We usually zip by Camarillo on the way to Ventura or Oxnard, but I recently discovered that this small town deserves a visit.
You probably heard the name Camarillo in a few songs and seen it in a few movies. Sadly, its main claim to fame is the old State Mental Health hospital.
The beautiful State Hospital now serves as the campus for California State University - Channel Islands.
Nowadays, Camarillo is home to Premium Outlets, an Aviation Museum, a few historic ranches and churches, a winery, and a lot of parks.
Some of the parks offer hiking and biking trails. Camarillo Grove Park is close to the foothills and has many rugged trails, while Calleguas Creek Park has some archaeological sites from the time of the Chumash natives.
The area was inhabited by the Chumash Indians for thousands of years until the Mexican land grant system granted the area to José Pedro Ruiz who created Rancho Calleguas in 1837.
Later the ranch was sold to Juan Camarillo. His two sons Adolfo and Juan founded the town bearing their name.
Places of Interest
A Stroll in Old Town
Old Town Camarillo runs along Ventura Blvd and offers many stores, boutiques, arts & entertainment, salons, spas, and restaurants.
On a Saturday morning, you can enjoy a hearty breakfast from Old Town Café, and shop for a bargain at the Camarillo Farmers Market.
Later you can enjoy lunch or dinner at Blvd. Burger, Twenty 88 Bistro, or Sushi Planet.
Parks and Trails
You can find plenty of parks in Camarillo - some are small community parks and others are large, with creeks, ponds, and playgrounds.
At Nancy Bush Park, you can walk, jog, or enjoy a picnic at one of the shady enclosures. The kids can play in the newly remodeled playground.
At Camarillo Grove Park, you can hit the trail for a nice hike on rugged hills, bike, or just relax and enjoy the views. This park also has a fenced area for dogs and their owners to have fun in the sun.
Camarillo Premium Outlets is located off Highway 101, exit Las Posas Road. The outlets are a great place to shop for bargains and to grab a meal.
Some of the 160 stores at the Outlets® are the Banana Republic, Coach, Michael Kors, Polo Ralph Lauren, Tory Burch, and Tommy Hilfiger.
Some of the sit-down dining options are Johnny Rockets, Los Arroyos Mexican Restaurant, Cracker Barrel, and Panera Bread.
For a quick meal, you can try Charley Grilled Subs, Fat Burger, Boba Time, and Starbucks.
The Children's Play Area offers kids a place to play while the adults are shopping. Hey, if they would let me, I will stay here to avoid shopping with my wife :-)