Butterflies Alive! and Prehistoric Forest Open May 25 at Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History

On Saturday, May 25, the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History will unveil two spectacular summer exhibits: Butterflies Alive! and Prehistoric Forest.

Monarch (Photo by Gary Robinson)

Monarch (Photo by Gary Robinson)

This summer will mark the Museum’s first full run of Butterflies Alive! following $20 million renovations supported by its Centennial Campaign. Visitors will be guided through a beautiful garden while nearly 1,000 live butterflies flutter freely around them. The exhibit features a dazzling variety of butterflies, from local favorites like the Monarch and Queen to exotic tropical varieties like swallowtails, longwings, and White Peacocks. Various butterfly species will cycle through the pavilion throughout the summer, so no two visits will be the same. Visitors are invited to learn about the butterfly life cycle by checking out the emergence chamber in the Museum’s Santa Barbara Gallery. There, visitors will get to see how butterflies emerge from their chrysalides and dry their wings before being moved to the pavilion.



Visitors who cross the Museum’s wooden bridges over Mission Creek will enter Prehistoric Forest and take a stroll back in time to come face-to-face with dinosaurs in the wild. They’ll meet a Tyrannosaurus rex, the formidably armored Stegosaurus, high-crested Parasaurolophus, and Triceratops and Ankylosaurus mothers with their young. These handcrafted moving animatronics from Kokoro Exhibits spark the imaginations of dinosaur-lovers of all ages.

Both exhibits are open from Saturday, May 25 to Monday, September 2, 10:00 AM–5:00 PM, and are included in Museum admission. www.sbnature.org

The Mullin Automotive Museum in Oxnard is a Ventura County Crown Jewel


The 46,000 square foot Mullin Automotive Museum in Downtown Oxnard is spectacular!

Open only a few days a month to the general public, this is one museum that is a MUST SEE. The autos, made by Bugatti, Voisin, Delahaye, Delage, Talbot-Labo, Hispano-Suiza, Renault, Peugeot and others, are works of art from the 1930s and 1940s, when autos were more than transportation. In addition to the autos, there are representative furnishings and works of art from the era on display.


Visit www.mullinautomotivemuseum.com and reserve a visit. The photos and video footage below are great but don't come anywhere close to a visit in person!


Free Admission Days at Museums in Ventura County and Adjacent Areas


The "Do Something" section of Conejo Valley Guide highlights over 250 things to do throughout Ventura County and surrounding areas, including over four dozen museums. Let's take a closer look at the museums on the list that offer free admission days. The information below of course is subject to change, so be sure to contact the museums first to confirm.

Conejo Valley, Simi Valley, Moorpark

Admission to the Conejo Valley Art Museum is free year-round.

There is no admission charge at the Skateboarding Hall of Fame and Museum that opened at the Simi Valley Town Center in December 2018 (massive collection of vintage skateboards and skating artifacts). Open (as of January 2019) Thursday/Friday 2-9PM, Saturday 10AM-9PM and Sunday 11AM-7PM.

The Santa Susana Depot and Museum in Simi Valley is open to the public on weekends, free of charge.

Ventura, Camarillo, Oxnard, Port Hueneme

Historic Dudley House Museum in Ventura is open the 1st Sunday of the month most of the year and admission is free (donations encouraged).

Robert J. Lagomarsino Visitor Center at Channel Islands National Park located at the Ventura Harbor is open year-round free of admission.

Channel Islands Maritime Museum offers free admission on the 3rd Thursday of each month.

U.S. Navy Seabee Museum in Port Hueneme offers year-round free admission.

Free admission at the Museum of Ventura County in Downtown Ventura the 1st Sunday of the month.

Free First Saturdays from 11am to 4pm at Studio Channel Islands Art Center in Old Town Camarillo.

There is no admission charge at the Pleasant Valley Historical Museum and Botanical Garden in Camarillo. Open weekends.

There is no charge for looking through the windows into the A.J. Comstock Fire Museum in the Figueroa Street Mall in Downtown Ventura.

Ojai, Santa Paula, Fillmore

Ojai Valley Museum currently offers free admission the 3rd Friday of each month from 5:30-7:30pm.

Museum of Ventura County’s Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula offers free admission on the 1st Sunday of the month.

Santa Paula Art Museum offers free admission on the 1st Sunday of the month.

Aviation Museum of Santa Paula is open the 1st Sunday of each month with no admission charge.

