym.  This game is free. 

Some former occupants of Janss Marketplace: Toys R Us (summer 2018) Wachovia Banking Center (closed April 2011), Akio’s Sushi (Oct 2012; now Crazy King Kong Sushi), Sizzler/Fuddruckers/Hooters (currently vacant), TGI Fridays (2012)/DISH (Nov 2013) (now Janchi), Aaron Brothers (2018), Tuesday Morning (June 2012), Radio Shack, Marshalls, Mervyn’s, Mann 9 Theatres/Regency Theatres (now Regal Cinemas), Burger King/Salad Gourmet (2016)/Poke Tiki (Apr 2019). Subway (August 2019).

Conejo Creek Bike Path in Thousand Oaks

Conejo Creek Bike Path (Courtesy City of Thousand Oaks)

Conejo Creek Bike Path (Courtesy City of Thousand Oaks)

The Conejo Creek Bike Path is a 1.2 mile path in Thousand Oaks that connects Gainsborough Road on the south to Conejo Creek Park South (the playfields), Thousand Oaks Library and Thousand Oaks Teen Center.  This path was opened to the public in Spring 2011 and provides a nice, flat alternative to city streets as it goes under the 23 Freeway.

The paved path on Paige Lane ends at Janss Road across the street from the Library but you can cross at Janss Road at the crosswalk and from there get to a wide, fairly flat horse trail that takes you up to Avenida De Los Flores. I'd love if this path was longer.

The east end of Gainsborough Road has an access point to the Conejo Creek Bike Path

The east end of Gainsborough Road has an access point to the Conejo Creek Bike Path

Nice flat path adjacent to city streets and neighborhoods

Nice flat path adjacent to city streets and neighborhoods

The path takes you under the 23 Freeway

The path takes you under the 23 Freeway

The path ends at Janss Road, across from the Thousand Oaks Library Conejo Creek Park North.

The path ends at Janss Road, across from the Thousand Oaks Library Conejo Creek Park North.

The City of Thousand Oaks maintains approximately 80 miles of bikeways, including about 3 miles of bike paths, roughly 54 miles of bike lanes and another 20 miles or so of bike routes. The City takes bicycling very seriously...the City Council adopted a comprehensive Bicycle Facilities Master Plan in November 2010 to help prioritize future improvement projects around town.

Visit www.toaks.org/government/depts/public_works/streets/bicycle/home.asp for more information about City of Thousand Oaks bike routes, lanes and paths as well as a detailed map.

El Pescador Beach in Malibu

El Pescador Beach ("The Fisherman") has the distinction of being the closest beach in terms of auto mileage from central Thousand Oaks, located at 32900 Pacific Coast Highway, just east of the intersection of Decker Canyon Road and PCH. Along with La Piedra Beach and El Matador Beach, El Pescador is part of the Robert H. Meyer Memorial State Beach. 

El Pescador Beach is located about 2 1/2 miles east of Leo Carrillo State Beach and 5 miles west of Zuma Beach. Along with the other two beaches, El Pescador has a parking area (for a fee) and a porta-john. Dogs are not allowed on state beaches. There is also limited parking on PCH available, but be sure to look at the signs to make sure you don't park in a "no parking" zone.

Steep, uneven stairs lead you to the beach. Not particularly stroller friendly as a result, but it's not that far to go. This beach never seems to be crowded, which is a good thing.

You can explore trek over to La Piedra Beach from here, at least when the tide is not too high.

Bottom half of the steps from the parking lot to El Pescador Beach.

Bottom half of the steps from the parking lot to El Pescador Beach.

Santa Rosa Loop Hike in Wildwood Park

The Santa Rosa Loop Hike at Wildwood Park in Thousand Oaks is a 6 1/2 mile trek with moderately challenging uphills and downhills. You’ll be rewarded with beautiful views of the Conejo Valley and Santa Rosa Valley.

Start at the main Wildwood trailhead at the west end of Avenida de Los Arboles. Take the main Mesa Trail towards Lizard Rock. You'll soon reach the Santa Rosa Trail sign, which points you north.

Box Canyon Loop Trail
As you crest the hill, follow the arrows toward the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

As you crest the hill, follow the arrows toward the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

Views of Santa Rosa Valley

So you're heading east and almost feeling like maybe you're getting lost, but this indeed is the Santa Rosa Trail. Just stay towards the left. It is single track much of the way over here. Then, you'll see the following sign as you get closer to the bottom of the Santa Rosa Valley.

So now you are zig zagging down the Shooting Star Trail, which eventually merges into the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

(That said, you can continue east from the above juncture and make your way to Cal Lutheran.)

