Things to Do In: Conejo Valley
I have a very, very embarrassing confession to make. Somehow, someway, I have never heard of the Conejo Valley before up until a few months ago. Perhaps you haven’t either, but I should have no excuses. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for 17 years now, so yeah, it’s quite embarrassing. Mostly because it’s practically in my backyard and houses some of my favorite venues. Take Malibu Wines for example. My wife and I visit their Saturday tasting room at least once a month with friends to sip on their reds and whites while listening to live music. I wasn’t aware Conejo Valley existed, let alone that one of my favorite tasting rooms was there.
Before jumping into the article and showcasing things to do in Conjeo Valley, allow me to explain where the region is located. Conejo Valley encompasses both northwestern Los Angeles County and Ventura County. Communities you will find there are Thousand Oaks, Westlake Village, Newbury Park, Oak Park, Agoura Hills, Lake Sherwood, and a portion of Calabasas.
A Weekend in the Conejo Valley
I had the pleasure of not only exploring Conejo Valley for the first time recently but doing it with the help and guidance of the Conejo Valley tourism team. They put together a fantastic three day trip for our small group to experience a variety of things the region had to offer. Below you will find our itinerary that I hope will inspire you to plan your next trip there.
Where to Stay in Conejo Valley: Courtyard by Marriott
Like any other weekend away, the trip begins at the hotel. Though we didn’t plan on spending much time there since our trip was jam-packed with fun activities, I really enjoyed the moments I spent working in the Courtyard by Marriott lobby in between trips. And if you’re an early riser like me, grab yourself some coffee down in the lobby and enjoy the daily newspaper.
The Courtyard we stayed at was located in Thousand Oaks. Every activity was no more than a 20 minute drive away from there, making it the ideal hotel location.
Conejo Valley has put together a great list of partner hotels they recommend you booking for your next stay. You can see them here: https://conejo.com/stay/
Kick-off Lunch at Twisted Oak Tavern
I was excited to hear our first stop was to have lunch because I was famished. Linda Northrup, the Mayor of Agoura Hills joined us to eat and chat about her town. She recommended we try a few of her favorites at Twisted Oak Tavern. Our table snacked on the insanely delicious Deviled Eggs while I waited for my Forager burger.
If you find yourself with a hungry, adventurous group, then might I recommend Twisted Oak Tavern’s Hogzilla? A half pig’s head on a platter, brined overnight with a unique spice mix, then oven roasted. I will definitely be back to try that.
Cupcakes from Sweet Arleen’s
I didn’t think I could want any more food after eating as much as I did at lunch, but then I learned we were going to Sweet Arleen’s in Westlake Village. Created by Alreen Scavone, a three-time champion of Food Network’s Cupcake Wars, and featured on Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets for her famous bread pudding.
Try her red velvet cupcake if you want to be blown away. Wow!
Stanley the Giraffe and Some Wine Tasting
If you’re on Instagram and happen to follow practically ANYONE who lives in Southern California, then chances are you have seen Malibu Wines before. Their tasting rooms are famous and well worth the visit alone, however, that’s not all they have. They’ve got hiking and safari tours, both of which I’ve yet to do until my stay in Conejo Valley.
After our lunch and dessert were finished, we headed over to Malibu Wines to explore the 1,000 acres of Saddlerock Ranch and their vineyard in Malibu. Our group boarded a safari jeep with other guests, where our guide and driver generously provided us with both facts about the vineyard, as well as their fabulous wines.
During the Malibu Wines Safari tour, you will make stops along the way to take in the sights, as well as taste local wine and get up close with their rescue animals: camels, zebras, alpacas, bison, and Stanley the Giraffe (see featured photo).
Ladyface Ale Companie for Dinner
Our first dinner in Conejo Valley took place at Ladyface Ale Companie and for a good reason. It was one of Los Angeles County’s first revival craft breweries and the first in Conejo Valley. Owned and operated by Cyrena Nouzille, alongside her husband Jean-Luc Nouzille, this unique brewpub has been praised time and time again by its colleagues, neighbors, international press, and more.
In 2015, Ladyface Ale Companie was honored as Agoura Hills’ Business of the Year. A year before that, State Senator Fran Pavely awarded Ladyface as the California 27th District’s Small Business of the Year for its commitment to the local community. It goes on and on.
Cyrena was kind enough to set aside a few minutes to chat with us at our table and provide recommendations. She mentioned the poutine was worth pairing with their Ladyface IPA. Her suggestions were spot on.