California Oil Museum in Fillmore is free admission year-round, though there is a suggested donation of $4.

Santa Barbara

Admission is free year-round at the Reagan Ranch Center Exhibit Galleries in Santa Barbara on State Street in front of the Amtrak Station.

Santa Barbara Historical Museum offers free admission year-round; donations are welcomed.

Free Family Days at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History on the third Sunday of January, February, March, April, September, October, November, and December. 

Other Areas

Nethercutt Museum in Sylmar offers free admission year-round to its showcase of vintage cars.

Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles offers free year-round admission.

Kidspace Kids Museum in Pasadena offers Free Family Night from 4pm to 8pm the 1st Tuesday of each month, except September.

The Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades is free of charge year-round.

California ScienCenter in Exposition Park is free admission year-round.

Bank of America offers free admission to over 150 museums around the country the first full weekend of each month.

1956 Rolls Royce Phantom Saloon at Nethercutt Automotive Museum.

1956 Rolls Royce Phantom Saloon at Nethercutt Automotive Museum.

You like FREE!? Click here for hundreds of other free activities and things in and around Ventura County!

Old Mission Santa Barbara is a Cultural and Historic Local Landmark

The Santa Barbara Mission was established on the Feast of Saint Barbara, December 4, 1786 and was the 10th of 21 California Missions to be founded by the Spanish Franciscans. The Mission continues to be the chief cultural and historic landmark in the city of Santa Barbara. Home to a community of Franciscan friars, the Mission also has a retreat center with guest rooms, conference rooms, a fully equipped commercial kitchen and dining room, a beautiful church with a large and active parish, a museum and gift shop, a cemetery and mausoleum and ten acres of beautifully landscaped gardens.

The Santa Barbara Mission in July 2013

The Santa Barbara Mission in July 2013

Old Mission Church, Santa Barbara (1876), by Carleton Watkins, via Wikimedia Commons

Old Mission Church, Santa Barbara (1876), by Carleton Watkins, via Wikimedia Commons

Mission Santa Barbara is California Historical Landmark No. 309. According to the California State Parks Office of Historic Preservation website: Portions of five units of its extensive waterworks, built by Indian labor and preserved in this part, are a filter house, Spanish gristmill, sections of aqueducts, and two reservoirs, the larger of which, built in 1806, is used today as part of the city water system. The fountain and lavadero are nearby, in front of the mission, and a dam built in 1807 is located in the Santa Barbara Botanic Garden, one and one-half miles up Mission Canyon. Only ruins remain of the mission's pottery kiln, guard house, and tanning vats.

The Mission, located at 2201 Laguna Street, is open daily from 9am to 5pm. Admission for self-guided tours as of January 2019 is $9 for adults (18-64) $7 for seniors (65+) and active military (with ID) and $4 for youth ages 5-17. Parking is free.

Docent-led tours (approximately 60 minutes) on most Mondays through Fridays at 11 am and Saturdays at 10:30 am. Cost for docent-led tours is $13 adults, $11 seniors, active military and $8 for youth ages 5-17. Visit www.santabarbaramission.org or call 805.682.4713 to learn more.


Five Very Interesting Museums in Oxnard and Camarillo

There are over 50 museums highlighted here on Conejo Valley Guide and each and every one of them has interesting features. Here are some additional highlights from a handful of these museums located in the Oxnard / Camarillo area.

The Mullin Automotive Museum is a 47,000 square foot amazingly pristine facility in Oxnard housing over 50 French art deco cars from the 1930s and 1940s. Mullin is open to the public only a few times a month. You will be awestruck by some of the most beautiful cars you've ever seen!

The Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, known as the Camarillo Bird Museum, is a 22,000 square foot facility in a Camarillo industrial park that contains one of the largest collections of bird, bird egg and bird nest specimens in the entire world. It is open to the public only about 10 times a year.

(The Woolworth Museum items are still here, but access to the public is generally not available)

There is a vintage 1950 Woolworth building in Downtown Oxnard that has been redeveloped and now houses a restaurant and office space. But the 1st floor lobby of this 16,800 sq ft building contains a very small museum chock full of Woolworth nostalgia. This Woolworth Museum isn't large and fancy but will certainly bring back memories for you geezers out there. There is no charge to enter.

For World War II Air Force history, memorabilia and functioning aircraft, visit the Commemorative Air Force Aviation Museum located at the Camarillo Airport.  You will be treated to detailed information and history led by knowledgeable docents. You may also have an opportunity to step outside to see the aircraft directly adjacent to the runway. 