Now you're going to turn left (west) on Lower Santa Rosa Trail for some gentle slopes alongside private residences and farms in the Santa Rosa Valley for about a mile or so.

Some old farming equipment on the side of the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

Some old farming equipment on the side of the Lower Santa Rosa Trail.

Then soon you come to the end of the trail and there's a sign that tells you to get back into Wildwood Park via the Box Canyon Trail, take the road up ahead 4/10ths of a mile. You're actually in Camarillo now on Rocky High Road.

The trail ends at the juncture of Talal Ct (private) and Rocky High Road.

The trail ends at the juncture of Talal Ct (private) and Rocky High Road.

At the end of the short stretch of road is the trailhead back into Wildwood Park.

And soon you'll see the Box Canyon Trail sign. Veer left (although I think if you go right it loops around to the main trail also).

Box Canyon Trail Sign

It's about a 300 foot climb over less than half a mile up the Box Canyon Trail that gets you back to the main Mesa Trail artery in Wildwood Park. Take your time...you're almost there!

Box Canyon Lizard Rock Sign Wildwood Park

Then you'll see the Lizard Rock / Box Canyon sign that signifies you are back at the Mesa Trail to head about half a mile back to the parking lot. Or turn right to check out the views from Lizard Rock before you go.

To see a map of this hike, visit www.cosf.org/website/html/santa-rosa-loop.html.

OK, so if you're looking to take a break and sit back and enjoy the view near the juncture of the Mesa Trail and Box Canyon Trail?  Then head back (west) from the "Lizard Rock/Box Canyon" trail sign above toward Box Canyon and take the trail on the left to the Box Canyon Overlook, where you will find the following place to park your rear end. Not a bad view, eh?

Bench at Box Canyon Overlook.

Bench at Box Canyon Overlook.

Mugu Beach at Point Mugu State Park

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Mugu Beach is the first publicly accessible beach area south of Naval Base Ventura County off of PCH, located adjacent to the prominent Mugu Rock. For the most part this is the most quickly accessible beach to Camarillo and Conejo Valley residents. There is paid parking ($12 for the day last time I was there) as well as parking available on PCH. Not a big beach, not a fancy beach, but quite convenient. The more popular Sycamore Cove Beach is just 3.3 miles southeast of Mugu Beach.

LOCAL AREA BEACHES STRETCHING FROM OXNARD TO MALIBU

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.

Public Beach Access Between Sycamore Cove and County Line Beach in Malibu

Between Sycamore Cove Beach at 9000 Pacific Coast Highway, which is part of Point Mugu State Park, and County Line Beach, across the street from Neptune's Net and Yerba Buena Road at 42505 Pacific Coast Highway, there are three or four access points to the beach.

Look for the brown "Coastal Access" signs.

The first access point is just over a mile southeast of Sycamore Canyon at about 10302 Pacific Coast Highway. There is parking on PCH and an old staircase adjacent to a Call Box.

The not particularly well taken care of steps to the beach at (approximately) 10302 PCH.

The not particularly well taken care of steps to the beach at (approximately) 10302 PCH.

Another access point is another 1/2 mile east is at approximately 9999 Pacific Coast Highway, near the juncture of Deer Creek Road. You'll see another brown Coastal Access sign and blue Call Box. Park on PCH and look for the staircase. I call this 26 Steps Beach.

Staircase at 9999 Pacific Coast Highway

Staircase at 9999 Pacific Coast Highway

The final southeast stretch of PCH between the access point above and Neptune's Net has even less distinguishable areas, but you can pull over to the side and park over most of this stretch (except when there are No Parking signs). 

CLICK HERE FOR PUBLIC BEACHES STRETCHING FROM OXNARD TO MALIBU

State Fish Hatchery in Fillmore

Temporary closure: The California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (CDFW) Fillmore Trout Hatchery temporarily closed in May 2018 as the facility undergoes maintenance and repairs. All of the rainbow trout normally raised at the Fillmore Trout Hatchery were moved to the Mojave River Hatchery in San Bernardino County to accommodate the necessary work. However, the Fillmore Hatchery was still closed when we last checked in May 2019. Call them at 805.524.0962 during normal hours of 7am to 3pm for updates.

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The California Department of Fish and Game maintains a Fish Hatchery in Fillmore, off Highway 126, just east of downtown Fillmore. Watch for the sign - you make a quick right on Fish Hatchery Road, not more than a mile or so from downtown. The hatchery I believe is now called the Fillmore Trout Hatchery.

The hatchery is open 365 days a year, from 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Bring dimes to purchase fish food and learn about fish and their role in California. This is a self-guided tour. More information at www.wildlife.ca.gov/Fishing/Hatcheries/Fillmore.

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If you have kids and visit Fillmore, put this on your must do list!