What to do when you don’t know what to do

 

Written by Erin NewmanWhat bubbles

 

What family

Ventura Harbor Village This charming working harbor features restaurants, shops, galleries and an arcade with a 32-animal carousel, in addition to tons of weekend entertainment and seasonal family-friendly events. For the active family, pedal boating, kayaking and paddle boarding are offered for water lovers and bicycling is available for landlubbers. Other families may prefer to stroll the promenade with ice cream cones in hand, watching the boats glide through the harbor.  The Ventura Harbor is the gateway to Channel Islands National Park and is walking distance to the beach. Free admission and parking make it an ideal summer destination. 1583 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura (805) 642-8538 www.venturaharborvillage.com

Ventura Harbor Village
This charming working harbor features restaurants, shops, galleries and an arcade with a 32-animal carousel, in addition to tons of weekend entertainment and seasonal family-friendly events.
For the active family, pedal boating, kayaking and paddle boarding are offered for water lovers and bicycling is available for landlubbers. Other families may prefer to stroll the promenade with ice cream cones in hand, watching the boats glide through the harbor.
The Ventura Harbor is the gateway to Channel Islands National Park and is walking distance to the beach. Free admission and parking make it an ideal summer destination.
1583 Spinnaker Drive, Ventura
(805) 642-8538
www.venturaharborvillage.com

In the neighborhood

America’s Teaching Zoo at Moorpark College
Who knew there’s a zoo right around the corner? This 5-acre, student-run zoo is part of the college’s exotic animal training and management (EATM) program. The Teaching zoo is small, open only on weekends, and has no concessions. But unlike larger public zoos, here visitors are able to get up close to the exotic creatures in a low-key setting. The shows, demonstrations and discovery stations provide an interactive experience. Staff members, who are EATM students, are on hand to answer questions.
7075 Campus Road, Moorpark
(805) 378-1441
zoo.moorparkcollege.edu

Boulderdash Indoor Rock Climbing
Rock climbing, in addition to being great exercise, is a great sport for interacting with one another. Boulderdash features more than 10,000 square feet of sculpted climbing surface with various terrains.
880 Hampshire Road, Ste. A, Thousand Oaks
(805) 557-1300
www.boulderdashclimbing.com

Conejo Valley Archers
Thanks to the “The Hunger Games,” interest in archery has taken off. Families can learn the sport for only $5 per person per session from Conejo Valley Archers club’s coaches, who provide equipment, training and guidance every Saturday from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. (Children must be at least 8 years old.)
4651 Tapo Canyon Road, Simi Valley
(805) 530-1339
www.cvarchers.com

Iceoplex
Lace up your skates and get out on the ice for some family fun at this Olympic-size ice rink. Rent a skating walker for the little ones or give hockey or curling a try.
131 W. Easy St., Simi Valley
(805) 520-7465
www.iceoplexsimivalley.com

Let’s Get Cookin’
Work together as a team to make delectable creations at workshops for families with kids age 6 to 12. Each workshop centers around a particular theme at this cooking school, which also offers classes and camps for children and teens and a broad selection of classes for adults.
4643 Lakeview Canyon Road, Westlake Village
(818) 991-3940
www.letsgetcookin.com

Underwood Family Farms This working farm provides an invaluable hands-on educational family experience that shows kids where food comes from. On weekends, tractor-drawn wagons take visitors out to pick fruits and veggies growing in the farm’s fields and orchards. Check the website calendar to see what produce is available for harvesting each month.  Additional activities at Underwood include farm animal viewings, feedings and shows; pony rides; haystack climbing; and a 30-minute animal show. Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy mini-train rides, the trike trail, electric train, electric tractors and cow train. 3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark (805) 529-3690 www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com

Underwood Family Farms
This working farm provides an invaluable hands-on educational family experience that shows kids where food comes from. On weekends, tractor-drawn wagons take visitors out to pick fruits and veggies growing in the farm’s fields and orchards. Check the website calendar to see what produce is available for harvesting each month.
Additional activities at Underwood include farm animal viewings, feedings and shows; pony rides; haystack climbing; and a 30-minute animal show. Toddlers and preschoolers will enjoy mini-train rides, the trike trail, electric train, electric tractors and cow train.
3370 Sunset Valley Road, Moorpark
(805) 529-3690
www.underwoodfamilyfarms.com

Leonis Adobe Museum
This historic site is in the heart of old-town Calabasas. Tour the 1884 adobe, check out vintage farm equipment, feed the animals or simply soak up the Old West atmosphere. Pop next door for a meal at the Sagebrush Cantina or picnic at Calabasas Creek Park and you’ve got yourself a full day.
23537 Calabasas Road, Calabasas
(818) 222-6511
www.leonisadobemuseum.org

Lazertag Extreme
Best suited for families with older kids, a session of this action-packed adventure will have everyone breathless with excitement.
591 Country Club Drive, Simi Valley
(805) 577-8400
www.lazertagextreme.com

