Camarillo, California

Camarillo

We usually zip by Camarillo on the way to Ventura or Oxnard, but I recently discovered that this small town deserves a visit.

CSUCI Camarillo State Hospital - by StephenSchafer - WikipediaCamarillo, often mentioned in songs and movies and is famously known for its old State Mental Health Hospital. This historic building now serves as the campus for California State University - Channel Islands.

Today, Camarillo is a charming town with attractions like the Premium Outlets, an Aviation Museum, historic ranches and churches, a winery, and numerous parks.

Downtown Disney

nullDowntown Disney district sits in between Disneyland, California Adventure and Disneyland hotel. The area is full of entertainment venues and restaurants.

The best things are free at Downtown Disney: You can stroll around, enjoy the scenery or listen to street performers. At around 9:30 PM you can catch the great fireworks display right from the district. The fireworks are launched above the sleeping beauty castle, but very prominent from several locations in the district.

Ocotillo Wells SVRA

Ocotillo Wells SVRA - Blow Sand Ocotillo Wells is part of the much larger Anza-Borrego Desert State Park. It was set aside for off-road vehicle recreation. It is a great place to experience the solitude of the beautiful desert, gaze at the stars, or go wild with your 4-wheel-drive SUV, ATV, or dirt bike.

The park is a 2-3 hour drive from LA and Orange Counties but closer to San Diego and Palm Springs.

You probably want to camp for the night. Depending on the weather, you can make it as casual or as luxurious as you like. My son and I used to sleep in the back of my SUV – with the seats pulled down. It does get cold at night, so make sure you have good sleeping bags or thick blankets.

San Diego Zoo Safari Park

nullSomeday I would love to go on a real African Safari and come face to face with a Lion or a Tiger – but until that day comes, I can go to the next best place right here in California. 

The San Diego Zoo Safari Park is located in San Diego County close to the city of Escondido. It spans 1800 acres of land and is stocked with 2600 animals from 300 species. It is also home to thousands of plant species – some of them in a protected preserve. The main attraction is a vast open area with free-ranging animals that vary from fierce lions to tame Giraffes. The only way to enjoy this vast flora and fauna is to join a Safari. More on Safari options later.