CAMARILLO, CA.’S SLOGAN IS “COME FOR THE SUN, STAY FOR THE FUN,” which sounds just about right for winter-weary Canadians ready for a dose of beautiful southern California weather in a budget-friendly destination that takes its family-friendly bonafides seriously.
Located about an hour north of Los Angeles in Ventura County, and about half way between the City of Angels and Santa Barbaraon scenic Route 101, Camarillo is nestled at the base of the Conejofoothills. It is surrounded by verdant green fields and farms but a mere 15 kilometres from the Pacific, which issues a welcome ocean breeze to keep average high temperatures in the 18- to 26-degree Celsius range year-round. Combined with an average of 272 sunny days a year, the SoCal city’s environment and location makes a perfect place for outdoor pursuits of all sorts, from golf (four local courses) to activities at a dozen nearby beaches and state park.
But there’s also plenty to do in town, from outdoor shopping and concerts to great dining and fun family events. Here’s a quick guide to help make the most of a visit:
Filled with boutique shops, galleries, cafés, bars and restaurants, Old Town exudes California charm and a 100-year-old history as it stretches along Ventura Boulevard. Better still is the neighbourhood at night when the lights come on. Stay at the charming Bella Capri Inn & Suites right on the strip.
Where better to learn about the history of the town than Camarillo Ranch, the original home of Adolfo Camarillo, the city’s namesake? The ranch dates to the 1800s but now functions as a living museum and event rental space with period architecture and furnishings, stunning gardens and original stables.
Beyond the shops and boutiques of Old Town, serious shoppers will want to check out the Camarillo Premium Outlets, located just off Highway 101 at Las Posas Road and featuring 160 stores, including such prominent names as Banana Republic, Coach, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, Tommy Hilfiger and more.
THE GREAT OUTDOORS
Nearby Point Mugu State Park is located within the Santa Monica Recreation Area and features nine kilometres of spectacular coastline with rocky bluffs, sand dunes, rugged hills, two major river canyons and wide grassy valleys. The adventure-minded will find 110 kilometres of hiking and biking trails, as well as the opportunity to swim and body surf, or just stroll along the beach and enjoy the nature and wildlife.
MCGRATH FAMILY FARM
Farm tours, pick-your-own produce (like strawberries) opportunities and frequent animal visitors are just some of the seasonal offerings at the farm.
THE CAMARILLO BIRD MUSEUM
The entire family can learn about humankind’s fine feathered friends at the Western Foundation of Vertebrate Zoology, otherwise known as “The Bird Museum.” The venue is dedicated to conservation of worldwide bird species and particularly eggs and nests. Public visits must be reserved at least one day in advance (805-388-9944).
COMMEMORATIVE AIR FORCE MUSEUM
Open daily, man-made “birds” are on display at the CAFM’s SoCal wing, which is dedicated to vintage World War II aircraft, as well as displaying weapons and artifacts of the era while “recalling the hard-won victories of Americans and other freedom-loving people around the world during the years between 1939 and 1945.” If visitors are lucky, they might even see one of the aircraft take flight.
CHEERS TO CAMARILLO
The Institution Ale Company (3841 Mission Oaks Blvd.) is a family-owned and operated micro-brewery dedicated to crafting “uncompromised and unfiltered” American-style ales. The tasting room serves food, but, more importantly, 18 types of beer, with names like Revelation, Virtue and Scary Dairy. It’s open seven days a week, but if you can’t get there, don’t worry – Institution suds are served around town at select local bars and restaurants.