MB2 Raceway
Families looking for an exhilarating experience (and who have kids taller than 4 feet) may find that go-kart racing fits the bill. A quarter-mile indoor racetrack provides the setting for whizzing along in an electric European go-kart at speeds of up to 45 mph.
1475 Lawrence Drive, Thousand Oaks
(805) 214-9999
www.mb2raceway.com

Paramount Ranch
The filming location, used for decades, is now a fun Western town where little ones can imagine themselves as cowboys and gunfighters. Hiking trails that venture into the scenic Santa Monica Mountains branch out from the town.
2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills
www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/paramountranch.htm

Platinum Sports Center
Platinum is known for world-class gymnastics classes and now they offer activities for families to do together. Their X-Zone includes an urban obstacle course, a rock-climbing wall and a trampoline park that includes basketball and dodgeball. Families can also use gymnastics equipment including spring floors, foam pits, padded apparatus and tumble tracks.
160 W Cochran St., Simi Valley
(805) 527-6662
www.platinumsportscenterus.com

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden Fifteen specialty gardens plus nature trails beckon visitors to this amazing free gem in Thousand Oaks. Children can run and play while learning about nature and gardening in the Kids’ Adventure Garden. Everyone can explore the nature trail, butterfly garden, tree house, hydroponic pod, carnivorous plant bog and “zoo” garden. The garden is free, but the Kids’ Adventure Garden portion is only open on Sundays.  350 Gainsborough Road, Thousand Oaks (805) 494-7630  www.conejogarden.org

Conejo Valley Botanic Garden
Fifteen specialty gardens plus nature trails beckon visitors to this amazing free gem in Thousand Oaks. Children can run and play while learning about nature and gardening in the Kids’ Adventure Garden. Everyone can explore the nature trail, butterfly garden, tree house, hydroponic pod, carnivorous plant bog and “zoo” garden. The garden is free, but the Kids’ Adventure Garden portion is only open on Sundays.
350 Gainsborough Road, Thousand Oaks
(805) 494-7630
www.conejogarden.org

Rocking K Horse Rentals
Channel your inner equestrian and saddle up for a family adventure. Guided rides along trails in the picturesque meadows near Dos Vientos provide a unique opportunity to try something new for families with older children (kids must be at least 7 years old and 4 feet tall to ride).
4790 W. Lynn Road, Newbury Park
(805) 499-9512
www.rockingkhorserentals.com

Santa Susana Railroad Depot
Visit this 1903 depot for a step back in time. Kids can learn about railroad life a century ago and view model trains traveling through a miniature version of Simi Valley as it was in the 1950s.
6503 Katherine Road, Simi Valley
(805) 581-3462
www.santasusanadepot.com

Satwiwa Native American Indian Culture Center
Visit an interpretive center that has Chumash huts, stroll through a garden with indigenous plants or take a family-friendly nature hike through a beautiful meadow in the shadow of Boney Mountain. Workshops, music, stories and crafts are offered as well.
4126 W. Potrero Road, Newbury Park
(805) 375-1930
www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/rsvsatwiwa.htm

Scooter’s Jungle
Extra energy can be expended at this tropical-themed indoor playground suited for all ages. Family fun events enable everyone (including parents) to jump, climb, slide and play games together on giant inflatables. Open play and toddler times are also available; check the website calendar.
2250 Union Place, Simi Valley
(805) 203-9200
www.scootersjungle.com

Sky High
Floors and walls made of trampolines offer an active opportunity for family recreation. Play dodgeball or basketball, launch into a foam pit, or simply jump—it’s all fun exercise. A parent lounge with TVs and free Wi-Fi is available for moms and dads who can’t keep up with the kids.
166 Aviador St., Camarillo
(805) 484-6300
www.jumpskyhigh.com

Day trips
Casitas Water Adventure
Cool off at this inexpensive, small water park located next to Lake Casitas and especially suited for families with young children. Tots can splash and play in the shallow jungle gym lagoon complete with small slides, waterfalls and squirters. The lazy river allows guests to float along on inner tubes while soaking up the sun.
11311 Santa Ana Road, Ventura
(805) 649-1122

Fillmore & Western Railway
Catch a ride on a vintage train through scenic and historic Heritage Valley farmland. The railway has special seasonal activities such as picking pumpkins in the fall and holiday treats like cutting your own Christmas tree and going to the “North Pole” with Santa.
364 Main St., Fillmore
(805) 524-2546
www.fwry.com

Golf N’ Stuff
This miniature golf course provides a great outdoor excursion in Ventura’s temperate climate. Golf N’ Stuff also has go-karts, bumper cars, bumper boats, lazer tag and an arcade for all-day fun.
5555 Walker St., Ventura
(805) 644-7131
www.golfnstuff.com