Located at the Channel Islands Harbor, the Channel Islands Maritime Museum is home to a large collection of maritime art, models and historical items. If you or your kids enjoy model ships, you will not find a better place to go than here. And the well-trained docents will be sure to impart information that is quite interesting.

Since the Woolworth Museum noted above appears to be closed, a nice addition to this list is the Pleasant Valley Historical Society Museum and Botanical Garden on Las Posas Road in Camarillo. Open only on weekends from noon to 4pm, the museum displays an assortment of vintage items and curios from the local area going back to the turn of the 20th century.

The Seabee Museum at Naval Base Ventura County in Port Hueneme is a Local Must-See


The U.S. Navy Seabee Museum at 1001 Addor Street, Port Hueneme is a state-of-the-art, free of charge must-see for local residents and visitors alike. One of the U.S. Navy's 11 official museums, the Seabee Museum displays historical material relating to the history of the Naval Construction Force, better known as the Seabees, and the U.S. Navy Civil Engineer Corps.


The 38,000 sq ft museum was recently renovated and features modern exhibit spaces, memorial garden, theater, education room and well-stocked gift shop. Well worth a visit with the kids. Additionally, the STEM Center at the Museum is a hidden gem!


The second oldest of the official Navy museums, the Seabee Museum was established in 1947 in Port Hueneme, which today is part of Naval Base Ventura County.


The museum is open Monday to Saturday from 9 am to 4 pm. Closed Sundays and all Federal holidays. Admission and parking are free. Learn more at www.usnavyseabeemuseum.com or call 805.982.5165.


Five Notable Historical Sites and Places to See in and Around Ventura County

In the mid 1850s, the area that we call Ventura County was the southern part of Santa Barbara County.  By 1873, Ventura County officially split off from Santa Barbara County and by the turn of the century the cities of San Buenaventura (or Ventura as we know it), Port Hueneme, Santa Paula, Nordhoff (now Ojai), Simi, Somis, Moorpark and Oxnard came on board. Camarillo and Thousand Oaks were late bloomers, incorporating in 1964.

There are hundreds of historical things to see around Ventura County, dozens of which are covered here on Conejo Valley Guide. Let's take a look at five neat places to see Ventura County history to additional information.

Strathearn Historical Park and Museum in Simi Valley has a notable collection of structures and artifacts from Simi's early days. The park is jointly operated by the Rancho Simi Recreation and Park District and Simi Valley Historical Society.


The Museum of Ventura County opened its Agriculture Museum in Santa Paula in September 2011. The museum is housed in the historic 1888 restored Mill building. In its 12,000 sq ft, you'll find an extensive collection of vintage farm equipment, tools, machines, clothing, photos and artifacts.

Probably my personal favorite local historical venue, just ouside the Ventura County border, is the Leonis Adobe Museum in Calabasas, adjacent to Sagebrush Cantina. If you've never been there, do stop by and bring the kids, as you'll be amazed at how much there is to see in this somewhat hidden location. The kids will love visiting with the collection of farmyard animals, there are lots of historical artifacts, including quite an impressive collection of vintages wagons/carriages and much more.

Bull-ying can be a good thing...at the Leonis Adobe in Calabasas.

Bull-ying can be a good thing...at the Leonis Adobe in Calabasas.

Bull-ying can be a good thing...at the Leonis Adobe in Calabasas. Fun to watch.


The Camarillo Ranch House is a 6,000 sq ft Victorian home built by Adolfo Camarillo, son of city namesake Juan Camarillo, in 1892. The house is owned by the City of Camarillo and the nonprofit Camarillo Ranch Foundation maintains the property, which has been restored to look how it looked in the 1904 to 1930 time frame. Take a docent-led tour of the house and enjoy one of the most beautiful venues for outdoor weddings and events in Ventura County...immaculate grounds and stunning, mature trees at this peaceful location that is right off the 101 Freeway.

Stagecoach Inn front web.jpg

Last but not least is the Stagecoach Inn Museum in Newbury Park, home to a replica of the 1876 Grand Union Hotel. Take a docent-led tour, check out the quaint gift shop and tour the grounds, which includes a Chumash Indian village, rose garden, nature trails and more. The site is home to a historic Sycamore Tree that is over 250 years old. Adjacent to the museum is a park with some uniquely designed playground equipment.

For hundreds and hundreds of things to do, check out the Do Something section of CVG!