Paramount Ranch Recreation Area in Agoura

NOTE: PARAMOUNT RANCH SUSTAINED DEVASTATING DAMAGE IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE OF NOVEMBER 2018. It was was re-opened to the public on December 3, 2018.

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 Paramount Ranch Western Town Aerial View (Courtesy NPS)

Paramount Ranch Western Town Aerial View (Courtesy NPS)

Paramount Ranch is located in Agoura off of Cornell Road, between Kanan Road and Mulholland.  Click here for a map in a pdf file on the National Park Service website.

Paramount Pictures originally purchased 2,700 acres here for use as a "movie ranch" in 1927 and since then, hundreds of movies and TV shows have been filmed there.  A permanent western town was built there in the early 1950s using old Paramount Pictures props.  You can walk freely around the buildings (but you can't walk inside them).  This is a site to behold for any fans of old movies.

 Before the Woolsey Fire of November 2018.

Before the Woolsey Fire of November 2018.

 The Western Town sign and bridge is still there but most everything surrounding it is burnt after the Woolsey Fire of November 2018.

The Western Town sign and bridge is still there but most everything surrounding it is burnt after the Woolsey Fire of November 2018.

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 Western Town at Paramount Ranch destroyed in the Woolsey Fire.

Western Town at Paramount Ranch destroyed in the Woolsey Fire.

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 A beacon of hope. Two structures were unharmed in the Woolsey Fire - this church building seen in the TV series “Westworld” and the train station.

A beacon of hope. Two structures were unharmed in the Woolsey Fire - this church building seen in the TV series “Westworld” and the train station.

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A list of movies filmed at Paramount Ranch is here.  These include films like The Last Outlaw (Gary Cooper), The Virginian (Gary Cooper), Tom Sawyer, Huckleberry Finn (Jackie Coogan), Million Dollar Legs (W.C. Fields), Adventures of Marco Polo, Remember  the Night (Barbara Stanwyck) and many more.  From 1992 to 1997, the TV show, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman (featuring Jane Seymour) was filmed there.

In addition to the western town, there are restrooms, picnic areas and plenty of hiking trails at the park.  Please be very careful around the set as these are one of a kind and very old.  More information at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/paramountranch.htm or call the NPS at 805.370.2301.

Peter Strauss Ranch in Agoura Hills

NOTE: PETER STRAUSS RANCH SUSTAINED MAJOR DAMAGE IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE OF NOVEMBER 2018 AND WILL BE CLOSED UNTIL FURTHER NOTICE. CHECK THEIR WEBSITE FOR UPDATES. WE WILL ALSO STAY TUNED FOR UPDATES.

 Peter Strauss Ranch sign on Kanan Road southbound before Troutdale.

Peter Strauss Ranch sign on Kanan Road southbound before Troutdale.

The 64 acre Peter Strauss Ranch is located at the juncture of Troutdale Drive and Mulholland Highway in Agoura Hills. The property is managed by the National Park Service (NPS) and is part of the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. It features a ranch house, .6 mile hiking trail, restrooms and an amphitheater area.

 Parking lot access off of Mulholland Highway on northeast side of ranch.

Parking lot access off of Mulholland Highway on northeast side of ranch.

The Ranch has quite a history. According to the NPS, auto manufacturer Harry Miller bought the ranch at the turn of the 20th century as his weekend retreat. He built many of the structures on the site in the 1920s, including the stone ranch house, lookout tower and aviary.  He lost the ranch in the Depression.

Warren Shobert and Arthur Edeson purchased the ranch in the 1930s and created “Shoson”—a fairyland of charm and a paradise for children and adults. Later, a dam was constructed on Triunfo Creek, creating a small lake. The resort was renamed “Lake Enchanto.” Competition from other, larger amusement parks and resorts led to the decline of “Lake Enchanto.” It fell into disrepair and closed around 1960.

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Actor Peter Strauss purchased the property in 1976, restored the site, lived there until 1983, and later sold it to the Santa Monica Mountains Conservancy.  The NPS purchased the ranch in 1987 and the site will be preserved as part of our local natural and cultural history.

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Here is the ruins of the 640,000 gallon Lake Enchanto pool on the Peter Strauss Ranch site. The pool is said to be the largest of its kind west of the Rockies.

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More on the history of the Peter Strauss Ranch at peterstrauss.net/storyofranch.html.

