Nicholas Canyon County Beach in Malibu, East of Leo Carrillo State Beach

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Nicholas Canyon County Beach is 1 mile east of Leo Carrillo State Beach at 33850 Pacific Coast Highway, Malibu. This is a nice beach where you can hang out, fish, picnic, surf and go for a great walk in about 25 acres. There's a decent sized parking lot with 150 spaces available, as well as parking on PCH. Parking costs range from $3 to $10 (as of July 2019), depending on time of the year. There are also portable restrooms on hand as well as showers and picnic benches. More information at beaches.lacounty.gov/nicholas-canyon-beach.

LA County beach rules at https://beaches.lacounty.gov/la-county-beach-rules/ - as an fyi, animals (including dogs), alcohol, smoking, fires/BBQ and amplified music are allowed.

View from the top of hte staircase near the parking lot.

View from the top of hte staircase near the parking lot.

Bench yourself for some nice views of the Pacific Ocean.

Bench yourself for some nice views of the Pacific Ocean.

View looking northwest towards Leo Carrillo.

View looking northwest towards Leo Carrillo.

Aviation Museum of Santa Paula is Open to the Public the First Sunday of Each Month

The Santa Paula Airport was dedicated in August 1930. Today it is a non-towered facility with nearly 300 aircraft, handling approximately 97,000 arrivals/departures a year. Much of the original 1930’s-era facilities still exist and are used today, giving the airport a very authentic representation of the Golden Age of Aviation.

Located at the Santa Paula Airport, the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula is open the first Sunday of each month, with an array of hangars open to the public from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Upcoming dates: 7/7/19, 8/4/19, 9/1/19, 10/6/19, 11/3/19, 12/1/19.

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Each of the privately owned hangars houses a variety of vintage aircraft and collections of various types, as well as other memorabilia, such as antique radios, model aircraft and race cars. Some hangars celebrate highlights of fascinating aviation careers, while others contain antique aircraft undergoing the process of restoration. Hangar owners or docents are available to answer questions. 

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You've got to take the time to stop by. It is fun, low key and quite interesting. The hangars are directly adjacent to the airfield, so you are guaranteed to see aircraft taking and landing up close. The range of items on display at the various hangars is quite diverse. In fact, one of the most extensive, well organized collections of vintage radios I've ever seen is located in one of the hangars.

A look at just a few of the vintage radios currently on display in one hangar.

A look at just a few of the vintage radios currently on display in one hangar.

Obviously an aviation aficionado in this hangar!

Obviously an aviation aficionado in this hangar!

The participating hangars are fairly well spread out at the 51 acre airport but if you're not up for walking, there's a complimentary tram that will take you around. These are some very nice people who have obvious passion for what they do and enjoy sharing it with the general public. I struck up several conversations with hangar owners and they were full of great stories and information.

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There is no charge for visiting the Aviation Museum, though donations are welcomed. Visit www.aviationmuseumofsantapaula.org or call 805.525.1109 for more information.

The Museum is not open on rainy days.

Directions: Arriving by car from the east, exit the Santa Paula Freeway (SR 126) at 10th street, turn right off the ramp, and then a quick left onto Harvard Boulevard. Turn left at the next signal at Eighth Street, under the freeway, left onto Santa Maria Street and park in the lot. Arriving from the west, exit the freeway at Palm Avenue, turn right and then a quick left onto Santa Maria Street, about a half mile to the end at the parking lot.

Lots to see, both inside and outside of the hangars.

Lots to see, both inside and outside of the hangars.

Ventura County 2-1-1 for Human Service Programs

Ventura County 2-1-1 provides a quick, easy, free and confidential way to obtain information and local referrals for these types of services:

  • Basic human needs, such as food, shelter, clothing and other support

  • Physical and mental health resources, including intervention services, crisis counseling, support groups, counseling, drug and alcohol intervention and health insurance programs

  • Employment support, including unemployment assistance, job training, education assistance, transportation help, etc.

  • Support for elderly and disabled individuals, such as convalescent care, home health care, meal services and transportation services

  • Children, youth and family support, including childcare, after school programs, family resource centers, mentoring, recreation, tutoring, protective services, etc.

  • Volunteer opportunities and donations

Ventura County was the first county in California to launch 2-1-1 service on February 11, 2005.  The Ventura County 2-1-1 service is staffed 24 hours a day and is managed by Interface Children & Family Services with the support of the Ventura County United Way and First 5 Ventura County. Additional support is received from the County of Ventura, the County of Ventura Health Care Agency, the County of Ventura Human Services Agency, and the cities of Camarillo, Ventura, Oxnard, Simi Valley, Port Hueneme, Moorpark, Ojai and Thousand Oaks.

