From a morning hike to Paradise Falls to riding horseback to the top of a mountain, Conejo Valley has plenty of items to add to your bucket list. We spent three days in the area crossing items off our our Conejo Valley bucket list and it was one memorable moment after another. Athena experienced her first solo horseback riding adventure and played laser tag for the first time, Cord soaked up the beer scene, and I marveled at the natural beauty during a hike to Paradise Falls. The best part was that we all found bucket list items that we wanted to cross off in the area and we could do each of them together. There were no limits to our family fun.
We arrived in Conejo Valley and checked into Courtyard Marriott, Thousand Oaks. It’s fairly priced, centrally located, newly renovated, and within walking distance to over ten restaurants. There is free parking and tons of spaces available. The staff are friendly, the rooms are clean and modern, and the pool is kept at the perfect temperature. There are other, higher-end, hotels available in Conejo Valley, but if you’re looking for a clean place to stay that is centrally located, you can’t go wrong with Courtyard Marriott, Thousand Oaks. With fair priced rooms and everything at your finger tips, you can use your extra money for more experiences in the area.
On the top of Athena’s Conejo Valley bucket list was Kids World. It features a 4-story play structure with foam ball cannons, a modern arcade, a virtual arcade, a basketball room, bumper balls, and laser tag in the neighboring building. Athena could have spent the entire day climbing, running, and playing in the climbing structure. It’s built to hold adults too so we raced through different sections and zipped down the slides together. When she wore us out, she continued to swing and play with us as an audience.
The arcade section was more my cup of tea and my favorite area was the basketball room. Although I don’t practice playing basketball with Athena nearly as much as I’d like, she still managed to make a few baskets.
We were all like big kids in the Bumper Balls. We rolled around and banged into walls and each other. I felt like a colorful human bowling ball.
We finished off our visit to Kids World with a game of laser tag. It was Athena’s first time and I worried that it might be too dark or scary for her, but she loved it. We worked together as a family and felt proud of our win at the end.
We only spent an afternoon at Kids World, but if we lived closer we’d have season passes. Racing around on the climbing structure and playing laser tag were an amazing workout and endless fun.
We worked up major appetites so we made our way back to the hotel to shower before dinner. As we were pulling into the hotel parking lot, we noticed that Chili’s shares the lot with the hotel. We’d considered trying a new restaurant and we even made a list of choices. If we went to Chili’s, though, we could walk, we wouldn’t have to wait, and I could have a drink with dinner since I didn’t need to drive. We love Chili’s anyway so we went with the easy choice. It was delicious and the excellent service was the beginning of exceptional service in the Conejo Valley area.
Day two in Conejo Valley was more focused on Cord and I with splashes of fun for Athena. We woke up early for a morning hike to Paradise Falls. Starting my day with a hike always makes me feel alive and ready to take on the day. We wanted to choose a hike that was beautiful with easy to medium difficulty so we all could enjoy the journey.
Paradise Falls is a 3 mile hike, round trip. The falls drop 40 feet into a large pool along the Arroyo Conejo in Thousand Oaks. It’s located within Wildwood Park and it includes a loop that visits a small cave. It’s a downhill hike from the trailhead with 260 feet of elevation change.
We relaxed in the shade at the falls while Athena played along the edge of the water. A family brought their dog along for the hike and he chased a few ducks into the water. It reminded of a scene from a movie to show what family life should be like. It was a reminder that my life is going in a beautiful direction where every day can be a bucket list day.
The hike out was especially hot and dry and up hill the entire way. We took turns holding Athena’s hand and encouraging her to keep trekking to the top. We felt like we accomplished something together when we reached the car and we were ready for some cold drinks and delicious eats.
Cord requested Public School 805 for lunch and I was so pleasantly surprised with the food and service that I want to transplant it, and the staff, close to home. We went for a casual lunch but stayed for almost two hours. Our server, Colton, seemed like an old friend and he was a beer fan like Cord so they hit is off immediately. The plan was to spend the afternoon testing local beers anyway so it fit in line perfectly.
Our next stop on our Conejo Valley bucket list was Five Threads Brewing Company. Their tasting room has bar seating, tall tables, long bench seating, booths, a couch, suspended swinging benches, and even a park bench. They offer free WiFi, lots of games – including Giant JENGA, and knowledgeable staff. They get that sometimes parents, too, like beer and they encourage children in their tasting room. While Cord tasted a flight of their beer, the three of us played Connect Four, Operation, and JENGA. I was driving so I didn’t have any alcohol but the afternoon was equally fun for the three of us. How could we complain with games to play and friendly staff sharing their story with us?
We finished off the day with a dip in the hotel swimming pool and dinner at Marmalade Cafe. We felt like we’d already experienced so much of our Conejo Valley bucket list but our favorite activity was yet to come.
Rocking K Horse Rentals in Thousand Oaks offer guided trail rides for all experience levels and kids as young as six can ride on their own horse. Athena was led on a trail ride before at Drakesbad Guest Ranch but the guide walked alongside the horse while Athena sat on top. At Rocking K Horse, Athena climbed onto her own horse and was given the reins. Her level of independence at this age blows my mind. She’s so full of wanderlust.
We rode along a mountaintop with stunning mountain and coastal vistas and a quiet peacefulness. Although horseback riding was a major item on Athena’s Conejo Valley bucket list, I sat deep in the saddle and reveled in the beauty and serenity of the Conejo Valley. This was an experience for all of us.
We rewarded ourselves with In-N-Out before hitting the 101 and heading home.
Creating a bucket list for different areas of California has opened my eyes to some of the most beautiful experiences that I didn’t know existed. Our Conejo Valley bucket list included horseback riding, visiting Kids World, hiking Paradise Falls, and beer tasting at Five Threads Brewing Company but we didn’t know we’d find such remarkable service at Public School 805. We didn’t know that we’d find more of a family groove while hiking to Paradise Falls or that we’d all enjoy Five Threads Brewing Company as mush as we did. We didn’t know that horseback riding would lead to some of the best views of the Conejo Valley or that In-N-Out would taste especially delicious after working up an appetite while riding on a horse. Creating a bucket list as a family is the most rewarding experience and we look forward to what we discover next. All we know is that it’s never what we expect.