We are travelers. We’ve traveled the world over, be it by land, air or sea. We’ve even made two extended cross-country USA road trips exploring no less than 20 states. And now we’ve decided to explore even more of our home state of California. We recently spent three days in Conejo Valley; three fabulous days exploring the treasures of this beautiful and unique-to-California area.
We played along the coast, explored beautiful hiking trails, strolled through gorgeous gardens, and engaged in a bit of California history. And that’s just the beginning. The Conejo Valley is snuggled between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara along the Santa Monica Mountains. If you’ve been to Thousand Oaks, Agoura Hills, Westlake Village, and several other surrounding communities, you’ve been to the Conejo Valley.
Day one of our three-day trip started with a drive up the coast through Malibu to Zuma Beach. Zuma is a gorgeous Southern California beach that’s a favorite among surfers. We watched the waves, surfers, beachgoers, and wildlife enjoying the sand and surf. It was the perfect beginning to a relaxing getaway.
The drive from Zuma Beach took us along the coastline, then onto Kanan Road and up through the Santa Monica Mountains. The drive took less than thirty-minutes along a very scenic route. At one point, as we neared Agoura Hills, we noticed personnel dressed in black, along with several shuttle vans and limousines. It our piqued curiosity, but there was no signage as to what it might be. A quick internet search of our location revealed we were driving by the ‘Bachelor/Bachelorette’ house. Who knew they filmed in Agoura Hills? We sure didn’t. Until now. Ha!
We had the pleasure of making Homewood Suites by Hilton Agoura Hills our home base during our Conejo Valley visit. It’s a perfect hotel for families, as well as for those that may be traveling solo. It’s conveniently located just off the Ventura Freeway, giving easy access to Conejo Valley attractions, restaurants and activities.
We stayed in a spacious two bedroom suite, complete with a king bed room, a two queen bed room, a living/sitting room, full kitchen, and two full bathrooms. The kitchen was perfect for us. We eat an all natural, organic plant-based diet, and usually bring food along when traveling. In our experience it’s not always easy to find restaurants that suit us. We were very pleased to discover the Conejo Valley has some of the best vegan/plant-based restaurants we’ve come across. Still, the kitchen is an awesome amenity and did not go unused.
One of the unique things about Homewood Suites: every room is a suite! And every room has a full kitchen. But more than that, Homewood Suites has complimentary hot breakfast. And … are you ready for this? The Agoura Hills location is one of many that also hosts an evening social. A social event where guests can enjoy beverages and “small plate” offerings as appetizers or a small, very satisfying evening meal. The evening social is hosted Monday through Thursday. The menu changes daily highlighting tastes from around the world. There is also a salad bar along with the themed menu choices of the day.
After checking in to the Homewood Suites, we took a drive to exlpore our surroundings. We’re not mountain climbers by any means, but we do however enjoy hiking and exploring nature. The Conejo Valley Botanic Garden is 33-acres of natural terrain. You’ll think you’re walking about in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by nature, when in reality you’re encircled by the city of Thousand Oaks.
Adjacent to the Botanic Garden is the Kid’s Adventure Garden which is only open on Sundays. Because we were visiting mid-week, we weren’t able to enter. But just take a look-see at how cute it is!
As mentioned, we eat a plant-based diet/vegan diet. One of our favorite restaurants, Veggie Grill, has a location in Westlake Village.
But remember the evening social at Homewood Suites? Even after a delicious dinner at Veggie Grill, we couldn’t help but stop by and sample the ‘Taste of Asia’ offerings that night. We’re here to tell you, we headed off to our room quite content and ready for a good night’s sleep.
We started day two in Conejo Valley at JOiCafé. Oh my goodness! JOi Café offers organic, plant-based, gluten-free, menu items. Not only is the food delicious, but it’s beautiful too. See the pancakes pictured above? Gorgeous, right? These Super Food Pancakes are made with chia, flax, hemp seed & banana, all topped off with fresh fruit and pure maple syrup.