For more information about 2-1-1, visit www.211ventura.org.

Miniature Golf in Ventura County

According to Golflink.com, there are approximately 1,450 miniature golf courses throughout the United States, including 45 in the State of California. Overall, this equates to about 216,000 U.S. residents for each mini golf course. But California severely lags this statistic, with nearly 850,000 residents per mini golf course. Ventura County is in line with California overall in that it currently has a single mini golf course, Golf N' Stuff in Ventura, for a total of roughly 850.000 residents.

A look at the intimidating Hole 17 on course #2 at Golf N' Stuff in Ventura.

A look at the intimidating Hole 17 on course #2 at Golf N' Stuff in Ventura.

I have enjoyed Golf N' Stuff Ventura with my kids for years. It is the closest thing we have to an amusement park in Ventura County. With two 18 hole golf courses, bumper boats, bumper cars, go karts, laser tag and a well-appointed arcade, Golf N' Stuff Ventura has something for everyone. The golf courses are neat as they have such a varied assortment of decor, from a castle and a palace to an old country town, animals and more.

The old country western town at hole 10 of course 2. I love this hole.

The old country western town at hole 10 of course 2. I love this hole.

With easy access from the 101 freeway off at Victoria Avenue, Golf N' Stuff is one of our favorite "staycation" activities. When it's 90 degrees in the Conejo Valley, we'll often find it a comfortable low 70s at Golf N' Stuff. And the facility is open 365 days a year (well, 366 days in leap years). Visit golfnstuff.com/ventura/info.html to learn more. And be sure to sign up with their Email Club to receive 2 for 1 golf coupons throughout the year.

A view of Golf N' Stuff Ventura while driving the 101 North (as if you couldn't figure that out).

A view of Golf N' Stuff Ventura while driving the 101 North (as if you couldn't figure that out).

In 2010, Simi Valley City Council approved a plan to redevelop Sinaloa Golf Course and adjacent vacant properties to create Sinaloa Park. The plan is to retain the nine-hole golf course, remove the driving range and build three 18-hole miniature golf courses, a new park area with playgrounds, picnic areas and more and a new community room and outdoor plaza area. The initial plan was that it would open in May 2013. That obviously has not happened as of February 2018.

The original plan anticipated a total cost of $18.6 million. We will definitely stay tuned for future updates here on Conejo Valley Guide, but do visit the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District website at www.rsrpd.org and the Sinaloa Park website at www.rsrpd.org/simi_valley/parks/sinaloa_park.php for details.

If you are a mini golf fanatic looking for other venues within about an hour drive of, say, Thousand Oaks, try the following:

California isn't one of the more popular mini golf states in the country, perhaps because there are SO MANY OTHER GREAT THINGS TO DO HERE!

The beautiful and iconic castle at Golf N' Stuff Ventura,

The beautiful and iconic castle at Golf N' Stuff Ventura,

Thousand Oaks Community Park Has Several Unique Features Worth Exploring

Thousand Oaks Community Park, located at 2525 N. Moorpark Road, just north of Thousand Oaks High School, has something for everyone. This large, park is home to the Thousand Oaks Community Center, a hub for year-round events and activities for all ages. The center has a full-size gym, several fully-enclosed racquetball courts and other great features. More info at www.crpd.org/parkfac/1koaks.

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If you have young kids, probably the most popular feature of this park is the playground and adjoining "Ant Hill." The Ant Hill is a unique, small man-made hill covered with artificial grass that is a fun play slide area for the kids. Bring a piece of cardboard and enjoy the ride.

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This nearly 36 acre park also has soccer and softball fields, four tennis courts, one sand volleyball court and plenty of picnic area. Both the park and the community center are popular for birthday parties. On the east side of the park is another unique feature you won't find in other parks, the Rabbit Flats Disc Golf Course. I connected with a group enjoying a Saturday round on this nine acre course and learned that there are specialized discs for disc golf.

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The course is free to the public. I'd recommend a walk-through first to explore. Just be mindful of flying discs!

Where to Volunteer to Decorate a Rose Parade Float

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During winter break, many parents struggle to find something new and different to do with the kids. Something you may not have thought about is - volunteering to help decorate a Rose Parade entry! Talk about a unique experience!

As you are probably aware, Rose Parade floats must be completely covered by flowers and other natural materials, such as leaves, seeds and bark. It's a lot of work decorating those masterpieces! 