Day 2: Starting Off With Breakfast at Jinky’s
Jinky’s Cafe has five different locations across Los Angeles. We started day two at their Agoura Hills location. Traditionally I don’t eat sweets in the morning; however, I wanted something hardy to hold me over since our day would be long and had many different activities. Jinky’s french toast was the perfect choice.
Goat Yoga is a Bucket List Experience
Whether you’re a fan of yoga or not, goat yoga is something you MUST try if the occasion presents itself. I won’t lie and say I wasn’t a bit skeptical at first. I originally went into the idea of it thinking I would hang back and take photos. I’m glad I didn’t do that and actually participated.
Lavenderwood Farm has a wonderful story behind how and why they created Los Angeles’ first goat yoga experience. I recommend you visiting their site to learn more about their mission behind starting it.
Sandwiches at Uncle Af’s Are a Must
I wouldn’t say it was the goat yoga that gave me a big appetite. It was more the mouthwatering descriptions on Uncle AF’s menu board. I had the #6, aka. The Chicken Firecracker Sandwich on ciabatta. It features chicken breast, Firecracker Bacon, avocado, raw onions, arugula and Uncle AF’s Firecracker aioli. Quite possibly one of the best sandwiches I have ever had.
Visit the 40th President’s Museum
Despite what you might think, the entire trip wasn’t just about eating.
If you love a day at the museum, then I recommend you take a tour of the Ronald Reagan Presidental Library and Museum, located at 40 Presidential Dr in Simi Valley.
There are many highlights to the museum, but my all-time favorite experience was getting to walk through Airforce One. This flying White House served seven U.S. Presidents from 1973 to 2001, including Presidents Nixon, Carter, Ford, Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Clinton, and George W. Bush.
While touring the museum, I learned that Reagan had an obsession with writing notes. They even have many of his handwritten notes on display. Aboard the Airforce One, our 40th President wrote many of his speeches, signed important legislation, and also started the Daytona Beach, Florida NASCAR race via phone.
14 Cannons Brewery Tasting with Dessert Pairings
Something I never thought of pairing with beer was dessert. But 14 Cannons Brewery has a unique partnership with Celebrate with Sarah, who makes custom desserts for all sorts of different occasions. She created a visually stunning Valentine’s Day themed platter to go along with all of the 14 Cannons Brewery beers we tasted.
Who would have thought an IPA would pair so well with a cupcake?
Day 3: Mamba Sports Academy
The Mamba Sports Academy is a joint venture between NBA legend Kobe Bryant and Sports Academy’s CEO Chad Faulkner. After seeing it first hand, I would call it a grownup’s jungle gym. A 100,000 square-foot facility that features five basketball courts, five volleyball courts, two beach volleyball courts, a turf field, a combative and self-defense dojo, a comprehensive sports medicine practice for medical therapy and rehabilitation, a biomechanics lab, a world-class cognitive training lab, an e-sports training ground, batting cages and pitching mounds, a Mondo sprint track, a learning center for academic tutoring and training, and a yoga/cycling studio.
Allow Mr. Bryant to give you a bit more information about Mamba Sports Academy below:
The Mamba Sports Academy understands athletes of all levels and really tries to provide the recovery services needed to keep their bodies at tip-top shape. I was offered a variety of services to try while touring the facility, so I decided on Cryotherapy. Something I’ve been eager to experience for a long time now.
You should have seen my face when the temperature reached -230-degrees.
Ending the Trip with Tacos
Our three-day adventure in Conejo Valley concluded at Plata Taqueria & Cantina with some of the best Mexican food I’ve ever had. Our table shared two giant bowls of guacamole, and each of us tried one of their margaritas. For my main entree, I went with three of their most popular tacos recommended to me by our server: the Carnitas, Al Pastor, and Pescado tacos. I too would recommend them, because they were delicious!
See them below:
Plata Taqueria & Cantina by itself is well worth the trip to Conejo Valley, so make sure you add it to the list of restaurants you must try while visiting this lovely region.
I want to thank the Conejo Valley tourism team for putting together such a wonderful trip. It was amazing to see a side of Los Angeles I never knew existed. I’m really looking forward to going back with my wife to share with her some of the experiences I had while exploring some of the spots I missed.
If you’re looking for more inspiration in the Conejo Valley region, visit Conejo Valley’s travel tips page to see what they have to offer.