Visit the NPS Peter Strauss Ranch page at www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/straussranch.htm.

Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia at the Simi Valley Town Center

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The Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 10049 and Simi Valley Town Center host an impressive display at the Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia

Hundreds of military posters and historical artifacts are on display that were graciously provided by local veterans and collectors. Artifacts include old weapons, munitions, posters, newspapers, uniforms and much more. Several Vietnam Veterans were on hand, imparting stories and background information to us as we strolled around.

Hours are 11am to 4pm on weekends and noon to 3pm on Wednesdays. There is no admission fee, though donations are encouraged to support local veterans.

More info at www.vfwpost10049.com/museum.html.

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 Military Mule with armament (not live of course lol) on display.

Military Mule with armament (not live of course lol) on display.

Historic Dudley House Museum in Ventura

San Buenaventura Heritage, Inc. (SBH) is a non-profit educational and charitable organization founded in 1978 with a primary focus of preserving the Dudley House, an 1892 Victorian farm house, located at 197 N. Ashwood, Ventura. The Dudley House is one of 35 Ventura County properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

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The house is a living history museum reflecting the life of the Dudley family. The terraces and pergola for outdoor events have been installed on the north side side of the house, and the lavender garden with some 100 plants featuring over 20 varieties is on the south side of the house. The basement is used as a community room and visitor center with cooking facilities and is available for small events and receptions. Larger events can be held outside on the grounds.

The Dudley House is open for tours the first Sunday of the month from 1pm to 4pm from January to November. Visit dudleyhouse.webs.com or call 805.644.3286 for more information.  Admission is free but donations are accepted and appreciated.

Victorian Holiday Boutique 2018

The 24th Dudley House Victorian Holiday Boutique will be open from 10am to 6pm on Friday, Saturday and Sunday starting the Friday after Thanksgiving. The 2018 dates are November 23-25, November 30 to December 2 and December 7-9. The House is beautifully decorated by dozens of crafters who will be selling their items.

Historic Recording Series

During open houses, pre-1930 recordings transferred to CDs are played. A new recording is played each month on the Victrola console in the parlor.

Old Time Radio Series

CDs of radio shows are performed in the radio console on the 2nd floor hallway.

Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula

The Museum of Ventura County's Agriculture Museum opened in Santa Paula on September 25, 2011. The realization of more than 40 years of effort and dedication by supporters, the Agriculture Museum is housed in the landmark restored Mill building, at 926 Railroad Avenue, beside the railroad tracks and across from the depot in Santa Paula. The Mill was built in 1888 as an agricultural warehouse, and later served as a feed and grain outlet and an antiques mall.

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Stearns Wharf in Santa Barbara

 Dolphins greet you at the entrance to Stearns Wharf.

Dolphins greet you at the entrance to Stearns Wharf.

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Stearns Wharf is located at the juncture of W. Cabrillo Road and State Street in Santa Barbara. Originally constructed in 1872 by lumberman John P. Stearns as the longest deep-water pier between Los Angeles and San Francisco, it is now one of the most visible and visited tourist destinations in Santa Barbara. In 1980-81, the City of Santa Barbara restored the wharf, constructed new buildings on it and assumed operation of the facility.

Our family particularly enjoys visiting the Museum of Santa Barbara Sea Center located on the wharf, followed by a stop at the candy store or the ice cream shop. Of course, The Harbor Restaurant and Longboards Grill are crowd favorites. There's also wine tasting, Moby Dick Restaurant, fish and chips, souvenir shops and other places that are fun to stop by.

 View from the end of Stearns Wharf back toward the mainland.

View from the end of Stearns Wharf back toward the mainland.

 View from Stearns Wharf

View from Stearns Wharf

You can get onto the wharf in a number of ways. There is limited parking on the wharf. Cost (as of August 2018) is $2.50/hour, but the first 90 minutes are FREE. Or you can park along Cabrillo Road or in a local beach parking lot and walk onto the wharf. Or do what we enjoy...park at the Santa Barbara Harbor and ride bikes onto the wharf. The wood planks are a bit bumpy but you'll survive!

Learn more about Stearns Wharf at www.stearnswharf.org.

