Exploring the Outdoors: A Conejo Valley Guide

Located 45 minutes north of Los Angeles, just off the 101 freeway, the Conejo Valley is a splendid outdoor playground, virtually undiscovered by its cosmopolitan neighbors. The gateway to the Santa Monica Mountains Recreational Center, the area originally settled by the Chumash people spans both southeastern Ventura County and northwestern Los Angeles County and offers a wide variety of opportunities to get outdoors with the family.

Given its close proximity and easy accessibility, the Conejo Valley makes for the perfect date night, day trip or weekend getaway, and its thriving craft beer and wine scene is an added bonus when looking to balance outdoor play with nightlife merriment. The rural beauty of this area is hidden in plain sight, boasting more than 500 miles of hiking and biking trails making it a unique destination that is friendly for the entire family.

Here are just a few ways you and your family can get off-the-beaten path and explore the hidden gems the Conejo Valley has to offer.

Hiking and Biking

Paramount Ranch Hike


  • Distance: 4 miles round trip
  • Elevation Gain: 150 ft
  • Open to: Hiking, Biking
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Directions
2903 Cornell Road, Agoura Hills, CA, 91301
Take the Ventura Freeway (U.S. 101) to Kanan Road exit. Head south on Kanan for 0.5 miles. Turn left on Cornell Way and veer to the right. Continue south for 2.5 miles. The entrance is on right side of the road.

Grasslands Hike – Malibu Creek State Park

  • Distance: 0.75 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 105 feet
  • Open to: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian
  • Difficulty: Easy

Directions
27000 Mulholland Highway, Agoura Hills, CA 91301
From Highway 101, take the Las Virgenes Road exit and go south for 3.1 miles to Mulholland Highway.  Take a right on Mulholland Highway and almost immediately, look for the Grasslands Trail on the left.

Los Robles Hike – Los Padres


  • Distance: 6 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 900 feet
  • Open to: Hiking, Biking, Equestrian
  • Difficulty: Easy

Directions:
From the 101 freeway, drive to the south end of Moorpark Rd, turn right on Greenmeadow Ave., and go a half mile to the parking lot.

Paradise Falls Hike – Wildwood Park

  • Distance: 2.5 miles (loop)
  • Elevation change: 260 feet
  • Open to: Hiking, Biking
  • Difficulty: Moderate

Directions
928 W Avenida De Los Arboles, Thousand Oaks, CA 91360
Take the 101 Freeway to Thousand Oaks to exit 45 for Lynn Road. Drive north for 2.5 miles on Lynn Road, and turn left on Avenido de los Arboles. Drive to the end of the street and park in the lot on the left.

Pedego 101 Electric Bike Tour

Biking is a great way to explore a new city, allowing you the ability to cover a ton of ground, and connect with your surroundings without being confined to the interior of a car. Electric bikes give you more flexibility to discover farther distances even if you’re with young kids or grandparents.

During our time in the Conejo Valley we hooked up with Pedego 101, who offers a full fleet of electric bikes with a variety of models that fit all shapes and sizes. They were so knowledgeable and welcoming, after our 13-mile bike ride across picturesque bridges and through tree-lined canyon roads, we felt as if we had gained a family.

Pedego 101
2859 Agoura Road Westlake Village, CA 91361
(805) 379-9245
www.pedego101.com

Family Friendly Dining

The Malibu Cafe
Nestled in the gentle, rolling hills of its word-famous namesake, Malibu Cafe is a cornerstone of coastal, rustic living. Eat decadent corn and lobster chowder, listen to down-home live music and lounge under the canopy of centuries-old California oak trees tastefully decorated with elegant chandeliers.

Malibu Cafe is as kid-friendly as it gets with 100% outdoor seating and plethora of fun kid games such as jumbo Jenga and air hokey set up on the lawn for all to enjoy. The biggest challenge you might have to face at this laid back ranch-style restaurant is leaving.

The Malibu Cafe
327 Latigo Canyon Road Malibu, CA 90265
(818) 540-2400
http://www.themalibucafe.com



Tavern 101 Grill and Tap House

Another kid-friendly tavern to try when you have a hankering for mouth-watering BBQ is Tavern 101. Located just off the 101 freeway, this hidden little gem of a restaurant offers a laid-back atmosphere, hand-crafted cocktails and more meat than any one person could ever attempt to consume.

Tavern 101 Grill and Tap House
28434 Roadside Drive  Agoura Hills, CA 91301
(818) 991-7227
http://www.taverngrills.com

“Adults Only” Offerings

101 Cider House

Some of the most interesting and unique cider this year is coming out of a dark corner in an unassuming industrial park in the Conejo Valley. A budding pioneer of the craft beer industry, Mark McTavish and the rest of his talented 101 Cider House team are self-proclaimed cider evangelists.



Sourced locally, their product is raw, made with natural ingredients and 100% fresh pressed juices. the end result is vibrant and daring and sure to knock your socks off.