We’re big fans of gardens and museums. One of the first places we put on our ‘to see’ list was Gardens of the World. Wow! Talk about an oasis in the middle of the city! The gardens are beautiful! The waterscapes range from streams and water falls, to the long flowing French fountain, which can be seen through the majestic iron gates in the Gardens of the World photo above.
Several countries are represented, including Japan and Italy. There’s even a Mission Courtyard depicting the many historic Missions built along the coast in California.
Traditionally mission courtyard fountains had three levels. Chickens could drink from the bottom, horses from the middle, and people from the top. I had no idea! I love history! A stroll through the Garden’s Mission Courtyard depicts murals of all 21 missions built.
After our stroll through Gardens of the World, we lunched at The Natural Cafe. The mantra of The Natural Cafe is: We turn good health into good taste, and good taste into good health. I love that! The menu ranges from vegetarian and vegan dishes to a meat eaters’ delight!
Another attraction we were excited about seeing was the Stagecoach Inn Museum. Built in 1876, it was originally called the Grand Union Hotel.
The Timber School, located right next to the Stagecoach Inn, is a replica of the one-room schoolhouse that served the Conejo Valley back in 1888. It’s complete with blackboards, desks, an organ and a woodstove. Children’s jackets are hanging on hooks by the door along with their lunch pails sitting on a shelf.
The Inn features docent led tours that are quite remarkable and informative. You’ll walk through history filled rooms that are furnished with antiques with the docents dressed in clothes of the era. The elegant dining room is still set for dinner, along with the Innkeepers’ rooms upstairs that look just as they would have in 1876. You don’t have to be a history buff to enjoy the Stagecoach Inn Museum.
Night owls we usually aren’t. But we decided to experience our first ever Dine-In Movie Theater for a late night showing. I was more than impressed with AMC/Muvico Theaters in Thousand Oaks. The menu is much more than a typical movie theater. And they had some of our favorite healthy snacks.
We came home wishing there was a Dine-In Theater near us. It’s something we’re definitely going to have to research!
Day three started with a trip back to JOi Café. We loved it so much that I must say it’s my new favorite restaurant. We shared Sausage and Hash (planted based; no real meat) and Avocado Toast. Gorgeous food I tell you! Healthy and tasty, too!
Conejo Valley has a plethora of trails. From easy to hard hiking, horse to bike riding, lakes, flowers and wildlife, you’re sure to find the right trail for you and your family. We chose the Sycamore Canyon Trail which is easy and somewhat secluded. We shared the trail with several friendly dogs out with their owners. Now, think about this. We hiked the trail on a lovely autumn morning. Can you image what it will look like come springtime?
As lovers of history, we’ve been to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum several times. The permanent exhibits are excellent, as are the visiting exhibits, the current one being the Titanic. Experience this incredible exhibit through January 7, 2018. I thought I knew a lot about the Titanic, with much of my knowledge coming from the 1997 film of the same name. This exhibit takes you through the discovery of the wreckage and the people involved. Many props and scenes from the actual film are on view. There are photos and detailed biographies of passengers. At times it feels as if you’re actually there.
Permanent exhibits allow a walk onboard Air Force One, a photo-op with a portion of the Berlin Wall, and a replica of President Reagan’s Oval Office. Take a walk through history! You can read and see more on our Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum post.
With lakes, hiking trails, gardens, museums, a variety of hotels and restaurants, Conejo Valley is an awesome travel destination for pleasure and/or business.
We hope you’ve enjoyed our take of Conejo Valley. We’re thoroughly enjoying our quest to know California better. And Conejo Valley helped us do just that. There’s so much to see and so much history. Will we return the Conejo Valley? Absolutely! Where are we going next? We’re not sure. But we can tell you this: our bags are always packed and ready to go!
Where is the last place you explored?
Where are you going next?