Beautiful views of the harbor area as you'll see below from the pier. If you walk onto the wharf, you may encounter some locals that "live off the land" with sand sculptures and other monuments on the sand for your viewing pleasure (and perhaps some spare change). They are part of the carnival atmosphere. And of course on Sundays you'll be treated to the Santa Barbara Arts & Crafts Show that has been running since 1965.

Getty Center in Brentwood

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Atop a 900 foot hill in the Santa Monica Mountains adjacent to the 405 freeway, Getty Center is a 24 acre complex that is one of the most visited museums in the United States. Getty Center opened in December 1997 and is part of the J. Paul Getty Museum, which has another location called The Getty Villa.

This is one of those "must absolutely see" places for every local resident and visitor to the Los Angeles area. It is a spectacular and pristine, inside and out.

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There are five main pavilions in the complex. The North Pavilion (on the immediate left after you walk through the Entrance Hall) contains pre-1700 art, including paintings on the upper level and sculptures and decorative arts, illuminated manuscripts and changing exhibitions on the main level. Adjacent to the North Pavilion is the East Pavilion, which contains paintings and sculptures and decorative arts from the 1600 to 1800 time frame.

The South Pavilion also contains art from 1600 to 1800. The West Pavilion contains art post-1800 as well as the Center for Photographs. Finally, the Exhibitions Pavilion contains rotating exhibitions.

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Stroll to the terraces on the south side of the complex and you'll be treated to panoramic views stretching to the San Bernadino Mountains, Century City, and the Pacific Ocean. You'll also be treated to a view of the Cactus Garden desert landscape in the South Promontory. The 134,000 sq ft Central Garden, large grassy area and stream leading into a pool with an azalea maze. You've got to see it to appreciate the beauty.

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There are also outdoor sculptures throughout the complex, starting in the area where you wait for the tram that takes you up to the Center, in the Arrival Area in front of the Entrance Hall and in and around the restaurant and garden areas.

The Center displays some of the most recognizable pieces in the world from artists like Rembrandt, Van Gogh, Manet, Monet, Renoir, Gaugin, and so many others. The photography display is also outstanding.

 Irises by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh

Irises by Dutch artist Vincent Van Gogh

There are several restaurants on the complex. I've eaten at the Garden Terrace Cafe located between the Exhibitions Pavilion and the Central Garden and it was good. Packaged, fresh sandwiches, salads, soups and other items are available.

To learn more, visit www.getty.edu/museum. Admission is free. Parking in the seven story underground lot near the bottom of Getty Center Drive is $15 ($10 after 3pm). Hours are 10am to 5:30pm Tuesday through Sunday.

There is a free tram that takes you to the top of the hill, or you can walk up the hill (it actually is not that bad, a 15 to 20 minute walk for most). Located at 1200 Getty Center Drive, Los Angeles.

I could go on and on...if you are not an art fan, don't worry. The views alone are worth the visit. But once you step foot in this amazing place you will be awestruck.

Museum of Ventura County in Downtown Ventura

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The Museum of Ventura County is the most comprehensive resource for local history in the county.  There are exhibitions, galleries, and an extensive research library with over 140,000 books, newspaper clippings, photographs, maps and other historical materials.

The museum is open from 11am to 5pm, Tuesday through Sunday.  General admission (as of August 2018) is $5 for adults $3 for seniors (62+), students (with ID), $1 for children ages 6 to 17. Kids 5 and under are free. Located at 100 E. Main Street, Ventura.

Free admission the 1st Sunday of each month with a kids arts/crafts activity usually from 1-3pm.

For more information, visit www.venturamuseum.org or call 805.653.0323.

LEARN ABOUT THE MUSEUM'S AGRICULTURE MUSEUM IN SANTA PAULA

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The 3,500 sq ft river-rock walled, state-of-the-art Martin V. and Martha K. Smith Event Pavilion is used for lectures, programs and a variety of Museum events. It can seat 200 for dinner, with the option to tent the front plaza for an additional 140 guests. Could be a great wedding reception venue!!

Grant Park / Serra Cross Park in Ventura

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NOTE: Grant Park was devastated by the Thomas Fire of December 2017 and is closed to the public as a result.

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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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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 from 10am to 5pm Thu/Fri/Sat/Mon/Tue and 9am to 3pm Sat (closed Wed). Admission (as of August 2018) 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.