101 Cider House
Tasting Room Hours: Thursday 5pm – 10pm, Saturday 1pm – 11pm, Sunday 1pm – 5pm
31111 Via Colinas, Westlake Village, CA 91362
(818) 851-9018
http://www.101cider.com

Sunland Vintage Winery

Michael and Debby Giovinazzo are making old school hip again with their throw-back vintages that conjure up thoughts of Old Italy and its robust yet delicate wines. Their award-winning Sunland Vintage label tickles the palate and their bright and cheery tasting room will have you coming back for more.

Sunland Vintage Winery
Tasting Room Hours: Thursdays & Fridays 6pm – 9pm, Saturdays 1pm – 6pm, Sundays 1pm – 5pm
1321 E Thousand Oaks Blvd. #108 Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
(805) 379-2250
http://www.sunlandvintagewinery.com

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11 Stroller Friendly Los Angeles Hikes Guaranteed to Get You and Baby Outdoors

After 6 months of bedrest and the subsequent unplanned cesarean section recovery, you can only imagine how I yearned for long hikes and fresh air, but coordinating all of it with a newborn, nursing and continuous diaper detail was all a bit overwhelming. I was the first of our group of friends to have kids and so it was all pretty much uncharted territory. I started venturing out fairly early, making great use of our baby carrier, but stayed pretty close to home, even still, I must say I’m so happy I got out there. Not only did it make me happy, keep me sane and helped me to recover quicker, it also primed our daughter for a life spent outdoors. A life where hiking, exploring and outdoor play are her go-to activities.

In honor of all of the new mothers out there, here’s a beautiful Mother’s Day gift; 11 stroller friendly hikes that I lovingly share with the rest of the 10,000,000 Los Angeles county residents! Happy Hiking!

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3 Ways Mother Nature Helped Give Me a Hand Up and Out of Depression

The face of depression has an infinite number of sides. Its expressions may even seem, at times to be smiling right back at you. But, when it settles in for an extended stay, often times, depression can become a way of life. This is where I found myself, a seemingly endless, 6 months ago.

Depression runs in my family. We talk about it frequently and we all have a pretty good idea of what it looks like when it manifests in us. I have battled it a few times in my early 20’s and spent many sleepless nights trying to drug it away, drink it away, and even submitting to it completely. I wear my battle scars as badges and am proud of what I overcame and who I am today as a result of it, which is why I was blind-sided in late January when I woke up and found myself peeking through a haze which I (later) discovered I had been sitting in for going on two months.

Everyone has their own set of reasons and their own triggers and it is important to mention, their own CHOICE to allow those reasons and triggers to carry you to that dark place. In the end, no single reason or trigger is worthy of taking your joy and power away, but I’ll be damned if I didn’t have some pretty great justifications. A miscarriage, two failed insemination attempts, all of the crazy hormones that come along with said attempts, not being able to get pregnant; all of them, my reasons. And I allowed all of them to affect me, my husband, our daughter, my family and my friends, whether they actually realized it or not.

Waking up to depression is only the first step. Then, there are the subsequent steps that you have to remain hyper aware of every single waking second until you reach the colossal steps which you then must arduously climb upward and finally out. I am happy to say, I am finally out and I am sharing with you, for whatever it is worth, the most precious moments that, even while I was still in the dark, helped me to climb every single one of those massive steps, up and out and back in to the beautiful world of my life.

Feel the Warmth of the Sun
This first one just takes one step. That first crucial step. Just get out. Get up, get out and feel the warmth of the sun on your face. That’s it. It may seem so simple and maybe even silly, but it can be the turning point for many. That one baby step forward has the potential to propel you towards a reawakening which in turn can lead you to a path of healing. The first step is the hardest. I know. Just do it. Seriously. Trust me.

sun-depression

Listen to Soft Sounds of the Creek
The simple act of sitting and listening to the sounds around you has a wonderfully calming effect. It allows you the time to see the immense beauty that is constantly surrounding you. For me, personally, there is nothing in the world that is more calming than sitting creek-side, listening to the trickle of the water passing by, imagining where it has come from and pondering what other wonders it will see on its journey. A perfect metaphor for our lives, just like all of us, moments are fleeting and nothing stays the same forever, we float by the hard times, the good times and everything in between and we are always the navigators of our course. Oh! And while you’re at it, smell the roses and the honeysuckle and the evergreen and feel roughness of the the dirt and the softness of a smooth rock and watch the bees buzzing by and the ants trek across the terrain and…everything else! Just be still and soak all of its wonder in to your soul.

Seeing the Bigger Picture Instills Hope
We are big fans of  volunteering in our family. We have witnessed first hand how Giving Back, Gives Right Back to YOU. Try donating your time and your services to paying it forward and it will come back to you a thousand fold. Putting yourself in the service of those who need help is one of the best ways to not only give a smile to someone else, but it will, most-assuredly put a smile on your face! When we place ourselves in a situation where we have the ability to empathize with others and realize a bigger picture of the world around us it helps keep us grounded in reality and is a great way to keep our own problems in perspective.

So, go out in to your community and give a helping hand! Plant a tree, pick up trash, get dirty, find a way to reconnect with Mother Nature and all of its inhabitants and you will immediately feel her loving arms wrap around you like a warm, comforting blanket. I know it worked for me!