Los Angeles is a beautiful place to live in, especially for those that enjoy a Healthy Lifestyle. It seems you can find virtually everything you need from good hikes, good food, the best Yoga, Pilates, Barre, Gyms, Crossfit studios that one would ever seek. But one important aspect that LA lacks, is the lack of outdoor space. We have dozens of places to hike, but it all still feels a tad bit cramped with the driving/traffic it takes to get there and parking. Sometimes, you just really want to get away. Our neighboring states have great options – Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Washington.. but what if you don’t have that kind of time-off? I introduce you to a hidden gem that most neighboring cities may not know about, the beautiful landscape of Conejo Valley.
Simply hop in your car for a half hour to 1 hour ride up the 101 freeway to the area of Agoura Hills, Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Newbury Park (border of LA and Ventura County). As you drive north, it seems that everything begins to enlarge, from the width of the freeway (perhaps a misconception from the traffic reducing), to the size of the cars, to the large trees ahead of you. It’s as if your vision is going through a warp zone and your heart rate reduces for the better. You are free!
We are headed into the suburbs my friends, to nature, to an open place with cleaner air where you want to raise your family, to a place where I call my personal getaway for pure relaxation, exercise, fresh air, and friendly people. I would recommend spending anywhere from a day to a 4-day weekend here, as the weather practically shines all year long at an average of 80 degrees. Not to mention, delicious food.
What to Do
Horseback Riding in Conejo Valley
Go Horse Back Riding through the Santa Monica mountains with Park Place Stables. Whether it’s your first time or 30th, you will enjoy this guided trail ride through the neighborhood into all the nature Conejo Valley has to offer. They also offer options for ocean-view trail ride, lessons, training and group rides.
Go Biking via Electric Bicycles! You have the option of riding with the electric turned off, but you will be thankful when going on an uphill for the little boost of energy! It’s as if your bicycle is on caffeine! There are a few different gears to get you as fast or as slow as you’d like. Pedego is the best place to rent these bikes. They have a range of bikes depending on your height, and also different styles of bikes. You can rent hourly or daily, and run free with the bikes, or ask the friendly owners Laura & Mike for some of their suggested routes.
Take a Tour of Classic Movie Sets
We took the route from the main roads into the dirt road path of Paramount Ranch in Agoura Hills. A guided tour was led by Brian Rooney, author of the book Three Magical Miles, a photographic history of the Malibu Mountains. Paramount Ranch is a National Park where many famous films have been filmed for over 60 years, with the main attraction being their Western Style, Cowboy/Sheriff set, “where the natural terrain could pass for the open ranges of the Old West” with classic film stars who have spent time here including John Wayne, Henry Fonda to Lucille Ball.
While we visited, they were filming for the set of “Bones”. Star spotting! It’s like you never left LA! Besides the movie/film scene that embodies the Hollywood culture, this is a great place for hiking trails too as it boasts an open land of 436 acres.
The Santa Monica Mountains is a coastal mountain that ranges approximately 40 miles along the Southern California Coast (Pacific Ocean) and a good portion lies within Conejo Valley. Hence the hundreds of scenic hikes with so many off-the-beaten path trails and points of entrances to discover (some even with ocean view!). One of my favorite trails is the Wildwood Regional Park with a huge open space. 928 W Avenida de los Arboles Thousand Oaks
Events for the Family
At Dos Vientos Park in Newbury Park, they host an annual Mud Crazy California Run,
“A challenging family fun 5K event with over 25 obstacles including climbing walls, the spider webs, tunnels, balance beams, sand bag and the monster mud pit! The course is designed to test your all around strength, stamina, mental grit and camaraderie.”
A great way to spend time with your significant other or family. Day at the park with live music, gourmet food trucks, and local vendors with their own booth. We went and cheered on our friends who participated, all in good spirit on a Saturday morning. The next one will be on May 7, 2016!
Visit one of America’s popular Presidents’ lasting legacy, the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. Learn more about Reagan’s life before and after his Presidency. See an exact replica of the Oval Office. Take an inside tour of Air Force One Aircraft which flew 7 US Presidents. Relax in the beautiful garden. See a remnant of the Berlin Wall with colorful graffiti, a large beautiful butterfly on it’s west side and on the east side, a stark grey concrete.
“Let our children and grandchildren come here and see this wall and reflect on what it meant to history. Let them understand that only vigilance and strength will deter tyranny.”
Gardens of the World is a place of relaxation and beauty. Founded by Lynn & Ed Hogan, created to commemorate various cultures from around the world to their own neighborhood. Great place to meditate or spend an afternoon learning about the wide range of flowers & plants:
- Japan Garden
- French Garden & Water Feature
- Mission Courtyard
- English Perennial & Rose Garden
- Italian Garden & Bandstand
They offer 45 minute guided tours or feel free to roam on your own. 2001 Thousand Oaks Blvd, Thousand Oaks
The Chumash are one of the oldest Indian tribes in the US, and the first residents of Conejo Valley. As a local resident of Channel Islands, their heritage dates back as far as 12,000 years until the late 1800s. They had their own language with 8 regional dialects spoken from Malibu up to San Luis Obispo. Visit Chumash Indian Museum to learn more about the original inhabitants of California. 3290 Lang Ranch Parkway, Thousand Oaks
Where to Stay
If you are not a Californian Local, or if you are but want to spoil yourself in some comfortable, luxury hotels with the best service, I recommend the Hyatt Westlake Plaza for a memorable stay. From the moment you enter the hotel, to your last moment, you will always feel at peace. Friendly & helpful staff. Beautiful pool to relax, a comfortable/cozy Lobby area to work out of your computer or relax. One of the highlights is their restaurant Harvest Kitchen, with farm-to-table specialties and specialty juice/cocktails.
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