Conejo Valley. Where is that? That’s the question we asked at the Conejo Valley booth at the San Diego Travel and Adventure Show. So let’s start with a short geography lesson. Conejo Valley is northwest of Los Angeles and touches both Los Angeles County and Ventura County. Conejo Valley includes the communities of Thousand Oaks, Newbury Park, Westlake Village, Oak Park, and Agoura Hills. Conejo Valley’s most well-known tourist site is probably the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum. Even people who live in Los Angeles don’t necessarily know Conejo Valley by name, yet Conejo Valley is a great weekend getaway destination for people who live in Los Angeles, San Diego, or other parts of Southern California. Conejo Valley is also a great side-trip for people traveling to Los Angeles. Here is our Conejo Valley guide for a great weekend getaway.
Remember at a Presidential Library
Technically President Jimmy Carter was in office when I was born. However, President Ronald Reagan is the first president I remember, so it is fitting that the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and Museum, located in Thousand Oaks, was my first presidential library to visit. I remember seeing Ronald Reagan on TV all the time. (“No wonder your president has to be an actor. He’s gotta look good on television.” – Dr. Emmett Brown) I remember when he was up for reelection and I couldn’t understand why someone would want to change the president.
A visit to the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is a recollection of every aspect of Ronald Reagan’s presidency. Nelle Reagan’s bible, the one Ronald Reagan placed his hand on at both inaugurations, is on display. An album of quotes collected by the president, handwritten on index cards and inspirational to his speeches, perhaps helped him earn the title “The Great Communicator.”
A grim reminder of one of the scariest times of his presidency is the suit he was wearing when he was shot. The hole where the bullet passed through is still surrounded by dried blood. There is also a display of some of the get well canes that were given to him, including one with Jelly Bellys, Reagan’s favorite candy.
A replica of Reagan’s oval office can be viewed, though some of the items are copies as the originals are still in use, like the president’s desk, which is currently being used by President Obama and has been used by all but two presidents since President Hayes.
The highlight of visiting the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library is seeing and walking through President Reagan’s Air Force One, which recently served as a backdrop for the Republican presidential debate. It’s funny to see the little elements that date the plane, like rotary phones and typewriters.
A visit to the Reagan Library finishes with a piece of the Berlin Wall, a reminder of one of Reagan’s most memorable moments when he said, “Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.”
Bike through Movie Sets
Speaking of actors, Conejo Valley is also home to Paramount Ranch, a movie ranch, a popular location for filming Westerns. A portion of Paramount Ranch is part of the National Park Service, including the Western Town, which was used as the set for Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Paramount Ranch has several miles of hiking trails.
We explored Paramount Ranch, along with other parts of Conejo Valley, in an unusual way, on electric bikes. This was without a doubt the most fun part of our weekend getaway to Conejo Valley. While Rome is a good bicyclist, I am an adequate bicyclist at best, so riding an electric bike for the first time was awesome! I got used to it pretty quickly. Even in the extreme heat of summer, riding for long distances and up hills was a breeze. All it takes is a push on the peddle to bring the bike to speed and, on steeper hills, a turn on the throttle.
We took our electric bike tour with Pedego 101 located in Westlake Village. Pedego 101 offers electric bike rentals. They can suggest a route, or you can book a guided tour. Most of the roads we followed had little to no traffic, and those that did have some traffic had bike lanes. If you want to cover some ground without the effort a regular bike ride would require, an electric bike is the way to go.
Another pretty location we visited on our ride was Malibu Lake, another film location which is seen in films like Frankenstein, Gone with the Wind, and Must Love Dogs.
If you want to include a meal in your ride, The Old Place is a popular spot that has been in business for over 45 years. While waiting for a table, you can have some wine next door at the Cornell Winery & Tasting Room.
For old movie lovers like me, another possible stop on an electric bike tour of Conejo Valley is at the house from Mr. Blandings Builds His Dream House, a 1948 movie with my favorite actor, Cary Grant. The country home from the movie can be found in Malibu Creek State Park, which used to be owned by 20th Century Fox Studios.
Visit a Piece of History
Stagecoach Inn Museum is one of Conejo Valley’s 30 museums. While the museum looks like it could have been a grand home, it actually opened in 1876 as the Grand Union Hotel and was the first business in Conejo Valley. Back then it took three days to travel from Los Angeles to Santa Barbara, so the hotel served the stagecoach route.
The building did not just work as a hotel. It was also used as a post office, a tearoom, a military school, and a restaurant. The building was moved in 1966 to make way for the Ventura Freeway, and then it burned down four years later. The current museum is a reconstructed version of the original.
In addition to the restored inn, there are a number of exhibits on the grounds including the Tri-Village with a pioneer house, Spanish adobe, and Chumash village, the Timber School, a blacksmith shop, and more.
Hike the Hills
There are a number of hiking opportunities in Conejo Valley. One of those is the Los Robles Trail to Angel Vista. Confession, we didn’t make it to the vista as the weekend we visited ended up having record high temperatures. But we still had a nice hike through nature and with views of the valley below.
Stop to Smell the Roses
Another escape into nature is the Gardens of the World. This little piece of land in the middle of Thousand Oaks is an effort by the Hogan Family Foundation to showcase cultures of the world in a garden setting. The lands of the world represented include Japan, France, England, and Italy.
Taste Wine, Beer, and Cider
Conejo Valley is in California, so that means wine and beer. We stopped in at Sunland Vintage Winery in Thousand Oaks, a family-owned winery creating mostly Italian wines. For beer, we visited an industrial park in Westlake Village where we enjoyed flights of beer at Five Threads Brewing Company and Westlake Brewing Company. As an added bonus, we found 101 Cider House, a craft cidery, sharing space with Westlake Brewing Company.
Related: Tasting the Wine, Beer, and Cider of California’s Conejo Valley
Eat Well at Conejo Valley Restaurants
A vacation in Conejo Valley doesn’t mean you have to eat unhealthy food. There are so many delicious yet healthy restaurant options. For breakfast, we visited Jeannine’s Gourmet Food Hall and Wildflour Bakery & Café. For lunch, we ate at Lemonade and Ladyface Ale Companies. Dinners were at Hugo’s and Sabor Cocina Mexicana.
Sleep Well at the Sheraton Agoura Hills
During our Southern California weekend getaway, we stayed at the Sheraton Agoura Hills. The Sheraton Agoura Hills is centrally located within Conejo Valley. In fact, we rode by it on our electric bicycle tour. It is clearly one of the most popular Agoura Hills hotels as it was crowded the weekend we stayed. Rooms are big and nicely decorated and beds are super comfortable.
While our room was a comfortable place to hang out, we also enjoyed the Sheraton Agoura Hills’ public spaces like the spacious bar, the outdoor seating areas where we could enjoy a glass of wine and a fire, and the abundance of lounging areas around and above the pool.