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California Sycamore Tree - Historic Landmark in Newbury Park

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This extremely large and old California Sycamore tree was designated as a Ventura County Historic Landmark (#44) on May 1st, 1978.  The City of Thousand Oaks historical marker (see picture to the right) says the tree is over 250 years old.  It is believed that the Chumash Indians bent the lower branches to mark the location of groundwater.

This beautiful tree is located in the Stagecoach Inn Museum and complex at 51 South Ventu Park Road.  Park at the Stagecoach Inn parking lot and walk your way down the pathway to visit the tree, an Indian house and other old structures.

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The Woolworth Museum in Downtown Oxnard

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What is believed to be the only Woolworth Museum in the world is located in the Woolworth Building (circa 1950) at 210 West Fourth Street, Oxnard (4th and A Streets). This small, unique museum contains all sorts of nostalgia associated with the F. W. Woolworth Company, one of the original "five and dime" stores. Woolworth closed its stores in 1997.

The Woolworth Building is a 16,800 square foot building completed in 1950 that was completely redeveloped in 2003. It is now occupied by office tenants.

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Many of the old items in the museum exemplify what Woolworths used to sell. Other items relate directly to this building and the people who worked there, including two managers and a woman who worked here on the first day that the store opened in 1950. There are souvenirs from the Woolworth Building in New York, which was the tallest building in the world when completed in 1913.

There is a collection of books related to the Woolworth stores. There are several items from old lunch counters, including dishes and menus, as well as some items that relate directly to the pivotal civil rights sit-in that took place at a Woolworth lunch counter in 1960.

Photos of various Woolworth stores from 1878 through the 1960s are seen throughout the building. There is a working antique dial pay-phone, a take-your-own photo booth from the 1940s and games and vending machines from the 1930s through the 1960s.

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There is a vintage cash register, like those found in most stores in the 60's and 70's, displayed so visitors can push down "No Sale" so that the cash-drawer pops open with the familiar ch-ching, bell ringing and all, and the wooden drawer can be examined and closed.

Also seen is a 1959 Cavalier 96 Coke machine, which dispenses ice cold vintage coke bottles...at a not quite as vintage price of $1.25.

So stop by sometime! Just walk in. No attendants and no entrance fees. The museum is typically open from 7:30 am to 2:30 pm Monday to Friday and 9 am to 2:30 pm on Saturday.

For more information and pictures, visit www.thewoolworthbuilding.com (not functional as of 8/6/18).

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 Throwback time seen in the men's room

Throwback time seen in the men's room

The Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar

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The Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar houses a spectacular collection of over 120 antique, vintage, black iron and classic automobiles. This is a place that a surprisingly few number people know about but is a MUST SEE (another "hidden gem," like The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard). It is a truly gorgeous collection of cars, including numerous winners of the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance and other famed auto shows.

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Particularly eye opening to an auto novice like me is the sheer number of different car manufacturers on display that I'd never heard of, like Tucker, Simplex, Cord, REO, Maybah, Ruxton, Westinghouse, Pierce-Arrow, Moon etc as well as autos made by Daimler, Rolls Royce, Cadillac, Packard, Lincoln, Ford, Duesenberg, Oldsmobile, Bugatti and others. There is also huge number of hood ornaments, headlamps and other vintage paraphernalia on display.

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Admission to The Nethercutt Museum is FREE of charge and hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. Closed Sunday, Monday and all major holidays.  Visit www.nethercuttcollection.org for more information. Open to all ages.

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Located at 15151 Bledsoe Steet, Sylmar. When I went I took the 101 east to the 405 south towards Santa Clarita, which becomes the 5 freeway. Get off at Roxford exit east (exit 159A; don't get confused and take the NEXT Roxford exit). Turn right on Roxford, right on San Fernando Road and left on Bledsoe. Museum is a few blocks up on the left hand side. Turn left on Bradley (at Bledsoe) and an immediate left into the parking lot.

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Outside the Museum you can walk through a 1912 Pullman Rail Car and a 1937 Canadian Pacific Royal Hudson Locomotive. Open twice a day (weather permitting) at 12:30 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. for 15 minutes.

In addition to the main Museum, next door at 15200 Bledsoe is The Nethercutt Collection, which has over 50 automobiles along with what they call the world's finest assemblage of mechanical musical instruments. Admission here is also free but you must make reservations for the 2 hour docent-led tour, kids must be 12 and older, and no video recording or flash photography is allowed. Tours are currently offered at 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

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