Exposition Park This collection of world-class museums is worth the drive to downtown L.A. Built more than 100 years ago, the Natural History Museum is known for its mammal dioramas and Dinosaur Hall, featuring fossils that include 20 complete dinosaurs. In summer, walk through the Butterfly Pavilion to encounter butterflies flying free in their own habitat.  Bring a picnic lunch to eat in the expansive rose garden and then walk over to the California Science Center to enjoy more than 100 mind-stimulating hands-on exhibits—for free! The Science Center is also home to the space shuttle Endeavour.  Exposition Park is also the site of the African American Museum and an IMAX theater showing educational movies on a seven-story screen, and it is adjacent to the historic Los Angeles Coliseum.  700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles (213) 744-7458  www.expositionpark.org/venues

Exposition Park
This collection of world-class museums is worth the drive to downtown L.A. Built more than 100 years ago, the Natural History Museum is known for its mammal dioramas and Dinosaur Hall, featuring fossils that include 20 complete dinosaurs. In summer, walk through the Butterfly Pavilion to encounter butterflies flying free in their own habitat.
Bring a picnic lunch to eat in the expansive rose garden and then walk over to the California Science Center to enjoy more than 100 mind-stimulating hands-on exhibits—for free! The Science Center is also home to the space shuttle Endeavour.
Exposition Park is also the site of the African American Museum and an IMAX theater showing educational movies on a seven-story screen, and it is adjacent to the historic Los Angeles Coliseum.
700 Exposition Park Drive, Los Angeles
(213) 744-7458 
www.expositionpark.org/venues

Gull Wings Children’s Museum
Hands-on kids will love Gull Wings. Nearly every exhibit, or station, engages children in projects, explorations or creations. Kids can meet live sea creatures in a touch tank, imagine they are astronauts in a space station and create in the Lego room.
418 W 4th St., Oxnard
(805) 483-3005
www.gullwings.org

Noah’s Ark at the Skirball Cultural Center
This one-of-a-kind destination invites all the generations to journey together in a giant wooden ark filled with whimsical hand-crafted animals. There are opportunities for exploration, interaction, making music and new friends all while learning the value of diversity and community.
2701 N. Sepulveda Blvd., Los Angeles
(310) 440-4500
www.skirball.org

Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History
This century-old museum houses fascinating artifacts and specimens and includes hands-on activities. Guests can venture into the backyard to explore the nature trail, look for tadpoles in the creek, dig for dinosaur bones or meet birds of prey. Visit in the summertime to experience a greenhouse filled with 1,000 butterflies.
2559 Puesta Del Sol, Santa Barbara
(805) 682-4711
www.sbnature.org

Skating Plus
Visit this indoor roller rink for exercise and family fun rolled into one. Great music, creative lighting and games make this an engaging outing for all ages—yes, even parents!
1720 Mesa Verde Ave, Ventura
(805) 644-2121
www.skatingplus.com

Don’t forget your local . . .

Beaches: Try Zuma Beach in Malibu with its clean, wide stretch of sand and plenty of nearby parking, Leo Carrillo State Beach with its famous tidepools or Marina Park in Ventura, which has a big “ship” moored in the sand with a zip line, plus swings, slides and a large grassy area.

Bowling alleys: Bowling is great way to get the family moving when it’s too hot outside. Kids of all ages can play—just be sure to request bumpers. Here are a few local spots.

Brunswick Bowl
5255 Cochran St., Simi Valley
(805) 584-2695
www.bowlbrunswick.com

Harley’s Camarillo Bowl
305 Arneill Road, Camarillo
(805) 482-0747
www.harleysbowl.com

Harley’s Simi Bowl
480 E. Los Angeles Ave., Simi Valley
(805) 526-4212
www.harleysbowl.com

Woodlake Lanes
23130 Ventura Blvd., Woodland Hills
(818) 225-7181
www.amf.com/woodlakelanes

Farmers markets: Local markets provide a fun taste of the country that includes sampling fresh local produce and products that can help little ones broaden their palate.

Home Depot/Lowe’s: Check with the location near you about the free weekend kids’ workshops, where children can learn new skills and come home with a creation they made themselves.

Libraries: Story times, teen book and film clubs, homework help and various family events such as movies, music and performances.
Malls: Many malls offer kids’ clubs with crafts, performances and music. Outdoor malls in our region have lovely settings that include ponds and creeks with interesting things to see like ducks, koi ponds and turtles.

The Commons at Calabasas: (818) 222-3444
Janss Marketplace: (805) 495-4662
Las Posas Plaza, Camarillo: (805) 469-9664
The Oaks, Thousand Oaks: (805) 495-2032
The Promenade at Westlake: (818) 637-8923
Simi Valley Town Center, Simi Valley: (805) 581-1755

Movie theaters: Watch for free or value-priced kids’ movies. They often are scheduled at a specific time and day each week, all summer long.

Parks and recreation departments: In addition to a variety of classes, you can find details and locations of parks, family game or movie nights, concerts in the park, drop-in programs for teens, and seasonal events. In the summer, look for public pools and splash pads.

 

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