So how do you go about volunteering? Start with this list of commercial float builders and organizations that build their own floats for volunteer opportunities. The minimum age is generally 12 or 13 and you must sign a waiver.

Commercial Float Builders:

Self-Built Float Organizations:

Twelve of My Favorite Things To Do in the City of Simi Valley

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The City of Simi Valley was incorporated on October 10, 1969, less than 3 months after Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin became the first humans to land on the Moon. The City covers 42 square miles and as of 2013 was home to just over 126,000 people. Simi Valley is neighbors with Moorpark, Thousand Oaks and the San Fernando Valley.

According to the City's website, the name of the Chumash Indian Village “Shimiji” is believed to be the origin of the City’s name and Ta’apu is the origin of the names of Tapo Street and Tapo Canyon.

But enough of that. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Simi Valley.

I love hiking the Long Canyon Trail, with its views of Wood Ranch, Bard Lake and the rest of Simi Valley (not to mention you can hike to Lang Ranch in Thousand Oaks from here).

Views from the Long Canyon Trail

Views from the Long Canyon Trail

The magnificent Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum is a major draw to Simi Valley. This 243,000 sq ft museum at the top of 100 acres of land is a must see for its interactive displays, history, Air Force One and outstanding rotating exhibits. And the views, particularly on clear days, are quite memorable.

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The Simi Valley Cajun & Blues Music Festival celebrated its 28th anniversary over Memorial Day weekend 2017. It is billed as the area’s largest Cajun, Zydeco, Blues and Roots Music festival. Hosted by the Rotary Club of Simi Sunrise, this massive event attracts over 20,000 attendees.

Lazertag Extreme opened in the Wood Ranch section of Simi Valley in 2013 and at over 5,000 sq ft is a great indoor, multi-level laser tag facility and arcade.

Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village is a historical and cultural landmark and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is located on a residential lot that contains shrines, walkways, sculptures and buildings from recycled items and discards, built over a 25 year old period by Tressa "Grandma" Prisbrey. An eyesore to some, a one-of-a-kind treasure to others. Open periodically to the public as the site is restored.

Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village

Grandma Prisbrey's Bottle Village

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. There are hundreds of military posters and historical artifacts on display that have been graciously provided by local veterans and collectors.

Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia in Simi Valley

Museum of Military History Posters and Memorabilia in Simi Valley

There are no bowling alleys in the Conejo Valley, which means we have to drive elsewhere for our bowling fix! The closest bowling alley to the center of Thousand Oaks is Harley's Simi Bowl, about 10 miles away off of Highway 23 and Madera Road. This is a 24 lane alley that gets the job done.

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The other bowling alley in Simi Valley is on the east end, about 20 miles from Thousand Oaks. Harley's Valley Bowl (formerly Brunswick Zone) has 40 lanes and a large arcade/game room area. Another great choice for fun in Simi Valley. Now why is it that Simi has 64 bowling lanes yet we still have none in the Conejo Valley? Sheesh.

The Mt. McCoy Trail is located on the west side of Simi Valley, just a short hop, skip and jump around the corner from the Reagan Library. You can't miss the hill because there's a large, white cross at the top. A bit over a mile of well-maintained switchbacks takes you to the top.

Views galore from Mt. McCoy Trail peak.

Views galore from Mt. McCoy Trail peak.

Simi Valley Days takes place in mid-September each year over a four day period. The event has a long history, going back to 1934. It is a community celebration with carnival rides, games, live music, vendors, food, a parade and much more. 

Visit a fully restored Southern Pacific Railroad depot circa 1903 with both freight and passenger trains rushing by day and night at the Santa Susana Depot Museum and Model Railroad. Open on weekends from 1-4 pm, the depot is also home to the Santa Susana Model Railroad Club’s large operating HO scale model railroad, in a layout that portrays Simi Valley during the mid 1950’s. This is a lot of fun to see. And outside, you and the kids will be treated to up close views of Amtrak and Metrolink passenger trains rolling by. Wave and they'll honk at you.

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Last but not least, at some point, whether you're into skateboarding yourself or not, you'll have to stop by Skatelab in Simi Valley to explore what may be the largest collection of vintage skateboards in the world. Over 5,000 skateboards, scooters and other skateboarding memorabilia reside in the Skatelab Skateboard Museum (for the most part, the entire 20,000 sq ft facility, as you'll see). Open to the public and free to explore, seven days a week.

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Let's add another one to this list. The pristine Studio Movie Grill opened at the Simi Valley Town Center in October 2015. This 41,000 sq ft theater features 9 screens and over 950 seats. 

There is PLENTY more to see and do in Simi Valley that is not on this particular list. Check out: